Marriage Isn’t Always Fun (And That’s Okay)

Dating my husband was fun, especially when things started to get serious. We used to talk on the phone for hours, sharing our thoughts and our fears and our pasts with one another. We met early for breakfast and we gave each other loving glances over our coffee cups, soaking up each other’s good looks. We stayed up late watching movies in bed, cuddling close, even on 80 degree summer nights. We were always happy to see each other. Nothing beat those butterflies in my stomach and the excited feeling that accompanied the thought, This is the ONE.

When I hear people talk about marrying their best friend, I internally shake my head at their naivety. Do they really think it’ll stay that way? Dating and best friends are always fun. Marriage and spouses are not.

The thing about spouses, compared to best friends, is that they’re always there. My husband is not just there when I say, Yes, now’s a great time to get together! He’s there when I’m exhausted and need some peace and quiet. He’s there when I’m stressed and anxious and need an (hour/day/week) moment to myself. He’s there to witness each and every time I screw something up (and there to point it out, in case I didn’t notice). He’s there when I have unkempt hair and morning breath. He’s there, asking me to get him a glass of ice water when I just sat down on the couch. Once you get married, the butterflies in your stomach get replaced with a stomping elephant at your side.

After marriage, the constant togetherness melds with all of the crap that just needs to get done. It’s not all breakfasts out and movies in anymore. It’s figuring out how to deal with the woodchuck family that lives in your backyard, together. One of you wants to shoot it with a gun and the other wants to keep it as a pet. It’s installing cabinets in the bathroom, together. One of you loves to hammer and level and cut and the other cries tears of frustration after inserting ten screws because they’re so uncoordinated they can hardly rotate the screwdriver. It’s stocking the fridge and the pantry, together. One of you wants to buy loads of bacon and Fruit Loops and the other wants only organic lettuce and raw pumpkin seeds.

Dating is about getting what you want, but marriage is about getting what you both can deal with without either one of you completely losing your mind. Marriage means constantly teetering on the edge of madness due to the never-ending compromises that have to be made. It’s one of you not being able to sleep unless it’s dark and silent and the other not being able to sleep without the television on. ‘Til death do you part.

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For a lot of people, discovering that spouses and marriages are not always fun doesn’t go over very well. Once they realize marriage is far more work than play, they want out. They give up.

But, not us.

Over time, our hours-long conversations have whittled down to ones that last an average of three minutes, but that’s okay. It’s not that we aren’t interested in each other’s stories, it’s just that we already know them inside and out. At breakfast, we don’t always give each other lovey-eyes over our coffee cups anymore, but that’s okay. It’s not that we don’t still view each other as lovely, it’s just that we already have each other’s faces etched into our brains. Our activities together often involve boring house stuff instead of exquisite dates, but that’s okay. It’s not as exciting, but at least we don’t have to do all of that crap on our own.

I love my husband to pieces. So even though marriage isn’t always fun, even though marriage is work, and, let’s be honest, even though marriage is downright infuriating at times, it’s okay.  That’s just how marriage is. And it’s fine, it’s better than fine, it’s grand, if you just know that going into it.

Marriage is not only full of annoying bits, it’s also filled with laughter and love, giving and gratitude, truth and trust. It’s made of, ‘Thank you for shaving my back’, and, ‘Do you want to have sex?’ ‘I smell.’ ‘I don’t care.’ ‘Okay, let’s do it’, and, ‘Oh my goodness, can you believe what so-and-so’s spouse is like? I’m so glad you’re not like that’ and ‘Honey, I need a hug.’ And most of the time we don’t even need to speak those words aloud, we know each other well enough to say them without speaking.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine snapped a photo of me and my husband when we weren’t paying attention. She looked at it and told me, “I think I just captured a picture that perfectly epitomizes your marriage.”  In the photo, I’m giving my husband an annoyed look and he’s looking pissed off, his head turned away from mine. What makes the picture great is that even though our body language said, irritated spouse, it also said there was more to that story because both of us were smirking. Neither of us knew the other was smiling since we weren’t facing one another.

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I laughed when I saw the picture because it really DID epitomize our marriage. The love and adoration we have for each other is always there, even if we don’t always let the other one see it.

I Worried About My Marriage When I Couldn’t Get Pregnant

I know my husband loves me.  We’re one of those couples that even though we drive each other crazy on a regular basis we know we’re both in it for the long haul.  We argue over the little stuff like crumbs on the floor or lights left on in the living room but we support each other when it comes to the important things, like making time for each other’s physical and mental health, for giving each other attention when needed, for being there as a shoulder to cry on when things get tough.  I never thought I’d have any reason to question whether or not we’d make it.

