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Posts Tagged ‘things that make marriage more complicated’

Why are the “-able” and “-ible” words so difficult to remember how to spell?

My husband and I have a significant Bedtime Incompatibility. Periodically, it drives me nuts as it is today. It takes the obvious form: each of us has a Preferred Bedtime, and they are different from one another.

I guess you would style me as a Morning Person. I like to wake up early-ish and start my day. To make rising early enjoyable, I like to go to bed at a reasonable time around ten o’clock. Probably, if I didn’t have a child or husband, I would go to bed around nine or nine-thirty. But I DO have a child, whose bedtime (around seven-thirty) combined with my husband’s arrival home from work (around seven) means that I often don’t eat dinner until eight-thirty or nine let alone get into bed at that time. But if left to my own devices, I would go to sleep around ten. And often – yawning and feeling all twitchy in the leg region, which happens when I’m tired – I do part from my husband around ten or ten-thirty, even though he would rather watch another episode of whatever show we’re watching.

My husband is a Night Owl, and would stay up until two or three in the morning if he didn’t have to get up for work. On the weekends, he sometimes DOES stay up that late. Part of it is that he is at work from sixish to sevenish most days, and so he feels that going to bed early means he gets no time to do the things he enjoys (make music, play video games, exercise, watch TV, do puzzles, read). So he has to carve that him-time out of the dark of night. Part of it is that he seems naturally inclined toward night-owlishness. I do think that most people are one or the other, and cannot change without great effort and even discomfort. 

For a long time, I hated this difference in our go-to-sleep habits. I felt like it was important for our marriage to be able to fall asleep together. I missed having his warm body in bed with me. I missed the quiet chats that occur when two people are in the dark, trying to fall asleep. 

But over the years, I’ve come to accept it, if not outright enjoy it. I often have trouble falling asleep, and even more trouble getting back to sleep if I wake up in the night. And on the nights when we do go to bed together, I find that I am more irritated by him than anything. He keeps MOVING the SHEETS and TICKLING my LEGS. Or he will keep his light on even if he is just looking at his phone (which itself is LIT) and the light bothers me. Or he will turn off his light, out of (grudging) deference to me, but then his phone light will bother me. Or he will fall asleep first and then he will BREATHE and it will keep me awake. Do you see how it is better for me to be deeply asleep before he enters the bedroom?

It is a delight to be my spouse. 

All this is to say that I have come around to the fact that we have separate bedtimes. It’s fine.

My husband and I have lived together for nearly twenty years at this point, and we have always had this significant incompatibility. But it’s become more pronounced now that we have child.  

What’s bugging me currently is the mornings. My natural wake-up time – if it’s not 4:00 am – tends to be 7:00 am. That’s when I wake up without an alarm. On the weekends, I usually lie in bed until a) I’m hungry or b) I can hear Carla downstairs, and realize I need to go feed her (i.e. prevent her from eating junk instead of a Healthful Breakfast; I fail most days as she is quite stealthy). My husband has more teenagery sleep habits, and would probably languish in bed until noon if he could. 

But it makes me so irritated!!! See those three exclamation points? I wanted to add ten or twenty, just to illustrate my level of irritation. 

Part of it is that my husband unloads the dishwasher on the weekends; even though it takes literally five minutes out of my day, I do it Every. Other. Day. plus on weekends when he is on call, and having to unload the dishwasher on the weekends as well makes me want to scream. He unloads the dishwasher, and, unsurprisingly, he does so when he feels like doing it, which is NOT on my schedule. I want the dishwasher unloaded FIRST THING so that I can fill it with breakfast dishes and glasses from the night before etc. I try to recognize that this is a Me Thing, and I have never gone so far as to demand that he do this task on my schedule… but it still bugs me. 

Part of it is that I get a break from unloading the dishwasher on weekends, but I don’t get a break from feeding Carla. It would be so nice to just NOT have to make her breakfast. (I suppose I could extend a little autonomy in her direction, but so far it hasn’t worked out that way. I think she just wouldn’t eat, if it were her responsibility.) And “making breakfast” is not as simple as it sounds. It requires in-depth questioning and listing of options and cajoling and reminding about things like “eating meals is important” and “it’s good to eat things that have nutritional value in addition to things that have none.” It is A Process, is what I’m saying.

