Caitlin Moran – a somewhat predictable heroine of mine – once told a popular women’s magazine that her marriage works because her and her husband make sure that they’re always polite to each other.
This is going to sound awful, but it really struck a chord with me as it’s something I often forget to do.
Now, don’t get me wrong, manners were drummed into me as a child. People on the tube, waitresses and shop assistants get my good side and a please, thank you and an over zealous “sorry” to those I hardly know are a given. But when it comes to the people I love? I can be really quite rude.
I used to see it as just ‘my nature’. I liked to think of myself as a straight-talking, know what I want sort of woman, but if the gobbiest feminist of them all is telling me to reign in the rudeness a little with the man I love, then perhaps I should? Not in a desperate housewives sort of way, of course. Just in a sort of decent human being way.
Naturally, when you’re that tight with someone, or the going gets tough (which it inevitably will in life), then it’s impossible to be the best version of yourself all day, every day. The truth is, with them, you shouldn’t have to be. But aside from that, it would just be exhausting and unnatural, so we save our best sides for work colleagues, people we’re sat with at weddings and mum’s best friend Geraldine. In front of our other halves, however, we turn into hobgoblins, Jekylls, Hydes and everything in between.
Why? Because we can, of course.
Although it’s okay to have a good moan to your partner in crime of an evening about gripes and grievances faced throughout the day, it’s not their fault that you forgot your Oyster that morning, or that you didn’t get the promotion you deserve. They didn’t single-handedly form that massive queue in Wasabi on your lunch break and it wasn’t them that cancelled on you yet again. So don’t take it out on him. Or her.
Without thinking, we start to use the people we love the most as our emotional punch bags because we know they can’t sack you and they’re unlikely to turn their back on your tears. We know that they will instead be wiping them away and telling you what a wally you are whilst running you a hot bath to make it all better. This is love, yes, but don’t take it for granted. They’re only human and will walk eventually. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and (who’d have thought it?!) manners.
Don’t get me wrong, if they’ve recorded over the next episode of OITNB or nabbed the last slab of Galaxy, then let them know about it. But don’t talk to them as though they’ve just killed your brother. And don’t say something you’ll later regret, which is very easy to do.
So the next time you feel like flying off the handle at the only person who will listen, remember what my (and probably your) hero said and just be polite. And use your words instead of losing your shit.
So simple, yet apparently so effective.
I used to think that marriage sounded like a bit of a chore, but if that’s the secret to a successful one, then count me in.