Always go to bed angry and other sage pieces of advice

I met my husband when I was 19. It was my 3rd week at college. I had just had cream cheese for the first time in my life the week before (true story, on a NYC bagel). It was a good month. We started dating and married a year after I graduated.

To say we were unprepared was and is an understatement. This was pre-internet and pre-therapy being a cool thing. We were on our own. All I had was Cosmo magazine and Oprah to help me.

My husband and I are opposites. Two very different people. Like super different. I’m glass half full, he’s glass… someone stole his glass! I usually think things are going to work out, and he routinely plans for disaster.

When we first got together, we fought all the time. It was nuts. And I read all the magazines and did all the quizzes. He’s a Cancer, I’m a Gemini – it’ll never work out! He’s emotional, I’m abrupt – it’ll never work out! I’d listen to all the couples on Oprah and all the advice Dr. Phil (before he was Dr. Phil) would dish out. I tried it all. I made him try it all. Some of it worked. Most didn’t.

Know what works for us? Going to bed pissed. Yes. If you’re having a huge fight and you’re at your wits end – go to bed! It’s fine. Sometimes we go to bed pissed for like 2 nights – maybe 3. It’s ok. Tensions ease. We slowly forget what we were so passionate about. Not everything can or needs to be resolved all the time. There are many arguments that have been forgotten rather than resolved. I’m no therapist, and I’m guessing some crap will come back to haunt us and it’s probably not healthy – but you aren’t here for health right? Anyway try it – it’s worked for us for 28 years and counting. Instead of counting sheep, count grievances. Lol.

Here’s something else. Ours is not a 50/50 relationship. It never was. It never will be. We are not equal partners. Now, before you lose your undies over that statement let me explain. I’m not talking just about money. And I’m certainly not talking about someone being subservient or less than. I’m talking about ebbs and flows of a long relationship where one person bares the brunt of what it takes to keep us going. It can be emotional. And it can be physical. After I had my daughter, at a very young age, I fell into what I thought was a funk. But now I know that it was postpartum depression. Nothing too serious but I was having a moment… a moment that lasted about 7 months. I was lonely in New York City, where most gals my age were still single and partying. I had just decide to quit my job and stay home full time, which was such a luxury but only added to my isolation. During that time I was useless. I took care of our baby girl but nothing else. No laundry. No cooking. Nothing. He did it all. He worked. He paid all the bills, shopped for grocery’s etc. He let me get through it. When I had my son 5 years later, I quit my job again and stayed home. This time I was full of energy and creativity and decided to start my own wedding planning company. He was commuting 2 hours a day to a job he hated, but he let me do it. We begged and borrowed help with the kids and I planned weddings. We have never ever “counted” who does what. Who makes what. Who did what. We don’t do it because it’s not even-steven. We don’t do it because there will always be a winner and a loser. It’s certainly not fair, but who said it would be?

One more … we do a lot of stuff without each other, or we used to atleast – before Covid. Now we’re attached at the hip, god help us. In all seriousness we have never been a couple that couldn’t do things alone. Part of this is that my job involves travel – or it used to. Beautiful, solitary, airport-bar filled travel. He’s used to me being away and I’m used to me being away too. Absence and hotel rooms make a heart grow fonder. It’s true.

We are still a work in progress. Still have lots to figure out. I’m not gonna lie, it was and is hard. But there was a no escape route. We never had one and we never wanted one. We may be very different in many ways, but the fundamental things we are totally agreed on. How we want to live. Who we want around us. What we want for our kids. There’s never been confusion there. Here’s something else we’ve known since day one, he is my person and I am his. I’m the lid to his pot. The cream cheese to his NYC bagel.

Not following advice since circa 1991

What’s wrong?

I met my husband when I was 19. I’m not 19 anymore. Which means I’ve been with him for a very very very long time. We’ve grown-up together. Built a life together. He likes to say that he knows me better than anyone (mostly true except when it comes to my coffee order, food order,  etc). In all seriousness he does know me well. He knows I don’t like restaurants with too many TVs, it gives me heart palpitations. He knows I prefer to end all good times by midnight or earlier. He knows I don’t like to PET animals. I like animals. I wish them well in the world. But I don’t like to touch them. He loves a good dog/cat rub. He’s saved me from appearing cold and heartless many times by blocking an oncoming pet. He loves me like that.

