Thursday, March 6, 2014

ON RELATIONSHIPS: HOW MUCH DO YOU TELL HIM?


When I go on my big walks, I tend to think about a million different things. A lot of the time thoughts just seem to lead to others and then other times there'll be a lyric in a song that'll get me thinking about a very particular idea. Today, as I was shuffling through my iPod, the song "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" by Ketty Lester came on. The lyrics go like this:

Does he ask you to tell him about the other loves you've had?
And when you try to change the subject, does it make him mad?
Does he say he's only being curious and regardless, it won't make him furious?
Yeah, some things are better left unsaid. Take it from me, some things are better left unsaid.

This is such a divisive topic, I think. There's the camp who'll tell you you're under no obligation to tell your husband every little thing about your past and then there is the other camp who would tell you that, being a part of you, your husband should know everything. I remember once dating a guy or two who stood by the rule that they never asked a question they couldn't handle the answer to. I could totally understand their way of thinking but damn it if it meant I had to play by the same rules! Sure the answers might kill me, but there's no way I'd be able to not ask - if it's on my mind, I won't be distracted from the thought until I know!

When I met James, it was very clear this was the person I had not necessarily been looking for but definitely should have been (let's face it, I just wasn't convinced guys like him existed). I must say, in addition to being a very decent person, I was blown away by his untarnished record - sure, he'd had a couple of relationships he regretted but there didn't seem to be any hint of an unsavoury past. No drugs, no drunkenness, no strip club habit, no waking up in unfamiliar bedrooms around town... As it turns out, he just simply didn't feel a pull toward the same things others might. Not that I'm casting judgement on either, it was just different, intimidating even. 

Now, I'm not going to say I'm Bad Girl RiRi but there were things that I really worried about telling him. But, having met someone I was convinced  was my soulmate, I felt strongly that he should know everything about me and be cool with it. At the time we met, I was back on the cigarette wagon. Of course, he didn't know that I had this dirty little habit and for the first few dates, I turned up sans cigarettes. You can imagine how, after a few vodka lime and sodas, I was resisting the cravings with great difficulty. There was even one night it looked like I might as well stay over, we'd stayed up talking so long, but instead I feigned tiredness only so I could leave and be reunited with Lady Nicotine. It was then that I decided it just couldn't go on. If it was possible for him to be put off me, then I ought to know sooner rather than later. The next time we met was at his house. I decided to throw caution to the wind and take along my beloved Vogues. Finding the the right moment, I divulged - in a very feigned nonchalant tone - that I actually smoke from time to time (ha!) He appeared completely unconcerned about my revelation and promptly invited me to go ahead and use his balcony if I felt like it. This, from a man who has never smoked a cigarette in his life? I was gobsmacked.

But then there's the other things. The Other Guy things. I have a theory that if you're suppressing something, Murphy's Law will have it that that information will find a way of getting out. Take our first date, for instance. We talked about where we grew up, how many siblings we have, how we found our way to Sydney et cetera, et cetera. Now, when I told James that actually I moved to Sydney from regional Victoria when I was barely 17, I am almost certain he knew there was a story in there. He's nobody's fool, my hubby! His reaction is so funny to me now. Rather than asking why, which could (but was unlikely to) have led to a weird and awkward "I'm not telling you", he instead remarked: "Wow, so you moved from Country Victoria to Sydney at 17, that's quite a step". Is it, James? Is it really? I mean, I can't take all the credit, considering the 37 year old father of one I had taken up with already had a place there and was in fact the one who bought me my one way ticket to Sydney... Of course, with me being very much not a woman of few words and the world's worst liar, I told him the facts of the matter straight away. I was embarrassed, I won't lie. I worried he might judge me somehow, think me strange, perhaps wonder if I had a Father Complex (I don't! Honest!) But he didn't bat an eyelid. I realise now it was exactly the way he should have reacted because goodness knows it doesn't even matter, but that isn't always how people are. I've commonly heard men and women say "I just couldn't be with someone who [insert triviality here]" and to me that is just so limiting and at times closed-minded. Which is obviously perfect if your partner doesn't have a problem with closed-mindedness but I kind of do. Anyway! Revealing what I did and seeing how he reacted helped me to see if this wonderful thing we had was the Real Deal.

I've been an open book in my relationship. There have been more truths revealed over the years, some so cringey I've had the words sitting right there on my tongue but I've been far too embarrassed to say them. Then when I have finally forced them out (hastily, and with a pillow covering my face), I've subsequently blocked my ears so I don't hear his reaction, in some attempt to just kill and not have to relive for one second the embarrassment again. But, just like when you relive an awful drunken memory with your best friend, after the words are out, you've revealed something you thought you'd never tell anyone, you feel better. It's out of there. Phew. And sometimes you can even laugh about it. I think the whole "open book policy" brings you closer, too. I've never been totally open in a relationship before. I've always kept a lot of myself to myself; created a distance; and I know he has too. He is the only man on this earth who knows more about me than anyone and vice versa. And the fact that he still thinks I'm the bees knees and I am compelled to write long, gushing posts on my bog about us, is very special indeed.

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