Marriage…no, it’s not that simple

I have thought long and hard about how personal I really want to be in this space considering that I am no longer anonymous. I am fortunate that for the most part the thoughts and opinions expressed in this space don’t bother my employer. That said, since I may not always be with this employer, I am starting to think more about what I actually share, especially after one of my closest friends shared with me that during a recent credit and background check for an apartment her now landlord pulled up her twitter account. Yikes!

Yet I am an open and honest person and so I figure if you know me offline eventually you will know who I am. That said, something I read earlier really bugged me, like really pissed me off especially as I am dealing with some pretty deep shit. The words of wisdom that set me off came from an unmarried woman, a good decade younger than me that shared that the key to staying married is simply to never get a divorce…ever! If only it were simple, but hey let’s check back in after you do a few years being married.

The truth is my marriage is struggling. It has been on struggle mode for quite a while now. The funny thing is the Spousal Unit and I love, adore and cherish each other and we are truly each other’s best friend. I trust the man with my life and can’t imagine that will ever change. Despite the fact we are struggling, we still spend most of our time with each other because we enjoy it. Even in the midst of our struggles we have taken to joking we should change our respective Facebook relationship statuses to “complicated” since it really is a complicated situation.

The first time I married at 18, I knew nothing and was woefully unprepared to be married as was my first husband. So it was no shock when our marriage erupted in flames, we were a toxic heady mix, and nothing could have saved that union. Even our now almost 20 year old son over the years has acknowledged that his Dad and I were probably not a good fit. Yet we had youthful dreams and hopes.

Second time around I wasn’t a kid and knew marriage was work and figured if we worked hard together that the marriage would always be strong. Funny thing about life to use my favorite quote from John Lennon “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. Turns out in the real world, a couple can be strong, in love but still have issues that make them incompatible.  There is no secret to staying married, and anyone who tells you otherwise is shitting you.  I say that with 14 years of marriage under my belt and being the offspring of a couple that did 31 years until death parted them.

I have no idea what our future holds, at this point we take it day by day, and take the good with the ugly. Yet we both had a great laugh when I shared the so-called keys to staying married that I stumbled across, if only it were that easy. Life is messy and when you combine lives it gets even messier.  Or shall we just say it’s complicated.

Unplug and celebrate hump day

Another post that if you are related to me in anyway, ya probably should skip today’s post.

If there is one that that I am in this blog, it’s honest. I figure if I am dealing with an issue or concern, chances are I am not the only one. I have very few close friends, my best friend is a 43 year old dude and while I love him there are some things we just don’t talk about. It’s in these moments when I grapple with what feels like lady issues I often wish I had a sister or that my Mom was still here. My mom and I had the type of relationship that we could talk about anything. I used to sometimes cringe when she would ask about sex related things but the older I get, I miss those talks.

Regular readers know that the Spousal Unit and I have had our share of problems, marriage is hard, add some kids, a 125+ year old house, too little money, way too many bills and career dissatisfaction and voila! You are like who the hell is the dude that sleeps on the other side of the bed and why is he annoying me. Okay, maybe that’s not you but that’s been me for a while.

Anyway I did a little experiment last week and by golly its working. I decided last week to give up tweeting for the day. Seriously, because I spend a lot of time on my computer dealing with emails, grants etc and due to the nature of my work, it’s been easy to get sucked into playing too much online especially with social media. I think this happens to anyone who works alone primarily and has a schedule where they can work from home. I struggle with maintaining the boundary between my home life and my work life and frankly I am starting to put my foot down.

So last week, I went 24 hours without tweeting and instead chose to spend that half hour or so that I would spend screwing around online, screwing around with the ole man and let me tell you, that one day just lit a spark. If you follow me on twitter you may have noticed that my tweeting has slacked off because I am now making a commitment to engage in intimate touch daily with my husband. For some readers, you are already there, but I know there are a few of us that have struggled with this.

I am lucky in that my husband’s office is in our house and unless he is on a call I can generally whisk him away for a few minutes. Initially I felt stupid, but decided for once to just go with the flow, I have also decided that when I feel the stirrings down below that its time to act, plain and simple. Now I admit with a 5 year old its not always easy and yep there have been some junky meals this past week but guess what she lived and more importantly its almost like order has been restored in our lives.

Talk about a quick fix, an orgasm a day can keep the ickies away. So I say if you feel like you are in a rut with your relationship, turn off your smart phone, unplug, do whatever to escape and just start. Yep you may feel silly but really you will feel good, your partner will feel good, all of a sudden tensions seem to fade away. I admit if you are in a relationship with serious issues this might not be applicable but if you are caught in the typical marriage rut that can happen just because you are busy and lack time, unplug.

Funny thing for me is that while I still have a hard time fitting in other self help things such as my yoga and meditation practice on a daily basis, I find that fitting in a few minutes for sex is possible. Lately I have been staying up late to play with the ole man which I admit is a hell of a lot more fun than staying up late reading blogs!

Happy Hump Day and may you get some humping in today!

Heavy lifting…marriage restructuring project underway!

As I sit down to type this, I am not sure it will see the light of day as it is a personal issue and even I have my limits to what is appropriate for public sharing especially when it involves my life partner.