An unexpected reason to worry emerged.

We were ready to start a family about a year after we got married. At first, we weren’t concerned that I didn’t get pregnant right away. Starting a family is a big decision, so a couple of months bought us some extra time to settle into the idea.   The idea quickly took root in our minds, but not in my body.  The months passed.  Then the years.

Over and over, I replayed a conversation in my head that I remember having with my husband years ago, early in our dating life.

“I want enough to field a soccer team”.

“You want eleven kids??”

“I want as many as I can have”.

Even as a nineteen-year-old college student, my husband talked about wanting a family. Other than making sure the light switches are off when no one was in the living room, having a family is the one things I knew meant the most to him.  So, how could he be happy forever with a wife who couldn’t give him a child?

I started to have serious concerns about whether he could stay with me if we were unable to conceive, or if he did stay with me, that he would never be truly happy.  He didn’t do anything to perpetuate either of these ideas, but the anxieties wouldn’t leave my mind, nonetheless.  I’m an anxiety-riddled worrier, and this situation expounded that.

Each month that passed was a devastation.  Each failed cycle was a punch in the gut.  Each month that we couldn’t even attempt to conceive, due to med complications, recovering from miscarriage, or waiting for ovarian cysts to subside, felt like an eternity.

The stress that comes along with infertility isn’t due to failure from an individual cycle, it’s the from the compound effect of repeated loss and the looming dread that it’s never going to happen.  Not this month, not next month, not ever.   With all the media attention that showcases women in their forties and fifties having babies, and all the technological advances making IVF more accessible, we sometimes forget that science isn’t magic. That not everyone ends up with that particular happy ending.  That “it’s never going to happen” isn’t just how it feels, but is sometimes how it really is.

Some people can’t have children because of chance, because of genetics, because of and medical mysteries.  For us, luck was on our side.  I don’t believe we became parents because it was meant to be, and I don’t believe it happened when it was meant to happen, I think we ended up becoming parents because we were lucky.  That, and the correct cocktail of ingested and injected meds, and the healthy dose of applied science that worked out in our favor.

The rational side of me knows that we would have figured out how to navigate a life without kids and that we surely would have been able to make it, despite plans working out differently than we had an anticipated.  My rational self thinks hat maybe it could have made us even stronger in the end.  The overly emotional side of me is beyond thankful that we have our two beautiful girls, not just because we get to watch them and learn from them and love them, but because we have two more reasons that make me wholly confident again that we will make it.  Two fewer reasons to over-analyze and fill my mind with self-doubt.

I worried about my marriage when I couldn't get pregnant. #niaw #startasking

I worried about my marriage when I couldn’t get pregnant. #niaw #startasking

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week.  Does your insurance cover infertility treatments? Does your employer allow it’s employees to utilize infertility treatment without fear of termination?  Does your state provide legal access to a multitude of family planning options? Do your friends and family support those who struggle with infertility?  Do the candidates you are voting for?  It’s time we all start asking these questions.  Even if we have our own fertility resolved.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Grouch.

Happy birthday to you, and to many years more!
You say it’s just a day, no need for decor,
but I say let’s eat some cake (and then let’s eat some more!),
because why not celebrate the man I adore?

While we should never take for granted those we would die for,
we know those fairy tale scenarios are nothing but lore.
So when given then chance to do something more,
I say take it. Go crazy. Buy presents galore.

Today I celebrate you, a man kind in his core,
a man bearded and brawny, one I only have eyes for.
Cheers to a man who always opens my door,
who shows it’s our family that he looks out for.

Hip! Hip! to the man who works, and then works some more,
hammer, shovel, mow, plumb, wage dandelion war.
Bang, sand, lift, hold, surf the internet shore,
for another rental house you’re in the market for.

So just in case you’re not sure, I must really implore
you to notice there’s so much I give you credit for,
and when push comes to shove, it’s you I go to bat for.
It’s with you, and just you, this Earth I want to explore.

So today I celebrate. I shout, “You’re top drawer!”
Do you hear me? You listening? Hello? Ten four?
You’re stuck with me forever, until we’re at death’s door,
And each year on this day HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I’ll roar.

The amount you get on my nerves, I love you that much, times four,
You complement me, do things well, that I deplore.
You turn off lights, double-check that I locked the front door.
You calculate, and invest, to make sure we won’t end up too poor.

Even when you constantly tell me to shut the pantry drawer,
or make other such comments you know I abhor,
know that loving you still is never a chore,
and always remember, I love you more.

