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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

I wanted today’s post to be all happy and wonderful, with a new month, a new (birthday year) and all. Full of delicious Thanksgiving eats, beautiful wood hikes and happy one year anniversary thoughts. But instead, as usual, I have to write exactly what’s on my mind. And really what’s creating this awful pit in my stomach.

It all started on Wednesday when I got a call to my work from the dog walker at 3:00pm. I pick up and from the tone of her voice I knew something was wrong.

No one went to walk Bentley today she says.

What? He was put in the crate at 7:30am, it’s 3:00pm and you were supposed to have been there twice today?

She’s so sorry she says. A mishap between her team and schedules.

He’s been locked in a crate for over 7 hours without a bathroom break then?

I call the Husband and wake him out of sleep and he runs down to his crate. I can hear Bentley crying through the phone. The husband takes him outside quickly and says he actually appears to just be happy to be around him, and somehow, maybe because he hadn’t had water or food all day – he held it and didn’t mess his crate.

I get home Wednesday night upset and feeling awful for the poor puppy. Then I start getting anxious about the next few days of events. I don’t know why because I love seeing and spending time with my family, but I always get overly anxious near holidays with my family – the planning, the driving, trying to make everyone happy and now dealing with the puppy – can sometimes just send my anxiety through the roof.

So Thanksgiving morning the husband, Bentley and I start driving to his parents where he’ll stay in the crate for a few hours while we are at my Grandfather’s. And then we started to fight.

The sad thing is, I honestly cannot for the life of me, remember what started the fight.

All I know is not even a few miles down from our house we were screaming at each other. Saying nasty mean things. Voices getting louder and louder not even saying truthful things anymore, just saying things to hurt each other for a solid 10 minutes.

And then I turn around to a whimper and I see Bentley in the back seat. He looks at me, with sad helpless eyes, and saliva streaming down the sides of his mouth. Something is wrong, very wrong.

I immediately stop the fight, Jim stops the car and we turn around in time to see Bentley start throwing up. Twice he throws up all the while looking at us with those sad eyes.

He normally loves the car. What he clearly doesn’t love is his parents screaming at each other.

The rest of the weekend was in fact, pretty nice. The husband and I immediately regretted the fight and the words that were said. I held Bentley for the rest of the car ride, then we let him off leash to run around the Husband’s parent’s acres of backyard before feeding him a hot dog out of guilt. He seemed to easily forget the car ride. Us, not so much.

Later that night Bentley had Pesto, my cousin’s French bull-dog, sleep over. They didn’t stop playing for 24 hours straight.

photo 1 (2)

He went on 3 hikes through the woods. Friday morning with Pesto, Saturday morning with me around the 1.8 loop and then on Sunday, with me around the 1.8 mile loop plus the .4 mile climb to the summit. He played and ran along happily.

photo 3 (2)

And the husband on Sunday morning, our one year wedding anniversary, came home from work at 5am with a card, a framed wedding photo and a 1 year Christmas ornament. Thoughtful and loving. Sure makes that fight seem damn silly now. It really made us wonder how people can fight like that, often, in front of kids.

But even so, I just can’t get Bentley’s face out of my mind. The helpless, sad, slobbering face I saw as a I turned around in that car. The sickening pit in my stomach that keeps making its presence known.

photo 2 (3)

The Husband and I promised Bentley one thing. One thing that I without a doubt, know I’ll hold true to. That will not happen again anywhere near him.

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Marriage talk

Reading one of my favorite bloggers this past weekend somewhat inspired this post. I’ve been trying to find the words to say this in the right way, but I decided I don’t care. I’m just going to say it in my way.

I didn’t really grow up with two parents in one household. Even though my father lived with us until 5th grade, I guess looking back I can see that he wasn’t an amazing husband and he sure as hell wasn’t checked in. Granted, he was married to a woman and being gay will probably do that to you. Not to discredit him from being a fantastic father, because he was – he was active in our lives, kept us having fun, and was home each night to make us dinner and read us bedtime stories. But I hardly recall any conversations between my parents, any hugs, or even any fights. There’s a lot I would notice now about my parent’s marriage if I really examined my childhood, but I’m not sure I want to change my memories.

