Why You’ll See Me Making Out With My Husband

Last week, my husband held me against the minivan in the middle of downtown, in broad daylight, and kissed me like it was the end of the world. For approximately 15 seconds, but they were a fairly intense 15 seconds — nothing X-rated, but lips-on-lips, against the car, more-than-a-peck-on-the-cheek kissing. The kind of kissing that says we at least want to have sex later, whether or not we get to it. Complete and unabashed PDA.

Totally not ashamed, totally would do it again, even if I knew my mom might walk around the corner and see us. (Sorry, Mom.)

I’m enough of an epicurean to think that if you enjoy something, you should fucking enjoy it, whether that thing is a piece of cake, a good bottle of wine, or your own damn husband. We seem to have this notion that spouses should confine their PDA to pecks on the cheek and occasional sweet hand-holding. I don’t understand this. I didn’t understand it when I was 18 and making out with my boyfriend in public (admittedly, a lot more intensely and publicly), and I don’t understand it now that I’m in my mid-30s and married with three kids.

Katie Salerno/Pexels

Why do we insist that people pretend they don’t want to kiss each other, or confine big kisses to enormous moments, like meeting your spouse at the airport after a deployment? Then we’re okay with it. We expect it. But try to give your husband a serious kiss for no particular reason, maybe just because you’re out for the evening and you had a good time, and you’re pretty in love with him and he’s pretty in love with you? The judgment rains down.

I get it: you don’t want to see it. But what, exactly, about our PDA don’t you want to see? Stop and think about that for a moment. What exactly offends you about two consenting adults displaying affection? Maybe that we aren’t 18. Maybe that we clearly have children. Maybe that we don’t look like supermodels or celebrities. Maybe all of these things in combination with the fact that we clearly want to have sex with each other. What a fucking revolutionary idea, a married couple who want to bang. If the simple fact that my husband and I engage in sexual intercourse offends you, you’ve been brainwashed by a puritanical society that thinks all evidence of sex is dirty and wrong and sinful.

Newsflash, America: Sex is normal. Sex is healthy. Married people have sex; people over 25 have sex; people with kids have sex. People who don’t look airbrushed have sex. People have sex with different genders and the same gender and in all kinds of combinations and rainbows, and all of that is normal and healthy as long as everyone consents. This isn’t the 1950s anymore and we don’t have to hide it.

So why bother? Why not engage in a little bit of innocent, not-even-PG-rated PDA if it makes you happy? This is nothing people haven’t seen at the end of a damn Disney wedding (except for the up against the minivan part). I know it’s not everyone’s thing. It doesn’t have to be. But if it’s yours, why hide it?  Just make out for few seconds.

Carol’s clutching her pearls right now. What if the children see? Won’t someone think of the children?

The children probably should see some decent PDA.

PDA is healthy. It’s normal. And when kids see their parents actually kiss each other, by which I mean kiss more than a peck on the cheeks and/or the lips (only generally permitted when greeting each other), they see that their parents have a secure marriage. They see that their parents love each other. And, frankly, they see that their parents are physically attracted to each other, which normalizes sex in general. Yes, my kids have seen my husband and I do more than peck each other on the lips. They remain thus far unscarred.

Nor do I really care if my kids see PDA, i.e., strangers making out for 20 seconds against a minivan. I mean, it’s rude to stare, of course, the way it’s rude to stare at anyone. But hey, normal part of life. I’d be pissed if my kids saw people groping each other, obviously moaning, or horizontal, but making out like Princess Jasmine and Aladdin? Totally acceptable.

My husband and I engage in this kind of PDA all the time. No shame. We’ll do it again, Carol, thankyouverymuch. We’ll kiss. In public. Our lips will actually move and they will remain touching for more than two seconds and you will know we have probably had sex with each other and want to do so again in the future.

So sorry if it offends you.

Actually, not really.

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Dear Husband: Do You Feel Guilty About Unfolded Laundry?

Dear Husband:

Do you feel guilty about unfolded laundry?

Not the, “aw man, should have probably gotten to that” kind of guilt. I’m talking about the real kind. Does it drain you? Do you tie your work life balance grade to it? Is it some weird metaphor about how you putting your career before it makes you a bad dad? Is it a constant reassurance that you are good at many things, but being a husband isn’t one of them?

No? Oh. That’s weird.

Our home is a loving one. Our kids have two parents who love them more than anything. Most of our fights are about school districts, money, and laundry — which from all the articles I’ve read, and all of the people I’ve talked to, seems pretty typical. We like to call our home a 50/50 one, but I think we both know, that’s kind of bullshit.

Not that you wouldn’t do anything I asked you to, but you only think to do it once I tell you. And this scenario and outplayed complaint isn’t new.

Our income is about the same. I have more room for advancement just given the nature of my industry and still I am the one that has to compromise my schedule. You’ve taken our crazy love balls to a few doctor appointments, but only after I’ve scheduled and confirmed them. You are always armored with questions for the doctor that have been meticulously and anxiously fabricated through equations I have made up in my mind; the variables are usually: Reality +Expectations+ Mom articles. It is a terrible and ineffective concoction where my anxiety and mom guilt all form an association. I guess at least it makes for an interactive milestones appointment?

Anyway, sorry I am getting off topic — I do that a lot, because, well you know, I have to think of everything involving all four members of our household.

