The Fight We Keep Fighting

MrH and I don’t fight.  Not really anyway – there’s no screaming, yelling, insulting, pushing, shoving, or spitting in faces.  We don’t bodycheck each other.  That doesn’t mean we don’t fight though.  We still have the same, usually very civil, conversation over and over again.  It’s about how we each respond when we’re running late, and how we just can’t seem to get over the fact that we respond so differently.

At dinner tonight, a friend of mine revealed that her second year of marriage was much harder than her first.  I know that the first year is supposed to be super hard since you’re both adjusting to being together.  We decided that for her, the second was harder because of this recurring conversation.  I don’t even know what the topic was for them, but it’s the same idea.

Somehow though, she and her husband got through that very bumpy year and decided that while they think differently about some things, they can actually be happily married and still live together.  Their solution wasn’t so much in finding a compromise (you act a little less like you, I’ll act a little less like me, and we’ll meet in the middle).  Rather, it sounded like they both stayed uniquely themselves and remembered to treasure one another for that.  They remembered to learn from each other’s differences even when the other one made no sense.  They also worked out strategies on how to cope in the moment.

Someone at my church often tells about the fight he and his wife “always” have.  It’s the one that they couldn’t compromise on, couldn’t reconcile.  He always got upset when she made them late for an engagement, and then she got hurt that he got so upset.  Their solution now?  They travel separately and each arrive when they’re ready.  They both acknowledge responsibility for their on-timeness only for themselves, and greet one another warmly when they have both arrived.

I’m not ready for such a solution.  I still want us to live blissfully ever after, traveling to the same parties together, arriving on time together, running the exact right amount of errands (and fun-rands) on the way to get there right on the dot and feeling comfortable.  For now, however, I guess I’ll practice the idea of valuing where MrH is coming from, and admitting that maybe – just maybe – his view of things actually works for him. 

Dear Dr. and Dr. V,

I was thinking about the etiquette surrounding official letters of address.  This constantly comes up when we do development mailings at my job.  We know that some people wish to be referred to as Mr. S. and Mrs. S-H, and would be personally offended if we called them Mr. and Mrs. S. 

The parents of one of my friends are both doctors, and when she was little she asked why letters and Christmas cards always came to their house addressed as Dr. and Mrs. V.  “Shouldn’t it say Dr. and Dr. V?” she asked her mother?  Mom told her “no, that just isn’t how it’s done.”  

I don’t mind – and in fact really enjoy – “Mr. and Mrs. H”, even though I’m still in the name-changing process (looong story, not for the blog, sorry).  It reminds me that we’re TeamH and I love it; we share a name, we are now our own family.  I know the whole history of “transference of property” but I suppose in this case that’s in the eye of the beholder.  The thing that does offend, however, is “Mr. and Mrs. [his first name] H”.  That makes me feel like people think that I have “fully subsumed my old identity into that of my new husband.”  (That quote is from this lovely site.)

My point here is that different people ascribe different meanings to the name-changing game, and that different people want to be addressed differently.  This is often an easy factor to judge others on, and yet in the end, we should all be addressed the way we want to.  If my friend’s mom wishes to be “Mrs.” rather than “Dr.”, why would that be wrong?  On the other hand, if she prefers “Dr.”, then let’s call her Dr.  While there’s a lot in a name, it’s still just a name, and doesn’t actually change who you are inside.  Even as you become a team, you still remain individuals as well. 

Been Racking My Brain

Coming up with blog entries is sometimes easy, sometimes hard.  I guess that the busier I feel, the more difficult it becomes, and that’s when I sit down and wonder why I like to write in my blog anyway.

For a while – during our engagement – I kept a blog that basically detailed my various states of mind and heart as our engagement progressed.  The goal was that my closest friends could continue to love and support me even as my feelings and experiences were all over the place and hard to follow.  It was a fun blog; I loved having my friends support me through that time.  In the end, however, reading about someone else’s emotional ups and downs isn’t so interesting.  Besides, what if a future employer found my blog? (then of course, some of my posts below might be deemed inappropriate for that as well). 

So why do I blog now?  I blog because I think I have something to say.  And I don’t care if only 12 people read an entry – it’s still stuff I need to say.  Stuff about how the world seems to work, about how my husband gets to be the first signer on our offer, and I’m the second.  Things about how when we offered on a home owned by an elderly couple, we used “Mr. and Mrs. H.” but when we offered on a foreclosure we used “Mr. H and Ms. N”  Things about distribution of household chores, and things about lessons learned from each other, or together. 