Part of it is that I feel like my husband gets this long, luxurious rest – and all its associated freedom from breakfast-making and tidying and chiding the child about picking up toys/turning off the TV/cleaning up her dishes. Not that I would choose to sleep longer, if I could! I guess I’m just envious. It does, in some ways, feel like he gets the weekends off from his job while I do not. But… my housewife “job” is so minimal! And fairly easy! While his work is neither of those things! So why do I begrudge him a little extra break?

The other part of it, though, is that we can never DO anything as a family until late. This past Sunday, we planned on a family bike ride. I wanted to leave early, before the heat descended. But we settled on 9:30. And then… my husband slept in until nearly 9:00 and it was ELEVEN O’CLOCK before we got out the door, and I hadn’t eaten any breakfast (because I am a Late Breakfaster, and I figured we would be home from our 9:30 bike ride before I got hungry) and it was hot and I was cranky. Why should I have to wait around doing NOTHING just because I have the audacity to wake up early?! And now half the day has been eaten up by Nothing. Not just Nothing, but resentful, pouty Nothing.

Oh! Here’s a point on my husband’s side of things: We will watch a TV show or two after dinner (or, more likely, while he and I scarf down dinner after we put Carla to bed). I am usually struggling to keep my eyes open by the end of the show, and I feel like I express Very Clearly that I am ready for bed. When the show is over, I will say something along the lines of, “Okay, I’m ready for bed! I’m going to head up now!” and then I go into the kitchen and wash the dishes and clean the counters while my husband flips around the channels, checking on sports scores and catching up on news and weather. 

Then he will finally come into the kitchen – usually right as I am finished – and express surprise that I have done all the dishwashing/cleaning up. He still needs to prep his coffee and get his lunch together for the next day, and sometimes if I am feeling charitable, I will stay in the kitchen with him and chat. But often I am Done with a capital D and I say, “Good night!” At which point he is miffed! Why am I in such a hurry to go to bed? What did he say to me last night – something like, “Well, you didn’t waste any time.” Excuse me? I just did all the dishes! 

Hmm. I am clearly casting this in a Me light rather than a Him light. Try to see it his way. 

I am very curious as to YOUR bedtime/wake-up habits. And if you live with someone, what THEIR habits are, and whether they are compatible with yours (and whether it matters).

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Time for some non-resolutions! As per tradition, I am setting some gentle aspirations, rather than goals. These are simply a testament to what seems important now, and when I review them at the end of the year, they will help me better understand my priorities over time. I refuse to feel bad about failing to accomplish any of them, except for the writing-related ones, which I already feel bad about not achieving years ago. 

In addition to the aspirations I may or may not complete, I would also like to state that I am making some resolutions that I am NEARLY CERTAIN of completing, either because I have already completed them prior to this writing, or because I am on the precipice of completing them in mere days. That is the power of posting one’s goals on the internet. I can decide which goals to post, and maybe I have already achieved them, and that is my business and I will be delighted to count them as complete. It is the equivalent of writing a to-do list where the first item is “wake up” and the second item is “write to-do list.” It feels good to cross things off the list and momentum is important! For instance, I encourage you to put “put away holiday décor” on your own list of resolutions, even if you stowed the last ornament days ago. Then you are already ahead of the game!

For sake of honesty, however, I will alert you to any of these goals that are already half complete. Because I don’t want to cheat anyone, not you, certainly, and not my future self, who will be super annoyed that I have halved her feeling of accomplishment at year’s end but who will also appreciate my sense of ethics. 

Personal

Aspiration: Read 50 books. In 2021, I read 74 books. That doesn’t seem replicable, but I think 50 is an achievable goal. 

Aspiration: Work out 5 days a week. This is an oldie but a goodie. I need to get back into regular exercise, and I know it can be done. 

Aspiration: Read a poem every day. I am semi-stealing this aspiration from Nicole, who read Rumi every day last year. Wow. That is A Feat. But it inspired me. However, I am not going to limit myself to Rumi, or to a single poet. I have an entire bookcase FULL of poetry and yet I rarely read poems! This must stop. Poetry is an essential part of life, and I can so easily grab a random book off my shelves each evening, and flip to a random poem each morning rather than reaching for my phone. 

