A Marriage

By Alison March 11, 2008 23 Comments 2 Min Read


The ties that bind us to a marriage are not unlike those that tie us home. Emotion ebbs and flows. Sometimes we are guilty of apathy . Sometimes the four walls that surround us no more than a blanket we wear to keep out the cold. At other times we smother surfaces in hope and lavender and cannot leave well alone. And then there are the days when being at home is enough. When we give up striving for what isn’t and lie still in the peculiar music of silence. At one with our house. At one with ourselves and unlikely aspirations.   

Lately I feel as though the house is slipping away from me. If it it was a marriage I would want to call time on this willful neglect. I would say enough, nows the time to re-connect. I would turn our worlds upside down so we could be together, time to repair damage done by time, time by ourselves. I would say, I’m sorry, I won’t take you for granted anymore. Won’t expect you to thrive in the face of my indifference. I will look after you, I promise

Whole weeks go by and though I go through the motions, follow basic routines and light candles every evening something is missing. There is no real interest there, other than for what the house can offer me: warmth, light and nourishment. No joy to be felt simply in it’s presence only a lingering sense that life would be so much better if  I had a new oven.  If there was a  door in the kitchen straight into the yard. New pillows puffed with the  happiness of Spring….

Because a new season is almost upon us. The cosy bliss of Winter now exhausted and layers of dust  thick enough to write a promise in, just asking to be blown away.  Looking back through the archives of BrocanteHome I can see this coming weekend, this turning point, marked every year. The weekend I plant the first batch of beans. The day I brush Winter out of the garden. The evening I clean the bathroom  twinkly white and spend hours  brushing away the layers of dull skin coating my body.

Today I bought an armful of lilac tulips. A new block of parma violet soap. A pile of dusters thick as a dictionary, because Spring is tingling in my fingertips and I owe it to my tiny little terraced cottage to fall in love with it all over again. To prove my love with elbow grease and imagination.

I heal you and when I let you, you heal me.


  1. gena says:

    How timely Alison! I have fallen out of love with my house,Lucy is off school with a bad cold which she has kindly passed on to Mummy,and I have a million tasks I just cannot face,come along Miss May,work your magic,inspire all of your devoted housekeepers to don our pinnies and get to work!
    P.S Hope Finley is feeling better?

  2. Lois says:

    Incredible writing. I will post this and read more.

  3. Melanie says:

    In our house when I’m coming down with the latest plague the children have passed on (barely noticing) the house is at it’s most untidiest and awful and I am least able to get on and deal with it.
    Then again when I’m full of energy, I don’t want to be bogged down doing boring things. I want my creativity to soar.
    Didn’t the Nation Trust agree that dust was a protective coating for furniture? 🙂

  4. Sharon S says:

    I especially like your last paragraph, Alison. I always learn something new reading your web site. I had to look up “parma” violets.
    Reading here helps me to reconnect to the ties that bind me to my house, just like you have said. It’s a tie that I like, and do not feel embarrassed about feeling that way anymore. Thanks for your lovely way with words.

  5. Jen says:

    How beautifully written! I feel the same – can’t wait to spruce up my terraced home, get rid of the dark curtains and the grungy pink carpets that a previous owner left behind. It’ll happen bit by bit, but in the meantime, the poor house is looking a bit neglected. It’s been bugging me that I don’t tidy up/dust/hoover as much as in previous homes, just because it’s not decorated how I would decorate it myself. Springtime is going to see a flurry of decorating here!

  6. Amy says:

    Personally I think that a house has to be dirty enough to be lived in but tidy enough to be clean. I’ve had days like that too…

  7. Tina says:

    have fun Spring cleaning..and planting peas.

  8. Ali says:

    “I heal you and when I let you, you heal me.”
    I like that. I have yet to own a house of my own, I may never. But I like that sentiment. It can apply to lots more than a home.