Anyway I’m getting off track. The point is, I grew up almost my entire life not seeing an example of a marriage in my household. I got glimpses into the marriages of my family members but I only saw the good. Being that we saw them on holidays or vacations and my Mom’s Scottish side of course does not air their dirty laundry – I think I grew up with the perception that marriage is always easy and wonderful.

It is wonderful. But not always. And it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s hard as hell.

Right now, the husband and I are in such a good spot. While we still have a way to go (I’m in the mentality of fix it before it breaks) – to learn about each other and to better communicate – I feel like we’re finally a united front. We’ve broken down so many walls and have become almost fully vulnerable. We’re finally learning to talk or argue without anger or holding back what we really feel. I like this place, a whole lot.

But I do wish people talked more about the hard parts of marriage. The hard parts that are normal of any relationship where selflessness, vulnerability, and such effort is expected. I call bullshit to anyone who says that they have had only butterflies and rainbows through years and years of a relationship. I wish people would talk more about it openly without people assuming that means divorce, or that the two people aren’t right for each other just because they have hard times. That doesn’t have to be the case, but that perception and judgment holds people back, makes them feel ashamed, makes them bottle shit up inside, and then they feel alone. It’s so much harder that way.

The thing is, there are days I could kill my husband. I swear, he does or says things that make me want to bang my head against a wall. But on those days, and even in the worst moments, I love him so fucking fiercely. THAT’s what marriage is about for me. One of the few people in my whole world that even when I am so mad and hate him – I can easily name for you all the reasons that I love him and I can’t imagine him not by my side.

I wish I knew that fighting, fights that might not just last an hour, but h.o.u.r.s or even overnight, happen. And I wish I knew that the porn fight almost always happens after you first live with someone or get married. (I know this now after talking to so many women haha.) That even though I was all cool with it, seeing it on my computer could stir up some awful feelings. And that it would take some time to get back to the point where I actually don’t care anymore.

I wish I knew that it wouldn’t always be passionate. That there would be weeks where it’s not all fifty shades of grey – as a result of life, stress, laziness, or our own self issues. That because of that, there will be days you feel disconnected and sometimes it’s all you can think about…and sometimes it’s the one thing you don’t want to think about.

I wish I knew that spouses almost always bring their own baggage, habits, and insecurities into fights and you have to somewhat learn to fight and communicate many times over.

I wish I knew that saying the “d” word should just never, ever be said. It can’t be taken back, it stings, and giving up is not an option, so don’t say it.

I wish I knew that sometimes there would be big things, big important things, that we just wouldn’t agree on. No matter the conversations, or attempted persuasions. Sometimes love means learning to compromise, or at times concede.

I wish I knew that truly, the more selfless you both are, the more you both end up happy.

I wish I knew that there would unfortunately be times that I would feel like the lowest priority in his life. That even though deep down I am his top, it’s easy to let other things come before me because he knows I’m there forever and that is easy to take advantage of. That work, friends, the gym, random commitments can easily take over if you’re not careful.

I wish I knew that winning shouldn’t be important. I grew up trying to “win” at everything – sports, games, high grades, etc. Winning against a spouse doesn’t feel good in the end. I want us both to win.

I wish I knew that it takes hard work not to become what you fear the most. The nag. The negative complainer. The one with unrelenting standards, picking, picking, picking and never happy enough.

I wish I knew how much effort it would always be. The more you put in, the more you get out. That just living together and sharing a life doesn’t really mean sharing a life. That our time with family and friends is super important, but our alone couple time (not in front of the tv) is just as important to connect.

I wish I knew that there would be a moment where I’m ready to start a family. And he’s not. And it kind of breaks my heart. And as much as I want it, I want him 100% in and it could be months before he feels ready.