Aspiration: Buy some new shirts that make me feel cute and not like a slob. Listen, you know I am All For stay-at-home clothes. But I have discovered over the past somethingish months that I would like to feel cute in clothes when I inevitably am forced to leave the house, and I do not feel cute in clothing that doesn’t fit me. This is one of those goals that I may have almost achieved even as I write this: I ordered two shirts from Nordstrom with a Christmas gift card. But I am cautious. The new shirts could look… not good. So I may still have this feat ahead of me. 

Aspiration: Come up with a workable weekly schedule. This stems from a middle-of-the-night attempt to come up with a schedule for myself, allowing for maximum writing and revising time, but also slotting in time for working out, eating, and blog stuff. Which led me to determine that there aren’t enough hours in the day and I need to “wake up at 5:00 and go to bed at 10:00 every day,” when I don’t know if that’s doable. Okay. I’m pretty sure it’s not. What I need to do instead is to come up with a few different versions of a schedule, try it out, and then figure out what combination of timings and tasks works for me. 

Aspiration: Try baked oatmeal. This is a late addition, because I somehow forgot about how badly I want to try baked oatmeal after our breakfast convo the other day (she says, as though it wasn’t in early November). For some reason, it intimidates me. Mainly because I really really don’t like oatmeal. But this sounds more like a cookie than like hot mush, and it gets such high praise, and I am going to try it. 

Reach Aspiration: Leave my phone upstairs unless I leave the house. This is laughable to even attempt, isn’t it. And yet I have done this, multiple times, and feel such a sense of freedom from the pull of email and social media when I do. If I could do this on a daily basis, just think of all the work I could get done! 

Family

Aspiration: Eat more vegetables. If you think this aspiration seems as though it should belong to the Personal category, you would be correct. But I am the meal planner and dinner maker in this house, so I have a certain amount of vegetable wielding power around here. We could all do with more veg on our plates. 

Aspiration: Do more non-screen things together. Listen, we have a good amount of Family Togetherness around here, which is a wonderful blessing. But a lot of our time together involves a PlayStation or a TV. We can do better than that. If we ever get snow, we will go skiing and sledding. Once the weather warms up and dries out, we can go biking. When the weather, as is typical, absolutely sucks, we can play the wide variety of board games we own. If we don’t want to play the ones we own, we can buy more of the murder mystery games we enjoy. This is doable. 

Aspiration: Do less “forcing” of my will on the family. This is semi-stolen from/inspired by Swistle. (Maybe the connection is only in my head, because her resolution is very different from mine.) I have noticed that a lot of things don’t happen unless I nag and badger and harp. That’s not fun for anyone, INCLUDING ME. For instance, we were supposed to make sticky toffee pudding for New Year’s Eve dinner. Dessert. You know what I mean. But even though I washed the potatoes and broccoli well in advance of dinnertime, no movement was made by anybody else to prepare anything for the dessert. Then my husband decided at a very late moment – like 4:00 or 5:00 pm – that he wanted to work out. Which is great! Exercise! I am fine with that! But then when he was done, it was much too late to do anything, including make the fancy dinner we had planned, and especially making sticky toffee pudding. We did end up making the steak and potatoes and broccoli, which were delicious, but we didn’t make the pudding. And we didn’t make it yesterday, either, even though we were Going To Make It, because once again he got caught up playing video games with Carla and then at 5:00 pm wanted to work out and lost track of the time. This is fine! It’s prioritization at work! It is not enough of a priority for him to note the time and stop playing video games. It is not enough of a priority for me to do all the work of making sticky toffee pudding by myself. So it didn’t happen. It could have happened, if I had called down to him that we needed to get started if we wanted to have sticky toffee pudding for dinner. But the thing is, it is not my job to be Ultimate Time Monitor. It just isn’t. So I wrote a blog post and drank a cocktail while he worked out, and we did not make sticky toffee pudding, and maybe we won’t do it today either, who knows? There are three of us in this family, and it is not my sole responsibility to keep everything on track. That’s not fair, and it’s not fun, and no one likes the Time Badger, least of all the Time Badger herself. Some things are going to fall by the wayside. And sometimes that will cause some pain. And maybe that pain will inspire a change in behavior, though I am not optimistic. 

