Twenty one years ago, when our youngest daughter was born, Alex and I were in no way comfortable leaving her with a baby sitter. We decided we’d be poor for a few years and I would stay home with her full time.
Alex was working fifty or sixty hours a week as a chef and I was at home with the kiddos. At first it was kind of cool but then it seemed the walls were closing in on me. I was expected to stay home, cook, clean and try to fix up our perpetually falling apart five acre red neck ranch, while he made fancy food and talking to cute waitresses.
When he came home, they kids were usually already asleep and he was too exhausted to actually talk to me. Or, if he did talk it seemed like all he talked about were the hostesses and waitresses. At least that’s what I heard, and it killed me.
I felt left behind, lonesome for adult conversation, unappreciated and abandoned. Alex got to talk to grown ups, hot grown ups and eat nice food, take a cigarette break and catch up on the news, while I was at home feeding kids, painting the living room and trying to clean goo out of the microwave.
Now Alex is retired. I work full time in radio and we are still trying to save our redneck ranch.
Twenty two years latter, and our situation is exactly the same, except we’re not crazy poor anymore. Two or three times a week clients and co-workers ask me to go out for a beer after work, but I remember what it was like, waiting and waiting for Alex to come home, years ago. If he was an hour and a half late, I was so sad. He’d been with people all day, why didn’t he want to come hang out with me?
So, I’ve made a rule for myself. I can accept these invitation once every two weeks, because seeing Alex is more important to me, our relationship and marriage are more important to me. I have to remind myself, he’s been home alone all day, he’s is waiting to talk to me, probably has dinner ready. Hanging out with friends would just be a bitchy , selfish move. Hanging out with friends or clients after work means I’m building a little life that he’s not a part of. It means I’m leaving the man I love and married behind.
The other issue I struggle with is having the energy to be a good partner when I get home. Yes, I talked to boat loads of clients, ran around like a mad woman trying to keep clients happy, wrote copy and made sales but the stuff he does at home, for us, is just as important. I have to GET OVER MYSELF ! The things I do are not more important that the work he does at home. I can easily convince my stuck up self my work is “important” but it’s no more important or essential than what he accomplishes every day at home.
And we have a never ending list of projects to get done. WE. I shouldn’t expect him to do them alone. I need to get my ass in gear and help him accomplish the stuff we set out to do. Even if it’s at a slower pace.
After twenty five or twenty six years I’m still trying to figure out how to be a good wife and partner. It takes a while to catch on. But I have learned this. The team is more important, because those clients and friends come and go. The team is more important, because the team means love and strength and together we can get so much more accomplished. And the team keeps me from being alone. And the team has my back when nobody else does.
Along time ago someone told me, “Marriage isn’t about being happy. Marriage is about making sure your spouse is happy. If both sides focus on that goal, it works….beautifully.”