I just want to be absolutely clear, I am not mad at you. But my God, for this particular part of life, I fucking resent you.

We’ve gotten past most of the gender roles bullshit, and you have welcomed my income with open arms. But somehow, when laundry sits, or routines struggle to become habit, I end the day with a list to improve my failures. And you proceed, unaffected. I know you think this is silly and that comparing myself to others is something that has been imbedded in us because of social media, and I think you are right. Partially.

I don’t think making mothering impossible is a social media problem; I think it’s a societal one.

Muhammadtaha Ibrahim Ma’aji/Pexels

On any given day, you can read an article about how women are discriminated against for breastfeeding in public, or scrutinized for utilizing formula to quickly. We carry babies inside of our bodies, only to be told the way we delivered wasn’t “the natural” way. Or what the fuck ever.

We go to work; we are cold-hearted and our priorities are misaligned. If we stay home, we are encouraged to “find a passion outside of being a mother.” Or what the fuck ever.

My point is, we are not the same. We do not play by the same rules. And although most of us have cheered on women trailblazing the work force, we have not held our male counter chaos controllers to the same grading scale. Which has made us more bonkers than we’ve ever been.

And to be clear, the “grading scale” is fucking terrible. If my kids know their ABCs, have clean clothes and say “thank you” when someone hands them something, I don’t want to hear any opinion about how and where my household operates. I’d like to say “I don’t care” what they have to say, but I do, and maybe that’s the problem.

Anyway, dear husband: when you see a 3-day old pile of unfolded laundry and you don’t have it in you to sort tiny tee-shirts, do your best to remind me that you don’t care that I don’t have it in me either. Remind me that on our grading scale, I am still at a 4.0. Your reassurance that I am killing it, is sometimes, all I need.

All my love (and rage),

M

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Let’s CTFD With The Expensive AF Weddings

Unless we are born into an immense amount of wealth, I think we can all expect to accrue a little debt over the course of our lifetimes. It’s a sad and frustrating fact of life. Hardly anyone can buy an entire home outright, so mortgage debt is pretty standard, and has been for many decades. Most of us can’t purchase a car without a loan either. These days, unfortunately, most of us also have some credit card debt – in fact, credit card debt has reached a record high, probably because of the fact that the cost of living has steeply increased, but folks’ salaries have not risen to meet this reality.

In addition, our generation is one of the first to be saddled with student loans that aren’t fully paid off for many years. This is something our parents didn’t have to deal with in the same way we did, probably because fewer of that generation went to college, and the cost of college back then didn’t cost as much as a full year’s salary. Sigh.

All of these are things I’ve been personally aware of for many years – as I’m sure you are too. However, if you were like me, you mostly thought of long-term investments like houses and college educations as things it would make sense to go into debt over.

Well, not so fast. Because it seems that some folks are going into debt over something I personally never considered debt-worthy: weddings. That’s right, according to The Washington Post, the number of people taking out significant loans in order to pay for their weddings has sky-rocketed over the past few years.

In fact, there’s a whole industry of loan companies geared toward people who are planning their weddings, but who do not have the funds to foot the cost.

“Online lenders say they are issuing up to four times as many ‘wedding loans’ as they did a year ago, as they look to reach a fast-growing demographic: Couples who are picking up the tab for their own nuptials, either by choice or by necessity,” writes The Post. “Financial technology companies with snappy names like Prosper, Upstart and Earnest are promoting wedding-specific loans with interest rates as high as 30 percent to cash-strapped couples.”

JFC. I may be old-school over here, but who on earth thinks it would be a good idea to take out a loan – with a 30% interest rate, mind you – for their freaking wedding?

The Post says that couples are borrowing an average of $16,000 and paying it off in about 3 years. But remember, that’s an average, so some folks are spending quite a bit more, and remaining in debt for longer. Remember, too, that this is in addition to any debt they already had, and debt has a funny way of multiplying (hello, interest).

NOT a fun way to start your life as a married couple, if you ask me.

Now, before you accuse me of not having one ounce of romance left in my cold, curmudgeon heart, I really do understand the appeal of having a special, memorable wedding day. My wedding day was one of the best days of my life, and I don’t regret the money I spent on it. I know that people look forward to their wedding days for their whole lives, and have very specific ideas of how things should go.

Our wedding was as simple as they come, and was financed as a joint effort between my parents, my in-laws, and my husband and me. However, we made sure that our contributions were something we could afford. If we could not have afforded it – and especially if we didn’t have the privilege of parents who would chip in – we would have likely eloped rather than gone into debt over the whole thing.

Why? Because as much as our wedding day was a big and important event, it was a day – a single day of our lives – and was not worth going into financial debt over. Not one bit. Now that my wedding day is far behind me, and I’m the parent of two growing children, I see that I have far more important financial obligations to tend to than my goddamn wedding day. Sheesh.

According to The Post, there are a few reasons people are going into debt over wedding costs. One is that the age-old tradition of the bride’s parents paying for the whole shebang is old news and isn’t really possible for most families these days. (And terribly sexist, I might add, so good riddance.) The other reason, of course, is that the price of weddings has gone through the roof along with everything else in this world.