Aspiration: Go on some dates with my husband. We went on three (outdoor, rainy) dates in 2021. We now have a good babysitter to call on, should we need her, and one of these days we may decide to brave a restaurant. But even if all our dates take place in the summer, outside, that is fine! I just want to spend some time ALONE with my husband, AWAY from our house.

Reach Aspiration: Have friends over for dinner. We have been to two friends’ homes this past year, and if nothing else, etiquette requires that we return the favor. But also I would like to entertain again. A little bit. Maybe.

Reach Aspiration: Stop treating Carla’s needs as if they are mine.  Brought to you by Girl Scout Cookie Selling Season, which is my own personal hell and yet which is somehow My Thing instead of my husband’s. But that’s only one example of many. This is a two-fold aspiration. First, Carla is eight-and-a-half and can do with more responsibility. Second, just because I am The Mom doesn’t mean that I am automatically responsible for Carla’s laundry in addition to my own, for Carla’s meals in addition to my own, for Carla’s whatever-whatever. We are so fortunate to have two parents in this household, and I should allow/enable the other parent to do just as much as I do. Sure, some things will always fall to me because of my husband’s job (making and attending appointments, for instance). I think, for awhile, this will involve things like answering questions about “what does Carla normally eat with her chicken nuggets?” but perhaps that will be a worthwhile endeavor. See also the related issue of Putting Away Rags and Hand Towels Is Not My Sole Responsibility. 

Work/Finance

Aspiration: Revise my manuscript and start querying agents. Everything I read says that the agent-seeking stage is soul destroying. I am going to do it anyway. Check back at year’s end to see if I have fragments of soul remaining.

Aspiration: Finish my second manuscript. This second manuscript is a thriller, and I think it will be quicker and simpler than the first one. I just need to figure out the ending and WRITE IT. That is in the wrong order. I need to WRITE IT and figure out the ending.

Aspiration: Get a financial advisor. This is another one of those goals that I have already all but completed! My husband and I met with a financial advisor, and he is supposedly looking over our haphazard finances at the moment, and all we need to do is sign an agreement and let him HELP US make wise financial decisions! Side note: Carla asked us if he was a man. Her follow-up question was whether all financial advisors are men. Her follow-up to that was whether we knew any of these supposedly-existing women financial advisors. This line of questioning kind of made me wish that I had found a woman financial advisor. But it was hard enough to find THIS GUY and get up the nerve to meet with him, so I am moving forward as is.

Reach Aspiration: Take a writing class. I want to take a class about writing short stories (I am not good at writing things that are short) (you: YES WE ARE AWARE) or maybe about writing a personal essay. This terrifies me. 

Home/Property

Aspiration: Install a gallery wall in the living room. This one is BACK ON THE LIST, baby! You have kindly supported me and offered me reasonable suggestions for accomplishing this goal by myself many times, and still I have balked. You must first understand that I am incapable of making straight lines. “But use a ruler,” you say. No, even with a ruler, my lines somehow get distracted and wander off. So my husband MUST be involved in this project, because he is the yin to my yang, the meticulous to my slapdash. You must second understand that my husband was originally GUNG HO with this project, many years ago when it first appeared on my list of totally achievable desires. And that he then decided, at some point, unbeknownst to me, that it was MY project, and I should be in charge. That’s where things broke down. Because while I am willing to say “we should have a gallery wall in the living room,” I am unwilling to be the sole person dictating which items appear on said wall, which is co-owned and co-utilized and co-looked-at by other people in our family. And also, even if I could just go balls to the wall (unintentional pun) (but disturbing/perplexing imagery when I call out said pun and visualize it) (why is “balls to the wall” even a phrase? I have never thought deeply about it before and never want to do so again) full steam ahead and pick out a bunch of artwork, I simply cannot install it in a way that would look purposeful and not like a feeble earthquake had come through and jostled everything on the walls. My husband refused to care about the project. I refused to move forward. The project died. This is very long. This past fall, my husband and daughter and I went on a road trip, and found a little gallery that had lots of fun things, including a painting by a local artist of our state bird. We wanted very badly to buy the painting, but I said that I couldn’t in good conscience purchase it, knowing that I wanted it to be on the gallery wall, and knowing also that the gallery wall would not happen. This turned out to be a carrot, friends! A carrot! My husband said something like, “Well, if I promise to help you realize your gallery wall dreams, can we get the painting?” Marital compromise at work! And I agreed and we bought the painting and it has remained in its paper wrapping since August. But now, NOW, we are on the threshold of a gallery wall! Supposedly! Let’s refrain from holding our breaths. 