When Easter Means More Than Easter

In my head, I sometimes envision the relationship Mr. Grouch and I have to be like that of oil and vinegar.  While the two are capable of meshing beautifully, each one’s flavors and textures complementing the other’s, they also have the natural ability to fight one another, slowly separating until jolted back together. The two of us are more than capable of arguing about anything and everything, no matter how trivial.  In fact, there seems to be an inverse correlation between the importance of a topic and how vigorously the two of us will argue about it. Who should clean the cat’s litter box?  Five minute argument. Immediate follow-up argument about whether or not the cat should continue to reside in our house at all (same argument we’ve been having for eight years)?  Thirty minute bitchfest.  Where to go for dinner (and/or who should decide where to go)? Borderline homicidal rager.  Even if we agree, we are most certainly still capable of disagreeing, all it takes is one of us to simply rearrange the grammatical structure of a sentence to do so, and we can continue to argue our points, even if we are both really saying the same thing.

It is very rare that our arguments are about legitimately important differences in opinion, philosophy, or point of view, we tend to be consistent when it comes to our most important values.  But in a few rare instances, it has happened.  One of such times occurred within the first couple of years of dating.  My husband is a very religious man and I am a staunch atheist.  We used to squabble about the legitimacy of the church, the credibility of religion, whether or not man evolved through the rugged process of natural selection, or was divinely created, and whether or not a God even existed at all. They were fruitless controversies, with no potential for a winner.  No compromise existed.

Until one did.

In what may have been the first true act of conciliation as a couple, my now-husband decided to end the counterproductive religious debates.  He bought me a stuffed gorilla and gave me a card in which he wrote something along the lines of, “Maybe we evolved, maybe we were created, only God knows.  Or does he?”  And that was that.  We decided to agree to disagree, and it has worked, for the most part, which is somewhat astounding, really, when you consider we argue about the best method for breading chicken, whether chocolates should be stored in the pantry or in the freezer and whether or not the person we are yelling at from across the house can’t actually hear us or is purposefully ignoring us.

The only bumps in the road have occurred around the holidays, Easter in particular.  My husband always wants to attend religious service, at the Greek Orthodox church, with me by his side, robotically performing my stavro (cross), repeating lines such as Christos Anesti (Christ has risen) and Alithos Anesti (truly he has risen), words that I don’t believe to be true.  Easter services are so much longer than the typical Sunday service, and so much less conveniently timed. We usually arrive at church around ten p.m., and do not leave until well after two in the morning.  Much of the service requires standing, and in my uncomfortable pumps, I can be seen continuously shifting my weight from side to side. The saving grace of these services is the choir, the music eerie and mournful and beautifully calming, and, thankfully, sung in Greek, so I can focus on the melody rather than the meaning of the words.

The main point of contention hasn’t been the timing of the services, or the quality or quantity of the music being played.  It has been the issue of respecting identities and beliefs.  I worried that by attending the mass, or performing the rituals, that I would be giving in, letting my husband walk all over me, turning into the wife whose ideas and beliefs are not valued, respected or, possibly, even considered.  I worried that my husband’s motives for my compliance were oily, spiteful and untrustworthy, and my reaction, in return, was acidic.

Ironically, by worrying about those things, and actively lashing out because of those anxieties, I was not valuing, respecting or considering the belief my husband held so dear. His religious identity is a pure and innocent one. I remember him asking me one time, if I would ask for forgiveness before I died. I didn’t understand why he would ask me this, my defensive self initially thought he was trying to tell me I was living my life the wrong way, or that he was trying to control me, right up to the very bitter end.  But, he clarified his intentions when he explained that he simply wanted to be with me for eternity and he was concerned that might would happen if I didn’t ask. Not quite the vicious motive or judgmental request my skeptical and anxious mind had first leapt to. His religion is an important piece of who he is. Being malicious and oppressive is not.  It took me awhile to fully grasp this, but once I did, I stopped kicking and screaming every time it was suggested that we go to church.  I stopped rolling my eyes when he asked me to perform my cross, and stopped complaining about the sporadic late-night holy services.

I don’t need to prove, time and time again, that I don’t believe. He already knows this, and has accepted it.  What I DO need to prove is that I am supportive of HIS belief. I’ve chosen him to be my partner, and being a married pair does not mean we have to be identical in our thinking, it means we need to support and complement one another, no matter what. This is what successful partnerships work on for the entire duration of their union and the couples that make it are the ones who get better at this over time, while the ones that don’t are bound to fail.

Once we became parents, the aspect of religion rose to the forefront once again. He feels strongly that our daughter be raised with exposure to the knowledge and culture the Orthodox Church provides. Thankfully, my views have evolved since our early debates on the subject, so I fully support this as part of her well-rounded upbringing.  Not only is it successful partnerships that rely on advocating and augmenting each other, but strong and successful families as well.