These days, paying for the space and hiring a caterer and photographer isn’t enough. “These kids have photo booths and videographers,” says Mary Naklick, a mom whose daughter is getting married, in an interview with The Post. “There was none of that when I got married. I paid for my gown, flowers and the photographer and that was it.”

Besides the wedding costs that the bride, groom and their family members must contend with, wedding guests are also facing insurmountable costs. Nowadays, it’s not enough to show up for your best friend’s wedding. You might be on the hook for an expensive bridesmaid dress, along with your hair and make-up. You might have to host a bachelorette party. And don’t forget about airfare, hotels, and travel costs.

All for one day of wedding fun and merriment. ONE DAY. Again, we really need to keep that in perspective. Yes, it’s a meaningful day, but you can create that same kind of meaning without breaking the bank – and expecting everyone around you to do the same.

I think part of the problem here is that the more we all have these out-of-control, extravagant, expensive-as-all-hell weddings, the more everyone sees this as normal, expected, and a obligation.

It’s time we change the narrative around this all. Love and marriage isn’t about how perfect your wedding day is. It’s about the kind of commitment you have to one another, and it’s about the months and years ahead that follow.

You can’t buy a happy marriage, and there is no way that having an expensive wedding will guarantee that. All it can guarantee is financial stress, which is no way to start your married life.

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My Husband Was Emotionally And Financially Unfaithful

Have you ever had your guts ripped out, stomped on, and then pushed back in your body?

That’s what financial infidelity feels like.

On the outside, you look OK, but inside, you’re a mess. I should know. My husband has been both financially and emotionally dishonest with me. (To this day, he claims he never got physical.)

Let me back up.

Fifteen years ago, my husband decided he wanted to leave his well paying job to become a real estate agent. He had a nice chunk of change from his dad’s will, and I was on board. We were excited about the future.
Until a few years later, when he’d only sold two or three homes, claiming the competition was too tough. So we began to borrow and borrow. Then I pawned my engagement ring and sold out my 401K because surely, surely it would turn around.
By this point, we had four children and we were barely able to pay to put gas in our car. Then his car broke down and he couldn’t afford to fix it. This was the first time I was without a car and trapped at home.
But I still believed in him. I spoke to friends and even strangers at the grocery store to get him more business. They said he never returned calls. I should have started to get suspicious at that point, but I wanted to believe. I married for better or for worse. It would be OK.

Then he started to borrow money from our oldest daughter. I cried. She cried. He went to the office.
At “the office,” I learned he had a little club of realtors he would chat and go to lunch with daily. These weren’t actual “career realtors”—they were the moms married to a doctor or the sons of very wealthy business owners. They went to the office to socialize, and my husband found them all fascinating. Much more fascinating than his family that was splitting a box of mac and cheese for dinner. He went out with the fun people.

I confronted him.

He begged forgiveness. He said he would turn over a new leaf. And, for a few months, he did. Those few months were nice. We had birthdays with presents and cake—my birthday never fell under one of the good times, but he assured me that ‘next year’ would be different.

The bad times always seemed to return. My husband claimed he was trying, and it would get better. But it never did. Then he had an idea.

“We can sell the house,” he gleefully whispered. “I know someone who will buy it and then let us rent for a couple of years. We’ll get back on our feet.”

My mind began to swim, thinking of real Christmases, a real birthday gift for me (selfish I know, but try not getting a single gift from your husband for ten years) and being able to buy food from the grocery store without worrying about a card decline.

Less than three months later, I got a text from his mother telling me she would make sure we received her check before the rent was due. My heart sank. I hadn’t bought much of anything but food and paid off a few small bills. I was only in the process of getting health insurance. And it was a month before my birthday.

Melissa Segal/Reshot

I confronted him. Again.

He claimed I spent too much and lost control. He screamed that I wasn’t supporting him and was just spending everything. I cried. He screamed more. I got the flu and had to pray every night I wouldn’t die. He said we had no money to go see a doctor.

I cursed myself and hated myself for months. How could I be so stupid to blow all that money?

Without me knowing, he pawned his car to cover bills after people were tired of lending, and he was unable to pay the ridiculous note (PSA: Never ever pawn your car at a check title type place—it is a scam, and you will never win). He lost his car, and for the second time, I lost mine to him.

Then one day, almost a year after the house sale, I glanced at my journal and reviewed my spending from the last year. I quickly realized it was impossible that I had gone through all the money. I went back to look and discovered many large ATM withdrawals at a strip club (the total amount was in the tens of thousands).

I confronted him. He lied. Then he confessed, saying that he felt more welcome there than at home.

I broke down. I never got a chance to have a birthday. I never got health insurance. I couldn’t function. My guts were out and being stomped all over. I couldn’t breathe. He said he was sorry. He said he would change. And oddly enough, he did.

For a few months.

Fast forward to now. We are facing eviction, and I have now discovered he hasn’t filed taxes for years. He is begging for another chance. He said he found God, and he will never fail to provide for his family again. I can’t look at him.

I have no money to leave him. We only have one car so I can’t kick him out. Friends are calling with prayers. They think we just need counseling. I feel past talking.

I am now almost 50 years old and have been out of the work force for 20 years. My kids are ready to leave him. I know I need to, but I am scared. He is back saying he’s going to work super hard. I don’t think I believe him.

I don’t how this story will end. I want to believe in fairy tales, but I think I want to be the one who saves herself. I’m just not sure how yet.

