Monday, December 13, 2010

The Joys of Marriage

There are many days when I can't believe I ever managed life as a single person. The obvious perk is companionship. Always having a date to weddings. Someone to go with you when you check out that new club/restaurant/play you've been dying to see. A warm body in bed. An ear to listen to you complain about your crappy day. Someone to hold your hand at the doctor's office. A partner in life.

In my marriage I also have the benefit of having a husband who is very handy. I don't have to worry about who's going to cut the grass, snow blow the driveway, clean the gutters, etc. Not to mention all the minor repairs I would have paid a professional to complete that my husband can do.

I hope that my husband thinks of me in a similar way. I do most of the shopping, plan and cook most meals, manage the money, do the laundry and provide most of the care for our pets. When he was single there weren't pets to deal with but I hope that my management of the other household tasks makes up for the additional responsibility of our three pets.

Unfortunately its not all perfect wedded bliss. There are days when I feel like my life is harder to manage than it was when I was single. When it feels like I have a roommate and not a partner. I've had a few of these days in a row and the only way I'm going to get any sleep tonight is to blog about it. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and there are way more good days than bad days but sometimes he makes me want to scream!

I have the luxury of having a flexible work schedule. I rarely spend more than 24 hours in my office a week. If I have a busy week of traveling and meetings, I can usually take it easy the next week. I work from home as often, if not more, as I go to the office. Sometimes I get cabin fever because I spend so much time in the house alone. I feel like a housewife after too much time alone at home taking care of the pets and the house. I get so excited about my husband coming home and helping out. In my mind, the moment he walks in the door he will notice how clean the house is, how good dinner smells, the pile of clean laundry in his drawer and the fully stocked pantry and be so grateful for this that he will offer to take the dogs out for a long playtime while I enjoy a hot bath. After that he will carry me to the bedroom and make sweet love to me while telling me how much he appreciates me.

Okay, that's not really what I expect but a little bit of that would be nice. My husband works a very physical job and is usually at work 45+ hours a week. When he comes home he sits down and eats dinner and then watches TV until its time to go to bed. The next morning, he might watch another 2-3 hours of TV before getting ready for work. I try not to say anything because I know I've got a really cushy job most days and I recognize how tired he must be. A lot of times my expectation of the relief that I will have when my husband gets home doesn't match up with reality and get frustrated with him. I know it's not fair for me to be angry with him for not living up to my daydream but it's also not fair for him to expect me to give him a free pass in this household.

I recognize that he's not going to be ready to jump up and do something the moment he gets home but after a few hours it starts to get to me. I think that if he sees me doing something productive that will inspire him to do something productive and he will get off the couch and help. That's how my brain works but it's definitely not how his works.

Sunday my husband left the house at 8:45 am and returned home at 8:30 pm. Someone had called out of work so he ended up working later than usual. We sat down and watched TV until 10:30 when he went to bed. This morning my husband's alarm went off at 7 am. After an hour of snooze and sleep he came downstairs made his coffee and sat on the couch to watch TV. He stayed there until it was time for him to take a shower and get ready for work. He left at 10:15 am.

While he was sitting on the couch I took each dog outside for a separate play time and then played with them together inside the house. Then I did the dishes. After that I was a little pissed because I'd been telling him off in my head for the past 15 minutes. I went to sit down and read a magazine to cool off and relax before going to work. About 5 minutes into reading, my husband comes into the bedroom being all cute and kissy face and I'm thinking to myself "Are you f-ing kidding me?". That's not what I said. I didn't say anything. I kissed him back and pretended like everything was okay but if he was paying attention it would have been obvious to him that I was pretending. So not only are you not going to help me but you're going to interrupt the only private time that I've had all morning?

I had meetings after work today and didn't get home until 11 pm. My husband was getting off at 4 pm. Before he left for work this morning I asked him to stop by the pet store and pick up dog food on his way home because otherwise there wouldn't be enough food for the dogs to have dinner or breakfast the next morning. The pet store is literally in the same parking lot as his job. A pretty nasty storm rolled in this evening so on my way home I stopped at the grocery store to pick up milk and a couple of other things we were out of. It was white knuckle driving the whole way home because of the black ice and blowing snow. When I walked in the house I found a sink full of dirty dishes and a note on the door that says "Sorry forgot the dog food, guess I'm a bad husband". My husband is asleep because he has to be at work at 7 am. So there is no chance of him planning on doing any of these things in the morning.

Forgetting the dog food is one thing. Being at home from 4 pm until 10 pm when the pet stores close and not going to get any food is another thing. Not sending me a text message or an e-mail is an even bigger thing since tomorrow I will likely have to drive in a blizzard with several inches of snow on the ground. That's why I picked up the necessities tonight in case we got snowed in. But that's not his problem. I'll go to the pet store tomorrow and get their food. I'll deal with whatever digestive issues they might have from eating a different diet for the past couple meals. I'll get dog food in the morning and then come home to make sure it's here before I leave for work and another late night of meetings. As always, it will be my problem to deal with and not his.

My husband and I have had this argument before so I'm not even going to deal with it. What usually happens is that I get upset that he forgot something or that he isn't helping out. Then he reminds me of how physical his job his and how easy mine is. So then the implication is that I should do more because I have more free time. That he needs more time to decompress after work because of how demanding his job is. Then I usually get the "You know I'm not a dog person/I told you if we got another dog I wasn't going to pitch in more" speech. Then I usually remind him that I'm only asking him to take an hour out of the five hours that he spent on the couch to help out. This sort of passive-aggressive argument goes on for about an hour until we are both sick of it. Then we have an awkward truce where we watch TV and go to bed still frustrated. There might be an apology the next morning or more discomfort but there is never any resolution.

So what tends to happen next is that I become even more obsessive compulsive about making sure everything gets done. I am already a control freak but after one of these incidents I feel like if I don't do it, it won't get done. Then my husband gets frustrated with me for second guessing him all the time. Eventually I let my guard down and ask him to do something and the whole cycle starts all over again.

Tomorrow morning my husband will be all kissy face and act like nothing has happened. I will spend the night tossing and turning and having an argument with him in my head. I might be short with him in the morning but he either won't notice or we'll have an argument about it. Then I'll spend the day stewing every time I do something that he could've done while he was home.

I think the worst part of it is the expectation that he was going to do something. At least when I was single I knew that it was all on my plate and I never relied on anyone to help me out with anything. Marriage gives you the false impression that you have a partner in all aspects of life but that's not the case at all. You have more help in some areas and less help, but more work, in others. What I'd really like to do is go upstairs and take a bath to relax after this long day but I can't because the dogs would run upstairs and play and wake up my husband. So I'll just sit down here and stew because I'm being considerate of his needs even though he clearly doesn't return the favor. F that. I'm taking bath and turning on some relaxing music.

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