But in some ways one would be useful, to help you prepare for the unexpected tasks that’ll come your way. Participation in daily games of ‘have you seen my keys/phone/wallet?’ is one example, as is negotiating Sock Mountain which mysteriously forms at the end of the bed each week, despite the ready availability and easy-to-lift lid of the laundry basket.And another is always being available to give a pep talk.
Now, if you hold the same level of contempt for sport as I do (it’s high, it’s very high) then you won’t have paid much attention to the pep talk element of films before. It’s that bit where the coach tells the sports people that they’re all champions whether they win or lose but *spoiler* they always then win because that’s what happens when everybody wears matching jackets and makes speeches set to music, apparently.
But when you’re in a relationship – your own personal team which you very much want to do well – it’s you that has to give the motivational speeches. Because, as I’ve said before, you’re in charge of holding each other up against whatever might happen to come your way. Jobs will be hard, people will be tricky and sometimes Tesco will run out of chocolate covered raisins and you’re going to have to help each other through it.
Sometimes a person is just going to come right out and ask for one – they’re going to say, hey, I’m struggling and I need you to talk me down. But that will only come from somebody who knows what they need which, in my case, took about five years to learn. In the run up to such knowledge came many tantrums, throwing around of the arms and expressions of “I AM VERY UPSET AND I DON’T KNOW WHY!” My arms were constantly flailing from approx 2005 – 10, FYI.
But then there are the other kind – the more common genre – the kind that you have to force upon a person, which will come about more regularly. You will notice that the other person is in need of a boost, probably before they’ve realised themselves. Perhaps confidence is lacking, or they’re trying to conquer an age-old demon (fear of absolutely everybody in the world thinking I’m a total dickhead is a favourite of mine), or maybe they’re just overtired and need to be reminded that everything will look much better in the morning.
And in any of these cases, what you need to do, is take it upon yourself to hit that person hard with the truth. Perhaps they are being over-sensitive but you understand why, or maybe they’ve taken on too much and they’re getting stressed out, or perhaps their view of the world is being hampered by the poor performance of some rugby team they care an unhealthy amount about. Whatever it is, you’ve got to break it to them; it’s your duty.
And after that come the niceties, the compliments, the reminders that they are in fact a super swell person who you have gone so far as to marry/move in with/go on a date with more than once. You get to tell them that they are actually a very decent/reasonable/rational human really, they just needed to be reminded. It’s really a very nice part of the job.
In fact, it’s one of the best parts – not just in marriage, but in other relationships too, with friends or family – it’s a privilege to know somebody well enough to be able to have a conversation that makes them feel better, to reassure them that they’re not doing life wrong. Because sometimes it’s just very hard to tell, isn’t it.
This is just another part of relationships that nobody warns you about and that nobody sees, but that actually quietly defines you.
Thankfully the same cannot be said for discussions about Sock Mountain.