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I Have 2 Kids But My Husband Is Still My Favorite Person

After more than a decade in love, my husband is still my favorite person. Ever. I have never met anyone that I like as much as I like him.

When he comes home from work, I still smile at the sound of his truck coming down the drive. When we get ready to go out, I can’t wait for him to see me all dressed up. I know when he tells me I look beautiful he really means it. Once in a while, when he kisses me, I feel the same butterflies in my stomach that I felt the very first time our lips met.

There is nobody else that makes me feel like he does. He is, without a doubt, my favorite.

I have two kids, and I adore them. I really do.

But my husband is my numero uno, now and forever.

Cecily Ward/Reshot

It makes no sense to me that moms are even supposed to pretend that hanging out with our kids is our very favorite activity. Nobody would expect me to be BFFs with any other small child in existence. Adults and children have precious little in common when it comes to how we relax, unwind and find joy.

Why should I pretend to prefer the company of kids over my husband just because we made them?

Obviously, when I call my husband my favorite, it isn’t about love. If we were talking about love, my husband and children are all tied for first. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my babies, and one of the reasons I love my husband so much is that I know he would go to the ends of the earth for them, too.

I love my kids in a way I never imagined before I met them.

But I also love when they’re safely tucked in bed or in the care of a trusted sitter, and I get to be alone with the person I chose to spend my life with.

When I say my husband is my favorite, I just mean that I like him so much. There is nobody else I’d rather spend time with. I like being around my kids — but I like it even more when my husband is around. I like doing everything more when my husband is around.

Brodie Vissers/StockSnap

If my life is an ice cream sundae, my husband is the hot fudge. The rest of it is already pretty great, but he really kicks it up a notch.

My husband is my best friend. He makes me laugh so hard. He gives me affection, attention, and love just because he wants to. My man chose me, and knows everything about me. He’s seen every one of my flaws. He thinks it’s all worth loving. We are partners in every sense of the word.

We have successfully conquered every problem we have faced together since we said, “I do.” Life has thrown us a million chances to give up, but we have never even considered it. I find so much comfort and security in the knowledge that he and I could each survive on our own, but we choose to do this life together because we really, truly like each other. It’s important to me to remind my husband that he’s the love that I chose, and I would choose him again and again.

I tell him he’s my favorite all the time. My kids hear me. I am pretty sure they aren’t offended. I even asked my oldest to be sure. He confirmed he’s good with it.

My husband works outside the house, so he gets time away from our kids almost every day. I work from home, and the kids are with me 24/7. My husband is my favorite because he recognizes how hard it can be to care for other people all day every day. He makes sure that I am not exhausted, drained and pouring from an empty cup. He loves me on purpose. I appreciate him so much. His support allows me to be the mom I want to be.

His love is a giving love, and it makes me want to be around him more than anyone else.

I know my kids love me with their whole hearts, too, but children are takers. It’s not a character flaw; it’s a part of their design. They are born needing someone to provide every one of their basic needs, and it takes many years for them to grow into anything resembling independent beings. My kids need a lot of help from me every single day to do almost everything they do. They give me all they can, and I soak it all in. They amaze me. But they have a lot of needs, and I supply them all. I’m happy to do it, but even happy work can be exhausting.

My husband never exhausts me. He’s actually useful. I mean, I love my kids, but they don’t know how to do anything yet. It’s hard not to feel a little extra fondness for the guy outside mowing the lawn over the kid asking me for the 17th snack of the day.

 

He can do everything for himself. Is it really hard to understand why the guy who wipes his own butt is my favorite? I’m not ashamed to admit that I prefer to hang out with him over the two kids who need me to apply cream to their hiney cracks on the reg.

Look. By design, a mother’s relationship with her children teaches them how to need her less and less. We are supposed to show them how to do things for themselves until they are ready to be on their own. My children came into the world as dependent on me as they will ever be, and it is my job to let the line out, slowly but surely.

Photo by Aleksandr Skrypko/Reshot

I utterly adore my children. But my dreams for my kids involve them eventually leaving my home, having careers and families of their own choosing, and supporting themselves. I hope that they’ll always call me for advice and love and friendship, but my relationship with them is meant to grow more and more independent.

That’s how it works.

If our boys are lucky, they will find their own favorite people someday, and they’ll understand exactly how I feel about my husband.

My husband was my favorite person before the kids existed. He will still be here with me when they grow up and start their own lives. Our marriage is the exact opposite of parenthood. We are meant to grow closer as the years go on, learning to need one another more with each passing day, and spending our future as one. That’s what we plan to do.

He’s my favorite.

Isn’t it lucky that I’m his favorite, too?

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My Relationship With My Father Is Hurting My Marriage

I’ve spent a considerable portion of my life trying to prove that I was still worthy of something despite growing up with limited access to my father. I was determined not to fall into the “fatherless Black girl” trope. But resisting that idea has seemed to hurt me more than it helped me.

Instead of accepting myself fully and acknowledging the way my dad’s unreliable presence hurt me, I covered it all up. I excelled in school. I highlighted the ways our off-and-on relationship made me different from those girls who didn’t know their fathers at all. And I made sure to talk about the similarities I knew of between my father and I at every opportunity.