I think I know him really well too. For instance, I know that potholes bother him like inequality bothered Martin Luther King. I know that sounds like a massive exaggeration, but really it’s mostly true. Actually I’m not sure anything in the world bothers him like bad infrastructure. He’s fallen in love with dumpy towns simply based on clean, well-paved roads. The other love of his life – besides his wife, kids and good roads – is grass. No. Not weed. Actual grass. He loves a good bed of grass. Or yard of grass. Or whatever it’s called. Nothing makes him happier than new grass sprouts. He’s like a proud father.

But for all our mind-reading of each other’s habits, wants, like/dislikes, etc, he still insists on asking what I consider the worst question known to man-kind, “What’s Wrong?”.  I know that sounds like an exaggeration too. But it drives me bananas. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve asked that question to him….our entire marriage. I don’t have to ask. I know. I know because I listen. I see. I remember. That’s how I know.  I don’t know with everyone. I have to ask friends. I sometimes have to ask my kids. I also ask my co-workers. “What’s wrong?”. Fill me in. What have you been up to? What’s keeping you up at night? But usually, like 99.999% of the time, I know what’s wrong with my husband. It’s a work thing. Or a health thing. Or a schedule thing. I ask questions like, “does your knee still hurt?” or “What happened today with that _____?” filling in the blank of whatever work issue he’s told me about. You get it. And some of the time… wait for it….I don’t even ask! That’s right. You wanna know how to have a long marriage? If you sense your spouse is upset in any way, ignore it. Let him/her talk about it or let it blow over. I know this goes against most marriage advice you get from say…experts…but letting it blow over is a very powerful marriage tool, in my opinion.  Not good for all occasions, but it comes in handy sometimes. Your mate seems frustrated, irritated or moody? Go for a walk without them. Leave them alone for a bit. Works like a charm. Except when it doesn’t. In which case I go back to my earlier point, I’m no expert. You’re on your own.

If there is something wrong with me, there are only a handful of reasons for my salty mood. 1) Him. 2) Work. 3) He ordered my Chinese food incorrectly.  That’s about it folks. It really doesn’t get more interesting than that. Why doesn’t he know that? Him asking a broad, open-ended question like, “what’s wrong?” just makes me angrier, and I probably wasn’t even angry in the first place, just distracted or annoyed. Maybe I watched a commercial and now I’m sad thinking about how I never packed my kids a healthy bento box lunch. Maybe I heard the news and realized it was the end of the world. Or maybe I just ate tomato sauce too late in the day and now I’m paying for it. There’s too many ways to answer that question!  If he just narrowed it down a bit, it would be better. Or, even better, let it go. Let it blow over. The old blow-over technique that I’ve been trying to teach him for two decades. You see what I’m saying here?

What am I saying here? I don’t even know.  I think I’m just complaining. Or whining. See how easy it is to get me to open up? You didn’t even ask me anything.

 

 

 

 

Nobody cares. Work harder.

Well that’s not exactly true. Lots of people care, but I really should work harder. Here’s how I came to this aha! moment (I speak your name Oprah!).
I was in the middle of a whining tirade this morning, complaining about the usual stuff people complain about (oh my job, my house , my blah blah blah) when a good friend said,” nobody cares, work harder.
Geez. Fine.
There are days when this advice would have made me crawl up and go back to bed, or cry in a corner. There are days when I would have said,” F you! I deserve to vent and fume.”
But today, it’s what I needed to hear. There’s no time for tucking into self-pity. What am I an infant? I need to be soothed? Come on! I’m no martyr. Atleast 4 times a day I almost buy a vanilla latte . How bad could things be? Answer: not bad at all.
So tuck that in your pocket or purse for a rainy day. Don’t say I never gave you anything. Good night.