Archive for the 'Til Death Do Us Part' Category

Baby, you don’t know what it’s like

NS May 8th, 2010

I know I’ll probably be struck down by the yellow ribbon brigade for daring to speak even remotely ill of the military, but this article in a California newspaper, about a Marine base holding a day where military wives could spend a day in their husbands’ shoes — wearing camouflage and heavy equipment, performing drills, shooting guns and so on – annoyed the hell out of me. It irked me not because I don’t think it could conceivably be useful for the Marines’ spouses to get an idea of what they do at work and while they’re away at war, but because the Marines stressed it as a way for the women to be ‘more understanding’ and ‘sympathetic’ to what he’d been through when he comes home at the end of the day or after a tour of duty.

That’s all well and good, I’m all for a person having greater understanding of their spouse’s responsibilities and daily life when they’re apart, but there was absolutely no mention of what difficulties the women face in running the household and looking after any children they may have, perhaps in addition to working at a 9-5 job themselves, while their husbands are gone. The message seemed to be, ‘Ladies, when the men get home, give them a break. Don’t ask them to contribute to the household or do any ‘babysitting’ if they don’t feel like it. That’s your job and they’ve had it tough.’

While I don’t doubt that being in the military and serving in a war is indeed difficult, gruelling, emotionally and physically taxing work, the implication is that their wives, in comparison, have been on a bon bon-eating, all expenses paid spa break. This is just another way in which men’s work (especially anything requiring physical strength or manual labour) is framed as more honourable, more worthy or respect and more legitimate than the work women do.

Oh, but a housewife’s life isn’t in danger while she’s cleaning the house, raising the kids, doing all the shopping, home repairs, financial management and so on, right? Therefore, she should be grateful and ‘more understanding’ when hubby just wants to put his feet up and drink a cold beer at the end of the day. She just doesn’t know what it’s like!

I think this ‘Jane Wayne Day’ (as they call it) is a good idea but instead of inviting a Marine to come smugly watch his wife crawl through the mud and shoot guns, maybe he should spend that time doing everything his wife does when he’s away, including working her job, taking care of absolutely everything in the household and being a sole parent. I’m pretty sure that if Noble Husband ever had to spend a week or two alone with the children, without anyone else around to help or keep him company and with all of the usual weekday commitments and requirements instead of the unstructured freedom of weekends and holidays, he’d have a MUCH better understanding of why I sometimes thrust the children into his arms the minute he walks in the door and then shut myself in a dark room with a large glass of wine. I’d be more than happy to go spend a day in his shoes, dealing with office politics, lazy colleagues, looming deadlines, belligerent bosses and pack ‘em in like sardines commuting, to remind myself that working a paid job isn’t exactly a cakewalk either. Sometimes I do forget.

I think we all need reminding now and again at just how hard our partners work, but it has to be mutual. Empathy should be a shared quality between us, not a one-way street or who-has-it-harder competition. I’m grateful that NH, while not having first-hand experience in my role, knows that I work just as hard as he does. As he always says when he’s working long hours and I’m weary of doing everything on my own, “When I work overtime, you work overtime.”

I’m not sure if I even mentioned it here, but NH has been away on a two week business trip and only returned a few hours ago, which is why this article probably caught my interest. Because he travelled overnight on a red-eye flight, he’s upstairs sleeping and I’m keeping the children at bay. But he knows as well as I do that he’s not the only one who deserves a rest and a break. Tomorrow will be my turn to sleep in, have a break and put my feet up a bit.

At times,  in our early parenting days, I wasn’t sure if we’d ever get to this point. We’ve had a lot of misunderstandings, arguments and resentments along the way. But I’m happy with where we are now. I know he values what I do and I him. Our marriage isn’t 50/50 and it isn’t always equal, but we’re constantly trying to compromise, empathise and evolve to better understand each other and help ease some of the stress we each experience in performing our roles. It’s not perfect but it’s progress. And a willingness to make that  progress, slowly but surely, is good enough for me.

Welcome home, my lovely husband. We’ve missed you.

Ahhh. We needed that.

NS February 7th, 2010

What is it about hotels, B&Bs, inns, and other places that aren’t your own home? The moment TNH and I step foot into one without the children (a very rare occurrence, mind you, but it was our tenth wedding anniversary on Friday), it’s like we’re a completely different couple. No bickering, no responsibilities; plenty of talking, connecting and laughing (and other more physical pursuits — ahem); strolling arm-in-arm around town at our own pace and with our own agenda; the promise of an uninterrupted night together and sleeping as late as we want in the morning…it’s magical.

