Taming the Bronco – a man’s take on marriage

Posted on July 1, 2011


Hello readers,

After almost nine months of marriage, I asked Callum to pen his thoughts on what it was like to have me for a wife…




Cal teaching me to jump fences like they do in the movies

Being a husband

There is something completely mystical and satisfying about watching a wild bronco getting broken in.

Seeing a creature of such strength and spirit brought to a place of discipline, connection and focus is magic to me.

I haven’t done much horse-handling myself, except for one time where I went on a trail ride in Victoria where my horse Sean* ignored my every command and ended up wandering into the woods to find soursobs.

As a result I ended up having to walk back to the farm behind a different horse that literally did a four minute fart into my face.

But I suddenly up skilled in horsemanship last year when I married a fine young filly with a gorgeous mane and an incredibly independent spirit.

For those of you who haven’t picked up on my segue, yes, I’m comparing the love of my life to a horse.

Katie is very strong willed and used to handling things herself. Oh, and did I mention she is a very independent soul?

She had certain ways of doing things – e.g. hospital corner beds, rinsing dishes, closing the lid of the toilet before flushing – and it didn’t immediately occur to her that by marrying me, her life would become much easier, efficient and productive.

'her way'

'my way'

To be fair, I also came into our marriage with things I liked done certain ways, but mine were generally things Katie had no interest in – like getting up in the morning with more than five minutes to spare, cataloguing my books by genre, scanning the barcodes of my books into my iPhone app; wanting a study to put my books in, fantasy sports etc.

It was a learning curve for us both.  But for different reasons.

For example, I never realised I would have to justify the rationale behind filling up her fuel tank before she literally ran out of petrol.

I never realised I would have to explain to her why it was important for us to get to an airport more than 15 minutes before a flight.**

To begin with, she didn’t want anyone opening her mail or helping with her finances, she felt uncomfortable about giving up her bank account, changing her surname on Facebook and letting me buy a new washing machine without her.

The clash of her independence and our marriage has made for some interesting (and hilarious) conversations.  But the great thing about marrying your best friend is that these conversations aren’t hard; they can be complex at times, but there is an unconditional love which makes everything okay.

The key to success 

The key I believe to taming the shrew – AKA convincing my wife to let me help her open jam jars – is to really know yourself and know your partner.

This self awareness will enable us to navigate nuptial terrain with a more helpful perspective; better equipped to recognise what is constructive and what is unhelpful.

It is also important to distinguish between idiosyncrasies (she likes me to hold her by the ankles and suspend her legs in make-shift traction while she’s sitting on the couch) and irrationalities (not wanting my tips on Ten Pin Bowling technique because ‘I can do it myself, Callum’ and then rolling the ball into the gutter).

We all have to realise that coming together in a partnership is actually a preferable situation. It makes life better, richer and more fulfilling.  We effectively double our pool of ‘skills’.

Ten Pin Bowling aside, Katie is a very capable woman.  I am a very capable man.  We just have to make sure that our capable-ness doesn’t inadvertently cancel each other out.

This means choosing to temper our independent spirits at times to make room for each other.

Katie is spirited and this is one of the things I love best about her.

But to make our relationship work, she needs me to really know and respect this part of her character while managing the more extreme relational bi-products it can produce – like the time she locked me out of the bathroom when I really needed to pee, or when she renders me on the ground incapacitated – a frequent occurrence since  she figured out where my ‘Achilles heel’ is.***

But, she has to do the same with me.  Except I have never locked her out of the toilet. Although I do sometimes exploit her Achilles heel when there’s no other way to subdue her.****

In marriage, we need to remain true to ourselves and honour our independent spirit without letting it take over. We don’t want to become useless and ineffective, but we do need to relinquish some control.

Because when the independent spirit is harnessed most effectively, lightning could strike.



*Really, who calls a horse ‘Sean’ ??

**Fortunately for me, we missed our most recent flight due to her ‘laissez fair’ approach, which, while frustrating, means I have won all future scheduling rights for flights and airport arrivals for the rest of eternity.  This also extends to car transport, train travel and cycling.  Basically anything where we have to move.

*** It’s my hamstrings.

**** It’s just above her rib cage.