Wednesday, June 16

How we stick together: ‘It’s like the bow on a gift or the icing on a cake’ | Life and Style

Names: Jodie Nancarrow and Jayne Watson
Years together: twenty
Activities: retired

“It was a one-night stand that lasted 20 years,” Jodie Nancarrow jokes about his long-standing relationship with his wife Jayne Watson. And despite the casual start and some challenging moments, their commitment to each other remains strong.

They started out as friends. They both had other relationships and Jodie’s ex-partner was a nurse, as was Jayne. The quartet was very close, and Jayne and Jodie discovered that they had a lot in common. Although they didn’t meet until their 30s, the two had grown up in rural towns in the New South Wales region, about half an hour apart. His parents had similar jobs and had close friends in common. “Her best friend at Muswellbrook High was my friend at Denman Elementary School,” Jodie recalls.

After their relationships ended, Jayne and Jodie remained friends. By then Jayne was living in Bylong, running the general store, while Jodie was living in Armidale. Neither of them was in a rush to get involved in another relationship. Then in 2001, Jodie asked Jayne if she could stay with her for a weekend while she visited her family in the area. Jayne agreed and the two of them went to dinner with Jodie’s family. Later that night, back at Jayne’s, things took a romantic turn. And when Jodie hesitated, in the name of their friendship, they agreed that it would be something unique.

However, a few weeks later, they met again. And for the next three months, Jodie would drive four hours to Bylong every fortnight to spend time with Jayne. It wasn’t long before they decided that Jodie would move out. “That’s what they say about lesbians and U-Haul trailers,” Jodie laughs.

Jodie and Jayne in 1999 before they got together
“We knew what each other’s limitations were or what their best attributes were and it just flowed.” Jodie and Jayne in 1999 before they got together. Photography: Jodie Nancarrow and Jayne Watson

They were both surprised at how much they fell in love with each other. They had been friends for so long and it hadn’t occurred to them. “It was so unforeseen and so random,” explains Jodie. “It could have been the other way around. It could have been, ‘Well, thank you very much. That was great. Bye.’ But it was not like that. And we ended up joining forces ”.

Jodie started working at the Bylong General Store. She was aware that it was Jayne’s business and essentially “working for love.” However, Jayne was concerned that working together could cause problems, something that had happened in their previous relationship.

Instead, they found that they complemented each other. Jayne often comes up with ideas and Jodie carries them through to the end. They also assumed complementary roles. “We had different strengths in different areas,” says Jayne, “so you could focus on separate things. You weren’t bombarded by the whole business, you just focused on what you liked to do. “Jodie nods:” We knew what other people’s limitations were or what your best attributes were, so you let that happen, and it just flowed. “

They also share an important attribute: “We both have that work ethic behind us,” says Jayne. “We are probably very similar in that respect. Usually there is some difference within the associations. I think we’re both pretty motivated, and because of that, that keeps our relationship going, it just really moves it forward. “

They were also good at living together. “Our friends have said, ‘How can you live, work, sleep, go on vacation, do everything together?’ And really she just doesn’t shit me, ”says Jodie. They both agree not to worry about the little things and always share the workload: “If I was sitting in the living room and Jayne started cleaning the house, well, I wouldn’t say, ‘Okay, go ahead. I’ll just look at you. ‘ I would intervene and say, ‘Okay, I’ll give you a hand.’

'I never, never thought I would get married.  And when the decision was affirmative, [became] really important, '' Jayne says of her marriage to Jodie in 2018.
‘I never, never thought I would get married. And when the decision was affirmative, [became] really important, ” Jayne says of her marriage to Jodie in 2018. Photography: Jodie Nancarrow and Jayne Watson

When they see things differently, they end up agreeing in the long run. “We talk a lot,” says Jodie. “Like any other couple, you can still have an argument or a disagreement. But it’s not a big deal. And I’ve certainly learned as I matured [not to] Let the minutiae get in the way. Try to be concise in what you say and be respectful. And don’t take it for granted … I think we both feel the same way about not taking each other for granted. “

The most difficult time in their relationship came when South Korean coal company Kepco arrived in the Bylong Valley in 2010 with plans to establish a coal mine. The company started buying land and disrupting the small community. Both Jayne and Jodie protested the plans for the mine, and because their general store was the main business in town, they were often involved in community discussion. “It really started around 2012,” says Jodie. She says it was painful “to see our community tear itself apart and fall apart … Turning people against people.” The couple felt the once-happy community changed, neighbors turned on each other, and open discussion was replaced by short, tight-lipped conversations.

Over the next several years, their relationship became strained as they struggled to hold on to the business. “We were so stressed that we were both prepared to shut down the shop entirely and move in and just leave,” says Jayne.

They held out for as long as they could. “We looked at each other and said, ‘You know what? This is going to kill us, ‘and we don’t want to be here if the mine goes ahead, ”says Jodie. “I felt very hypocritical, but in the end, we had to do the right thing for ourselves and we sold.”

Stress had taken its toll and they knew things had to change in order to stay together. “That was the catalyst that we made our decision, that we wanted to stay together. But certainly not under the pressure that we had been under. “

In 2017, the couple left the valley. They spent six months recovering from the stress, before adjusting to a more normal pace and finally retiring. “Little by little, things started to improve and the pressure was gone, well, it wasn’t there,” says Jodie.

Then in 2018, after the marriage equality bill passed, they decided to get married. It was Jayne who proposed to Jodie. “I never ever thought that I would get married. And when the decision was ‘yes’, [became] really important.”

Jodie was delighted even though she was “in awe” when Jayne asked. She says she is amazed at how much being married meant to them; and what a difference it made in their relationship. “I thought of all the times we went, ‘A [piece of] paper means nothing, we are good, we are solid, we are strong. ‘ And we are all those things. [But marriage] also made it very legal [for] when we’re not here anymore, writing wills and all that kind of stuff. It made it so much easier to be legal. “

He is quick to add that it’s not just for practical purposes. “It was also very romantic and [the wedding] it was really nice. I still think about what that piece of paper does, saying our vows to us and inviting our close friends and family to witness all of it. But it is special. It’s like the bow on a gift or the icing on a cake. “

Over the years, they have gotten better at handling any conflict between them. Says Jodie: “Being able to speak honestly about how you feel… calmly and try not to make decisions when you are under pressure and under stress. Make decisions when you are both calm and able to talk. Listen and be able to listen too. “

Jayne agrees that communication is key and acknowledges that everyone has bad days: “You just have days off. So you need your space and you have to accept it. “

Jodie Nancarrow and Jayne Watson
‘The relationship is peaceful now. He’s happy and calm, which is really nice. We are very lucky, ”says Jayne. Photography: Jodie Nancarrow and Jayne Watson

While her romantic gestures aren’t that common these days, they say she hasn’t changed much else over the years. “We still laugh a lot, which is nice. And enjoy our company, ”says Jayne. “The relationship is peaceful now. He’s happy and calm, which is really nice. We are very lucky “.

Jayne says her commitment to Jodie “is to be responsible, to take care of her, to have her back, to listen to her and support her. Just to be there. “

Jodie agrees: “Just having my best friend by my side, who I’m married to, is a bonus, and commitment is everything. I can’t wish for anything else to improve my life. I am blessed and very fortunate to have this woman sitting next to me. “

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