...But That's Okay.
By Hayley Doyle
Yesterday, I almost broke my ankle on my husband’s slippers. Again.
I’m not being dramatic. His feet are three times the size of mine. Those slippers take up serious space. But they’re on the floor, flat, a little camouflaged into the carpet. I don’t naturally see them at eye-level. No. I just trip over them. Constantly. And this isn’t due to my carelessness. Or having a bad memory. You see, these slippers are rarely in the same place twice. They magically appear like a bug ready to attack me. They test me, waiting for me to explode. Or break my ankle.
“I nearly tripped over them again!” I hollered. “Just put them away! Or wear them!”
Unsurprisingly, I was met with the most frustrating - and nonchalant - answer. “They’re only slippers,” he said, which translates into, “Calm down, you’re massively overreacting about something I’ve done that you think is wrong when in truth it’s not wrong, it’s really no problem at all, not in the slightest.”
And in that moment, I hated my husband.
But it’s okay.
Within minutes, I’d forgotten about this pang of hatred and normal life kicked in again. The slippers weren’t ever truly left to injure me or force me into losing my mind (I write, optimistically…). Although sometimes, occurrences such as Slipper-Gate can spiral downwards quickly, highlighting the list of other reasons why I hate my husband. Again, it’s okay! None of these reasons are crazy serious and many can’t be helped. I don’t know anybody who genuinely wants to snore when lying on their back. But these small, unimportant annoyances can get out of control in relationships if we’re not careful, and before long, you’ll be living with another human who you simply cannot stand. The constant negativity will weaken your bond, causing cracks to appear and that’s when the real problems slip through. Suddenly, it’s not okay.
So how do we prevent a bit of intense - yet harmless - hate from turning into the unthinkable? Never bicker? Become ultra zen? Accept the yucky morning throat clearances? Let go of the fact that they’re more addicted to their phone than usual when your parents come to visit? And how - even after a decade of being together - they still cannot read your mind?!
Of course not.
It’s good to hate. In small doses. Your partner needs to annoy you (and don’t think for a second that you never annoy them). You’re in this together, remember. You chose each other. A consistently picture perfect relationship without conflict would be soul destroying, allowing no room to let off steam and more importantly, no opportunity to kiss and make up. The more familiar you are with one another, the more humdrum things become, so it’s vital to recognise the highs and feel that rush of love and satisfaction which, honestly, is difficult without the lows.
It’s what I call Everyday Love. The love that’s evolved from Romantic Love. It’s not sad or depressing, in fact, it’s the best kind. Sure, it’s lovely to reminisce about the dizzy, jittery early days of being together; the butterflies, always poised to impress and on your very best behaviour. And wow, ripping each other’s clothes off at any given chance was hot as hell! But did you know that Romantic Love is your brain producing oxytocin - the bonding hormone - and dopamine - the happy hormone - which triggers desire, addiction and euphoria? It’s like taking a drug, which means the effects are short-lived. Naturally, you build up a tolerance to these feelings and they begin to fade. For some, this is where the relationship ends. But for others, the butterflies don’t fade away to nothing; they mature and grow into a different stage of love. Trust. And this is the long-lasting kind.
You might be thinking, yeah, this all sounds lovely, but… I still hate my husband.
Fine. I get it. They put their gym stuff in the machine with your best shirt… They have no idea when your kid’s next routine vaccinations are… They ask you a question that you’d provided the answer to five minutes ago…
Think about the last person you had fun with outside of your relationship. Your best friend? Favourite colleague? Old uni mate? Sibling? I bet you had an absolute ball. A riot. You talked about deep stuff with an intensity you’ve not experienced with your partner in ages. You laughed hard. You were on the same page from start to finish. You really had so much to say. Your soul was nourished.
Now, imagine you live with that person. They sleep in your bed. Their clothes share your wardrobe. Their toothbrush and floss are side by side with yours. You use the same toilet. You smell their farts. Do you really want to do this with your party-pal bestie? Or the friend from college you can’t help getting nostalgic with? Seriously, can you see yourself unmasking your habits, being a bit gross or having an exhausted sulk around anybody other than your actual partner? The one you hate (a bit)?
Everyday Love comes with eye rolling and irritation, sure. But it’s also part of creating a deeper, more complex understanding of another human. The human who you chose to embark on this journey with. You didn’t choose one of your best friends. Maybe you house-shared with them in the past and it was pretty awful. You saw a side to them you’d rather not see every day. And you definitely didn’t choose the last person you dated before your partner. Or the one before. An Ex is an Ex for a reason! Hey, it’s worth reminding yourself of that reason before you fall down a petty rabbit hole after too many glasses of grape. So learn to accept that you will get annoyed with each other, often. If I tripped up on anybody else’s slippers as much as I trip up on my husband’s, that relationship would’ve been dead and buried in a heartbeat.
The slope going in the opposite direction to love is indeed a slippery one… excuse the pun. But if your problems are still on the surface, don’t let them grind you down. It’s okay to hate each other, a bit. Just remember to let the harmony outweigh the hate, with some daily effortless ways…
Assume the Best - Rather than always assuming your partner is doing something wrong, look for the good. Are they working late because you’re both saving for a holiday? Are they glued to their phone because they’re sorting out your birthday? Are they putting in extra hours at the gym because they’re worried about their health?
It’s the Little Things - You might have made grand gestures at the start of your relationship, but this isn’t sustainable. Little moments of thoughtfulness can spread so much joy, such as making a cup of tea or buying a bunch of daffodils. We all get bogged down in what we need, so pay attention to their needs, too. Don’t forget this is a partnership.
Say, I Love You - This isn’t something you only say during the honeymoon phase. There are no rules. It’s okay to profess your love. Just say it. On the sofa while you’re both doomscrolling. As they’re loading the dishwasher. Add a peck on the cheek or if you fancy, give ‘em a full on snog. Why not? Seriously. Why not?!
AND, Thank You - Manners don’t just disappear when you say, I Do. We thank shop assistants every day. We’re super grateful when that mum at the school gate notices your nice new jacket. So thank your partner. They likely do more for you than anybody else on the planet, and even if it’s taking your knickers out of the dryer, aren’t you glad you didn’t have to do that?!
Give a Compliment - It’s so easy to tell a stranger that their hair looks great, so why not give your partner a boost? Ask them about work and praise what they’ve achieved. Remind them how good blue looks on them. Tell them they’re funny. This is your person. Fill them with whatever makes them smile.
So if you’re in Everyday Love, remind yourself why you have this person in your life. And seriously; wouldn’t it be unbearable if they weren’t? So, go on. Put the kettle on.