These things matter.  And I wish to write about them, reflect on them, and receive feedback about them.  That’s why I blog.  And that’s why, when I have nothing to say, I’ll take a brief hiatus until I do.  I think I’m back to the blog – feel free to suggest some topics!

PS – ever wondered about how to spell “(w)racking my brain”?  Check it out

Birthday Wife

One distinct advantage of being married (or having any type of life partner) is that you get to feel extra special on your birthday.  Husbands have the luxury of spreading the word that your birthday is today, resulting in happy birthdays from people all day long.  They also have the ability to wake you up singing happy birthday so that you feel special from the second your eyes open.

I remember that as a kid, that feeling of “whoa!  It’s my birthday, this day is going to be the best!” was almost innate; it happened before anyone else saw me awake.  As an adult though, I often forget it’s my birthday.  MrH’s lovely wishes as I woke up immediately brought me back to that kid-space and I feel giddy with excitement about the possibility of this day.  Sometimes, things are more fun when you’re married!

Newlyweds Hunting House

How typical are we?  So excited about this whole being married thing, that we’re running out to try and buy a house!  And not just any house, no, it has to be large enough to hold our future children, accessible enough for us to carry strollers up and down the steps, and safe enough for us all to play outside.  Not only that, we also want it to be large enough to entertain our friends, and have enough rooms to host our families.  Since when are these dreams of mine? (ok, that’s a different post).

Anyway, we’ve been doing a lot of searches on home-buying and gotten a lot of great information.  Our realtor is fantastic as well.  The thing we’re still trying to google though is “should we make an offer now?”  That only gives one hit. 

A lot of couples decide that one or the other does all the hunting, and when s/he finds the home s/he wants, the spouse then comes and looks at it as well.  S/he always loves it, they buy a home, and live in wedding bliss ever after.  Nice theory, but it won’t ever work for the two of us.  You see, we basically agree about what we want but have different priority levels of those things (nice big yard: him; plenty of rooms: me).  Then it happens that we’re also both really into doing our research and figuring out all the details.  For this particular home we have to:

  • get estimates on redoing electric
  • estimates on redoing the roof (in a few years) and windows (in fewer years)
  • learn how we can tell whether a sun-porch is structurally sound
  • figure out how to remove wallpaper from walls
  • and learn how to lay tile and how much that would cost
  • get estimates on moving washer/dryer hookups
  • purchase a washer, dryer, and refrigerator
  • Figure out how far of a walk it is to the town center
  • and see if there’s anything sketchy about the neighbors, our street, and the surrounding neighborhood. 

Wish us luck.  Let’s hope that if this is our home, it stays on the market for a couple more months!  For now, we’ll just bake ourselves some blueberry pancakes with a vat of coffee.  Mmmmmm!

Being Mothered (by My Husband)

v.   moth·ered

  1. To watch over, nourish, and protect …

From dictionary.com

As a woman living on the East Coast, I often feel a little like I’m expected to be super-woman.  You know the one: driven, accomplished women with husbands who seemingly need no relationship, and children who need even less.  I haven’t often met someone like this, mind you, but it sometimes feels like that’s what we’re all supposed to be wanting. 

Here’s my secret: I don’t!  Sometimes we can reverse roles and I’m such a mess, and the best thing my husband can do is to check all his manly qualities at the door (even the strong arms and “I think you’re sexy” look).  These are the times I feel most vulnerable, most scared of him seeing right through my daily face, and into depths of my soul even I didn’t know were there.  These are the times I most love being married, and the times I most wish for a girlfriend to walk me through it instead of my dear husband.  They are also the times that bond the two of us on a deep, soul-level.  Some say these are the times for which we live. 

More masculine qualities are least welcome at these times.  His tendency to ask questions; the need to understand my emotions on a logical level; his desire to help me solve the problem; his fear of my tears.  When he realizes that none of these are helping me, he can frequently switch gears to a side few get to see.  I call this his “mothering” side, though it’s nothing like my own mother.  I’m grateful for his more masculine qualities, but at these rare times, I’m even more grateful for his mothering abilities. 

Once I’m “better”, he turns back into his fully manly self (arms and all!) and gets me to bed, protecting and watching over me in a way few mothers could match. 

Which one’s weirder?

I found out the other day that these couple friends of ours have “no farting” rules in their home.  This made me wonder: how many couples have “no farting” vs. “yay to farting!” rules in their home?  Seriously.  Am I the odd one out here, or are they?  For some reason it feels important to know which one it is.   

