Marrying For Love – But Not For Lunch
When my husband was made redundant in December 2013 you can imagine the questions that buzzed around my head… What would we tell our children? Could we afford to buy them Christmas presents? How long would our savings keep us afloat?
To be honest, though, of all the concerns I felt when the axe fell, there was one question that exercised me the most: would we still be speaking to each other after several months cooped up together at home?
You see, dear reader: I married Him Indoors for better, for worse, for richer for poorer – but not for lunch.
Suddenly, faced with the prospect of having Him Indoors actually indoors, I knew I would no longer be able to lunch on If-It (Walton slang for ‘if it’s in the fridge, you’re eating it’). Instead, He would now expect me to rustle up something more suited to the male appetite, such as bacon butties or doorsteps of bread and cheese.
I would no longer be able to sneak new clothes into the wardrobe, only to pull them out a few weeks later and say innocently ‘What, this old thing? Darling, of course you’ve seen it before, I’ve had it ages’, and, almost as worrying, my long chatty phone calls to girlfriends would have to be curtailed.
Not that my friends were terribly helpful, mind you. One confessed that when her husband started working from home, their relationship suffered so badly that they had to move to a larger house in order to avoid each other, while another told me how much she envies her neighbour’s marriage because the husband is only home at the weekends.
It was all pretty discouraging, but, you know what? After a year of unemployment, my husband starts a new job this month, and I can honestly say that I’m going to miss him.
What came out of our year of ‘togetherness’ has been much more positive than either of us imagined. Far from being at each other’s throats, we have discovered something of the marital harmony that I like to think couples had before the Industrial Revolution, when cottage industries were just that and you had no choice but to get on. While the wife took in needlework, the husband would be carving furniture and sharing the childcare, with everyone eating If-It together at midday.
It would be dishonest of me to say it’s all been domestic bliss these past 12 months, but our social life has certainly benefitted from becoming simpler and less frenetic, initially to save money, but later by choice, as we rediscovered the pleasure of staying in on a Saturday night, with just ourselves and a bottle of wine for company.
I’ve brushed up my rusty office skills and acquired some new ones to boost our income and I’m proud to say that my better half now has a PhD in hoovering, ironing and tying ribbons on ballet shoes. In fact, he says it has been a real privilege to spend time with his daughters.
There have been stresses too, of course, not least our reluctance to make plans because money was tight, but even our frugality proved to have a silver lining.
When we rented a cottage for a week in Scotland (trying not to sound too pious as I explained to our children that an old fashioned seaside holiday would be far more edifying than queuing up for rides at Disneyland), our daughters enjoyed it so much that they are begging to go back this summer. (And I heartily recommend taking a break in a place where the beachwear of choice in August is a sheepskin jacket; it will remind you of your own childhood holidays and take years off you).
Another unexpected bonus came in the form of the occasional trip to London for an exhibition. Maybe we’re just getting old, but on the days when we managed to squeeze in a coffee before rushing back for the kids, our ‘date’ was all the more exciting for feeling, well, vaguely illicit.
Now his ‘gap year’ has come to an end and with a mortgage to pay and children to feed, it is of course, a huge relief. But my year of being a lady who lunches with her husband is one I will look back on with great fondness for a long time.
And yes, since you ask, we are still on speaking-terms…