In the long run, I want my daughters to find counterparts who enhance them, I want them to be engaged in balanced and harmonious relationships.  Marriage is akin to the back and forth readjustments of two individuals in motion on either side of a teeter-totter. One is strong, when the other becomes weak, one is a comfort, when the other is distraught, one steps up when the other falls down.  Every now and again the two weights on each end are exactly balanced, hovering equidistant from the ground, but usually that’s not the case, and that is ok, as long as there is an ebb and flow, and one person doesn’t jump off their seat, leaving the other stranded.

If kind of give-and-take relationship is what I want for my daughters, I had better be sure my spouse and I model it.

Awhile back I finally let my guard down and began the process of acting lilke the woman I wanted to be.  My husband brought up the fact that we had not yet had our house blessed since moving in.  I reminded him that he can have the house blessed if he wants, and to do it anytime.  It’s not something I would do, but I certainly am not going to stop him, if it is something he feels he needs to do.  Instead of calling, he decided to open up the church incense he keeps, and he set it aflame, causing its scent to permeate through the kitchen and living room.  The incense is strong, and I have a sensitive nose. In the past, this combination has sometimes resulted in me leaving the room soon after his religious flare is lit.  But, it had been awhile since I had been exposed to this spiritual scent, and this time, the bouquet really wasn’t so bad, in fact, it may have registered within my nares as sweetly pleasing.  Maybe it was because our new home is more spacious, or maybe it was because our years of teetering and tottering back and forth, balancing the ups and downs of our relationship, have stirred the two of us to the point where our separateness is not so clearly delineated, and we, like the oil and the vinegar, have created an evenly blended suspension, our relationship a healthy emotional emulsion.  Instead of coughing and gagging, I crossed myself three times with my right hand, placed my hand on my heart before wafting the fumes towards my nose, like I knew he wanted me to, for myself and for the child growing inside me at the time.

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Instead of fighting the holidays because of their inherent religiousness I have vowed to embrace them, for the good of our family. They are often centered around a religious aspect at their root, but most of the reality of the holidays is centered around family time, togetherness and bonding.

I find this to be true even while at church. My husband and his family sit packed near each other, taking up two or three full pews, so moments of laughter or the hushed exchange of words inevitably occurs throughout the service.  At at least one point during the service, husband finds my hand with his and squeezes it, and the two of us share a moment of calm reflection that reminds us we are grateful for one another, and the serene space provides a venue conducive to letting each other know.  At the midnight service this Easter, my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter found the choir to be as compelling as I often do.  Though this was the first time she heard the music, she attempted to sing along and she looked at me, my mouth not moving, and instructed me to, “Sing, mama.  Sing”. She wasn’t asking me to sing to prove my devotion to a higher being, she was asking me to share in the beauty and connect with her by singing together. We sing at home, in the park, in the car, why would I not sing with her at church? Well, okay, the fact that I don’t speak Greek does make it a little harder, since I dont know all of the words, but that didn’t stop me from humming along, singing the few words I could make out, while my face pressed close to hers, enjoying every precious note.

Am I worried my child will be brainwashed into believing something I do not?  Not really.  If we do our job right as parents, she’ll be brainwashed to love and care for others, to help those in need, to respect differing viewpoints, and to expect nothing less than love, encouragment and support from the person she chooses to spend her life with.  None of these are dependent on whether or not she is celebrating the religious aspect of a holiday or if she believes in Heaven or Hell.  She can decide for herself what the holidays mean, to her, and in the meantime, my husband and I will model what it means for us, our internal interpretations so very different, yet the outward expression so much the same.

As dissimilar as oil and vinegar may be, if they are passionately stirred, they meld and create a glorious pairing.  My spouse and I are on a joint mission to create a personified vinaigarette, one so vibrant and robust that it is easy to forget that the there are separate entities making up the whole.  And that’s the ultimate goal, for many of us, to create a household and a family that is harmonious and balanced, full of unconditional love and support.  It’s what so many of us incorporate into our view of what it means to be a good parent, on the holidays, and on all of the days in between.

Marriage: It’s All About Teamwork (With a Dash of Competition)

There’s so much work involved in just pretending to look like being a functional adult, it’s common to feel over-worked and under-appreciated.   There’s a lot of aspects to adult life that really suck.  Taking care of the bills, the trash, the dirty dishes, the piles of laundry. Cleaning up messes, picking up toys, and wiping up spills.  Filling out the never-ending-Godforsaken work forms, the relentless (and often pointless) data collection sheets, the before-work and after-work and lunchtime meetings.  Dealing with the idiot co-workers and the idiot bosses and the idiot customers and doing all of these things without losing your shit.  Day. After. Day.

