kids

No one knows you like the person who watched you give birth: The truths of long-term relationships.

I wrote the book on long-term relationships. 

Correction, sorry, I wrote A book about long-term relationships.

Ones that have been going on for ages. Ones that have been complicated by children, secrets and the odd betrayal. Ones that sometimes feel like they're suffocating under a mountain of unfolded washing and undone dishes. 

The book is called I Give My Marriage A Year, and this is the conversation we'd have right now if we were face-to-face.

"But it's about your marriage, right?" 

No, I'm not married. But I have been with my partner for 15 years now. 

"But you did that stuff in the book, right? You had a sex contract?"

And I'd tell you that it's fiction, and that inspiration came from all kinds of different places. 

"It's very brave of you to be so honest about your relationship." 

And we'd talk about how it's interesting that it's still so 'brave' to tell the truth. Even if it's not your truth. 

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.

Writing a book is a solitary experience. You and your thoughts. You and your doubts. You and all your shitful thoughts... who the hell do you think you are, good enough to write a bloody book

But if you're lucky enough to get that book out in the world, it becomes a very public, collaborative experience, and we realise that really, we're all thinking about the same things. 

I Give My Marriage A Year is about a day when a woman, Lou, wakes up and asks, is this it? And then she decides to try one thing every month - the sex contract, couples' counselling, brutal honesty - to help her decide. 

My credentials to get inside the heads of Josh and Lou, the characters in the book, include the fact that I have been in quite a lot of long-term relationships, even before this one, the defining one. I was pretty much a serial monogamist from the age of 14. Which is something that the world doesn't really value in terms of experience, since the goal still seems to be, even in 2020, meeting one person and settling down with one person, picking them and having to stick with that choice until, well, someone dies.

ADVERTISEMENT

But in the course of my research, here are some things I know for sure about long-term love. 

The way someone breathes can make you want to jump them in the kitchen.

The way someone blinks can send you to the edge of fury. 

The way you feel about the other person can entirely depend on whether the recycling bin is spilling out onto the kitchen floor.

Or whether they can 'hear' the baby crying.

Or whether they 'saw' that towel on the bathroom floor. 

Or whether they thanked you for buying their mother a birthday present. 

There's no prize for being right. 

But it feels fucking great. 

Sometimes, you're that couple in the restaurant with nothing to say to each other. 

Sometimes, you're that couple in the restaurant with your hands in each other's pants. 

Arguing over a show you can watch together is the new storming out of a restaurant. 

Watching an episode of that show you always watch together alone is the new throwing a drink in their face.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sometimes, you look at each other and your heart feels like it just went up a size. 

Sometimes, you look at each other and you can't find a single thing you like about their face.

Some compromises are worth making.

The ones that make you feel like you lost a part of yourself never are. 

No one knows you like the person who watched you give birth, in whatever way you do it. 

No one tells you how quickly you forget that. 

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Familiarity breeds unrivalled intimacy. 

The sexiest thing in the world is your name in your loved one's mouth. 

That, and the words, "You stay in bed, I'll take the kids out for a bit."

It's the best of things, to be with someone who truly knows you. 

It's the worst of things, to be with someone who truly knows you. 

Usually, you know what they're going to say before they say it.

The occasions that you don't can go one of two ways. 

The unlimited options of app-dating mean that 250,000 other possibilities are only as far away as your phone.

You can swipe your way up the food chain, if you really want to. 

Some days, you'll want to swipe. 

Some days, you'll be glad you stopped.

Love, in all its forms, is all there is. 

That's all.

You can read the first chapter of I Give My Marriage A Year, here.

You can buy I Give My Marriage A Year, here.

Feature Image: Instagram @wainwrightholly

00:00 / ???