I wish I knew that there would still be so many fears. Married or not. I fear that I lost some attractiveness as the wife, versus the one he is trying to catch. Or that with kids we’ll lose how connected we are and I’ll become “mommy” and lose the rest. Or that one day he could wake up and not want to try anymore. Those fears are all still real and there, married or not.

All of this and more happens. And still with all of it – I am happier, more fulfilled, and more in-love than I could have imagined. Every day I love my turkey more, and I love who we are becoming together.

But seriously, can we all start talking about this stuff more? Less judgment, more honesty and support.

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The fighting pattern

Most of this past weekend was fantastic. A weekend up in Loon with the husband and friends. Drinking games filled with fits of laughter on Friday night, a relaxing day reading and getting to know one of the girls on Saturday while some skied, a warm dinner at a country-barn like inn, a night in front of the fire chatting, and a good night’s sleep before heading back to Beantown on Sunday.

An early dinner on Sunday and an awful movie (Mama. Do.not.see.it) with the Husband before we both got back into work mode.

But there are hours that I’m leaving out on Sunday afternoon. A piece I planned to keep left out but I need to write it. I need to own it and make myself accountable too.

The Husband and I got into one hell of a fight on Sunday afternoon. The car ride home was great – we caught up about the weekend, sang, talked, it was all good. And then we got back to the house, watched TV for an hour, and planned on heading out. Somewhere during that hour I got angry.

I can’t quite pin point what it is that sets me off. It could be as little as not enough affection, lack of words of appreciation, or the annoyance of getting to enjoy sleeping in the same bed tangled together for two nights only knowing we have to go back to our world of sleeping on opposite schedules, a lack of intimacy that is heart-breaking sometimes. Some days it’s easy as I joke about getting a great night’s sleep, but truthfully, some days it’s hard.

Some days things could be great, but then I let myself go back in time. To the months after we moved in where for a time period we felt like enemies instead of best friends. Remembering things that were said to hurt each other that you can’t forget, no matter how many apologies.

But in order to keep moving forward, we have to get past that. We have to continue to get better with our communication. We have to stop the escalation of our fights.

One month is what I’m asking for.

The next month to work on this and both give the same amount of effort. I gave him tangible examples of how to make me feel like our marriage is his number one priority. How it’s the little things (planning a date night instead of me always planning), the big things (no name calling during fights), the intangible things (a touch, a kiss, a look). It’s simple really – follow the steps and I can promise it will be a trickle down effect. How when I feel like a priority I will support him and his choices.

How for one month I will focus only on the present and future and let go of the past. If we fight about the dishes, it will be just about the dishes and not about hurt times from 6 months ago that don’t have anything to do with dishes. How if I am angry, mad, sad, whatever – I’ll just say it in the moment– instead of making side comments or hurtful jabs that I expect him to be receptive to days later. How I will focus on the good and show him my appreciation instead of only pointing out the bad or things I think he should fix.

The truth is I’m so tired of fighting. I’m so tired of picking these fights, escalating fights and holding on to old resentments. I’m tired of taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back each time I do this. It’s becoming a pattern, a pattern that I am creating, and a pattern that’s wearing away the good and bringing us down. Even after talking, it erased a fantastic and fun weekend we had together and left the start of Monday with a sour taste in my mouth.

It’s as much me here that needs to give as him. It’s so easy to say what needs to be done. It’s now a matter of truly following through. It’s so frustrating that for something I want so much, and care so much about, I practically sabotage myself.

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When I first started seeing my therapist last year I said that there were days that I felt lost. That I was so scared I was losing part of me, and who I was by being in a relationship again, and subsequently even more so by getting married.

Actually, one of the first things I said was that I thought “my most true to myself” time period (note, not necessarily my most happy) was while I was single after B and I broke up. I spent that year soul-searching, trying new things – triathlon training, road races, blogging, a photography class, travelling, focusing on time with family and building new friendships, and more. I was learning, growing and developing passions without the fear of moving away from my significant other or breaking our “team-bond”. And not because any of my past exes said I shouldn’t do any of those things, but because it was some self-imposed desire, an inevitable decision every time to give up my needs to support the other. During that year alone I was wildly independent and as scary as it was, it was the first time I felt like I was allowing myself to truly focus on me.

