This was the headlines in Yahoo Singapore. You can read it here.
The article points to research by the well-regarded Carnegie Mellon University where 163 married couples were studied. It was discovered that people with supportive spouses were more likely to take on potentially rewarding challenges. Those who accepted challenges experienced more personal growth, happiness and psychological well-being just a few months later. Common sense, OK? … and of course, this article cited Barack and Michelle Obama.
I am writing this post because perhaps we should think about what we value when we choose the spouse that will make us “successful”. Forgive me for generalising, but women tend to go for a well-to-do, successful professional who has a high social standing (read grand job title) as a desired quality to have in a spouse, whilst men often opt for trophy wives who will make other men envious.
What about a potential spouse’s ability to love unconditionally, patience with children, capacity to support you emotionally? How about someone who will walk in the rain and storms for you? For me personally, I find this far preferable to an outwardly successful man who is emotionally absent, or even unkind in the home.
“I know why you are with me,” my partner would jest. “Since I am so far from your idea of perfection: I don’t do posey London flats, cute cottages in the home counties, dinner parties, or fukin Savile Row suits.”
“Only God knows why. You don’t even shave.”
“Aaaaah, but I know how to rebuild your heart.”
In more ways than one, and this is why I am “successful”. With his steady, unwavering support – despite his annoying shortcomings – I have come such a long way from the dark days when I was too ill even to walk up three flights of stairs. He could understand the squiggles of my ECG and the signature beats of my heart on a stethoscope. I remember lying in the operating theatre whilst he catheterised my heart, all formal and standoffish with me.
But relationships are always a two-way street. You can’t just take, take, take without giving an ounce back. It was something I signed up for a few years back, and it bled me dry, though it was only for a very short period in my life.
So what do I bring to the party? I am hot-tempered, impulsive, opinionated, arrogant and I fuss about organic food, green smoothies and bone broth, all which drive him mad. But at the same time, I am loyal, I love him fiercely, passionately and madly, I have been a good critic and unofficial co-author of his academic papers (he hates writing), I am his constant companion, and I give him the love of my family.
“Yes?” I asked him.
He grinned. “It’s good to have a doctor in my bed.”
Yeah, I nursed him back to health when he was struck down by amoeboid dysentery. So looks like we are quits. “No we’re not, Jac! You almost killed me! I didn’t realise you hated me that much.”
Our friends would look at us and say, “You both are quite mad.”
And we would laugh and toast ourselves, “There is none like us alive. If there were, they would have killed each other off already.”
Yes, I do feel like killing him often. He calls me Tub (for tubby, which I currently am at the moment). Never anything romantic or sexy. I call him worse things, especially when he says, “You do drink an awful lot, Tub, it’s all gone straight down to your waist…er, what waist?” Or “You’re evil when you’re inebriated, Tub, better stop before the horns pop out.”
So what makes it work for us, given that there are more things that don’t work?
We have the same outrageous sense of humour, we are fiery and we are nuts about each other. We have family supporting us, ironing the wrinkles out of our relationship. And most of all, we are not going to run away when we are challenged. No, we stay and fight for our imperfect, sharp-around-the-edges, strong love.
“Stick to programme, Tub,” he reminds me whenever I feel like throwing the towel in.
Yeah, I will. Because I would not amount to much without him dragging me, kicking and screaming, to be my best self. And I do need someone who could fix my strong, stubborn and angry heart, as my family and close friends constantly remind me.
Note: This is a semi-lighthearted post.
Related post (research from Harvard): You need a good husband/wife