Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Opposites attract

When I first wondered aloud if I could get a story published in a women’s magazine, my husband was completely supportive.

Good idea! Why not? Yes, go for it!

So I did. And when the rejections arrived he was very encouraging.

Never mind, don’t give up. Send it to someone else.

And when I received my first acceptance he seemed as pleased as me.

Well done! I knew you could do it!

But when that first story appeared in print I was puzzled by his non-reaction. He glanced at my name in the magazine when I pointed it out, but he made no attempt to read the story. I was a bit disappointed but assumed he would read it later when he had time to give it his full attention. I left the magazine on the coffee table and waited … and waited …

The same thing happened with my next published story – and the next. He was enthusiastic enough while I was writing and trying to get published, but he clearly wasn’t interested in reading the finished product. I began to suspect that he had secretly read some of my work and didn’t think it was any good. Was he keeping quiet to spare my feelings?

The penny finally dropped one evening when he came home from work and started telling me how he’d solved a problem with some sub-standard concrete. (He was a materials engineer in road construction).

Gosh, that was clever of you! How fascinating! 

I did listen to what he was saying, and tried to nod in the right places, but he might just as well have been speaking double Dutch with a bit of Chinese thrown in.

Then I understood that he had the same problem with my writing. He knew it was important to me, so he tried to take an interest, but he didn’t read fiction of any kind and the world of women’s magazines was completely alien to him. If one of my stories was published that meant it was good, didn’t it? There was nothing else he could say about it.    

When he – very reluctantly – retired, I wondered what he would find to do all day. Would he expect me to retire too, and spend all my time with him? What on earth would we talk about?

I needn’t have worried. Although we’re both at home all day, we still  ‘go to work’ separately. And when we meet up at mealtimes and in the evenings, or agree to take some time off to go for a walk, or to enjoy an outing together, we find plenty to discuss. I tell him about my writing and art, and he explains how he’s helped a friend with a computer problem and spent all morning tinkering with his beloved sports car …

And we both pretend to be really interested, and we both know the other person is just pretending …

But it works. Which is probably why we’ve made it through another year.

Are you and your significant other like peas in a pod, or as different as chalk and cheese?



Friko said...

Congratulations on staying the course.

No, me and my Beloved spend little time together. Meals, yes, nearly always, TV shows we both like, ditto, outings, theatre visits, restaurant meals, naturally.

But when I’m not in the garden I’m reading or sitting at my computer, in a room of my own, while he’s downstairs doing his own thing. I think it involves a lot of dozing.

And we’re neither peas in a pod, nor chalk and cheese, just independent minded.
With enough similarities to make togetherness easy when required. Best of all worlds!

Congratulations on having your stories published!

Patsy said...

Happy anniversary!

Gary and I are physically together almost all the time, but we are often both so immersed in our work that we may as well be in different places. Anyone watching us work might think we did the same thing, but the results are very different.

Wendy's Writing said...

What a lovely post, Linda. I am now thinking about my poor long-suffering husband. Not only does he encourage me, commiserate and celebrate with me, but he also had to do my proof reading (now that is devotion). He doesn't read the stories when they appear in the magazines but that's because he had already read them, poor man.

Linda D said...

Friko - you and your Beloved obviously have a very happy arrangement.

Patsy - that sounds just like me and my husband, together but living in our own little worlds.

Wendy - I'm envious! He does proof reading?? That would be useful!

lizy-expat-writer said...

Happy anniversary to you both, and congratulations for finding a way to live together for so long.

My OH reads my writing and always says, "Very good, Liz." ALWAYS! If I want a proper discussion about what works or doesn't work in a story, I give it to my daughter to read.

Suzanne Furness said...

Congratulations and happy anniversary to you both. I like the way you still both 'go to work' sounds like its the answer to keeping conversation and interests alive.

Julia Thorley said...

Wise words, Linda. Parallel lines, occasionally meeting at the points, then off again in different directions.

Linda D said...

Thanks, everyone!

Susan A Eames said...

Hi Linda, nice to meet you. I enjoyed reading your post - Happy Anniversary! My husband and I share many interests - including a strong love of reading, but he doesn't always read my published work. I don't take it personally - any more than he would take it personally if I didn't show an interest in one of his projects. :)

Linda D said...

Thanks for popping in, Susan.
Sounds as though you've found the perfect arrangement too!

Annecdotist said...

Happy anniversary, Linda! Your post really spoke to me as it reflects so closely on my own situation. Initially, as I was learning to write, I used to ask my husband for feedback, but it never worked for either of us – he didn't know what to say, but I tended to find him quite critical in an unhelpful way.
Now we talk about my writing a lot but it doesn't read it. He is a reader but doesn't have the same tastes in fiction as I do, so why would he like what I write? But he's been a tremendous support through the ups and downs and, in the end, I've decided that's better than having him look over my shoulder at the content.
Nevertheless, I was a little perturbed that he showed no interest in reading my novel until it was in the proof stage – and surprise surprise, he liked it. But even if he hadn't, I'd still know he was on my side.
I love that your husband is interested in concrete (kind of the opposite to ideas) but you found the right balance in your relationship that lets you get on with the things that matter to each of you separately – a great foundation for a lasting marriage.