My husband and I have just celebrated our 4th anniversary on Saturday, 7/7, over a telephone-ordered pizza and a shop-bought chocolate pudding. (I have to emphasize that given the fact that I’m a cooking blogger.) Anyway, looking back fours years down the lane I am surprised to see what I have become because of my marriage. I had never thought of myself as a cooking enthusiast, not to mention making Italian (gourmet) foods — The word in the parentheses is a wish. Because of my accomplishment in the kitchen I feel so proud of myself. Had I not married my Sicilian husband, I wouldn’t have been what I am now–health conscious cook. But that is just one of the many wonderful things that have transpired since I got married.
How Marriage Transformed Me
Marriage has enabled me to unleash the power I didn’t know I had. 30 something and still single, I knew I was over the hills but somehow I felt I was still immature and was scared that I wouldn’t fit the role of a wife. So when I met my husband-to-be I told him of my incapabilities such as cooking and driving. But he assured me that I didn’t have to worry because I would learn to do them in the process. He was right! That’s what I like about men — they are logical, whereas, we, women, are emotional and worrier. We worry about everything which sometimes–if not most of the time–blinds us to the possibilities.
One of the early inconveniences of my marriage was the thought that I was married to a control-freak. For a time this mentality bullied me to an almost crippling degree. I am not the argumentative type of a person and whenever I felt like I was being controlled or dominated I would sit in one corner and cry. I just couldn’t stand up for myself. Then my husband would suddenly turn mellow and like a snow that melts when the mercury goes up, he would embrace me tight and say that he didn’t mean to hurt my ego, that I was just overreacting and that he didn’t mean it the way I thought. There were so many episodes of this like for example I thought he raised his voice at me and he would say that he was just talking louder. The climb seemed too steep for me and many times I thought of giving up.
The Paradigm Shift
One day I stumbled with Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in a charity shop and without a second thought I went to the counter to check it out. I have had a seminar with this book several years ago but didn’t actually read it until now. Upon arriving home I completely immersed myself with its pages and I couldn’t put it down. I found so many interesting points such as Frankl’s “fundamental principle about the nature of man: Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose” (sic), Eleanor Roosevelt’s observation, “No one can hurt you without your consent” and many more. In his research, Covey gathered that
“Reactive people are affected by their social environment, by the “social weather.” When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don’t, they become defensive of protective. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behaviour of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.”
Reading the above paragraph, I went “Aha! There lies my problem. I was over-reacting and all this time I had the freedom to choose otherwise.” It was such a hard knock on my head and it opened my eyes wide. Over the weeks that came by, I waited for the opportunity to apply the principle of Proactive Approach. It didn’t come easy for the first time. But gradually, it became easier to use at my disposal.
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
Another book that has been of great help to me is John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. I read this book years before I even met my husband, yet the information I gathered about the differences between a man and a woman came in really handy. There are times when my husband watches movies online for hours on end. Sometimes it made me feel like he was trying to avoid spending time with me. Because we just got married, I thought our first couple of years would be like a honeymoon stage all throughout, that we would be cuddling all the time, going out and sit on a bench in a park together. But I came to the realization that it happens only in movies and not all frogs turn into a prince when they get a kiss because it is just a fairy-tale. I exist in a real world and sometimes reality is harsh when all the while one believes in fairy tales.
Any woman who believes that all (Italian) men are like Romeo is a fool. Romeo is a fictitious character and he doesn’t exist in a real world. It took me a couple of years of being married before I realized that.
Gray also discussed that men are like rubberbands while women are like waves. A man will distance himself and when he reaches his farthest limit he would come back closer than before just like the rubber band when you stretch it. Whereas a woman has mood swings like the wave. Sometimes I would ask my husband to buy me something but he would say no. Then a few days later he would come home with exactly the thing I had asked him. Then of course I would be very surprised and the degree of my happiness is far better than if he had consented to get it for me on the day I asked.
Tightwad or Just Being Sensible
Perhaps the most important thing, among many others, my husband taught me is money management. I thought all European men give flowers to their ladies. So on Valentines day I asked my husband “Where is my flower?” But to my surprise he replied, “There is flower in the garden. Go and pick one.” I was flabbergasted! I couldn’t believe my ears. I thought that was really rude and unromantic. But I kept my disappointment to myself and eventually forgot about it.
On my second birthday in the UK I told my husband I wanted to celebrate it in Italy. We went. The following year, I told him I wanted to see the Flower Festival in Noto, Sicilly. We went.
Then I thought, “Hmm, that’s my husband, he wouldn’t buy me flowers but he would buy me a plane ticket.”
Looking at all these points, I realized my husband is not a control-freak afterall. It’s just that I was overreacting and expecting too much from him. My marriage has made me mature and overcome my idiosyncrasies. Thanks to my demanding husband, I have learned to say No not only to him but to others as well. On the other hand, I also thank him for being so understanding and supportive when I need it most.