How well do you know the person you live with...

22 December 2015

By The Window Seat

In my new novel The Winter Children, a woman discovers that her husband is capable of keeping a secret with the potential to destroy their relationship.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, now that I’m a dozen years married myself. We’re conditioned to think that marriage is the end of the story, a happy couple, utterly devoted and perfectly matched, walk into the sunset hand in hand, when it is actually only the beginning of a longer, more complicated story with no guarantee of a happy conclusion.  

Of course I knew that life would hold challenges for my husband and me, but assumed that we would face them together. Unexpectedly, the greatest challenge has been learning the truth about each other, and ourselves. Marriage begins like looking into a magic mirror and seeing your most attractive self reflected there. But as it progresses, you begin to see a self who can be difficult, annoying or even unpleasant. At the same time, the funny, loving, sexy partner you fell in love with reveals all sorts of their own habits and traits that you never suspected were there. It was years into our relationship before I understood how different my husband is to my initial understanding of him. And he told me of his shock the first time he saw me get really angry. He had thought, naively, that because we were so happy, we’d always be that way, and anger and arguments would never come into our life.

The maturing process of marriage, or a committed partnership, is a kind of disillusionment. But with it comes a realisation that no one is perfect, least of all oneself. There is no ideal person out there who will answer your every need, and solve every practical problem too. The richness of shared experience is a bond, and, of course, the funny, sexy, interesting person who loved you enough to want to settle down together is still there. You just need to make sure you can balance your ideals with reality. Unless, of course, you discover the shattering secret that threatens to break it all apart… 

The Winter Children

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