My husband and I used to argue most nights, but lockdown somehow bought us both closer together.
Each time his headset rings, a friendly voice greets the user on the other end of the line:
“Good morning, Matt speaking, how can I help you?
“Good afternoon, Matt speaking, how can I help you?”
I’m amazed by him, I’m used to loving with him and, to some extent, I’m even used to working with him, but nothing could prepare me for the way that I’ve been feeling this past week.
Matt and I met about 15 years ago in a haphazardous sports club. Make no mistake, from martial arts classes around unpadded concrete pillars, holes in the windows and extension leads trailing across the office floor, that place had it all. We’d watch as the manager took membership funds to pay for his personal cigar habit and then we’d turn a blind eye. When it got out that memberships didn’t pay just for the premises and training, he fired us all, that’s just the way it was.
At the time, Matt dealt with office administration and I was voluntarily responsible for web design. I even went insofar as to meet with one of the IGeek team who ran the website, though I was later instructed to do my work and simply email it to him instead. Slowly but surely, other tasks become part of my role and I spent many days in a dark back office, sorting out the filing.
“Hey Matt, can you make us two cups of tea?” Arron leaned back on the chair and grinned at me, I glared at him, please and thankyou wouldn’t hurt. Working with Arron wasn’t my idea of fun. He wasn’t fun, he was self-confident and assured, he had no time for anyone. I liked working with Matt, Matt was kind, considerate and funny.
Matt and I developed a different kind of relationship, a friendship. Anytime we were alone, Matt would take to slapping my hands with a plastic ruler, just because he could. It hurt, but we’d laugh. He made my days in a cold, depressing office so much shorter.
The last time work and private life intermingled for us, it was about 2009. I was working part-time for the NHS, and Matt, who was also working for the NHS, worked in the city centre. I’d stop in the centre on my way home, and we’d meet up for lunch. By that point, we were officially dating, and we’d hang out in the park by the river to eat our lunch.
As time has gone on, Matt and I have drifted apart on the employment front. Matt now works in buildings maintenance, and I’m a housewife and run my blog. I know what he does for work, but I’ve never really seen what he does, or understood too much about it,
Under the lockdown, I’ve come to remember what it was like to work in Matt’s company. We just work together, we go together, without making that sound like something from some popular 80’s musical. We make teas or coffees and make them for each other, we hear the other one groan in frustration, and we listen to each other’s problems. When he dealt with a challenging customer yesterday, he put his headset down and turned to me.
“That customer was rude” he said, half furious, and half seemingly surprised. I smiled.
I often get frustrated with Matt, I get frustrated with him at all of the seemingly small and insignificant things, the fact that he doesn’t poop scoop in the garden and his cable management skills remind me of noodles. I get frustrated with his tendency to watch football, play Football Manager on one screen and yet still another game on his phone, and keep up with them all. I get frustrated with the fact that Matt drinks until he passes out every. single. time. He never gets drunk, just sleepy. I get frustrated that dog exercising and dog training fall down to me, even though we both agreed it was our responsibility, same with running the home, and the same with the gardening.
And yet, right now none of that really matters, none of that really feels important because of Matt and who he is. He works hard, he cares about people and he tries his hardest to complete things on time. He cares about me in his own way, and yet sometimes I’ve been frustrated with him because I’ve felt as though he hasn’t cared about me in a way that I’ve wanted to be cared for. Instead of appreciating him for the fact he makes my lunch and helps me with computer issues, I’ve bemoaned him for forgetting date night or not using a coaster. I’ve focused on the fact that he doesn’t help with any other housework and not the fact that he always loads the dishwasher before bed, every night and without fail.
Before the lockdown and Matt’s working from home, I went through a mix of emotions: Panic, excitement, dread, excitement, confusion, anxiety, excitement, anxiety… and then appreciation?
Right now, if you’re in lockdown with your partner, I urge you to look at them, really look at them, and see all that they are and all that they do. No matter how frustrating they can be, look for that little positive trait in them that you’ve never noticed before. What did you discover? I’ll bet you’ll find more than one!
Until next time.
Stay safe & have fun.