When we got engaged a few years back, life was good. I had just quit a job I was unhappy in for various reasons and was looking forward to new ventures outside of teaching. We had found a house to rent and settle in for a while. Life was comfortable.
Pretty quickly after that, things became difficult, but we stuck everything out together and while we had our fair share of hurdles to overcome, we were always supporting each other the best way we could.
For a while, late pregnancy and the arrival of our son took over. When people say that a new baby is a test for any relationship, they were not joking. A combination of sleeplessness, health worries, money worries, another house move, later on childcare issues and a difficult return to work have certainly examined whether the two of us were really compatible.
No one was really at fault and we kept on saying that our relationship would have to take a step back for a while and allow us to find ourselves again in our now different role as parents to two children. It probably took about a year and a half for everything to settle down, the rewards of consistent routines and rules to kick in properly. And I have to thank my husband for being patient and sticking all this out with me.
Life is still not without challenges. As full-time teachers on middle management level, we are both working long hours and exhausted by the time evening comes around. Sometimes, there is little energy left after a day of running the treadmill of term-time working life.
Sometimes, among bickering over how dishes should be stacked in a dishwasher or whether that letter flung into a corner needs filing straight away, it is easy to forget that, at heart, we both love each other a lot and the arguments are a symptom of tiredness and stress outside of our relationship.
Deep down, we care a lot. It’s shown in little, almost invisible ways throughout the day. Like getting up early to prepare lunches for our partner or washing their car when we do our own. They are little gestures, which can be overlooked so easily.
We don’t do Valentine’s and we don’t do grand gestures. A little chocolate here or there, a special look or a cheeky hug is often all that happens. We often get told we bicker like an old couple. We do, but quite often with a big grin, because we are aware that in the grand scheme of things, yet another tissue left in the wash is really not a big thing at all.
Sometimes, looking after our partner is the accumulation of small gestures throughout a month rather than a huge glittery card once a year.
I would still marry him all over again and my husband assures me that he, too, still feels the same. We look after each other in our own special way, which is really not that special at all, but all the more appreciated.