Being a successful grown-up person requires a crapload of work.  But, being a successful married individual requires even more.

Each person has their own way of doing things and their own viewpoints about what things are high priority and what is completely and utterly unimportant (generally there is an inverse relationship between Partner A’s List of All Things Important compared with Partner B’s).  Negotiating with each other, without compromising your values and sense of self, requires a delicate balance and a lot of alcohol patience.  It’s worth it, though, when we’ve found The One.  Having a companion who we cherish and admire, who loves and adores us right back, flaws and all, is one of the best things on the planet. Out of everyone on this Earth, the one person we most want to appreciate us, and all of our hard work, is our spouse.

Successful Marriage Formula = Love > Annoyance

Successful Marriage Formula = Love > Annoyance

 

Which often leads us to conversations like these:

 

SCENARIO 1: As I’m changing my daughter’s diaper I say to my spouse, “Oh my God, I just got poop on my hand! Quick, hand me a wipe!”

TEAMWORK: Spouse jumps up deftly and passes me a baby wipe faster than you can say, “Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew” five times fast.

COMPETITIVE EDGE:  After handing me the wipe, Spouse casually mentions, “I had WAY more poop on me yesterday morning.  She pooped on me, explosively, when I took off her diaper”.

 

SCENARIO 2: My spouse wakes up in the morning and complains, “I’m so tired”.

TEAMWORK:  I feel badly about the fact that Spouse’s day is already starting out so rough, so I go downstairs and make a protein shake for Spouse to take for breakfast.

COMPETITIVE EDGE:  …but not before I letting Spouse know how much more tired I am first, “I’m soooooo tired.  The kids got up three times and I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I’ve been up since 2:30 a.m.”.

 

SCENARIO 3:  After the birth of our second child (and nine solid months of reflux) I told my spouse, “I’m so glad I don’t have heartburn anymore!”

TEAMWORK:  “Yeah.  Heartburn really sucks,” spouse says, nodding in support.

COMPETITIVE EDGE:  Spouse then adds, “especially when it’s so bad you have to go to the E.R.” (spouse did). “By yourself” (spouse did).  “I know, I feel badly about that,” I concede.  It doesn’t stop there.  “You went out to coffee with your friends” (I did….ok maybe I really met them for a beer. But, shhh don’t tell him). (Spouse’s heart was just fine).

 

SCENARIO 4: A lot of things need to be taken care of in a household.  Yard work. Cleaning.  Finances.  Blah blah blah. Boring stuff that makes you sometimes wish you were a kid again, until you remember that as an adult you can purchase alcohol and no one can stop you from eating nothing but nacho cheese Doritos for dinner, if you really want to.  Adulthood means Freedom!  Unfortunately the road to freedom is paved with endless chores.

TEAMWORK: We each have “our” jobs we do around house.  We divide and conquer, and we do so quite well.  We each have our own things we care about – so that means that everything gets cared for.  For example, I care about the kitchen (dishes put away, counters clean, everything in its place) and the laundry (everything clean and folded and put away each week) and the family fun factor (fun, silly and engaging interactions).  My spouse cares about the finances (long term savings, how much we spend on the electric bill), safety of us and our possessions (doors locked, garage door shut) and the yard.

COMPETITIVE EDGE:  I’m quite sure we subconsciously sabotage each other’s efforts at times,  Spouse leaves 700 (give or take) dirty dishes on the counter directly above the dishwasher each week and always leaves the hand towel on the counter, instead of hanging it back up on the towel rack.  I leave the lights on, in every room, you can retrace my path by following the lit bulbs. Spouse insists (wrongly) that watching television is an interactive event.  I spend hundreds of dollars over budget on frivolous things, then complain that I don’t make enough money. He leaves his folded laundry piled up on the folding table until it reaches the ceiling.  I may or may not sometimes leave the front door unlocked (and possibly gaping open).  This type of subversive competition is the ultimate test of marriage strength: can we, as a couple, deal with the other’s laxity without cracking?

 

SCENARIO 5:  At a certain point in a marriage, there are no secrets left.  Personal grooming that used to happen behind closed doors becomes more of a shared experience.  Over time, people just get more comfortable with one another. And, at least for people like us, we also tend to get more hairy.

