Tree In A Heart Shape With Wind And Falling leaves
Tree In A Heart Shape With Wind And Falling leaves RomoloTavani

The secrets we keep in the cupboard from our husbands

I DON'T know why I think a stint in the wardrobe is going to make the first unveiling any easier but, when I bring that purchase home, the guilt is always a bit too fresh. So in they go, until I'm ready to carry them off: permission to enjoy. 

The conversation upon first wearing goes something like this:

Husband: "Are those new?"

Me (with withering but sufficiently doth-not-protest-too-much-expression): "Darling, I've had them for ages".

At this point, it always pays to go on the offensive, push any residual shame to the boundary. "I can't believe you haven't noticed them before."

It is a pattern that's become all too familiar over our 25 years of marriage but, thankfully, it's a habit that is now enabled by the natural rhythm of the calendar. Come June it's tax time, and it's me who bears the marital cross of going through all our bank statements.

I get a lot of credit for dealing with our EOFY dirty laundry, making sure we're all good with the department of inland revenue. But much more importantly, once done, the deficits and peccadillos on my side of the balance sheet are immediately set to reset.

I laughed out loud recently when I read a passage in Andrew Sean Greer's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Less.

Love, he says, is: "not fire and lightening", it's "walking the dog so that one can sleep in, it's doing taxes, its cleaning the bathroom without hard feelings. It's having an ally in life".

There's no doubt my husband and I are a great team. We've made an interesting life together, had four kids, worked hard, shared joy and adventures and nutted through the hard times and ho hum. But things have shifted heaps since we both hit middle age. Now our kids have grown up, I feel like the people we were initially attracted to in the beginning are breaking through again, albeit with less skin tone. Seems what we both have in common now has more to do with what we DON'T want out of life.

When we first hooked up as young lovers in the 1990s, I was irritated by a verse on marriage in The Prophet by the Lebanese philosopher, Kahil Gibran.   

"...let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you." 

'No way', I thought, 'we'll be inseparable'. 

Nowadays, we look forward to those heavenly winds. It's like: there's space here, come blow. 

Having said that, you can't afford to take the togetherness spaces for granted. After a weekend away with girlfriends recently, I missed my flight home. Rather than the 10-minute pick up from Ballina airport, my husband was faced with driving an hour to Gold Coast to get me. 

"I need to get the next Gold Coast plane, Darling, I really want to get home", I told him pitifully over the phone. 

"I WANT you home", he replied. But, it wasn't the romantic kind of "I want you home". It was more of a: "I've-been-making-the-dinner-for-the-past-four-nights kind of a "want you home". Ah, that guilt again, but it was quickly superseded by the relief of seeing that tired face of love waiting for me at the carousel.  

Luckily, with the pattern of the seasons, also comes the desire for bedtime warmth. As I make like an S against the man I have been sleeping for a quarter of a century, I'm semi-conscious of the decision that's breezed between the space in our togetherness. When the tax return comes in, it says, you're going to buy him a new pair of shoes.

Sophie Moeller's column The Long Game appears in The Northern Star's Style Magazine on the last Thursday of each month.

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