I was thoroughly convinced there was no way my relationship with my dad so so unhealthy that it would impact other relationships. All the bad choices I made with guys were because it’s what I wanted to do. There was no way I was powerless and selecting partners in response to childhood pain. At least that’s what I told myself.

For over a decade, I unwaveringly believed that I was fine and despite childhood — and current — turmoil in the relationship I had with my father, I was a stable, well-adjusted person.

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Until a couple of weeks ago, that is, when a fight I had with my husband about birthday gifts spiraled into me preparing for a divorce by checking my bank account to assess my level of financial self-sufficiency. As I sat in bed scrolling through options for three-bedroom apartments in my hometown, I suddenly noticed a pattern.

Every fight we had ended with a cycle of me apologizing, almost begging profusely, and looking up places to move to when my introverted husband responded in silence. In my mind, every fight marked the end of our relationship. Because that’s how relationships went. My father’s conditional love left me unsure how to have healthy fights in relationships.

In retrospect, it was one of those “this is so cliché you should have seen it coming” fights. Due to my husband’s work schedule, for the first time in three years, we were actually together on my birthday and he didn’t meet my expectations for something huge and celebratory.

The frustration that my father had failed to even acknowledge my existence on my birthday was the true trigger. In my mind, my dad ignoring my birthday (in addition to Mother’s Day) was connected to some sort of wider scale effort to punish me for something I’d done (or hadn’t done). I sat backflipping through the last time we’d spoken. I needed to know what I’d said or done wrong.

The frantic quest for answers was something I’d felt since childhood, as I wondered why I wasn’t worthy of his love. Through the years, the unwavering threat of conditional love left me walking on eggshells. I needed this relationship intact to prove my value to the world around me. If that meant bending, or even breaking, in an effort to accommodate his expectations, so be it.

More often than I realize, I take that pain from my father’s rejection, and I apply it to someone safe — my husband. Yeah, he dropped the ball and he should’ve paid more attention to me on my birthday. But this is one of what will hopefully be a half-century of birthdays. He’s here emotionally or physically every day, and to allow a birthday disappointment to trigger the demise of our relationship is illogical.

But for me, the fight wasn’t really about my birthday; it was about someone downplaying my worth. And when my husband made it clear he wasn’t going to contribute the chaos, I crumbled. I begged for him to excuse my wide range of emotions because I was afraid that pointing out what I expected of him would motivate him to leave. So, I had to be ready to leave first even though he didn’t say he had the intentions to go anywhere.

When we fight, I go into fight or flight mode. Subconsciously, I can’t allow another person to devalue me in a real or imagined way that feels too close to my relationship with my dad. Whenever I told my dad I was upset or disappointed in him, he dismissed me. To him, my world was based on false memories and my feelings of being mistreated weren’t valid. So I learned to excuse the missed holidays and play along. For awhile, it worked. If I faked it long enough, I’d get phone calls and text messages and even gifts. The right way to get what I wanted was to accept whatever level of attention was given to me, however meager or conditional. To challenge the way things were created a risk of losing it all.

AndreyPopov/Getty

I applied that behavior to the guys I dated. And when I noticed the pattern, I demanded more from everyone but the person who created the void — my dad.

Even now, asking for what I need from my husband leaves me with a fear that it’s easier for him to leave. Either I act out with a dramatic request, or I suffer in silence while my needs aren’t met.

I know my strategy is maladaptive and I’m working on it. I’ve started being more open with him about how I feel and giving more praise instead of all criticism. I’m learning to explain that the way I respond to conflict is about how I feel about myself, not how he treats me. Seeing a counselor and having supportive friends is also significantly helpful. But there are decades of pain standing in the way of healing.

Over the next few years, I hope to learn to fight in a healthy way. I want to understand that every bump in the road isn’t the end of the relationship. I want a normal relationship where our problems are about us and I can see my husband for the consistency of his actions instead of the failures of my father. But most importantly, I want to understand that having “daddy issues” doesn’t make me less valuable than kids who hail from nuclear homes.

But I’m not there yet. And what I’m realizing is that maybe in order to get to that healthy place in my marriage, I might need to cut ties with the person who started this whole thing in the first place — my unavailable father.

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My Life Is Easier When My Husband Travels

My husband travels for work. Most of the time, he’s only away for a few weeks, but there have been times when he’s been gone for up to eight months. We do our best to schedule visits during the longer trips, but we can’t always work it out. The kiddos and I just make it work at home until he comes back.

When he’s away, people really want to help me. The folks who love me offer to bring me dinner, watch my kids, come by if I get lonely, and include us in their holiday gatherings. I feel so loved and held when they offer to lighten my load. I appreciate my friends and my family so much. The offers of support are incredible.

But I have a secret: My day-to-day responsibilities are actually a million times easier to manage when my husband travels.

Sure, there are a few things I’d rather not do on my own. I don’t really love taking the trash out, dealing with spiders, or doing every dish all by myself for months on end.

That doesn’t change the fact that when he’s gone, I just have less to do, and more time to do it.

It’s really not harder to run the house when he’s away.

It’s easier.

