My daughter asked me yesterday, as we were driving around having a delicious vacation day together, into a comfortable silence as we drove, my gorgeous, teenage, looking-at-colleges daughter turns to me and asks, “Mom, what’s it like being married?”
(For those of you still in the My Little Pony and Doc McStuffins stage, enjoy. These questions are coming to you someday too.)
And most of you know, I’ve been divorced and remarried. I’ve also watched my friends, I’ve celebrated with girlfriends who talk about their men with gratitude and joy, and I’ve held others as they cried and dialed attorneys offices. I know a lot of ways marriage can be.
“Well, honey,” I started, and paused, praying for God to give me something wise and helpful and accurate, “They say a good marriage is the best thing, and a bad marriage is the worst. I think that’s because your marriage will touch every aspect of your life. It can either uplift and support everything you do, or it can be a weight and a pain that affects everything in a negative way.”
I paused, again, praying for the words.
“You know I was divorced?” She nods. “Well, he and I went into that marriage without really talking about some of the real world aspects of what marriage means. We hadn’t even talked about whether we wanted kids. Not about where we wanted to live, not about what we hoped our life would look like, not about money, nothing. We were attracted to each other, and we enjoyed each other’s company, but that’s not enough.”
Daughter, frighteningly, is listening intently. “You’ve said you were like the country mouse and the city mouse.” She offers.
“Yes, we liked each other, but wanted very different things from life. And I was afraid to talk to him. You have to be able to talk to your husband.”
“You talk to Daddy.”
“Yes. And sometimes we talk loudly in the garage, right?” Daughter smiles. The garage is where my husband and I go to argue when things are really heated. “But we work hard at telling each other what we need, and we work hard to listen to each other and to work it out. You know we’ve gone to a counselor to get advice when we’ve been stuck, right?” She nods.
I talk about how important it is to marry someone you trust and respect. I talk about how there will be things you don’t like about your spouse, and that’s okay. I mention her Daddy’s love of car shows and bad 80’s music. She laughs.
We are getting close to our destination, and I want to end this little life lesson on a positive note. I also want to be as accurate as possible about my own marriage, which I am immensely grateful for, and which I want my daughter to know is wonderful, but not perfect.
“Daddy and I are each other’s best friends. Knowing that he is there, that he and I have decided that we are in this for life, that we will do whatever work we need to do to make it good… it’s a warm safe thing that I carry with me throughout my day. Even when my day is really hard, even when Daddy and I are disagreeing, I know that under everything is this base of love and trust. It’s work, a good marriage is work, it can be really hard work, but it is so worth it.”
…How’d I do, Mommies? Lord, I hope alright. And heaven help you when these questions come your way.
This morning, I asked my husband about it. His answer? “You are like the sun,” he said. “Even on the dark, cloudy days, I know you’re there, and that you will always be there, providing warmth and light.”
“You mean when life is cloudy or when I am cloudy?” I asked with a smile.
“Yes.” He responded, and kissed me. Not bad for a stoic Swede.
With love, Mamma. So much love,
Good morning, Mommy! Happy Friday! Protect your pie today, right? Take care that you are a good employee, that you do your job, but also take care that you come into the weekend with some energy left for yourself and for that family that you love.
By the end of last week, I was a crying pile on the floor. I had given away all my energy-pie for that day, the next day and for Saturday apparently because I slept half the day away. Not good. Not who I want to be.
This week, I ate healthy even when I didn’t want to (which was always), I worked out every day even when I didn’t want to (which was always), and funny thing, here I am at Friday and I have energy left! Healthy living creates energy.
I set up a date night for Saturday. Laughed with a girlfriend till my face hurt (it had to do with a text that was suppose to include the word ‘computers’ but instead said ‘condoms’ … hilarious, I love autocorrect. Love and laughter create energy.
Requested car pools to save some time and energy. Let kids have cereal for breakfast every morning. Passed on two non-essential business dinners.
How about you, Mamma? How’s your pie this Friday morning? How’s your energy?
What do you want your life to look like this weekend? What do you have to put in place to get there?
See it, Mamma. See what you value and what you need and make sure to make time for those.
No apologies, no guilt. This is your one life. Live it well.
Good morning, Mommies! Happy Friday!!! Happy Friday before a big fat delicious long weekend Friday.
I hope you get a chance to have some couple time with your husband this weekend, even if it’s just to put your legs in his lap and snuggle a bit on the sofa, or the back deck, or the front stoop after the kids to go bed.
