Forever Love

valentine

I was once told by a marriage guidance counsellor that it was possible to tell almost straight away whether a couple should stay together or not. This person in the know said that we, Mr H and I should, that is, should be together. I cling to that some days.  I also cling to the thought of his smile that can instantly create a smile for me and warmth inside, as I cling to other more intimate moments not for sharing but worth reminding myself of. I also remind myself that if I bottled the countless times the man has made me laugh I’d need a large warehouse on the edge of town for storage. However, right now I could do with visiting that fictitious warehouse and releasing some mirth into our life because to be honest things are currently pretty dire.

Parenting is the problem, the only problem really but the subject of how to parent our children is causing each of us never ending heart ache. The disagreements that occur, usually mid outburst from a child, and the harsh words this induces can leave us both feeling gut wrenchingly sad. Sad that no common ground is to be found, sad that we have yet again turned down this path of such harsh and unforgiving terrain. Sad that such a negative spot could ever have been reached between us.  Who knew it would cause this amount of hostility and yet how could we have known?

I suppose we might have looked at our own experiences of being parented and realise that our family lives whilst full of love, the expression of love was in some ways different.

My own upbringing revolved very much around my father and us, the three adoring females in his life, my mum, my sister and I. Led very much by my mum we all aimed to please, him and each other, confrontation was rare but there were often volcanic eruptions of emotions from anyone of us girls. Dad whilst sometimes selfish parented in a patient, unrattled way which demanded respect, which he duly gained. Mum was always loving, always nurturing and always there, holding my hand, hugging and wiping away tears.

Mr H is very protective of his parents and his upbringing which I highly respect and understand. As an outsider entering his family home, in the teenage years of our romance, I was greatly struck by their different family dynamics. This family poked fun at each other, pointed out each other’s downfalls and laughed at them together, using this banter as a currency of love. It took me aback at first but on many levels I gained a respect and admiration for it, almost a hint of jealousy. Slowly through my relationship with Mr H he has opened my eyes to amusement in places I did not previously find it, taught me very much to laugh at myself and most importantly the tonic that laughter can bring to your life.

Pit these two family styles against each other in the arena of parenting, especially adoptive parenting and a skirmish may and has commenced. Poking fun against nurturing love, provoking reaction versus avoiding confrontation giddiness battling calmness are all common conflicts in our household.

I really don’t want to go about listing and pin pointing the many downfalls we both have but the crux of it all is this.

I’m the therapeutic mummy who’s read all the books, changes her approach according to the children’s needs, remains calm, none antagonistic and non-judgemental. I prioritise the wellbeing of my traumatised children. Or so I believe. What he sees I think, is an inconsistent parent who changes her ways to suit herself, alienates him and thinks she knows it all.

He’s the hot headed father who provokes confrontation with silly banter and never listens to me. When actually he’s a father wanting to connect with his children using what he knows best, banter, whilst, being practically supportive but struggling with the emotional bit. He’s also tired and depleted from hearing his wife tell him he’s not doing it right.

When we reach a space such as this one with its blackened edges clouding all route of escape, I worry. I worry for our future; can our hearts withstand the strain?

I have no magical resolution for this problem; I know not what to do, other than what we normally do. Find time to talk without shouting. We do this best when out walking or out eating, creating a more amicable space in which to discuss, share and see it from the others point of view.

I also look to our children, knowing they too feel the strain between us at times and that guilt kicks sharply at my stomach. I worry about the damage our friction my cause, but then with a wicked smile of mischief and a witty retort one of them will remind me. Remind me that his father’s humour has become imbedded in their hearts, bringing strength to their personality and giving them confidence to enjoy laughter and fun. Then there is the tenderness that they show when I’m feeling a bit low, bringing kisses and hugs, asking “what’s wrong?” and “shall I make you a tea?” I’m hoping this empathy has been learnt from empathy shown to them. So as I worry about our hearts being strained by differences I see too the strengths our differences bring.

Someone once told me, not a marriage guidance counsellor this time, that it is not always the good times that matter but your ability to see through the bad times together that truly make a marriage. I believe this to be true. I also know that not three weeks ago Mr H and I spent a lovely night away together where we laughed, talked and basked in each others company  feeling heart warmingly close. I’m trying very much to cling to this, as I also cling to the belief that we will pass through these dark clouds and find clear skies again as we have many times before.

Addendum : Mr H has organised a nice lunch and a walk for us tomorrow.