That time period always reminds me of Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love. When I first read that book I loved the idea of spending time to travel, learn about yourself and well learn about a whole lot of other things too. What always sticks out in my mind though is a conversation I had with a close friend about that book after we both had read it, and how deep down, I took her response as a personal insult to me.

Her immediate response was that she disliked it and thought that Elizabeth was so incredibly selfish for what she did. When I pressed what was selfish she said nothing other than that she spent a year gallivanting around, focusing on herself so much and writing about it.

I still deeply disagree with her feelings on that book, and even more so with Elizabeth’s journey being selfish. I can’t help but think if it was written by a man then my friend wouldn’t have said it was selfish at all (but that’s a post for another time). Did I absolutely love Elizabeth in the book and her responses and reactions? No of course not, I found her rather annoying and dramatic at times, but I would have never described what she did as a single woman without kids as selfish.

And that’s just it, I catch myself and realize I’ve just said, it’s not selfish as a “single woman”.  

This morning I read this article, and it’s truly one of the better articles I have ever read on marriage and career because as I read it I think, exactly, this is what I want, but never believed possible.

You can have a family life that checks and feeds and balances your professional growth. You can have a professional life that informs and enriches your personal life. One or the other of those things might take precedence temporarily through the natural shifts and changes of life. That’s okay. Your horizons are broadening rather than shutting down.”

My biggest challenge within relationships of my past was that I found it too easy to lose myself. I thought it was selfish to focus on learning about my own personal likes, needs or going in any direction – be it career or personal –  that wasn’t fully team oriented. Trust me, I so easily slip into the “we” zone for everything.

It’s not that any of above is bad or not OK. It’s more that I was never good at finding a balance in between “I” and “We”.  I was one or the other, but could never be both. And that’s something that I’m trying to focus on. How to redefine who I am, and what I want, while being part of a “We”. How to keep my independent side that pushes me to take new classes, explore new interests, or accepts a new job role that could very much be a mistake or limit my couple time even more, while still being a team, and making decisions that are best for both myself and my husband while keeping him, and “us”, a priority.

I’m still struggling with this, all the time.

I don’t know if I’m making any sense really, or just talking in vague circles without any poignant answers. But I guess at this point in my life, as a married woman, without children, I can only hope for this…

Understand, I’ll slip quietly

away from the noisy crowd

when I see the pale

stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.

I’ll pursue solitary pathways

through the pale twilit meadows,

with only this one dream:

You come too.

I_We

wehearit.com

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Let me start this stream of conscious by saying, I just don’t know how single parents do it all…

Anyway, everyone knows what the old stereotypical heterosexual gender roles are for a marriage. Men are breadwinners and women do the household chores.

Most of my generation today would probably say they are equals with their partner and gender roles don’t exist in their relationship.

I’ll probably anger some people by saying this, but I just think that no matter what, there is a breadwinner and with that, inequality (in one form or another) can easily seep in.

I absolutely understand all those articles and rants from women who are stay at home moms or more dependent on their husband’s salary and when the husband walks in the door, they don’t understand why he can’t just hang up his coat, put his shoes away, and help at home.

But I also understand the man who works hard all day, doesn’t get to see his kids as often, pays all the bills, and comes home and thinks, why can’t the wife just make dinner, enjoy this time and not nag me?

The truth is I’m the so-called breadwinner in my relationship. I make twice the salary of my husband. And you know what?

I really wish I didn’t.

The financials of my relationship aren’t even close to equal.

I actually think it’s hard to be on either side – breadwinner or bread(lesser?), and realistically, most couples have a bit of disparity in their compensation so I’m sure many deal with this in one way or another.

I take on those traditional male roles. I make more money. I handle all of the bills and I create our budget and savings plan.