Stefanos Aktipis/Reshot

Don’t get me wrong — the time apart takes an emotional toll. I adore my husband. I hate spending a minute apart. My three-year-old has a speech delay and sometimes he doesn’t say a single word for two or three days. My six-year-old asks to sleep in one of Daddy’s t-shirts most nights. I leave a light on in the living room because, at 34 years old, I’m still a little afraid of the dark. I still hate to sleep in my bed alone, and I’m always a little relieved when one of my little boys climbs up to sleep next to me. The house feels too quiet, and I get lonely without him here. He belongs at home with us.

I let myself wallow in self-pity a bit for the first day or so. Dishes pile up. I wear crappy pajamas all day and feel sorry for myself.  I’m always a little annoyed that I have to do it all alone for a while. But ultimately, I know that if I let things go too long, I’ll just have more work to do later, so I force myself to settle into a routine pretty quickly after he leaves.

The kids and I hit our stride, and it’s surprisingly easy to keep things rolling.

The housework is a breeze. With one less person at home, there is just less to do. My husband isn’t here using dishes, wearing clothes, or shaving into my sink. Because my picky eaters won’t touch them, I don’t cook my usual elaborate meals most nights when my husband is away.  I just throw together salads or sandwiches or heat up something simple. There are fewer clothes, towels and dishes to wash, sort and put away.

Being alone frees up a lot of my time. When my husband is home, I like to spend an hour or two at night just being with him. I try to cram all my work and the bulk of the household chores into the daytime hours when he is at the office. I want to be able to just hang out with him when the kids fall asleep, so I don’t consider the late evening to be really usable time when he’s home.

As much as I miss our evenings together, I can use those hours between my kids’ bedtime and my own to be productive when he travels. I can write, do housework, or pamper myself while they sleep. If I want to, I can turn on something my husband doesn’t like to watch, then just do whatever needs to be done. I have at least an extra hour or two at night to make sure the house is in order, and we are ready for the next morning before I go to sleep.

Sometimes when my husband travels, people jokingly ask me how I am handling the “single parent life.” I always cringe. I know they think they’re being funny, but I am careful to acknowledge that my experience is not even CLOSE to the life of a single parent.

Burst/Pexel

When my husband is not physically at home, I still benefit from his role in my life. He calls me every night to see how I’m doing, reminds me that he thinks I’m an excellent mom, and asks me what I need. His entire income is available to our family, and he still does some of the household stuff. I don’t have to worry about paying bills, scheduling pest control and lawn care, or doing the budget. He still handles those things from wherever he is. He can chat with our kids if they’re not listening to me. We are still a team. I can rest knowing that if something major comes up, I am not responsible for figuring it out alone.

 

Also, aren’t hard things just easier when you are certain they won’t last forever? When my husband is away, I know an end date. I can count down the days until I can toss the kids at him after a hard day. I know it won’t be long until I can jet off to Target, blissfully alone. He’s still with me every step of the way, even if he travels across the country or around the world. I always know he will be back soon.

I know the time apart might look challenging from the outside looking in, but honestly, by the time my husband has been gone a week or two, I start to run out of things to do. We get everything organized and streamlined. It only takes a few minutes each night to straighten up and get ready for the next day. I’m efficient with my work, my kids get into a really organized routine, and my house never looks better than when he’s away.

Now if I could just figure out how to keep it all running so smoothly when he gets home.

The post My Life Is Easier When My Husband Travels appeared first on Scary Mommy.

I Really Need My Spouse To Stop Making More Work For The Household

I am not exactly sure why, but I’ve noticed something odd every time my husband is away from home for an extended period of time, like when he’s on a trip or working late many days in a row. I get really stressed out thinking about how I’m going to have to handle everything myself, but what ends up happening is the opposite of what I expected.

Things become eerily easier when he’s gone.

Now, don’t get me wrong: not everything is easier. My husband is a great dad, and an equal partner when it comes to our kids. When he’s not around for a while I feel it hard in that department and basically shove the kids in his face when he returns. But when it comes to household chores – like cleaning up messes, taking out the trash (usually his job), and just generally keeping things tidy – I find that things are just simpler and easier without him around.

Granted, he’s not the messiest person in the world. But he’s is more likely to leave a random sock or bath towel lying around than me. And he just doesn’t see messes as problematic in the same way I do, so there’s that. I think perhaps a big part of it is the fact that for many (but not all) of the chores he has to do, I end up having to remind him to do them. And I guess I don’t always realize the toll that being a constant nag takes on me.

Either way, it’s definitely something I’ve noticed. And it turns out, I’m not the only one – that is, according to a 2008 study out of the University of Michigan. Researchers there were trying to determine how the allocation of household work has changed over the past few decades. They compared married couples in the ’70s to married couples today to see who did more chores.

rawpixel.com/Pexel

But what they unearthed was kind of surprising. Although married men do pitch in today more than they used to, being married adds a whopping 7 hours of household chores to a woman’s life however you cut it.

For husbands, on the other hand? Well, having a wife actually decreases their household work by an hour.

How on earth does that compute, you may be asking? (Or you may be nodding knowingly, because those of us who have been there know exactly why this is!)

Basically, the researchers found that in 2005, when they surveyed married couples for their study, single, unmarried women with no children performed about 10 hours of housework a week. But married women with no kids performed 17 hours of housework a week.

Again, these are women who have no children – and who ostensibly have spouses who have every opportunity to pitch in. In essence, having a husband present in the home not only did nothing to alleviate housework, but it actually added housework!

