x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Married life: unanticipated changes

Five short months of marriage have taken their toll on this newlywed's once carefully manicured hands.

I no longer have the same hands I had the day I got married. They used to be unmarked, and the nails, more often than not, were manicured and immaculate. The skin was smooth and uniform in colour - an unremarkable pair of hands. After a mere five months of marriage, I marvel at the transformation. Post-marriage, there are burn scars, lengthy and in a slightly darker skin tone than the surrounding shade of brown. There are grooves, some still harbouring a scab, others naked and forlorn on the expanse of skin. The nails are uneven, the decorative colour receding to a centre marred by chip marks, the cuticles taking away from the quiet elegance I had always coveted when considering my nails.

I was never warned that my inherent carelessness would result in burns in the bend of skin where my hand just meets my wrists, from repeatedly hitting that particular section against the roof of the oven as I bend out to take a tray of burnt dinner. I was never told anything about being careful when shutting the washing machine door, lest a finger happens to be in the way. I was never advised to be gentle when scrubbing delicate glasses in the sink, given their tendency to shatter and cut.

There have been two run-ins with the steam iron, one severely stubbed toe during the vacuuming, a few incidents with broken plates and too many spattering oil misfortunes to name - and our half-year anniversary has yet to be celebrated. The mystery I have yet to solve, however, is why these mishaps are descending upon me post-marriage. What about all those days of keeping house as a single woman, when I also did laundry, washed glasses, used the stove and occasionally searched for the vacuum cleaner? I have yet to solve the riddle, and I refuse to acknowledge the niggling doubt that I indulged in these domestic tasks less often than I think.

The one thing I certainly have an explanation for is the state of the uneven nails. Once upon a time, manicures were a necessity, something I never felt I had to justify to myself. Time was put aside for them regularly, and the appointments made were always a priority. Today, I admit, my hands rarely see the inside of a nail salon, and when they do, the results never quite last, thanks to the demands of domesticity. Stealing away for a manicure is time away from a husband I can only see a few hours a day, thanks to our demanding careers. A broken tip, some chipped polish and a lacklustre nail seem a small price to pay.

My hands, like myself, may not be exactly the same as they were a few months ago, but I like to think they have something that they lacked before. I look at them and I feel wonderment at all the tasks I thought I would always hate and avoid. People tell you, in various ways, that marriage will change you. But no one ever told me the effect marriage would have on my hands.