My Husband is the cook. He spends far more time in the kitchen than I ever have or will ever want to.

The other night I watched as he made homemade whole wheat breadcrumbs to dip chicken into to make healthier baked chicken parmesan. Just watching the time and effort it took to make that dinner made me want to call the nearest Italian restaurant for takeout. But he actually enjoys doing it. I think it would be a horrific test of my patience to try such a thing.

But I’ll gladly eat it!

And then after this delicious dinner? Somehow more often than not, he’s the one cleaning up and loading up the dishwasher.

It took a lot of time to accept our so-called “roles” in our relationship, and there were definitely moments where our pride or our notions of the traditional norms got the best of us. There were times on both sides where we felt things were unfair, or we felt unappreciated and we’d fight or nag each other.

Just the other night the Husband joked that he’d make a better housewife than I ever would.

He’s 100% right.

Not because he’s less of a stereotypical man by any means (hello hot man in a uniform obsessed with football), but because he’s far more patient and has a much bigger desire to cook, clean, take the garbage out and keep things organized and running smoothly at home.

And if I left the bills to him? We’d have debt collection agencies calling us daily.

We’ve slowly divvied it all up – where he lacks in paying the bills – I lack in cooking and cleaning. When he makes me feel physically safe, I make him feel emotionally safe. When he creates restaurant quality dinners, I do loads of laundry and clean the bathrooms…

This is in fact, a real note that I left for my husband after way too many middle of the night bathroom trips that left me pissed off...and really, pissed on.

This is in fact, a real note that I left for my husband after way too many middle of the night bathroom trips that left me pissed off…and well, pissed on.

Most importantly, whether I make more money or not, we’re a team. And we make a point to appreciate each other, out loud. We’ve slowly chosen the chores or responsibilities that we’re each good at and willing to do. No one is forced to do one thing or the other on their own.

If I’m in the kitchen staring at a full garbage can, I will take it out. If the dishwasher is clean and I’m just watching TV, I’ll unload it.

If I just ate the most delicious chicken parmesan that took 2 hours and every dish in the cabinet to make – I am sure as hell going to “mmm and ahh” while eating it and tell my family and friends all about his master kitchen skills while he’s sitting there listening.

When I come home after getting another raise at work, he high-fives me and starts talking about the future beach-house we’ll be getting. (Dream big Husband.)

One of the most important things I have learned is that as a team you just do things for each other. Not so I can say a week later – oh but I took the trash out and that’s your job – but because it’s a nice thing to do.

Right now, we’re at a real sweet spot. The part where we’ve realized we’re no longer two separate people with two separate roles and incomes. We’re two people together making one hell of a team that’s working with each other and for each other. And that makes us equal.

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My time abroad in Tasmania wasn’t like most of the other term abroad at my college. We weren’t expected to take classes but instead either do research or write the remainder of our thesis.

Most people thought that meant a free ride, but I swear, trying to finalize research and write your thesis in a foreign country is actually pretty difficult. Especially when you’re over 75 pages in and your computer crashes and they can’t fix it. (Yes I was that idiot who didn’t back stuff up…you’d think I’d learn by now.) Okay, and especially when your host parents let you take their car to drive up the coast and go on a kayaking adventure.

Anyway, we had three professors go with us. One professor I briefly mentioned before here, wasn’t through our school but was from Alaska and was doing his own research that intertwined with the two professors coming from our school.

Now our two professors were nutty. (To be honest, it seems most Anthropology professors I encounter are.) Anyway, they were married to each other, had a son who actually went to our school, and were the ones who always ran the term abroad to Tasmania. While there were a few other options for Anthro term abroad I knew I wanted to go on this one. This one only allowed for 10 students (usually 5 girls, 5 boys) and it involved a few weeks of camping together around the coast of Tasmania before dropping us in various home stays and trying to force culture shock (they didn’t tell us where anyone else was staying). But we became really close with these two professors as we navigated camping without running water, culture shock, and various blunders in a new country.