When reversed, things don’t look much better. The study found that single, unmarried men with zero kiddos did about 8 hours of household a week. But when a wife comes into the picture, that dropped down to 7 hours a week.

So clearly, being married is an asset to men when it comes to housework (wife=live-in maid), but women don’t get anything in return when they get married (at least in terms of household help).

Welp. That’s pretty freaking infuriating.

I suppose there is some good news, when it came to what the researchers found as they compared household chore distribution in the ’70s vs today.

It seems that things have improved overall since the 70s. In 1976, married women did 9 hours of housework as compared to single women, whereas in 2005, married women did 4 more hours of housework than single women.

That’s still too many damn hours, especially if you compare it to how few men do, but it’s something.

The Creative Exchange/Unsplash

The other bit of good news is that men are stepping up, even if it’s hard for us to see. In 1976, married men spent three fewer hours on housework than single men, whereas in 2005, married men spent 5 more hours a week helping out around the house than single men did.

Progress, I suppose, though at a snail’s pace.

So where does that leave married women like me, and maybe you? Well, my top job now is to get my dear husband to see what is going on here. I don’t know if it’s as a result of biology, gender norms, upbringing, or what, but he literally doesn’t see the messes he makes, he doesn’t see the messes others make, and he doesn’t know how to take it upon himself to fix said messes.

Not in every case, of course, but in enough cases that I end up doing the bulk of household chores, as well as the mental work of making sure the chores get done (i.e., nagging).

But we’re working on it. It’s become a frequent topic of conversation around here. Sometimes the talks are difficult. Sometimes voices are raised. But I’m not willing to let it go any longer – and thankfully he’s the kind of guy who wants to change, wants to lighten my load, and is doing what he can to make that happen.

Things really are as unequal as we think they are, and we have every right to call it out, and expect more. Let’s hope that our partners will be able to step up. I mean, it’s 2019 already. It’s time.

The post I Really Need My Spouse To Stop Making More Work For The Household appeared first on Scary Mommy.

How A Smartphone App Is Improving My Marriage

Like many couples who marry young, there was no shortage of obstacles for my husband and me at the beginning of our marriage. Having just graduated from college, I was in a period of personal and professional transitions. I’d never imagined that making my adjustments, in addition to witnessing my husband’s own transitions, would be so challenging.

It felt like the entire world was against us. Finding meaningful work was impossible, and living with relatives was not conducive to tending to our relationship. Needless to say, we were both under a shit ton of pressure and would take it out on each other at a moment’s notice.

Our love was suddenly filled with life obstacles and an assortment of curveballs. And both of us made a few choices that made this harder, not easier.

In hopes of getting better, we started seeing couple’s counselors. Each person came with their own perspectives, quirks, and supplemental materials. They also provided faith-based feedback, which didn’t work well with my evolving agnosticism.

The advice we were getting always seemed to be: “Don’t get a divorce; love each other as Christ loved the church.” But we were looking for something more along the lines of an objective yet critical assessment of whether we seemed functional enough to make it.

In all honesty, I was in a period of rebellion. It was a time that no Bible-based content would have worked for me. So when our relationship with our third counselor dissolved for whatever reason (likely terrified of our baggage), we vowed to refrain from seeing any more counselors who were faith-based.

Love Nudge

Unfortunately, we had just as much trouble finding a secular counselor that worked for us. It took us nearly three years to finally find someone we both loved.

Then life happened. We were busy, my husband takes several work trips a year, and before we knew it we had two children to tend to. Counseling fell by the wayside.

In our time with the therapist, we made a lot of progress. But I needed a supplement we could access when life got too too busy, so we decided to try a few “relationship apps.”

Love Nudge

The first three options we tried were either duds or required too much participation from my husband. He often has limited access to his phone and internet so I needed to be prepared to do this independently.

I was absolutely shocked at what app turned out to be “it” for me.

It sounds cheesy, but “The Love Nudge” did it for me, and it’s pretty damn helpful. This Five Love Languages official app is a faith-based relationship resource, albeit discretely faith-based. While I was apprehensive to use faith-based relationship advice, the way I saw it, I had two options. One, I could ditch an app that had many of the features and functions I was looking for because it was tangentially faith-based. Or two, I could get try to get over the decades of religious trauma that pushed me away from the church and use it for what it is.

Love Nudge

I picked the latter option.

The stars must have aligned because I only had to pester my husband a few times before he downloaded it. And I was really blown away when I realized that, despite its simple interface, it allowed us to update each other on what we felt and communicate the best ways to express love in a way that we would actually connect with — THROUGH EXAMPLES.

My hubs’ top two love languages are “Acts of Service” and “Words of Affirmation” and mine are “Words of Affirmation” and “Quality Time.” So we have a lot in common. But it’s also pretty easy for us to miss each other, and when that happens, we have to work even harder to help meet each other’s emotional needs.

The app provides color-coded breakdowns for each of the love languages, along with a useful section that keeps your partner’s love language on display.

Love Nudge

It’s taught me that I can make him feel better with small gestures like taking out the trash or cleaning the dishes, and it’s showed him that when telling me he appreciates what I’m doing for the family, a little goes a long way.

It’s only been three weeks, and I’ve already seen a huge benefit in being able to update a “how am I feeling” meter through the app and suggest actions that can help it reach optimal levels.

