But it was like water off a duck's back. It had never really occurred to me to not put up with him. This is how it is, no? When the Christmas tree fairy lights flashed their last twinkle about one hour before our guests were due to arrive at our Christmas Luncheon to Evening Soiree event this year (well, last year now), OH took the opportunity to get his running kit on to jog down to the local Homebase to get us a new set. I thought this perfectly normal (although a teensy bit annoying as potentially it meant he might arrive back, very sweaty, at the same time everyone was arriving. And he was meant to be preparing the mulled wine). As we ate our turkey, I recanted the story and drama of the kamikaze lights. One lovely guest quipped: "And I bet OH ran down to the shop to get a new set?", her eyes as twinkly and brimming with cheekiness as they could be. "Yes", I replied, deadpan. How else would we have gotten them?
But, back to this business of 'putting up with him/it'. I think I'm going to use those words interchangeably as I don't really think I can draw any distinction between enduring what OH is like personally and triathlon itself. The triathlon element only exists in its current form because OH makes it so. If he wanted to be a professional DIY-person it would be the same. I only need remember the saga of the bookshelves in our study to know that. (A caveat though, the shelves do look amarrzing). He toiled without food and water for 3 days and 3 nights getting those shelves up, overcoming every possible DIY obstacle in the process. A new Workmate (remember those from the eighties?), mitre block, several different sized G-clamps, brown rubbery sealant stuff, 5 different types of raw plugs and 2 laser levels later they were up, displaying my lovely alphabetically-arranged books to their very best advantage. But the point I'm making is that OH has the kind of personality which means that whatever pursuit he were to choose, it would be the same. He would stick with it and take it to its extreme lengths to try and be the best that he could be. In fact, I often think how lucky I am that his hobby is not drug-taking or adultery.
I'd not overly given this idea much thought to be honest. As I alluded to in a much earlier post, this triathlon life is so much better than the rowing widow life that I endured in our early years together that sometimes I feel like all my Christmasses have come at once. However, over the holidays we met up with a couple of great friends of ours. Currently based in Oz, we only get to see them every few years. This meant that they knew nothing of OH's triathlon exploits - the last time we saw them OH was still in his rowing phase. They knew it all too well: Husband was at college with OH, they rowed together on numerous occasions. Wife was in the winning boat crew which OH coached. I would group them in the same set as OH when it comes to personality and sport (when we skiied together once we nicknamed the Husband 'Duracell' as he never stopped).It was great to see them and share with them tales of Budapest and Pacman and Lady Bike and wetsuits and drafting and rah rah rah. They enquired as to the level of training that OH did. He told them. And the one thing that they really could not believe was that I put up with (or "allowed", as they said it) the training that OH did. Really? I said. It's fine, genuinely meaning it. But their disbelief got me thinking. Should I put up with it?
For me the big question is - what would happen if I decided I didn't want to put up with it? Ultimatums never work in my view. I think I decided long ago that the 80-20 rule should apply. If I am happy 80% of the time, and triathlon is annoying 20% of the time only, then I think we're onto a winner. And I am very happy, more than 80% of the time. And of course I love OH very much (wowser, too soppy, but has to be included), and as I said before, this triathlon phase is just an extension of him. By telling him triathlon has to go, I would be telling him to go. No way Jose.
So that's it. Decision made. Triathlon stays.
I also think there is a side of this triathlon widow life which people don't always see. I can't believe I am going to write out the following list, what with its secrets of female manipulation and all:
- If I ever buy an extravagently expensive pair of shoes, OH can never comment owing to him spending such a fortune on triathlon tack. I am not one of these girls who has to hide new purchases in the back of the wardrobe until they are old enough to say: "oh, this old thing? I've had this for ages!"
- If, and when, OH gets around to buying me an engagement ring, I have legitimate grounds to ask for a ring which is huge - "it's carbon like Lady Bike, just in a different form."
- I can use it as a guilt trip (which for the record, I never ever ever ever do). "But I want to watch SATC the movie for the 40th time - even though I know that you hate it and there's a movie on the other side which I know you are desperate to watch...and you have been neglecting me a bit lately, what with all the training you've been doing."
- I watch all the crap TV I like during those long bike rides when I'm home alone. Supernanny, DIY SOS, Friends, Location Location Location and so on - all in absolute peace.
- His tenacity is often a blessing in disguise. If there's something that I want (like a specific style of new dress, par example) but I'm not able to find it, he will hunt it down like a dog and get it for me.
- I get to sneak in extra holidays when there are events abroad. Next year's world champs are in New Zealand - will be encouraging OH to train like a demon for that then...
So, if any of you feel bad for me living this triathlon widow life, please don't. It's actually rather fabulous.