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Marital Bliss

by Doug Milsom

I want to kill my wife.

There, I've said it. Well, I could have said, 'I loathe and detest the evil bitch', but that would be a bit wet.

I only started really hating her recently, when I realised how much I've had to let pass me by. Why did we get married? Very simply, I had no choice. It was an unofficial shotgun wedding in Cheltenham, England in 1994. That's when it all started.

Divorce? All very easy for you to say, but believe me, in this case, divorce is not an option. I'm stuck with her for life.

Suicide? An option, but that would mean she's won, and I'm not about to let her enjoy it.

Life with her has been a cesspit of ignorance and irritation, for ten years - I just didn't know what was wrong. I was behaving like any other bloke - but nothing ever went right. Yes, I had vices... but what? I drank, I smoked, I ate junk food, I slept with other women, but I believe that to be true of a number of other blokes and they did all right. I certainly didn't think I was doing anything particularly evil. It was just the way I grew up.

I tell you, I was in a hell of a state the first few weeks after we got hitched. It was weird, I couldn't stop throwing up. No, literally, I couldn't move without heaving, and for days all I wanted to do was sleep. The doc gave me some pills and I was all right for a bit, but that was how it began... and she loved it.

Things seemed to be falling apart all around me after that. So we left Cheltenham and tried to start again somewhere else. Fresh start, you know, see what we could do. For a while, things were looking up. I had a new policy on life, a new way of dealing with my lot: I would just get on with it... and ignore her. The vices continued, and I had yet more relationships, none of which were any good, with her sitting on my shoulder all the while. She always seemed to put her oar in, just when it was getting serious. I tell you, she was certainly the best contraceptive I've ever come across.

Even when I was honest about her though, it was still no good; some girls would simply never accept my marriage, they just didn't even try to understand... 'What do you expect?' I hear you scream... well, fair enough I suppose. She made me lose a lot of confidence though, and for that I can never forgive her.

The thing is, I still don't think I've done anything wrong. I've wracked my brains to find the reason she's punishing me. Seriously, I worked hard; worked like a dog some days. I've done my bit, and she just makes me feel like a useless tosser. I was doing my best, but she just made everything such bloody hard work. It's true, everyone thought I was a lazy bastard, and that's just unfair. She wore me out. I wanted to do stuff; I wanted to go dancing, I wanted to stay up all night drinking with the boys, but I just didn't have the energy. I just couldn't keep up any more.

The truth was she liked me being a slob. She liked me best when I went for the comfort food: you know, the burgers and sugar-coated fries, the cheese and baked beans, the ice cream and chocolate. And then, when I started seizing up and bloating out like a sumo, she'd wind me up something chronic and get me so stressed I'd end up stuffing my face with more, washed down with three fingers of whisky and half a pack of Marlboro. That vicious circle went on for years, and I just couldn't see how to stop.

I tried exercise, to get rid of those spare tyres, clear out the lungs, sweat out the booze, you know. I went walking up hills, cycling to work and that... but she wasn't having it, oh no, it really did her head in. And guess who she took it out on?

She turned violent then. She whacked me so hard on the back one night, I'm sure she did some permanent damage. Now I can only walk for half and hour before the old legs start giving me gyp and I have to sit down... bitch.

But life goes on, and once again, I got my head down to work: different place, different face, different women, same old same old. But the women were getting older, and smarter. I was just getting greyer.

One of these women started to get to me though, and in the end I found myself listening to her. 'There's something seriously wrong with you, and you need to get it sorted,' she said one night. I don't know why I took her seriously that time, but I'm glad I did. I talked to a few people who knew about her, and in the end they all agreed: after all these years, we should make it official.

So our marriage became official in 2003 in Seoul, South Korea. The priests were not very friendly at the ceremony, and a lot of the guests didn't seem to understand my wife. They were polite and listened, and they smiled, but I got the feeling they were embarrassed really, not knowing what to think. They wished me luck and all, and some of the blokes even tried cracking jokes about it. I'm sure some were just feeling sorry for me underneath, but too cool to show it. When they talked about it afterwards, I'm sure the smiles soon disappeared and they got all serious. In some ways I appreciated their embarrassment; it was the natural reaction, but it didn't really help.

The honeymoon was over quickly and I realised then that I had to help myself. I knew that I had to change my lifestyle, big time. I'd spent too many years just accepting or ignoring her, and now it was time to make a stand... for me.

The first offensive was on the health front. I was not going to be a slob any more. I knew she'd hate this, and all the better. I went for the cleanest diet I could think of. Out went the burgers, in came the tofu - out went the fries, in came the brown rice and fresh veg. Damn this felt good! Then the vices... the smokes were difficult, but if I was going to do this, I was going all the way - balls and all. I quit smoking and drinking on the same night, just to wind her up, and next morning added coffee for good measure. She squirmed and took the piss out of me more than ever; I could see her defence mechanisms working overtime, and I piled on the pressure.

I didn't drink alcohol for nine months, and then I decided the odd glass of good Aussie red wouldn't matter. In fact, it annoyed her even more when I found out that red wine in small quantities was actually healthy. And exercise, oh yes... half an hour's walking every day, and if I felt all right, I'd walk some more.

She began to leave me alone a bit more after a few months of this, and seemed to be ignoring me for a change. After a few more months of this uncharacteristic clean living, and when I didn't have to think about how to keep her happy, the stress just washed away. I began to have more energy some days, especially sunny days, and started to feel good. There were even days when I didn't think about her at all. I started to realise there was no need to live in a perpetual state of stress; it was wholly destructive.

My job was fairly pointless, and altogether uninspiring so I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I chucked it in and we moved on again, but this time to do something I really wanted to do.

At present we live in a state of tolerant mutual derision: me with my healthy lifestyle, her with her unpredictability and niggling reminders that she's still here. She spits the dummy some days, usually when it rains, and I just have to sleep through it. But, I'm glad to say, it happens much less than it did. There are more days when I don't think about her and I've forgotten what it's like to be permanently stressed. Our uncertain truce may well come to and end at any time and things could get much worse.

Or perhaps things will change, and divorce might yet become possible. Who knows? It will be a great day when it happens, and even though the old legs won't let me dance in the street, I'll certainly have a go. Until then, all I can do is hold my head high with a smile on my face and determine to be happy as often as I can.

Oh, my wife's name? Well it's quite a mouthful. People just call her MS.

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