I got up this morning and came down to a fairly messy kitchen. My husband had mysteriously fried up some leeks last night and left them in a bowl on the counter. Covered in tinfoil, but greasy fried mystery leeks on the counter none-the-less. The frying pan was still on the stove.
(Why exactly we need fried leeks, I’m just not sure. Doubtless I’ll find out today, but as of this morning, it’s still a mystery.)
I am so grateful for this crazy man. So grateful that I feel safe enough to ask him for what I need. Grateful that we made it through the years of figuring each other out and developing our common language. (Forgiveness and effort, again and again and again.) Grateful that we learned to give and give and not keep score.
And grateful that my gorgeous Indian friend the pulmonologist told me years ago of her arranged marriage that perhaps arranged marriages have a higher success rate because they go into it knowing that they’ll have to work at it. She changed the way I look at marriage, and I’m grateful.
At a dinner party last weekend, husband and I laughed with the group at how unlikely it was that he and I should have ever gotten together. The boy from the tough city neighborhood. The girl from the quiet little suburb. He, laid back, I, er, more tightly wound. (These days, less tightly than I used to be, but still). He grew up listening to Beastie Boys. I grew up listening to Beethoven.
I still have to ask for what I need – just last weekend when he and I were so very worried about the safety of Mission Trip Kid I had to go to husband and say, “Please stop doing the dishes, I don’t need you to do the dishes, I need a hug and to hear you tell me you love me. I need you to hold me. I need us to pray together”. He stopped doing the dishes and wrapped me in his arms, wet soapy hands and all.
He still has to ask for time away by himself. Because I still forget sometimes that, as an introvert, he needs that time alone to recharge.
I think the fairy tales should read, “And they lived imperfectly ever after, in patience and forgiveness, occasionally reminding each other of what they need. Sometimes they yelled, and then they apologized. They shared the laundry, they argued in the garage so they wouldn’t scare the kids, they sought counseling as necessary. Sometimes their kitchen was messy. And they laughed, a lot.”
That’s my happily ever after.
Equal parts crazy and messy and beautiful. Sound familiar? I hope so.
Have a great weekend, Mamma.
This morning, when my alarm went off at 4 AM, I turned to my husband and said, “The kids will be spending the night with Grandma and Grandpa in a few weeks. I need you to plan a date night for us, and I need it to be romantic.”
My husband said something like, “MMMFGRG… HUH? What?”
I repeated myself.
“Ok”. He said.
I will need to lovingly repeat my request later today, and probably again in a few days. And I’ll get my date night.
My husband, my wonderful man, is many things, but he is not the kind of guy who will notice an opportunity for romance and plan accordingly. For me to wait for him to be that guy would be an exercise in frustration for both of us. For me to wait till the day, hoping silently that he had noticed and planned something, and then storming around the house in a huff because he hadn’t, waiting for him to notice how upset I was, punishing him for not noticing… this kind of childish drama wrecks relationships and marriages.
So, instead, I ask for what I need.
My man does dishes, legions of them. He makes dinners – good dinners, really good dinners. He drives to Walgreen’s in the middle of the night for Pedialyte when our children are throwing up. He is a good, hard-working, faithful man. Why would I want to punish a man that good, for what he is not?
But, I do need romance, so I ask.
Because then he can then easily understand what I need, and fill that need for me.
If you married a fish, appreciate his wonderful fishy-ness. Be grateful for all the good things your fish brings to your relationship. But, if you married a fish, don’t waste your time or your marriage wanting him to be a bear.
Date night. If you need it, ask.
And dishes and dinners, if you need those, ask for those too.
Simple, direct, straight to the point, and, I would hope, lovingly requested. Let your man know what you need.
Happy date night, Mamma.
Life. A day in the life. A day in my life. Son meets a girl – nervous, hopeful, smiling. Mother-in-law goes via ambulance to the hospital (come today, the ICU nurse says). Slow, steady success at my fabulous new job – so grateful. New puppy will arrive Friday, fresh and soft and clumsy. Our youngest studies for his first final exam – so earnest, so worried, so determined. And a friend’s husband loses his job.
And somewhere, someone’s baby learns to walk, someone has a first kiss, someone says goodbye.
Mamma, my dear, dear Mamma-friend. Hug your family tight today. Eyes and ears and heart open. This lovely, tiring, too-full mess of a miracle we call life, it’s a beautiful, precious thing. Look around; everywhere hopes and effort and joy and pain. The little ones who look to you to tell them they have value, the baby-chubby or stick-thin or alarmingly muscled arms that reach to you for comfort, the husband who wants to know you still care. Friends who will be there through thick and thin, who love it when you call.
