I’ve tried to write this post several times but I didn't know how to write it that didn’t make me sound like an ungrateful, complaining bastard. But hopefully it’s something that someone else can relate to (so that I’m not the only ungrateful-sounding bastard in the universe). J

Hi, my name is Kim and I have a great husband. On his worst day, he’s still the greatest human being I’ve met. He’s an amazing father and I don’t mean that in a “oh he helps me raise the kids and packs lunches” kind of way. As a parent, it comes with the territory. What I mean is that he draws funny pictures on the mirror with shaving foam, he does dance routines with our girls, he untangles hair and gives medication with a song. He’s the fun dad and also the disciplinarian (to the point of me wondering what the hell my role is). He is romantic. Cheesy chick-flick, boom-box in-the-rain, hot air balloon, ‘Had me at Hello’ kind of romantic. And hardworking. I swear he would wade through nuclear waste if it meant putting food on the table for us.

To me, most relationships are beautiful. Each partner has their strengths that they bring to the party. Perhaps your husband is great at woodwork and surprises you with a walk-in closet. Perhaps your wife is a tough negotiator and brings home the bacon. Perhaps your boyfriend is adventurous and surprises you with getaways. Perhaps, he’s a great listener. Perhaps he knows how to cheer you up every day. Every relationship has something that makes it phenomenal! There are things that just make the two of you work. It’s the reason I ask every couple, “Where did you meet? What made you fall in love? Their answers and the look on their faces always warm my heart. It’s pure adoration and appreciation that you just can’t fake. It’s that feeling that Will and I try to hold onto when we’re mad at each other. Though no relationship is an achievement, making it work sure is. If you think about it: you’re two completely different people, with different backgrounds, different personalities, different likes and dislikes, different tastes, different ideas on raising children, different views on the world, different cultures, religions, races, different beliefs, different strengths and weaknesses. Yet, with all these differences, you’re meant to agree on an IKEA dinner table in a 50msq apartment. If we think about it, the fact that any relationship survives is actually a miracle!

But back to my reason for writing this. (Shame, I can already hear hubbies saying, Jeez, even when we are great, there is still one disadvantage!). To be honest, the one disadvantage really doesn’t have much to do with you or anything you’ve done. To explain what I mean I have to go back to a dinner date I had planned with a friend. Every person in a relationship will know that every now and then you need to meet up with your tribe and just have a venting session. It’s not a gloomy, trashing-your-partner session. Just a way to get out things that bother you so that you can see how silly you’re being and prevent it from becoming an unnecessary argument. There’s usually tons of wine, some bonding, laughter and if you’re lucky, dancing to Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl. So that evening, I came armed with my stories of underpants next to the laundry basket and the tornado in the kitchen after Will fries an egg. After a few drinks, my buddy opened up. Her story is rather different to my analogy below but obviously I won’t divulge what she said. Listening to her was eye opening. You know that scene in Bridget Jones where she’s in a Thai prison? One of the womxn she’s locked up with her says, “My boyfriend hurt me and forced me use heroine.” And they ask Bridget what her story is; she’s says, “Well, he didn’t really stand up for me at this one party.” And she thinks, “Oh god, I’ve been a royal idiot.” That was me. Suddenly eggs and Jockeys (sorry, no pun intended!) didn’t seem so horrible. Now I’m not saying you should let certain issues that bother you just slide “just because there are worse hubbies out there”. If your hubby never cleans up and makes you feel disrespected, it’s something you definitely need to address. My point is this: I consider myself a great ‘advice giver’ because I always draw from my personal life so that I can feel what the other person is feeling. But I was unable to give one of my best friends ANY advice, unable to relate to her pain, unable to make her feel better. How could I if I’ve never experienced it? And here I was ready to complain. Idiot alert. I didn’t know what to say so I responded with a generic, “Tequila time!”. Tsk tsk. I tried to be there for her but could not offer any words of inebriated wisdom.

