I’ll tell you what this post isn’t about. It’s not about how #blessed I am or how amazing my “hubby” is or what a perfect team we make or anything else that might come across as mildly smug that will likely make you want to poke yourself in the eye with a sharp stick.
We bicker, probably don’t tell each other those three little words enough and I can’t remember the last time my husband bought me flowers. He regularly does things which make me want to poke him with a sharp stick, and I often find myself rolling my eyes or gritting my teeth – and I’m sure he does the same. Socks on the floor? Tick. Dirty mugs left on the shared home office desk? Tick. An unhealthy love of fast food and dirty looking kebabs? Tick, tick, tick.
However, I love my husband. And I know he loves me. We’re happy and – most importantly – we’re still married, despite being through a few tough times and raising two spritely, demanding, hilariously in-your-face girls.
If you found this post by Googling “how to keep a marriage alive when you have kids” then I’m sorry, this isn’t going to be a list of dos and don’ts. You can find those easily enough elsewhere (date nights! Flowers! Sex! HA HA HA).
All the regular advice will tell you how important it is to carve out time for each other and to get away from it all regularly. “Happy parents make happy kids, after all”. Yeah, I’m not sure the people who write those articles actually have kids. How easy is it go out on a date night when you need to factor in an extra £50 to pay the babysitter? And how sexy do you feel after a night of 2 hours broken sleep? Mmmmmm, come here lover boy…. zzzzzzzzzzzz.
I will let you into a secret though. There are two things that have kept my marriage alive since having kids. Two vital things. These things are so monumentally simple and easy on the surface, but also so monumentally simple and easy to forget about or mess up.
Despite his lingering student day habits of leaving his filthy socks on the floor and not putting his cups in the dishwasher, my husband is funny. At least, I find him funny. He’s the king of quips – most of them aimed at me. We do banter better than his year 11 pupils (I’m pretty sure they teach him a thing or two in bantz). And when the toddler’s thrown a full plate of food on her sister’s head, or the five year old’s having a meltdown because she’s not married to Justin Bieber, this is the one thing you need. Humour. Humour diffuses a situation like nothing else.
The other thing, actually, which I didn’t mention up there, is that my husband has no idea how funny he is. He doesn’t say these things for an audience. He has absolutely no effs to give over whether anyone actually finds him funny. He’s like the original Karl Pilkington.
Take tonight, for example. As I write this he’s just returned home from his first bike ride in about three years. He left an hour ago on a mission “to get fit”. He spent 45 minutes of the hour walking because he got a puncture. This type of thing happens to him all the time and he doesn’t even try. If he had Twitter (which he doesn’t) it would be a comedy of catastrophe.
Humour leads to communication. If we’ve had a row about something, humour will lead to laughter which will lead to talking, which will lead to harmony once again. If we’re lucky, humour will avoid the row in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong. I still often find him intensely annoying (“spousal rage” is definitely a thing). And there are many times I secretly wish he was some kind of robot Insta-husband who would – at the very least! – be able to take a decent photo of me looking stylish while juggling two kids at the same time.
Still, he’s funny and he’s good at talking about stuff. And, without those things, I don’t think we’d still be talking – let alone married – after two kids.
And I guess that’s all that matters really isn’t it?