When we checked in we were the weary, busy parents of two children under four. When we checked out the following morning, we were us again. I remembered all of the things about him I fell in love with and he the same for me. One night to bring us back into each other’s arms and hearts was all it took. The best money we ever spent. Now to just remind ourselves to make those nights away together, just the two of us, less rare.

Photo my own

Making time for marriage

NS November 13th, 2009

I don’t normally discuss my marriage (at least not the bits that aren’t funny) on this site, and I’m not going to go into great detail starting now, but needless to say, it has come to my attention that I haven’t been paying The Noble Husband very much attention lately. We’ve been happier and more content in the last few months than we have been in quite awhile, mainly due to finances not being such a huge issue now that I’m earning and with The Noble Baby’s immediate needs becoming less and less demanding. The resentful bickering that used to plague us when we were broke and looking after a tiny baby plus a moody toddler had dwindled down to the odd argument about whose turn it was to get up early or do the dishes.

However, I am still not getting a full night’s sleep and, truth be told, am getting sort of fed up with it. I think that because our daughter was sleeping through the night by her first birthday, I kind of assumed our son would too. I had steeled myself for a year of night wakings and early morning feeds but now that his birthday has come and gone and he is still consistently waking up 1-2 times a night, anywhere between 1 and 5 a.m. (which isn’t bad, I know; many people have it much worse), I find myself getting grumpier and grumpier about it. I figure I haven’t had a solid 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep since I was about 7 months pregnant, or nearly 16 months ago. Even when I’ve had 7 or 8 hours sleep total, if I was awake for 15 minutes of that while feeding the baby and then woke again when TNC came to our bed (as she does every night now), that 7 or 8 hours has been broken into 2 or 3 chunks of separate sleep cycles. As I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, chunks of 2-3 hours of sleep does not a well-rested person make.

So I think my perpetual tiredness, coupled with my recent career decisions and newfound time to myself (I am self-employed and have just put the children in care two days a week so I can pursue my ambitions) have left me feeling that I have to choose between time as a couple in the evening, “me time,”  work and sleep. Often, the latter three win out over the former. Once I’ve gotten the kids to bed, tidied up, had a bit of relaxation time and eaten dinner, I’m ready to either focus on some work or go to sleep. And there’s TNH over on the sofa, trying to talk to me while I keep one eye on my computer and another turning the pages of a book or newspaper, giving half-hearted nods and mmm-hmms as he tries to engage me in conversation or some form of intimacy.

In short, I’ve been neglectful and self-centered and entirely too dismissive of his feelings. I consider our marriage so strong and solid and unshakable that I often shuffle it to the bottom of the priority list when that list is as long as my arm.  If you plant a seed but then forget to water it, it will never grow, just sit buried underneath mounds of wishful thinking. Similarly, gardens that have already grown tend to get strangled with weeds if left untended.

And so this weekend I’m switching off, tuning out, and putting down all of the things that usually distract me and making sure the most important man in my life feels appreciated, loved and cared for. He deserves it;  our marriage deserves it. I just hope I can remember not to let things get so thorny next time.

Inquiring minds

NS November 1st, 2009

TNH: Did you hear that? Is that…

Me: Yep, I think that’s her. Hurry, get dressed before she comes in here.

TNC: Mummy? Daddy? What are  you doing in here?

TNH: We were just taking a nap sweetheart, but we’re awake now. Come in.

TNC: Hi! Are you awake now?

Me: Yes, we are honey. Just getting dressed now and we’ll come down and make lunch.

TNC: Okay!

Me to TNH: Whew, that was close! She hasn’t a clue.

TNC, shouting from landing: Why were you naked for your nap then?

Me, after  a pause: Everyone get your shoes on, we’re going to B&Q. We need to buy a lock.

Google can solve your marriage problems

NS October 14th, 2009

Or at least that’s what some people think.

Go to Google and type in Why is my husband and see the list that it auto-suggests. Some of the good ones include:

…so mean to me

…such a jerk

…so moody

…so angry

…so grumpy

…so selfish

…so stupid

Type in Why is my wife and you get:

…so mean

…so unhappy

…always mad

…so stupid

…always tired

…so angry

…cheating

…crazy

…so cold

It looks like the sexes can at least agree on one thing — both men and women can be mean, stupid and angry. Probably because their spouses rely on internet search engines instead of face-to-face communication, is my guess.

Go on, ask Google something and let us know what you find!

H/t to The Noble Husband for spotting this

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