The advantage of being married to the same person for thirteen years is that you usually agree on the big stuff. Indeed, this is probably why you stay married to this person for that length of time – disagreements on issues such as, ‘where should we live,’ and, ‘should we have children/a dog/a cat/a time-share in Magalouf’, are all key issues which require mutual accord.
My husband and I have managed to achieve agreement on most of the key decisions over the years, although there was a moment very early on during our first ever trip to Ikea. I think it was excessive stress due to being unable to find the tills or a person to ask about the location of said tills (I wanted to find a person, he just wanted to leave), but we were young and carefree and had no idea what real stress was. That came later with mortgages, marriage and small people.
Then there was the time when we were trying to decide where to live and having visited a very expensive and very unpleasant flat above an Undertakers in Tooting, he made the following wide-eyed suggestion.
‘Why don’t we go and live in a house-boat on the Thames?’
We were both working in publishing at the time, both with company cars, travelling to customers the length and breadth of the country. I gave him a look, which was quite new and unpractised back then but which is pretty skilled now. At first, he didn’t understand the look and we had a heated debate about the relative merits of living on a boat, whilst trying to maintain a professional lifestyle or merely stay warm, dry and happy. He was quite passionate about it whilst I was violently opposed. To paraphrase the late Brian Clough, we talked about it for twenty minutes and then decided I was right.
I wouldn’t want you to misunderstand me, reader friends. I don’t always get my way and my husband is categorically not a pushover. He’s actually as stubborn as a mule wearing a pair of mules, who got straight As in ‘won’t budge, ‘can’t make me,’ and ‘what are you going to do about it?’.
Unfortunately so am I.
Recently we had a conversation about the pros and cons of summer and autumn, and it became immediately apparent that we are in entirely opposite camps. It went something like this:
Me: I love autumn. I love cold, crisp mornings and falling leaves turning orange and red. It’s the most beautiful time of year.
Husband: There’s always dog poo in piles of leaves. Leaves are not to be trusted.
Me (ignoring this): But it’s such a refreshing season. It’s like nature’s way of clearing away the old plants and getting the earth ready for next spring.
Husband: Everything dies.
Me (ploughing on regardless): The evenings draw in and you can cosy up, nestle under a blanket and watch great television like Strictly for instance.
Husband (with eyebrows raised): I don’t like Strictly.
Me (casting around for a positive): You like Claudia Winkleman. And the music, you like the music. And Ola Jordan.
Husband (nodding): I guess
Me (thinking I’m on to a winner here): And the football season has started. Liverpool are on almost every weekend.
Husband (frowning): They lost last weekend.
Me: Yes but-
Husband (on a downward spiral): And the weekend before.
Me (in slight desperation): What about roast dinners?
Husband (slightly more cheerful): Yeah, roasts are good.
Me: And then there’s Fireworks night and Christmas.
Husband (pedantically): That’s winter, not autumn.
Me (through clenched teeth): True, but what about misty mornings and cold but sunny days, apples on the trees and my home-made parkin.
Husband (nodding): I do like parkin.
Me (smiling and putting an arm around his shoulder): See? Autumn is great isn’t it?
Husband (smiling at me before planting a kiss on my cheek and moving to the safety of the doorway): It is but summer’s still better.
He grins at me before darting from the room, fearing a punch on the arm. I sigh and fold my arms. I could come back with a retort but I’m playing the long game here and I know exactly how to resolve it.
I head to the kitchen and set about taking out the ingredients needed to make parkin. I will be victorious and I will use cake to achieve my victory because everyone knows that cake is the trump card that wins every time.