No matter how big the diamond he’s given you, when the man forgets for the 188th time to take the washing out of the machine before enough time has passed for it to walk out itself, you cannot help but wonder what exactly you have signed up for.
The battle for mutual domestic understanding has been fought ever since we went over the top and moved in together almost four years ago. When they say that you don’t know a person until you live with them, they are not really giving you the full story. What they should say is – you really don’t know YOURSELF and how unreasonable YOU ARE until you live with someone you expect to love you above all others. This is what I have learned.
I have often been mocked for the amount of sighing I do. I sighed during school exams because they were silent and boring, I sigh during films and TV if a protagonist dares to say or do anything I don’t find 100 per cent entertaining, and, as I now know, I sigh when domestic duties are not tended to within the exact timeframe I’d have liked i.e. as soon as I have noticed they need doing.
I live in a vicious circle of unachievable aspirations for a spotless abode, incessant love for generating piles of unnecessary but sentimental crap, and irritation at the sight of mess. I am completely impossible to satisfy.
The about-the-house habits of our other halves are a favourite discussion point amongst my female friends. Having a collection of worn socks at the end of the bed is not uncommon, I’ve learnt, and nor is blindness to an overflowing washing basket. Our priorities are just different.
But that is not to say that this is just a girl-boy battle where we women are the clean and shiny victims whilst the men wish to be left alone in squalor. It definitely feels like that sometimes in this house but let’s not start a row.
No, it seems that what we have is a world where – unsurprisingly – it is very unlikely that two people are going to want to live in exactly the same way. We may love the bones of each other, but our views on what qualifies as a reasonable period of time for a used cereal bowl to be left on the coffee table are wildly different.
When we got engaged earlier this year I spent the rest of the weekend dancing around on a cloud of joy, delighted at the lifetime of happiness before us. And I am still delighted, of course I am. But I must admit that after such a romantic gesture as having someone offer their entire life and worldly goods to you (including half the beloved X-Box), it came as something of a shock to find myself sighing about a badly filled dishwasher just a fortnight later.
In truth, whilst the ring protects me from other potential suitors – sent crying back to their homes when the news that I was betrothed was announced – and the fateful ‘so when are YOU getting married?’ question at dinner parties – it turns out that it is not a magical real-life sorting device. Those hobs won’t clean themselves, you know.
But if the ring can’t do it, then at least we have our dear friend Tolerance. A fickle friend in my experience that disappears at the first sign of trouble when I wake up after a nap on the sofa at 11.30pm and notice our dirty dinner plates are still on the table – but a friend nonetheless.
And without it we wouldn’t have much. I certainly wouldn’t have a man who’s willing to commit his life to a woman who goes ape-shit at the first sign of a drink daring to stand without a coaster. Wow, even writing it makes me mad. Let’s just agree to disagree on that one.
And they lived happily ever after.