Photo: The Day Lilies on the side of the barn are finally blooming! Aren’t they pretty? Our yard is just full of surprises!
The Husband and I will mark 6 years of marriage in October. Can you believe it? It’ll be some 13 years for us as a couple come next February. We’ve been partners for a long time, and I’m grateful to say that it has been an easy run of it. I’m not going to pretend like I’m not lucky: I know I am. I’m also not going to pretend like it’s not work: It totally is.
Having these two toddlers has probably been the hardest challenge that we’ve faced as a couple. The boys are just so utterly exhausting right now. Every 10 minutes, there is an immediacy to life that cannot be denied or calmed until whatever they want is fucking fixed. Whereas The Husband gets to go to work every day, with a nice buffer between work time and home time spent on the train, I’m in the thick of it. All day.
I don’t want to make it seem like he isn’t sympathetic. He has often told other people that he realizes that I’ve got the harder job right now. There have been many a Sunday when he has said that he couldn’t wait to get back to work. It isn’t to say that the house is chaotic… I really do try to keep an order and schedule to our days… but it is to say that the boys are just a constant stream of needs and wants and crises that makes life exhausting.
And it leads to tension between the two of us. Either because we come at a problem differently or we make rulings that are contradictory, or because we simply cannot seem to find the moments right now to look at each other and remember the people who we were before, the people who really we are right now and the people who we will be tomorrow, after this phase passes and another one begins. We haven’t had any relaxed alone time since I was pregnant with Ursa Minor.
So when the weekend presented two opportunities to give some spousal critique… we took them. It wasn’t pretty.
The Husband thinks I’m too hard on the boys. Dinner time has turned into World War just about every night, lately. Ursa Minor has decided that the only thing in the world he wants to eat is bread and cheese. No veggies, no meat. And that’s if you can even get him in the chair, which is usually it’s own 15 minute battle. After spending all day with the boys and their many wants and needs and crises of different kinds every 15 minutes like clockwork, and then after 90ish minutes of cooking a good solid dinner, I get a little frustrated with the antics. Sometimes, I push and try to get the boy to eat something, and I endure the crying and whining, even when it’s miserable. And sometimes… I just let him get down. I just don’t feel like it. I’d rather have a few moments with my husband and eat something good (usually my only meal of the day).
If I let Minor down, Major usually wants down, too. Why? Well, because Minor is going to go play with a toy that Major wants to play with. That’s cause to forsake all dinner so that he can go reengage in the age old battle of “I want the blue car! No, I want the blue car!!”
And it drives me crazy. So I yell because I’m too drained to be patient. So after one of these episodes on Thursday night, we’re laying in bed, and my husband lets this out. “You know, who can blame him for not eating at that point? I mean, you start yelling, and he loses his appetite. I mean, I lose my appetite.”
It was a harsh critique. It was one that I didn’t want, though I needed it (delivered differently, but that’s a different story). I swallowed it, though, and reevaluated my approach. We figured out how to have successful dinners on Friday and Saturday. It isn’t to say that I wasn’t hurt, or I wasn’t feeling a little less supported–I was totally feeling all of that. I just decided that it was time for me to be reflective rather than to fight.
On Saturday night, the tables were turned when we started talking about the Sunday honey-dos. The Husband discovered that we have an electrical problem with our very nice range hood. It’s under a 5 year warranty, so when he called the company on Thursday to get a fix for it, they had a range hood shipped overnight. It arrive on Friday. He has been wanting to get at it while I’d been advising him to wait for help. Engineer that he is, he has already opened up the guts of the thing and started to tinker with it. His conclusions?
“The electrician who came in to do the wiring did a pretty shoddy job. He left [technical word here] open and he should have used [something something tool] there. I mean, it’s just a little sloppy.”
“Not withstanding, honey, that has nothing to do with the actual function of the actual hood, right?”
“Correct. But I still want to go in there and do [all of the technical things] because they did such a shit job.”
I love my husband. And it’s true that he knows a lot of things and is very good with tools and his hands. That’s what makes him so damn sexy. But he always goes into things having decided that everyone else who has ever done anything is a complete idiot. And then he bites off more than he can chew and a project that was supposed to take 1 day turns into a 5 day ridiculous saga.
It was a critique he didn’t want to hear. “Well, now I don’t want to touch it at all…”
“Good. I want you to walk into this project with reflection and trepidation! And some backup. Pick your favorite dude to help you out and then go in there and get it done.”
He didn’t talk to me for the rest of the night.
We both woke up the next morning like everything was fine. Because it was. But still, we’ve had two conversations that probably didn’t reflect the best of what we have to offer each other.
I’m grateful for the time that we had as a couple before children entered our lives. There is an anchor very very deep at the bottom of this contextual ocean that is heavy and unfailing. I don’t have to worry about who we are or how strong our bond is, but I do wonder about how sustainable it is for us to go these long stretches without so much as a dinner to ourselves. We’re tired, and we’re so tired now that I think we’d rather take a vacation alone than we would with each other.
Sorry. I’m not going to speak for the both of us. I should say that I think that I’d rather take a vacation all by myself right now over a vacation with him. Is that terrible? It’s a little terrible.
But the thing is, I’m grateful that these two little conversations happened. It’s a signal that we’re both still in it and paying attention. If we were tuning out or seeking interest in other parties, neither of us would have engaged in the critique. And if we didn’t care about what the other person had to say, we wouldn’t have felt a little stung by the words said. We’re doing ok. We’re still in it. We’re just entrenched and overwhelmed. We still live to fight tomorrow, though, and that’s ok by me.
Happy Monday. Wanna see what’s blooming?