Picking up Pieces

The other morning I was woken by a loud smashing sound from the kitchen. It was followed by a lot of muttering and sighing and the clanking of bits of broken crockery being gathered into a pile.

The curious part of me wanted to get up and go and find out what had happened.

The sensible part of me stayed where I was. It was first thing on a weekday morning; Steve's work was short staffed; he had been up late studying; and something had just gone wrong. Me standing over him in my dressing gown, questioning him about the problem, wasn't going to help. I would just get snapped at, get defensive and we would both spend the day feeling grumpy as a result.

I used to find this kind of thing difficult to accept. Perfect couples have perfect lives, right? I hadn't signed up to have my vintage crockery smashed, nor to be snarled at when I asked about it. This isn't how it's supposed to be!

This isn't how it is in the movies, where couples live happily ever after.

This isn't how it is in other blogs, where other halves only get mentioned in gushing posts about their birthdays.

From the outside, other relationships seem sleek and problem free.

It's easy to forget that even perfect couples are stuck with imperfect lives. Perfect couples all have bad days at work and cars which won't start and crises beyond their control. Life as a twosome isn't all kisses and cuddles.

Steve isn't going to have a good start to every day.

And nor am I. I've lost count of the amount of times he's had to deal with me having a meltdown because I'm tired and the cat has pooed in the bath/the washing machine's leaking/I've actually just spilt the milk.

"There will be times when I burst into tears for no good reason," I told him, right at the start of our relationship. "Don't try to fix it. Put your arms around me and keep quiet until I stop sobbing."

And he does.

"Sometimes I'll have bad days," he said, early on. "I won't want to talk about it right away; I'll want to sit on my computer for half an hour and blow things up."

I leave him to it.

A relationship of nothing but romantic dates and in jokes sounds lovely, but I think it's unrealistic. Everybody has bad moods and disasters.

It took a long time for me to stop seeing life's little crises as something bigger than they are. They're not a sign that's something's wrong with our relationship; they're just the way things go some days.

What is a sign, I think, is knowing how your partner needs you to deal with them. And that's a sign of strength.


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