And how is this different from just being roommates?  That one, I actually have an answer to.   When you’re roommates with someone, you still have your own personal bedrooms.  Close the door, and you’re in the “farting-safe” zone, open it, and you need to share your air.  When you’re married, all that changes, and suddenly people have two choices: extend the “no-fart zone” to the entire home, or abandon it altogether.   

A good friend of mine, to the best of my knowledge, has still never farted out loud in front of her husband.  This is amazing to me.  Apparently, 57% of Japanese wives haven’t either.

Is farting in marriage another sign of intimacy?  Or a sign of disrespect?  And who’s to say? 

I wish I could cleverly end this post, but it seems like there are too many unknowns for me to do that.  Even after extensive googling (and coming up with a lot of, uhm, inappropriate materials *blush*) I still don’t know whether it’s weird to fart, or not to fart, in the marriage home.  All I know is that one is smelly, the other painful.  Seems like a losing situation.

The Feminine Side of Football

One way that the football franchises have managed to keep a huge marketing monopoly has been to find ways to engage women who might not otherwise be itnerested in the game.  Thinking of it from a wifely perspective, I notice the following surrounding the gearing up for the Super Bowl:

  • There is often at least one female announcer.  I guess we’re supposed to relate to her.
  • Newspaper coverage often includes the dating lives of star players.  See here for a case in point.
  • The number of party menus and decorations with football themese has exploded in recent years.  Even if we don’t enjoy the game, we can at least join in on the nacho/guacamole/chili fest, cooking and cleaning the house in preparation for our husband’s friends and their wives.

I don’t mean to make blanket statements about all women, or all wives.  I do think that the marketing geniuses engaged with NFL products are taking an interesting angleo on the market.  One less focused on the game of football, and more on wives’ other purported roles. 

Good Girl Time

When we got married, we made vows in front of God, our families, and friends, promising to forsake all others and be devoted entirely to each other.  I take those vows extremely seriously, and pray that whenever the day comes that I have to choose between my husband and another person (and there is no middle ground), I will clearly, lovingly, and joyfully choose my husband. 

In the meantime, I also incredibly value my girl friends.  I was having coffee with one of them tonight and we just had the greatest conversation.  It reminds me that having friends who have some similar and some different thoughts is not just important to me, but to my marriage as well.  By challenging certain behaviors, cycles, and beliefs that I hold (either strongly or loosely), such close girl friends help me to grow in how I live marriage.  Affirming others helps me to feel known and loved and to continue on the path.

A woman who is very close to me had a husband who felt threatened by her time with girl friends (including me).  I used to feel hurt by this, but now I realize that the appropriate feeling would have been fear for my friend (the marriage didn’t last).  He wanted her to be 100% on the same page as he was with no room for disagreement; as a result, time with her friends wasn’t a time to explore new ideas about marriage and the world.  Instead, it became a time for her to affirm her loyalty to her husband and “their” beliefs.  Even then, he didn’t trust this loyalty existed and guilted her into spending less time with her friends.

In my view, that’s the opposite of what happens in a healthy marriage.  In a healthy marriage, we spend time with our friends; we explore new ideas and bring them back for exploration with our spouse; we re-prioritize and see our lives from a new perspective.  I thank God every day for blessing me, and my marriage, with girl friends with whom that is possible.

Double the Pleasure?

When you’re married, everything is doubled.  Kind of like Wrigley’s Gum (double the pleasure!).  Except it’s not always pleasure!  True, when he comes home in a giddy mood Wrigley’s - Double the Pleasurethat makes me all excited and fun as well.  The downside is that when husband gets sick, suddenly it becomes a big deal to me as well!  It’s different than just having a roommate in that now I also play nurse, source of strength, and errand-runner.  This was an un-anticipated by-product of taking our marriage vows.  Here’s a great blog-entry that says it all. 

Another “double the pleasure” issue that’s come up is that when the snack attacks hit him, I join him in an ice-cream or chip eating party.  This means that both of us eat junkfood twice as often as we did before we were living together.  Our waistlines have both noticed, and now we’re all about watching our food etc. (see sparkpeople.com for a great, free website that helps with this).  It’s not terrible, just unexpected.  There are lots of interesting articles and blog entries about this, mostly on a pretty negative “women let themselves go once they’re married” side of things.  Personally, I don’t think I’m choosing to care less, rather, there is twice as much temptation and invitation to overeat. 

So does being a wife mean you’re fatter, sadder, and sicker?  For my sake, I hope not!

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