Aspiration: Hire someone to redo our ceiling and paint our trim. I am including this as one aspiration because a friend suggested a person who supposedly does both. 

Aspiration: Hire someone to fix our fridge. Our fridge leaks. It makes constant musical noises at us to alert us that Something Is Wrong. It has done this for… years, now. I have been afraid to have someone look at it because I fear that the only answer is to buy a new fridge. But it’s time. It’s time. 

Aspiration: Clean our basement and finalize a craft space for Carla. This is another aspiration that is all but complete. We spent the last week of December doing a DRASTIC CULL of our basement, and it looks as fabulous as a basement storage area can look. We also set up the craft-space items Carla received from Santa, and are in the process of finalizing it all. There is still much to be done (I need to cull THREE boxes of Precious Baby Items to ONE, for instance) (plus we need to buy a rug to go underneath the craft area), but it is well on the way. 

Reach Aspiration: PAINT THE BASEBOARDS MY GOD IT HAS BEEN 11 YEARS. Why is this a reach aspiration, you wonder? Well. My baseboards have been dark forest green for eleven years, that’s why. 

I think that’s PLENTY for this year, Internet. Wish me luck! 

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My in-laws have left and my house is very, very quiet. I can walk around in my jammies again and eat a burrito for breakfast without feeling like my sanity is being questioned and I am hopeful that I will stop feeling quite so hateful toward my husband when I unload/rinse/load dishes. Overall, it was a pleasant visit; my in-laws are pretty amiable and easy, and it is not their fault at all that my husband and I are introverts for whom extended company is very wearying. Most importantly, my mother-in-law is finished with this phase of cancer treatment, and endured it very well, and we are all hopeful that the next phase will go just as smoothly.

I should be cleaning the guest room and the bathroom right now rather than eating toffee and writing, but I am not. Even though I know I will feel better once everything is freshly laundered and scrubbed with bleach, and especially once my daughter can revert from sharing our bathroom to using her own. (We have two sinks in our en suite, and for some reason my daughter refuses to use my husband’s. Even if she and I are brushing our teeth simultaneously and my husband is already at work.)

Okay, during that paragraph break, I put all the towels in the laundry and tossed the bar soap and half-empty hotel-size shampoo and conditioner into the garbage and emptied the trash. If you have a guest room, does it have a trash can in it? Do you expect a trash can when you stay in other people’s guest rooms? I have a trash can in the bathroom, but not in the guest room… but there was a little paper bag filled with trash on the floor by the dresser, which makes me wonder if I should buy one? I don’t have a trash can in my own bedroom; if I need to throw something away, I toss it in my bathroom trash can.

Okay, okay. I have now scrubbed out the powder room toilet and replaced the hand towel, scrubbed out Carla’s toilet, and moved the bathroom cleaning kit up to the hallway outside the bathroom. Baby steps. 

Spending so much time with my in-laws gave me ample opportunity to examine the differences between how my husband’s family of origin and my family of origin do things. Objectively, most of the differences are totally benign; both ways of going about things are fine and reasonable and I’m sure plenty of people do them that way. But hot ham is it difficult to see things objectively when you were raised doing things One Specific Way. Here are some examples; I have scrambled them up, so the first FOO mentioned is sometimes my FOO and sometimes my husband’s. 