TEAMWORK:  One spouse shaves the other’s neck, and back, and fields the question, “Is my back getting really hairy?” with, “Oh, it doesn’t matter”.  One spouse plucks the other’s eyebrow(s).  One spouse gets pregnant and the other needs to help shave her legs ….and stuff…that can no longer be reached. One spouse clogs every drain with the constant shedding of Chewbacca-like tresses, while the other spouse cleans the clogs out on a regular basis.

COMPETITIVE EDGE:  No solid couple can resist letting the other know, “Your moustache needs to be waxed”, or “Your eyebrows are starting to connect to your back hair”.

 

The ultimate measure of a good marriage is whether or not you love the person you are united with more than you are annoyed by them.  If you happen to have that much affection for the one you spend almost all of your personal time with, you are really a lucky duck.  I’m one of those luckies.

 
“I love you”, my spouse always says.  So naturally my usual reply is, “I love you more”.

 

 

Marriage:  It takes teamwork. And, apparently, an underlying competitive edge.

Marriage: It takes teamwork. And, apparently, an underlying competitive edge.

 

You know I want to hear your marriage teamwork/competition scenarios. Let me hear ’em!

He Kept Trying To Help

He kept trying to help, but no matter what he did, it wasn’t helping. On the days he made dinner, he left the counter dirty and loads of pots and pans in the sink.  On the days he completed projects around the house, he was busy for so long she felt abandoned.  On the days he stayed nearby she felt smothered.  When he said to wake him up whenever she wanted him to feed the baby, she knew she’d be awake anyway, listening to him feed the baby, so what was the point?  When he asked if he could pick anything up at the store on his way home, she couldn’t think of anything she needed.   He kept trying to help, but she didn’t feel like he was much help at all.

He tried a new tactic.  “Tell me what you need”, he said.  She had to think. What DID she need?

As ridiculous as it seems, she didn’t really know what she needed.  All she knew was that she needed to feel better.

She worked to organize her thoughts so she could come up with a response.  Even though it was difficult for her to do, she made attempts to start telling him when she needed something.  She noticed that he became infinitely more helpful.

One day, she pulled in the driveway, with the kids loaded in the back seat. He greeted her at the car and looked at her face, at her drawn mouth, at her tired eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing”.

But her quivering lips betrayed her.

“Something must be wrong”.

She wanted to tell him what was wrong, but was coming up blank when she tried to think of what exactly it was that was so bad.  She had no legitimate complaints.  She knew she couldn’t say “nothing” again, so she said the first thing that popped into her head.

 “I don’t have time to get anything done”.

“What needs to get done?”

“All I’ve done today is change diapers and feed the kids and the kitchen is a mess”.  

She realized that she didn’t answer his question, but couldn’t think of what to say about what it might be she wanted to get done that she wasn’t able to do.  She hastily added the only thing she could think of that resembled a reasonable answer to his question, “And I didn’t have time to go for a jog”.  

Ah ha.  Something he could work with.  Something he could help with.

“You’re the only one who thinks you don’t have enough time to do anything.  Go work out”. With that, he grabbed the kids and the diaper bag and when she opened her mouth to protest that there wasn’t time, he looked at her and repeated firmly, “Go workout.  Go”.

Instead of arguing, as she was often quick to do, she took him up on his offer to watch the kids while she went for a short run.   As she was jogging, she realized that he helped her in a way she didn’t always acknowledge, or even consciously remember, that she needed help with.

She needed a lot of help feeling better.  She always had, and she always would.

Somehow she kept forgetting that what she needed to do was to make sure she wasn’t falling apart.  She kept forgetting that even though she sometimes felt on top of the world, she would never be capable of holding on to that feeling for very long.  She kept forgetting that her natural inclination was to sink into a never-ending pit of depression and that the only way out was to keep doing what worked to pull her from the darkness, instead of pretending she was cured and stopping her needed therapies.

Running was one of the things that helped her.  Without the movement, without the chemical release, she sometimes wouldn’t feel good, or okay, or even so-so. Without it, she was capable of feeling horrible, or melancholic, or like maybe it would be better if she wasn’t here at all.  She couldn’t be a good wife, or more importantly, a good mama, without feeling better.  

THAT was really the most important thing she needed to get done. The kitchen could wait. Feeling better could not.

She knew she wouldn’t magically feel better just because she wanted to.  She knew she couldn’t feel better solely on her own. Thank goodness he kept trying to help.

 

 

 

Spouses: If They’re Really Good At One Thing, They Really Suck At Something Else

English: A male and a female holding hands.

