Why I’m Bad at Marriage, Part 2

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Yes, it takes two to tango, but my better half is golfing with clients in North Carolina; and we’ve essentially already celebrated with our recent trip to Croatia.  

I’m ambivalent about the fact that I’m sitting down and writing about marriage again.  On one hand, what can I possibly say that’s new?  On the other hand, it is a significant part of my identity, so it’d make sense that the topic comes up over and over.  And over and over and over. And, on the third hand (don’t do the math), my original plan for this blog, which was to concentrate on the ups and downs of parenting teens, has become entirely too complex.  I have plenty of stories to tell on that front, but am walking a constant tightrope where I’m trying to balance wanting to be honest with you about the struggles with their right to privacy.

I once wrote a post entitled Why I’m Not Good at Marriage, Part 1.  I added the part 1 to the title, because I really did intend for it to be a series.  But, of course, part 2 has yet to be posted. I know y’all have been incessantly hitting the refresh buttons on your browsers in anticipation.  I made a conscious decision to keep you waiting, on the edge of your seats no doubt, in an attempt to create a buzz.

Do those last two sentences smell like poop?  They should, because they’re bullshit. I make very few ‘conscious’ decisions; and I know my five readers have actual lives, with slightly more on their plate than waiting for my next installment of witticisms about my innate inability to be a good spouse.  

At any rate, here’s part 2.

I’m not good at marriage because I haven’t had a real job outside the home for 14 years.  That statement is a bit of an oversimplification. More aptly stated: I’m not good at marriage because I did a piss poor job of choosing a career path for myself when I was 18 (which I sometimes beat myself up over, but then I give myself some grace, because FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I WAS ONLY 18).  I didn’t much enjoy what I did for a living. As a result, when I had a chance to walk away from my job after the birth of our second child, I Usain Bolted my ass outta there and never looked back.

I never really planned on not working and  was a little embarrassed to be unemployed, so I frequently sugar coated the situation by claiming I’d go back to work once the kids started school.  Apparently I meant I’d go back to work once they started college, because now they’re in 8th and 10th grades and I’ve made exactly zero moves toward going back to clinical lab science.  

Unfortunately, though, one of the few things I’m less suited for than working in a lab is running a household.  The house is never picked up, the laundry is rarely folded, beds are made only on days when I wash the sheets (which doesn’t happen as often as it should), and kids are jerks.  Again, maybe an oversimplification. But, kids are kinda jerks. Or, I suppose I should say I find my kids to be jerks.  Which, let’s face it, is because I made them that way, because I’ve been with them way more than anyone else has because I quit my job.  See what a vicious effing circle this is???

How does any of this affect my marriage, you didn’t ask?  Well, when I hung my lab coat on the hook for the final time, I left a fair amount of my resolve there with it.  It wasn’t intentional or anticipated, or brought on by anyone other than myself; but I took on a feeling of ‘less than’ when I quit earning a paycheck.  And instead of dealing with it or talking about it, I kept my mouth shut. I more often than not ceded financial decisions to my bread winning husband, which really wasn’t fair to me OR him.  And for years I felt like I couldn’t say no to anything or anyone. Like my lack of a paycheck left me with an interminable obligation to do anything and everything society asked of me.

There are perhaps folks who can do marriage well when they’re feeling less than, overly obligated, and slightly resentful, but I ain’t one of them. The kicker here, though, is I’d likely have felt all the same shit these past 14 years even if I had been a wage earning member of the human race.  Only I’d have been feeling it for different reasons.  I’d have felt like a ‘less than’ mom if I’d worked full time.  I’d still have felt obligated to always say yes, because that’s what all the nice, good women do.  And I’d still have been resentful- of the time my job took away from my kids.  Having a uterus is, apparently, one hell of a catch-22.

Chris and I have been fortunate. Fortunate we were both too stubborn to give up on us. Fortunate to have given ourselves the time to try and figure married life out.  Fortunate to have had financial security for most of our time together. Fortunate to have had support from people outside of our immediate family. All this good fortune has provided us a safety net without which we wouldn’t be sitting together today.  

Of course, when I say ‘together,’ I’m speaking figuratively.  Because he’s in North Carolina. And I’m just finishing up driving to soccer practice to home to debate practice to soccer practice to home to debate and then finally home again.  So even if we were spending this milestone in the same state, we wouldn’t have seen much of each other. Perhaps that’s the reason we’ve made it this far!

Twenty years of marriage has its advantages.  Like me being comfortable enough to post this pic of us waving two fingers, complete with my fat chin and smudged eye makeup.  WINNING.  Happy 20th anniversary to my person!


One thought on “Why I’m Bad at Marriage, Part 2

  1. Congratulations on your anniversary! We just celebrated 16! Marriage is not easy. I appreciate your perspective. What I didn’t hear is any resentment towards your husband for the staying home part of your story. I understand that he’s been successful in his career and you too for taking care of the home front while he’s doing his thing. I offered to stay home but have since punished my husband a bit for it. Just being honest. I need to be more like you and not punish him for providing for his family. I grew up in the two working parents generation which I think might have contributed to the resentment. Don’t cut yourself short. Your house may not be perfectly organized but you dedicate your time to other priorities. I struggle with this feeling that we have as women that life has to be perfectly tied in a bow. I worry that my kids will feel this as women too. P.S. The answer may not be a paycheck job for you but how you engage in your community/church. I see you doing this already. 😘

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