Hands down, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and one day I really want to take the time to write-up more on it.

The other night though when talking to my Mom I found out some really disappointing information about these two professors. Even though I remained in contact with them for the first few years after college in the last year or so I’ve lost contact.

First I hear they are no longer running the term abroad. Then I hear they are no longer affiliated with my college.

And the real kicker? Turns out the male professor was having affairs in the various places they were doing research. Not only that but unbeknownst to her he has CHILDREN with other women in these places.

WHAT?!!!

I remember being in the male professor’s car with two other students in Tasmania and we got into a whole conversation about how we didn’t understand cheating in marriages. I wish now I could remember more clearly his reaction or his comments.

I just didn’t expect this.

On the outside it looked like he respected her, was awestruck by her, and maybe even a little dependent on her. She was a bit more independent but you could tell she enjoyed being with him and they had their own groove.

It’s a shock. It’s disappointing. It’s an instance where I just think, them? Really?

I feel almost betrayed by them. It’s a strange feeling. I don’t know if it’s because after spending so much time with them and connecting through anthropology that I trusted and respected them. But it’s upsetting.

I’m tired of hearing about cheating. I’m tired of hearing about crappy marriages in the news, media, and through the gossip train.

I’d like to hear more positives about marriage. I want the media to celebrate strong, successful marriages full of integrity.

I’m not sitting here thinking marriages are easy or perfect. It just seems like recently cheating and crazy scandals within marriages are glorified and I’m sick of it.

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I have plans to have dinner with my old co-worker on Wednesday night. This happens to be the old co-worker that I “dated” for a while. For about 4 months (really 6 months if you count a few random times after) we basically slept together…a lot. When we first worked together I found him interesting, attractive (at 6’3 and a cycler) and he had the older guy appeal at 5 years older than me. But it was sex. It wasn’t really anything more than that – or at the time maybe I played with the idea of it being more – but looking back now I know it wouldn’t have worked. He’s a very nice guy, but his extreme go with the flow, doesn’t make set plans, doesn’t have a job after getting his MBA and is ok with that for now, personality just doesn’t mix with mine. The whole opposites attract thing at first was fun – I brought out his willingness to plan and he brought out the go with the flow.
 
And then it got old.
 
And then it just got annoying.
 
I LIKE making plans. I like having things to look forward to. Better yet I like DOING things. And I do not like being reprimanded and told to just relax when I am making too many plans (plans that were with or without said person). The extreme go with the flow attitude he had made him end up sitting at home on his computer most nights. Booooring. All talk and no doing makes co-worker a dull boy.
 
But I will admit, our rendezvous were pretty hot. A lot of it I played teacher and we experimented. Crazy outfits, crazy positions, as many times as we could in one night. But it’s strange, the idea of sleeping with him again just doesn’t do it for me. In fact it makes me cringe a little.
 
Why is that? How is it that someone I was once soooo attracted to can now be almost… repulsive?
 
My best guess? We have both changed. After B, I realize what I want, what I don’t want, and how I want to spend my time. I have also found in this mini rediscovering myself phase – how many interests I have like training for the Tri, rock-climbing, blogging, etc. I have also deepened my relationships with my family and friends. I’m loving life. And well, he seems to be going more and more into the go with the flow attitude that has ended with him at 30, living with his parents, no job, no hobbies, not many friends in the area and pretty lack-luster about life. The last time I saw him I felt like my personality was going to smother him. So I’m surprised at how hard he has pushed for us to get together for dinner.
 
In some ways it reminds me of this article my friend recently sent to me. I am in no way putting down those who get married young, in fact, I can see how marrying young makes for a more successful relationship. But for me, had I gotten married in my early 20’s I’d be divorced by now. I just didn’t know what I wanted in myself so how could I know what I want in a partner? I think now I understand what I need, what I want, and what I’m willing to compromise for someone. I’m still in no rush though, I mean I’m only 25.5 now! 😉
 
It’s just an interesting way to realize how much I have already grown in the past 3 years…and I like it.

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