Sometimes we get so busy, we forget to experience our own lives.
There are milestones that stop us in our tracks and insist we pay attention. Don’t wait for those. Pay attention today. Love every minute. Even the tough ones, even the tired ones. Even.
We get to be here. We get to do this. This amazing, crazy, unpredictable, lovely mess. So beautiful. So much. So blessed.
Happy Friday!!! Oh, Mamma. Lovely, light-hearted Friday, giddy with it’s promise of delicious Saturday right around the corner.
I was gob-smack exhausted when I got home after a fourteen hour day yesterday. My 9:00 A.M. dreams of roasted cauliflower and marinated chicken breast slowly faded throughout the day. 7:00 P.M. found me driving, catatonic, by Taco Bell thinking, “Maybe I could get everyone a Nachos Bell Grande?”
Thank God for my husband — that wonderful other grown-up in my house, my baton-hand-off partner in our life relay race. I called him and conveyed the depth of my fatigue. “I got this,” he said, “Just come home”.
He made a chicken fried rice while I lay in a stupor on the sofa, to tired to even take off my boots. I could hear him, in my dream-like state, asking our son about his homework, bantering with our daughter about track practice.
Life can be so much easier with two grown-ups in the house.
I find myself (no doubt fueled by my recent conversation with about-to-be-divorced girlfriend) thinking about how to nurture this relationship. Too often our date nights end up like my imagined dinner last night – grand plans of fancy-nights-out that are reduced to a stop by the Taco Bell drive-through by the pressures of time, money and the to-do list.
I know the data — couples who have couple-time once a week report a higher quality relationship than those who don’t. (Where this leaves my husband and I with our maybe once-a-quarter dates, I cringe to think…)
Tonight, Friday, do something nice for your man if you are lucky enough to have one. I’m making Trapper’s Porridge for breakfast this morning. Ridiculously putzy to make, and one of my husband’s favorites. I-love-you in a bowl.
Maybe get take-out burritos to eat while you watch his favorite movie tonight, after the kids go to bed. Maybe go for a walk before dinner and hold his hand. Have a glass of wine sitting on your front steps enjoying the mild weather. Whatever it is, do one little thing. Keep the fire lit, sister. Life is so much easier with two at the helm.
Do you have a date night planned? Time alone with that life partner guy? The one who has your back through thick and thin, and many, many loads of laundry?
They’re not exactly easy to get to know, are they?
First there’s the time thing. We work and we have kids, or we wouldn’t be on this page, so that leaves us about six and a half minutes per week to develop the relationship with our husbands. (Make sure you high-five him in the driveway as you pass from one activity to the next.)
Then, we’re built differently, yes? I’ve been re-reading “Why Gender Matters” which I find so helpful in understanding the male mind. The whole competition thing? Kind of a pain in the tuchus. The whole you-would-take-a-bullet-for-me
Finally, we have our own particular preferences. My husband and I, for example, just have different ways of doing things. He is an introvert, I’m an extrovert (this means I want to talk and talk and talk, just when he most wants to go hide in a quiet room). He wants to dive in and get started, I want a plan. He likes to work alone, I prefer a coordinated team effort.
How is this supposed to work, exactly?
I smile as I write this.
I’m amazed that it does, actually. But there’s the really cool thing about working with people who are different from you, whose strengths and weaknesses are different from yours – you take different parts of the whole task at hand, (say, raising a family and running a home) and together, you get it done better than either of you trying to do it alone. Synergy, I think they call it.
How does this relate to date night? Date night, darling, is where you go out and have fun together. Remember fun?
Date night is the oil that keeps your machine running smoothly.
Having an effective life is great. Being efficient, getting things done, happy-healthy kids … all good things. But that fun thing … that JOY thing. That’s important too.
The National Marriage Project (through the University of Virginia) found that “husbands and wives who engaged in couple time with their mates at least once a week were approximately
3.5 times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriages, compared to those who enjoyed less quality time with
their spouse. (Note: All of the analyses in this report control for factors such as income, age, education, race, and ethnicity.)”
Couple time. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but please do find some time for it to be just the two of you.
Something drew you to this man ages ago. Something made your insides melt when you were close to him. Or he made you laugh. Or feel safe. He’s still that man. That guy is still in there. Go spend some time with him.
You know him better now, and he knows you. I know he’s not perfect (you’re not perfect either, darling, and neither, God knows, am I).
We can’t have perfect. There is no perfect. But there is good.
Touch his face, look him in the eye, smile.
Happy date night, Mamma.