There is Something I believe I know more than the Pope about. And I have been instituted into this Something for very nearly seven years. So it is officially time for an itch. I offer this itch free to tax payers in the UK. Actually, I don’t really offer this on my own, because it has been a joint effort, blessed by God every step of the way.
6 years and 363 days ago we got ‘itched.
I was showing our children our wedding DVD this afternoon and giggling at how daddy had changed in seven years, and explaining that no, Lily wasn’t there, and no, nor was Joseph, and yes, you might be finding this bit boring but daddy can help you go to the toilet this time, I want to see this. With the benefit of an extra 2555 days (as of today) I see now how young and determined we were.
We are still determined, but slightly less young. There are things about the wedding I would change, but I would never change Matthew. He has been my best friend and team-mate for long enough now that I can ask ‘how many leap years have we been married?’ and he knows immediately and we can both laugh about it. He willingly takes our son outdoors time after time to calm him or our daughter to the toilet. Most nights he does her bath, which has resulted in her not knowing how to pronounce the word the same way I do. He does not have any complaints about being told he is going to his mother-in-law’s quilting exhibition, and will happily set about installing new inlet valves in old cisterns. I do not understand inlet valves, but I did find a bit that came off, which I was told made all the difference: often the way with DIY at ours. He reads the ‘destructions’ and buys the tools and parts and I play with things and make it work. Teamwork. He calls us ‘Team R’ and I agree. We are a team.
We talk about a lot. In the absence of opportunity to go out on Monday we may just stay in and chat. One of our longstanding magnetic phrases is ‘always room for words’. Another is ‘grow strong together’. There is nothing we cannot talk about, but we do try and talk about important things before settling down for the night because you cannot plan, resolve or listen properly at stupid o’clock. Communication is like glue in marriage and is the only word I find myself recommending to newlyweds. Likewise, as Christians, praying together and involving God in the big and small things of our life. Grace at each meal and prayer for our children and immediate concerns at bedtime.
Having had our second child and with decisions about both our careers hovering about, life is not straightforward at the moment, but we are both well aware of the journey aspect of marriage. Broken sleep due to young children will not be forever.
And broken machines seem to be part of the territory at this point: my dad warned me about this years back. He said that the reason some people got a seven year itch in their marriage was because the warranties on machines bought at the time as the wedding have run out and the machines start doing that too (possibly all at the same time), on top of busy lives and a couple of young kids. I get this, and therefore the need to prioritise. To celebrate and protect our family life we have had to make sacrifices for what matters. But they are not to be regretted. Even now when work opportunities come my way I have to assess them in the light of family life and prioritise my children and my marriage.
We know far more about each other than we did 7 years ago, and understand each other so much better. We also love each other much more deeply and with great respect and trust. We have travelled countless miles, laughed at any number of silly things and experienced the wonder and shock of becoming parents together. We have enjoyed the trivial and planned the exciting. We have created our own home with its own running jokes and stories. We still haven’t got cards for each other for Monday, or anything containing copper or wool (or copper wool for that matter) but we are comfortable in knowing that we can put a big celebration on hold and enjoy spending time together.
There are always going to be things that itch. We wind each other up daily, mostly without trying. We also make sure there is nothing to be angry about when we go to bed.
It doesn’t matter if there is an itch. Just don’t scratch it.