  • One family of origin (FOO, from here on out), are cocktail drinkers; the other FOO are wine drinkers. 
  • One FOO eat mostly at restaurants, with occasional home-cooked meals; the other FOO make and eat the vast majority of their meals at home.
  • One FOO divide the household duties roughly evenly (although some tasks take on typically gendered lines, like dusting vs. changing the oil in the car; I would say these tasks break up based on interest and ability though); the other FOO are much more “traditional” in the sense that the housework nearly all falls to the woman, and the man will sit and read a newspaper while the woman scrubs dishes five feet away. 
  • One FOO eat most dinners together at the table as a family; the other FOO eats together in front of the TV just as often as they eat at the table. 
  • One FOO wants the food to be HOT when everyone sits down to eat, so you better sit down right away when it is ready; the other FOO doesn’t care a whit about food temperature, and takes their sweet time getting to the table, sometimes detouring to the bathroom or stopping to check on the progress of the jigsaw puzzle, even after they have been WARNED that dinner is about to be served, and then ASKED whether they are READY to eat, EVEN IF they have been married to a Hot Fooder for 10+ years. Bet you can’t guess whose FOO is whose in this one.
  • One FOO takes care of almost all household/car maintenance themselves (oil changes, lawn care, appliance/fixture/furniture repair); the other FOO outsources nearly everything (oil changes, lawn care, appliance/fixture/furniture repair).
  • One FOO always seems to be in the midst of renovations, with the newest trend in furniture and paint colors and appliances; the other FOO sets up house and only replaces furniture/appliances once it stops working. 
  • One FOO always has the latest technology (phones, computers, devices); the other FOO buys technology only once in awhile, and then often choose refurbished pieces or older models. 
  • One FOO accepts that a no is a no; the other FOO believes that it never hurts to ask. 
  • One FOO gives gifts of money and contributions to college funds; the other FOO gifts toys. 
  • One FOO buys the things they need and, after research, doesn’t think or talk about the price of the item; the other FOO is constantly fretting about price, and is delighted to find a good deal, and talks openly about how much things cost.
  • One FOO buys cars and uses them for decades until they wear out; the other FOO leases cars for a few years and then replaces them with the newest model. 
  • One FOO says goodbye and leaves; the other FOO says goodbye and lingers for several more hours. 
  • One FOO are kissers; the other FOO are huggers. 
  • One FOO prefers personal space and stays in hotels when they visit; the other FOO much prefers being together as a family. 
  • One FOO is staunchly Pro Thank-You Note, even if you thank them in person; the other FOO feels that a voiced thank-you is completely adequate. 
  • One FOO is very punctual; the other FOO has a more slippery grasp of time. 
  • One FOO is a soft-shell taco family; the other FOO prefers hard-shell tacos or taco salads. Why are so many of these bullets food related, hmm?
  • One FOO plans things out months, and in some cases years in advance; the other FOO is much more spontaneous about making plans. 
  • One FOO is a dessert-every-night family; the other FOO is a dessert-on-special-occasions family. 
  • One FOO is a silence is golden type; the other FOO is the hard-to-get-a-word-in-edgewise type. 
  • One FOO is a No Devices At The Table type; the other FOO has their phones by their plates at all times, and if the topic is boring to an individual, there is no hesitation in picking up the phone and disengaging from the conversation. (Carla raised her hand during one particularly drawn out discussion and asked, politely but pointedly, “Can I change the subject now?”) 
  • One FOO is a TV in the bedroom family; the other FOO is a no TVs in the bedroom family. 
  • One FOO is a church-every-Sunday family; the other FOO doesn’t observe any religion.
  • One FOO are Facetime/phone-call communicators; the other FOO prefer email and maybe occasional phone calls.
  • One FOO always has salt and pepper on the table; the other FOO trusts that all food is salted/peppered exactly right for every palate. 

Like I said, it’s hard to accept one way when you grew up doing things the exact opposite way. But I can see the merits of both sides. At least in most cases (hot food should be eaten while HOT). 

Then, of course, it is amusing to see the points where our FsOO overlap, and the family my husband and I have created diverges. 

  • Both FsOO believe in ironing, and both women iron their husbands’ shirts to this day; my husband and I operate a pro-wrinkles household and refuse to iron. 
  • Both FsOO are firmly shoes IN the house types; my husband and I are a SHOES OFF household. 
  • Along the same lines: My husband and I are immediate handwashers; we come into the house, from anywhere, and wash our hands before we touch anything. (Except our shoes, which we remove at the door.) Our FsOO seem disinclined toward handwashing unless they have recently used the restroom or are cooking/eating. 
  • Both FsOO prefer phone calls to text messages; my husband and I, like the good millennials we are, would prefer to never use a phone again.

Obviously, my husband and I are RIGHT.

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