I always say that Will and I are a cheesy couple. To a vomitous level. And a few months back I had a conversation with my sister about something similar. Her response really struck a chord with me. “Kim, you have a perfect relationship. There’s a ton of crappy men out there. You guys have such a good understanding. Will is a great guy and some people will see what he does as cute (albeit nauseating J) and people will look up to that but it’ll bring up resentment in others.” In some ways, it wasn’t a surprise but in a lot of ways it was. There were comments in the past but they were always, always said in jest. Will and I have never seen ourselves as a “perfect couple”. We argue just as much as the next couple. We have the same level of problems as every other couple. We’re stubborn just like every other couple. Thereafter, that pressure of perfection, that #couplegoals and the conversation I had with my friend above, ensured that I never ever ever ever ever ever vented. And I never ever tried to give advice. Somehow I was also afraid that someone would say, “Ha! I knew you weren’t perfect!” even though lifting that cloak of perfection would be a relief. Suddenly, everything that I ever wanted to say sounded insensitive in my mind. Every complaint that I had sounded inconsiderate... considering. Everything minor issue sounded like an exposed flaw open for discussion. So I just kept quiet most of the time.

The thing is though, venting is healthy. Keeping your emotions to yourself leads to pent-up resentment, which leads to anger, which leads to heaven knows what. So I’ve tried to work my way around it by following some things that Will and I have learnt over the years.

1.    NEVER compare your relationship to another couple’s. Like I said, every relationship is great for very different reasons. Your marriage is a unique snowflake. And just because the next snowflake is different, it doesn’t mean it’s any less beautiful (soppy comparison but it works!). Seeing nurseries that were ready on time used to conjure up some jealousy in me, because Will isn’t the DIY kind of guy. But this petty jealousy lead me to advice number 2.
2.    Celebrate your partner’s strengths. Will is a planner. And a perfectionist. And although sometimes it may take a little longer, I have to make peace with the fact that I can’t expect him to be as spontaneous as I am. His planning has made for some of our greatest memories.
3.    Learn your partner’s love language. Sometimes sharing this self-help sort of advice embarrasses me but it’s something we learnt in a course we attended before marriage. Growing up I watched my dad buying gifts for my mom to show appreciation – flowers – even though it was carnations which she hated, apple pie and gadgets like fridges with alarm clocks. So every time that I wanted to show Will that I loved him, or appreciated him or wanted to say that I was sorry, I bought him gifts. I know him well enough to know when he is feigning excitement so I would feel disappointed when I could tell he didn’t like it. It was only when I watched his dad – how he made coffee every morning, how he’d bring a pillow or blanket when his wife was cold or uncomfortable that I realised that is exactly how Will is - he prefers actions over gifts to show appreciation. I wasn’t paying attention. Like, at all. Since, I’ve learned that there’s nothing sweeter than a head massage after a rough day. It sure as hell beats a pair of Darth Vader braai tongs.
4.    Create your own idea of romance. To some, romance is chocolates, to others it’s a knitted blanket and kiss when you doze off. Or clean dishes. Or a packed lunch. Or a petrol tank filled up. Or your favourite shows all conveniently on one hard drive. Or a night off. Or a day off. Or a friggin' painful corn removed (hello, relief!). And that is more than enough.
5.    And finally, work. Work at it. We have a saying in our marriage, “The day we don’t want to work on something is the day we’ve given up and the day our marriage ends. More than the romance, the best parts of our relationship is the time post a disagreement. The time we take to work on our flaws. It’s really difficult to admit that you have them, it's really difficult to spot them in ourselves but rather beautiful when you work on them. It comes from a place of respect and it has always worked for us. It’s not a nit-picking exercise but a way to honestly get to what’s bothering us, or makes us feel unappreciated.

I'm not saying it'll work for you but has definitely helped me work through my issues, or sort out issues that we may have.

PS: I don't have corns. It's important to me that you know that. :) 


  1. If I have to be honest I feel the same most days, small things irritate me about Earl, but then the other day my neighbour said aww your husband is so romantic... Im like Huh? She goes the other day he came home playing M Carey in his car and he pulled up and called you to the car to listen to the song with him, I saw it and thought I wish my husband would do something like that! To me it might be just a silly moment maybe im blind to those things now after almost 10years of marriage, but if i really sit and think about it, he is romantic in his own silly little ways and i am blessed to have him because to others he looks like the perfect husband when he is not even trying and so i should realise what i have in him because i could never find another human who gets me like Earl does.....thanks for that therapy session Kim I needed it :-)


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