Last night I was reminded of why marriages fail, because we spend so much time looking for a wedding and thinking we will ride on into the sunset and being happy that even for the best of us it’s easy to forget just how much hard work and heavy lifting is required to keep the relationship viable for both parties.

The truth is as we head towards our 14th wedding anniversary this fall, 16 years total together that we are truly facing a challenge that will determine whether or not we stay standing or not. Oh, its nothing dramatic, nobody is slapping anyone around or emotionally abusing anyone…come now, put a hand on me and someone leaves in a body bag. That’s been my personal motto. No, I fear we have fallen victim to life. Jobs, bills, kids, changing bodies, that getting old shit…life.

In many ways I have been a smug bitch (yes I know some of you will cringe at my use that word but on my blog I can call myself what I want to call myself), in the past several years I have seen so many girlfriends’ marriages and partnerships fall apart…I have tried to support them yet somewhere in my mind I always said that would never be me. Why? I am married to my best friend, business partner, lover and our bond is rock solid. We are the couple that is always together, the Spousal Unit works from home, I do part of my work from home, as a one car by choice family, we are always together barring my occasional outings and work related stuff. Yet despite that I finally had to admit that somewhere along the way things have shifted and maybe we aren’t working so well together. Again it’s nothing noticeable, but just that pang in your heart that says “Is this it?” I have tried to ignore it instead saying it’s not really that but in my search to find me, I have had to accept no this is not a momentary thing.

I have to admit the man was stunned and we are talking about what we can do to get the train back on track. I made a joke this morning that people joke about the 7 year itch, maybe there is a 14 year itch. Turns out I might not be joking at all. I did some Googling on the matter and it seems there is a growing body of work that suggests that in previous generations couples did grapple with the 7 year itch but now its marriages in the 10-14 year range that face the greatest assaults and threat of divorce. It makes sense as couples marry later, have kids later in life, it is after the first decade when the pressures heat up. In the first 7 years of our marriage, we went through a custody battle with my ex, lost both our mothers, moved 1100 miles to a state neither of us wanted to move to and started going broke in year 7. In year 8 our daughter was born and we officially went broke, so badly at one point we had to use Medicaid for health insurance.

Looking back, the first 7 years of our marriage weren’t exactly a cakewalk especially since I spent most of that time accruing over $100,000 in student loan debt for an education that while it enlightened me has not enlightened our bank account. I made that decision banking on a good economy and like many assuming I would have higher earning power but so far it has not come to pass.

Since year 8 though and the birth of our daughter, that’s when shit started getting wonky, the spooning sessions we took for granted for the first years together became a rare treat. Having a high needs highly spirited child who still interrupts our conversations makes it hard to talk at a deeper level. In the 5.5 years since her birth, I realized we have only been away from her on a date three times and since the last time was to attend a friend’s 40th birthday party not sure we can count that as a date. Looking at this now, that’s a lot of days to not really connect, oh yeah we talk but I am realizing when we do ever get beneath the surface? Rarely and clearly not as often as we need. Even the fact that we are always together might be working against us since it’s easy to get complacent and not have the deeper conversations when you are always together…after all not all talk is created equal. Also while many folks think working from home is a plus, it does have a darker side, it’s sometimes harder to unplug from work, in my husband’s case being self employed, and unplugging can be bad if a client has a last minute change. After having lost several clients a few years ago, we both are skittish about unplugging from work; the loss of another client would financially ruin us. Good paying gigs for freelance writers are harder to come by these days so it’s the downside to our world.

Ever since I was a kid my nickname given to me by my Dad has been rabbit. Why? Rabbits know when to hop away…yet I am no longer a child and while my first instinct lately has been maybe its time to blow this pop stand, but I woke up this morning with a clarity that said hopping away is not the answer. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am a planner, its how I try and stay one step ahead of the bad shit in life. So in my mind I have already been calculating what I would need to do to leave, how much cash is required, etc. But I look at my daughter, I think of my son, I think of myself and say what the hell am I hopping to? The fire may not burn as high as it once did but there are still some sparks….sparks can start fires. So right now what we need is to create enough sparks to light this forest on fire…anyone who has been married any length of time knows you can’t sustain a fire of love all the time but I do believe at certain stages you need a fire. I think as an almost middle aged woman (though by some standards I am already there but I ain’t claiming it yet no matter what my body says) sometimes you need a deep fire of love to anchor you as you deal with the rest of the shit that assaults you in middle age.

I also know now that just like with parenting the minute you think you “know” or you think you can give some advice on matters of the heart is pretty much when you can expect the universe to kick you dead in your ass and let you know you don’t know jack. I wish I had a simple answer to what my future looks like but the thought of losing my best friend is too hard to bear so we are get ready to redesign our world and life together unsure of what the future holds. Perhaps this is just part of this crazy ride we call life; we just have to fly blind at times despite how scary that feels.

PS: Before posting this I asked the Spousal Unit to read it and give the thumbs up or down as far as sharing…he gave the thumbs up. I know some may question why am I sharing such a personal issue, well I think many people deal with these issues yet few talk about them. In a generation past, women got together with the coffee klatch and talked about this stuff, now we don’t. I think knowledge is power.