  9. Sasha says:

    As ever you describe the same malais I am feeling with my home perfectly! And how come so many of us are suffering with some sort of lurgy alongside our children?! This really doesn’t help us stay on top of loving our homes – we have babbas to fuss and care for!
    This is phasal Alison, and one I usually experience at this time of year myself. It is the aftermath of how lovely and full and cosy our homes were at Xmas, that flurry of creativity and excitement of something to plan for and look forward to, and now the kind of anti-climax, this in-betweeny time of grottiness outside, of anticipating spring being just around the corner and simply needing CHANGE! Needing a project again to satisfy our creative urges, not knowing what to do next, not having the funds to do what you might like to, etc. As you say “This too will pass”!!!
    Crack on with a good spring clean and move some furniture about – create change somehow to re-ignite your friendship with your house – just like we get stuck in a relationship rut (sometimes) and need to add a bit of spice……!
    I’m planning on tackling a room at a time and regaining control of it, doing some chucking out, maybe some re-arranging and then drawing up a ‘wish list’ of what I would like to do/change about that room. Just as soon as everyone’s better that is!

  10. Melanie says:

    I cant wait for spring, for the grass to start growing in our garden, for the mud to dry up so we can let our pooches play happily for hours, so I can throw open the windows and let the smell of spring in our home, so everything looks fresh and clean, roll on spring.

  11. Sometimes, as you suggest with your quote, just going through the motions stirs us again. Like muscles that have atrophied, we can exercise them and regain what has been lost. To rephrase a line from e.e. cummings “so much depends upon” your falling in love with your cottage once more.
    Thank you for putting it all into words.

  12. Daisy Chains says:

    I fell exactly the same, I am in the middle of decorating the hall and feel overwhelmed by the minuitia of jobs that need to be done. Taking care of a house often feels like painting the forth bridge but when it is all done and dusted (literally) it is so comforting and reassuring in the same way as a well stocked larder can make you feel! I tend to try and go with my mood, and allow myself to have days where I feel I don’t have an ounce of energy to give to the house. It will still be there tomorrow, waiting to be cared for, slightly more forgiving than a partner!

  13. Right now I feel like going to the store, piling up my cart with cleaning detergents and broom pans and spending the rest of this day light savings time day cleaning all of the heaviness that Winter has left. Thanks for the motivation, I needed it!

  14. rebekka says:

    That is so, so beautiful. Thank you for always writing such beautiful and inspiring things.

  15. Carlie says:

    Ooo….do I smell a Seasonal Scrub coming? Please say yes! Its the only way I’ll actually get one done, if you dictate that I have to do one now.

  16. Anita says:

    Oh, how I miss having a home! With any luck, the financing will come through soon and we will start building next month… That tornado took a lot more than things, it took our way of life…
    If I could only get away from associating spring with tornadoes I might be able to be enthusiastic about spring… as it is, I am just hoping summer gets here soon….

  17. Heather says:

    I feel almost exactly the same. Spring is definitely in the air (despite our gobs and gobs of snow here in Toronto)!

  18. Emily Franz says:

    You add such beauty to life with the words you choose. I enjoy your blog immensly and often find a good read from your recomendations. I tried Summer at Tiffany’s and loved it.
    I do hope your little boy is well now. Please keep up the good work. I wish I had the gift for words that you do.

  19. Polly says:

    Working, cleaning and feathering this weekend as well. I’ll bet you get more accomplished than I do =)
    I haven’t been by for a few days so I didn’t realize Finn was not well. Praying… Polly

  20. i just found your blog. where have i been??!!! it is amazing!!!!!

  21. You have such a gift with words. . .truly touching and my heart felt soothed, since our winter has been long & confining in many ways, too.
    May spring spring very soon for all our hearts & homes!

  22. Jacquie Kernick says:

    Thank you for putting into words the “housewife’s lament” as I like to call it. I have emerged from a six-year depression and am now taking a very active interest in homemaking again. It’s driving my husband crazy (he doesn’t like change…lol) but I am so full of energy and the need to repair the neglect I just cannot go slow about it. I am loving our flat again and I am full of ideas to spruce it up…just need those magic words to get hubby on board!
    Yes, roll on spring…it’s in the air (early morning birdsong, daffodils, sunshine)….it’s a lovely time of year, so full of new life and promise! May it be so for all who read this.

  23. Alison,
    I really like this post. Spring awakens our need for space, light, colours and fragrances… I'm there too. But it's only something women feel. 3 men in the house, none in a rush to make space, declutter or improve anything. Shame. For me.
    I think your house needs to show its stuff, move some furniture around, find new nooks and crannies, one area you can redecorated at little expense ( 1 wall painted, with a mural or stencils made by Finley for ex.) Let the light in and the fresh air, I promise you'll see something new!

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