19 Comments

  1. Helen Braid February 13, 2013 / 12:05 pm

    Oh I’m sorry you are having such a rough patch. It is so clear from your writing the love and fierce loyalty you feel for your family :) I’d say both pieces of advice you were given are worth their weight in gold. A stranger recognised in you both a relationship that could work and your friend was spot on when she told you its how we cope with the bad times that are a true reflection. My husband and I are very different, but unlike your situation, it is me who deals with stuff by making jokes and poking fun. I may be able to write about emotional issues but in the flesh I am TERRIBLE at it! I’m sure you each have strengths which help the other. At the moment you have 2 young boys who need all your love and care, but those boys will turn into men and life will shift a gear again. This is a difficult spell but I hope it will pass and things will be much easier. Take care and enjoy lunch tomorrow xx

    • thepuffindiaries February 13, 2013 / 12:16 pm

      Helen , thank you for your lovely words. I think I’m able to write with clarity on the matter because I know it wont last for ever and we will come through. Things are improving already. xx

  2. thefamilyof5 February 13, 2013 / 1:30 pm

    I think the marriage counsellor got it right, you can see how both of your qualities are benefitting your children, relisience is what you’ve both given them with your love and kindess, albeit in different ways. And its the resilience within your family that will pull you all together through the tough times.
    Your already pulling together, your being compassionate about your husbands differences as you write here, not once have you critisied him, and he’s also regognising your needs and is being practical and compassionate by arranging a lovely time together, a perfect match. Adoptive parenting is tough on a marriage but your love for each other is so very clearly tougher, I don’t think you need to worry, you’ll be swapping false teath in your retirement home in the sun I’m sure x

    • thepuffindiaries February 13, 2013 / 1:41 pm

      That retirement home had better be in the sun or it will all be over!x

  3. Jaime Oliver February 13, 2013 / 2:27 pm

    Sarah your posts are always so honest and heartfelt that they touch every heart string. This i am sure is just a passing phase. Hope you have a really great time tomorrow. x

    • thepuffindiaries February 13, 2013 / 2:32 pm

      Thanks Jamie. I don’t seem to know any other way to write it’s warts and all I suppose. Mr H has read and seen though. I wouldn’t do it if he wasn’t happy for me to say. x

      • Jaime Oliver February 13, 2013 / 2:39 pm

        The good thing is he is obviously wanting to sort this too. We all have these phases and it will be a passing phase i am sure xx

  4. Lindsay February 13, 2013 / 4:38 pm

    I think the fact that you both recognize where your parenting styles come from and are acknowledging that they are different from one another means that you are half way there to solving the problem. (BTW – cute picture!)

    • thepuffindiaries February 13, 2013 / 4:42 pm

      Yes we do talk, sometime through gritted teeth but that’s a plus. x

  5. Older Mum (@Older_Mum) February 15, 2013 / 9:09 am

    What an honest and touching post – the fact that you are so aware of the difference – the fact that you can recognise that your husband has a different style – that fact that you can see both styles in your children – the fact you had the thumb up from the counsellor, bode very well indeed. Parenting can be so stressful on the marital relationship – I am in a very similar with my husband – each parenting style is the ‘right way’which is just daft – they both have their merits and pitfalls. X.

    • thepuffindiaries February 15, 2013 / 9:43 am

      We bring different things definitely to the relationship and to parenting, mostly all valid. Things have improved already , I think writing the post helped. Thank you for your supportive words.X

  6. clairejustineoxox February 15, 2013 / 10:50 am

    Arr I hope you had a lovely lunch and enjoyed the time together , just read the last comment I am glad its getting better sometime we need to get things out so you can move forward….

  7. bavariansojourn February 16, 2013 / 2:23 pm

    Sorry you’re having a bit of a rough time of it… It is completely normal, don’t worry. Parenting is one of the biggest challenges to any relationship, and what’s important is to make some time for yourself as a couple, to just be…. And it sounds like you are already doing that! Good luck with it all! :)

  8. amandaboormanblog February 17, 2013 / 2:59 am

    I really loved this. It’s so familiar and in many ways reassuring that “it’s not just us”. Also made me a little sad for all those loving couples who have to deal with such difficult circumstances. Your love shines through though so just think what amazingly wise grandparents you would make together!! Thanks xxx

    • thepuffindiaries February 17, 2013 / 9:01 am

      It’s kind of why I wrote it. I knew I was being very honest but I was also certain that we were not alone. I have found much comfort in adoption blogs reassuring me about my children but the strain on a relationship is not often mentioned. So glad it meant just that to you., but yes t is sad that couples face these difficulties. We are on the up, I think, and thank you for reading. xxx

  9. Mumdrah February 17, 2013 / 10:37 pm

    Sometimes i think its a relief for our kids when they see us ‘mess up’ or have conflict. I know it freaks them out, but i think it also helps them to know other people aren’t perfect and they aren’t the only ones who get things ‘wrong’.

    I think is also helps them to see what happens afterwards; the connecting back up, the clearing up and unraveling of the mess caused, the “I handled that badly, this is what i meant to say/do” – it exemplifies emotional regulation etc. As for the relationship part, i wouldn’t dare comment: single parent adoption has its benefits! Mx

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