When we first fall in love, we notice only the admirable qualities our partner possesses. Mother Nature has watched many a fool, in the beginning stages of a relationship, believe they have found True Perfection, and she has laughed her ass off each and every time at such naiveté. True Perfection in human character is nothing more than a fond illusion; for every superior quality, an equally superb flaw exists.  Though it may take some time for these blemishes to reach the surface, there is no avoiding the inevitable pus-filled Character Defect Outbreak in the end.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  (Did you hear that, self? I’m talking to you, too). Mother Nature is both a giving nurturer and also a cruel beast.  

A random sampling of examples exhibiting what one can be good at, and simultaneously royally sucking at, can be found below:

Can spend two hours maneuvering a chainsaw and chopping down a 30 foot tree, ensuring it falls safely away from the house, but cannot spend 4 minutes chopping an onion or green pepper to help prepare fajitas for dinner.

Can take apart and reassemble a car engine, a vacuum cleaner or a laptop computer, but can not take apart and reassemble the rice cooker in the kitchen or the toilet paper roll holder in the bathroom.

Can scrape the paint from the exterior siding of an entire house, yet can not manage to scrape the price stickers off of birthday or holiday gifts before giving them to the recipient.

Can notice a speck of dust on the mantle, or a wisp of spider web in the upper reaches of a tray ceiling, but can not notice when the soles of their socks are held together by only 7 interconnected threads, or that their eyebrow hairs are extending beyond their face and inching towards their ears.

Can figure out a way to budget and put away money into multiple savings accounts, stocks and 401k’s, can implement projects which save the company at work at millions of dollars, but can not figure out how your bi-monthly hair cut and color can possibly fit into the family budget (meanwhile 37 sports package add-ons can be added to the cable bill).

Can understand complicated instruction manuals (even the ones from IKEA) and could navigate to safety if lost in the woods with only a map and a compass, or perhaps even armed only with a mental image of the constellations and a view of the night sky, but can not figure out which type of medicine could possibly be taken to remedy a headache or a stuffy nose. Tylenol Cold and Flu?  Sinutab? Mirilax? It’s SO CONFUSING.

Can sit stealthily up in a blind for hours on end, not disturbing a squirrel, ladybug, or any other living thing, with the hopes of hunting down a deer, but can not eat a bowl of cereal in the kitchen without sounding like they are chewing on a bowl of gravel, and the grinding echoing through the house.

Can remember every relative’s birthday, every family member’s doctor and dental appointment dates for the entire year, and can remember what your second cousin George’s ex-girlfriend-from-7-years-ago’s cat’s name was, but can not remember to turn off a light switch. In any room, hallway or closet in the house. Or garage. Ever.

Can bathe, suction snot out of noses, clip fingernails and read educational books to the kids, while simultaneously cooking dinner, doing 4 loads of laundry and mopping the floors, but can not talk, speak or listen while applying mascara.

Can work out six days per week, can be capable of performing yoga hand stands and running marathons, but can not open a jar of pickles or a screw top beer without assistance.

Can excel at cooking, gardening and sewing but can not manage to find common ground with your mother, who excels at cooking, gardening and sewing.

Can use alarms and timers and careful planning to be punctual for every appointment and event on the calendar, but can not manage to remember that there is meatloaf in the oven or noodle casserole on the stove top that needs to be stirred until after it can be smelled burning.

What does your spouse do well….and not so well?

If you liked this post you may also like  10 Key Pointers For Picking A Mate and  Ten Tips For Sustaining A Long-Lasting Marriage

Rocking Her

The woman got the call and listened to the numbers being given to her.  Her eyes widened, her heart sped up.  She couldn’t believe her good fortune.  Only a few months into the process, when last time took three years.  So soon?!  She was by herself, in the bathroom, away from the crowd.  She hung up the phone, elated. She looked in the mirror at herself, in her pink puffy dress, her dark hair swept up into a voluminous bun, her lipsticked mouth hanging open.  She went into a stall and clicked the lock. She smiled. Then she second guessed.  Did the lab tech say 70? Or was it only 7?  So she called back, standing inside the stall.  And the lab tech giggled as she recited the joyous news for a second time.  And then a third. Her husband, on his way to meet her, called the same lab tech, who got a kick out of telling the numbers for yet a fourth time.

When the couple saw each other at the party, they gave each other a knowing smile, and a hug.  I love you, they each said.  The I love you, while true, was a private code that meant I’m so excited to start this journey with you, again.  And the couple celebrated, with mocktails, two parties at once.  One public, one private.

A few days later, another call, from another lab tech. Not as happy, not laughing. The lab tech had a shaky voice and said things very slowly.  She took forever to spit out the numbers.  Hurry up!  the woman wanted to say.  Just say it!  But instead she said, Okay. Okay. Okay.  And a few days after that, another lab tech said I’m sorry.  And she gave the woman the Tragic Numbers.  Numbers that left her like the word looked.  Sliced apart.  Numb.