Love Nudge

Just when I thought the app couldn’t get any better, we found out a few days ago that we can send action requests as well as personalized messages. This allows me to set reminders for what I want to do for him so I don’t forget when life gets too busy.

Lately, we’ve been so much more mindful of each other’s needs and even started to make little jokes about interacting in a personalized way. Plus, the reminders have been incredibly helpful.

Love Nudge

I know these apps won’t give us all the answers. And everything I read isn’t applicable to our circumstances. But I love that I have finally got into a place where I am mature enough to realize some information is useful regardless of who says it.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been learning to love my husband in a way that connects me with him, and it’s pretty powerful. It just happened to come from a faith-based app.

There are so many things to learn in the world. And we’d all be surprised the kinds of things we could get from revisiting some of our old beliefs.

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Dear Husband: Enough With The Snooze Button

I fucking hate snooze buttons. I don’t need one and I never have. I hear an alarm, I wake up. No question, no fuss, no chance I’m going back to sleep. I’m fucking awake. On rare occasions, I might drift off again, but only if I make the conscious decision to sleep in and I have literally nothing else to do that morning. But hello, mother who works at home. Like that ever happens. So I wake up almost every single morning at the asscrack of dawn. I need this time to exist as a separate entity from my children. Many moms do.

My husband asks what time I want to get up in the morning. “Five o’clock,” I say, because I often get up at five. “Me too,” he agrees, and sets his alarm. Well, alarms. Plural. Because my husband is incapable of getting out of bed without hitting a snooze button.

Dear Husband: Enough With The Snooze Button

Half the time, this is what happens: at 4:30, his alarm blares. I’m immediately awake, because I wake the fuck up when an alarm goes off. I try to lie there and fall back to sleep. Useless. So I end up stumbling into the kitchen, fumbling with the coffee, and booting up my computer. At 4:30 in the goddamn morning. The alarm blares again at 4:45. It’s like an airhorn; I can hear it from the living room. He slams snooze. Then again at 5:00. Snooze. Again at 5:30. Snooze. He may stumble in at 6 o’clock.

“How long have you been awake?” he asks.

“Since 4:30,” I growl.

“I’m sorry,” he says. He’s truly contrite.

This isn’t the worst of it. Because he hits snooze so often, and in his sleep, he doesn’t trust himself not to hit the snooze button. So my husband has multiple pre-programmed snooze alarms set to go off during the week that assure he will wake up for work. These go off whether or not he’s actually fucking awake. Like, say, if he’s in the shower. Or if he’s in another room dressing. This means that the stupid phone randomly blares at certain times. And more often than not, I have to drag my ass off the couch and turn the fucking thing off. Not my job.

Except if I don’t get there quickly enough, the worst thing happens.

The kids wake up.

Mornings are sacred. Mornings are kid-free. Mornings are a chance for me not to parent. Not to harangue small children into eating breakfast, out of fighting. Not to entertain them. Not to listen to my seven-year-old sing, tunelessly and endlessly, “I’ll take you right into the DANGER ZONE!” Not to say, over and over, “No, you cannot watch TV,” and watch them crumple. Not to yell at the dogs to calm the hell down because my 9-year-old is awake and he’s the one who feeds them so clearly they must be fed RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

And they’ll tell me, “Oh, Daddy’s alarm woke me up an hour ago. I’ve been in my bed reading.”

Well, fuck that noise.

Dear Husband: Enough With The Snooze Button

Sometimes the snooze alarms don’t even work. I have to go in and yell at him to wake up. This is annoying, because the only way to wake him is to yell, and this makes me look like a raging bitch. But he won’t wake up if you’re nice. So he wakes up huffy, snarking, “God, you could have been a little nicer about it.” REALLY?!

Once morning, he kept hitting snooze and I was busy working. At 7:30, my 9-year-old asked where he was and I sort of went, “Oh, shit.” I thought he’d left, but he hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. Daddy was late for work that morning. He also accidentally wore a shirt that smelled like dog pee (it’s best not to ask why, but I suppose he grabbed the first thing he found on the floor and our Boxer, god love her, is elderly).

So god forbid I want to sleep in. It’s impossible. If he’s getting up, I’m getting up. Full stop. Because, well, alarm. Then he’s slamming snooze and I’m awake anyway. Which sucks, because there’s no one to make my coffee and hand it to me in a Yeti cup.

Dear Husband: Enough With The Snooze Button

Once in a while, he’ll get up without hitting the goddamn button. But most of the time? Oh, “just a few more minutes.”

What the fuck good does a few more minutes do? I mean, seriously. Ask your goddamn Fitbit or something. Maybe Google it. According to Business Insider, it doesn’t do a goddamn thing: “Most sleep researchers says snoozing won’t make you any more rested. If anything, it can make it harder for you to wake up.” Huffington Post says, “When you let yourself go back to sleep, your body thinks, ‘False alarm! I guess I didn’t need to do anything, because we’re not getting up after all,’ and settles in. When that buzzer goes off a second time …  your body and brain are taken by surprise, resulting in that groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling called sleep inertia. The more you snooze, the more confused your body and brain get.”

Basically, hitting snooze is bad for you. AND those you live with. Setting multiple snooze alarms, waking up everyone in the house, and annoying the shit out of them sucks.

Just wake up already.

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