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I realise that the title of this blog seems harsh, but there is method in my madness. So please read on before you write this off as a negative husband-bashing post.
When you are in a long-term relationship (ours is 16 years and still going strong), there are bound to be times that your partner irritates you or makes, what you consider to be, mistakes. This is particularly heightened when you first have a baby and you are both trying to find your feet and roles in parenthood. The whole relationship dynamic changes and you go from being a carefree couple to being parents. It’s a tough time for even the strongest relationships. I’ve never understood why people have a baby to “save their relationship”. Yes, it does help you to bond in the most amazing way and I do love my husband more so now that I see how much he loves our daughter, but I also find, at times, that I want to repeatedly punch him in the face.
So this is the story of why everything my husband does (or did) is wrong and how we overcame it:
My lovely husband Grump has a couple of bad habits. One is losing everything he owns all the time and the other is not listening to me, which leads him to ‘get things wrong’. He claims I nag him too much, but seeing as he never listens, I have to repeat things over and over again. It’s a vicious circle and something I’m sure happens with many other couples.
An example of this is when we got takeaway at a friend’s house. The boys went out to order and collect the food, while the girls stayed in and gossiped. I asked for a chicken balti. This is exactly the same dish I order every time we have a curry (remember, we’ve been together for a LONG time. That’s a lot of curries). When Grump got back with the food, he handed me a chicken korma. Those of you who know me well will understand that this made me very cross. I am in to my food in a big way; curry is my favourite food and I always look forward it. I also get the hanger, but that’s a whole separate blog post.
The main problem was that I wanted a balti. I was looking forward to a balti. And second, korma isn’t a real curry. It is a sweet, soppy mess. It was gross and I was angry and hungry. When asked why he had ordered me a korma, Grump admitted that he hadn’t been listening and tried to guess what I wanted. My friend’s girlfriend wanted a korma, so they presumed I wanted the same. How could he not know which curry I like after 16 years?
Another example was when I sent Grump food shopping. Normally I give him a list, but as this was for a couple of things, I didn’t think he needed one. How wrong I was. Sometimes he tries too hard to get the right thing and it causes him to question his judgement, which means he ends up getting the wrong thing. I can tell that you think I am an unreasonable, horrible wife right now, but food is very important to me. Anyway, I asked him for a chicken pie, but with the puff-pasty top and not the shortcrust, because I don’t like it. He told me he spent ages deliberating over which pie to buy. Guess what he bought me? Yes, a shortcrust chicken pie. To make things worse, his steak-and-ale pie was puff pastry, so I made him swap with me as a punishment (he’s not a fan of chicken pie).
The point of this blog post is not actually to slate my husband, although I’ve done a pretty good job so far (love you really Grump). But these sort of niggly issues certainly came to a head in the first three months of our baby’s life. When Grump was on paternity leave in the first two weeks, we shared most of the parental duties, but because I was breastfeeding, much of the primary care fell to me. Once Grump had gone back to work, I was fully in charge. Eventually the J and I got into some kind of routine and I started the learn all her little quirks. This meant I was the one to comfort her, with Grump taking a bit of a back seat at times.
Grump was and still is a very hands-on dad. Unfortunately, he tends to do things differently to me. I think our brains are wired in polar opposite ways. Whenever he helped out with the baby, I would tell him he was doing it wrong. I spent a good few weeks criticising everything he did and trying to tell him how to do it ‘properly’. This culminated in both of us getting frustrated, snapping at each other and generally being miserable. I should’ve been grateful for his help, but I suppose as a new mum I wanted everything with the baby to be perfect and that meant doing it my way.
As time has gone on and I’ve grown in confidence as a mother, I have let go of some control. It also helped that Grump sat me down and told me that he felt that he couldn’t do anything right and it was upsetting him. I made him feel like a bad father. When he said those words to me, it hit me like a lightning bolt and I had a deep, dark sinking feeling in my stomach. How could I make someone I love so much feel that way? I felt terrible that I had put him down so much and I vowed to change my ways.
I do still have the odd moment of panic when he starts throwing the J up into the air far too close to the ceiling or gets her all excited just before nap time, but I have learned to be a bit more diplomatic with him. I will suggest rather than criticise. We are more of a team now and it feels good.
These days, the ways we feed, bathe, soothe and settle our baby are different, but neither are right or wrong. We do what works for us. Plus babies change so quickly, something that worked one day can change the next. I can see how having a baby could tear a couple apart, but I feel that we are stronger for it. We are a family unit.
He still loses the majority of his possessions on a daily basis and blames it on me, but Grump is an amazing husband and father, and I am thankful every day that I’m going through this journey with him by my side. Oh and next time darling, I’ll have a chicken balti.