The good news is that the woman came home to a nursery that was already full. Full of her One.  She cracked the door and crept into the nursery while the One slept, so beautifully curled up, on her side. She settled into the rocking chair, with her cocktail in hand, and stared and stared and stared, filling her heart with her One’s scent, her One’s contentedness. She breathed in her One’s perfume and tried to breathe in her One’s serenity.  And it worked as well as it could.

He came in and saw her rocking and staring and knew she had been sitting there for a long while.  He opened his mouth to ask her what she was doing, but he stopped himself.  He knew.  After looking at her for a bit, he turned and looked down at their One, and he bent over and rubbed his One’s back and after only a second, she awoke. She sat up, instantly covered in smiles, even though she had been disturbed from her slumber.

The woman realized that deep down she’d been hoping her One would wake, and she greedily scooped her up into her arms and hugged and hugged and hugged her.  Her One sleepily squeezed her right back, and their bodies encircled each other.  And it felt good.  Her One warmed her and relaxed her and alleviated her pain.

But, her One’s great comfort also profoundly saddened her, because for while she sat in the chair enjoying her One, she knew she losing her Two.  She pretended that she was rocking her One to sleep, when both he and she knew that her One was really rocking her.

rocking her

10 Tips For Sustaining A Long-Lasting Marriage

During the honeymoon phase, relationships are easy. They are all adventure and excitement and newness.  But as the years wear on, the excitement dies down and reality sets in.  Here are some tips to ensure that you are giving your spouse what he or she needs, so the two of you can make it for the long haul.

1. Schedule your sexy time. Instead of silly, immature, impromptu sexcapades, ask your spouse if they want to have sex at 7pm on Tuesday. On. The. Dot. Everyone appreciates it when time is carved out just for them. However if they arrive any later than 7.15, withhold sex acts of any kind. No one likes to be stood up for a date. When they try to make a move, pull out your day planner and have them reschedule.

2.  Announce every time you’re going to the bathroom. The old, “Honey, I’ve gotta take a crap” routine never gets old, and everyone appreciates a truly open an honest relationship

3.  Help each other remove excess hair. Shave your man’s back, or help wax your lady’s upper lip.  A bit of southern landscaping may or may not be needed, from time to time.  Everyone appreciates when their significant other makes them feel attractive.

4.  Sleep with the television on all night. But, only if your spouse prefers silent, inky darkness. It’s good to help them broaden their horizons.

5.  Eat the last of the Chocolate Moose Tracks.  Or whatever favorite treat your spouse enjoys. Everyone wants someone to help them stay in shape. Tip:  This is especially true during/after pregnancy.

6.  Pretend to be asleep when you hear your child wake up.  Do NOT get up, no matter how long it takes your spouse to finally get up and tend to the child, because everyone appreciates being able to spend some extra quality time with their kid.

7.  Provide a counter-argument for every stance your spouse takes. Parenting. Politics. Religion. Pantry organization. No subject is too big or too small to stand up to spousal scrutiny. Your spouse will either gain negotiating skills or become so beaten down that he or she will go to great lengths to avoid a debate with you. Either way, it’s a win.

8.  Ask for things. A glass of water. A slice of bread with peanut butter on it. Help doing any task your spouse routinely does independently, such as carrying the baby AND the diaper bag, simultaneously. It’s good to help your spouse feel needed and capable. Bonus: If you ask for that water when you’re both upstairs in bed, you’ll also be helping them tone their quads and glutes by trudging up and down the stairs.

9. Ogle attractive strangers. Stare at your waitress as she walks away, eyeball your kids soccer coach, demand to watch a movie because your favorite on screen lover plays the lead role. This is a tough love tactic. No one wants to be taken for granted, so reminders that your spouse isn’t the only fish in the sea are sometimes needed.

10.  Answer questions with mirror questions. “What do you want for dinner?”  “What do you want?” , “What is the name of that show with the chainsaw murderer who works at the daycare?” “What is that show called?” The only communication tip better than this one is giving an answer to a completely different question than the one asked. “What do you want for dinner?”  “I heard about this high protein shake mix that you drink right after a workout that’s supposed to help build muscles 82 times faster than normal”.  By utilizing one of these communication modes you’re sure to engage your partner and avoid any awkward silent moments.

What other tips would you recommend?

If you liked this post you may also enjoy 10 Key Pointers For Picking A Mate and A Special Fart. One I View Lovingly.

A couple of 14-carat gold wedding rings. Pictu...

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