The wife he deserves

My husband is an easygoing guy.  Boyish good looks, kind, supportive.  We are heading into our fourteenth year together.  When I look back to our early days, I wonder what became of that couple…so playful…always filling our weekends with little excursions and intimate moments.

We were the couple that once ended my adventurous birthday weekend by dragging our mattress into the living room so we could lay back with our wine glasses and watch movies by the fireplace.

I think of them and wonder what happened. Wait, I know what happened.  A mortgage happened.  And a lawsuit.  Then a few lay-offs.  And then the children came.  They were planned, and came after our greatest obstacles had been ironed out.  Our children have blessed us mightily but children create challenges on every level even in the best of circumstances.

I think that trajectory of our relationship is not so very unique.  The husband is the steady anchor and the wife, slightly uptight and detail-focused.  He loves and supports…but leaves his dirty socks laying about, dishes mouldering in the sink, projects started but never finished.  She resents and nags.  He becomes dejected and annoyed.  She feels buried under a mountain of grunt work.  He can’t understand why it can’t wait till tomorrow.  He spends his time playing with the children.  She folds laundry and cooks dinner.  Resentment builds.

These words are not pretty but they are honest.

There is a boy who goes to my son’s karate school.  Sweet and active, I notice his parents scolding him and slapping him on the arm as he squirms in the seat, waiting for his class to begin.  I shake my head in sorrow.  We’re not at church, I want to say.  It’s OK if he moves.  But they watch him every moment, poised to disapprove.  My heart hurts for him.

I was almost that parent, until my husband coaxed almost every last particle of rigidity from me.  It’s OK for him to try on his Halloween costume and then keep it on all day.  It’s OK if he wants to go puddle-jumping in the rain.  He wants an occasional comic book for his bedtime story?  Let him.  Today is not always some preamble to the future.  Sometimes, today is simply today, and this moment is this moment.  Just let it be.  Let him feel that he can sometimes have what he wants.

I took my boy to karate last night, and the active little boy was there with his father, the mother absent.  For reasons known only to the cosmos, last night became the night that I was in the father’s sights.  I could feel his eyes on me each time I entered his line of vision.  I registered unease to have this person’s attention.  And then, as my son walked by him, he uttered a kind salutation, a kindness that I have never seen him afford his own son.   My skin crawled as he turned his gaze again to me.

My son wakes up at night feeling scared.  He runs and jumps in bed with us.  I used to try to insist that he sleep in his own bed, until my husband encouraged empathy.  My boy truly is scared when he wakes up at night, as evidenced by the sprint that I hear as he closes the gap between his room and ours in the dark of the night.

Last night I awoke to the bouncing of my bed as my son climbed in between us.  I lifted the covers and he scooted under them and into my arms.  I laid there, my face in his hair as he drifted back to sleep.  I thought of the karate father.  I could have ended up with a man like that, I thought.  That is what’s out there so often.  And here I have a husband who never gets mad at me (well, unless I get mad at him first.)  He never sends me on a guilt trip.  No yelling, and no silent treatment.  And I would never know a moment like this, comforting my son back to sleep in my bed, where he feels safe.

My sweet husband, who drives me absolutely crazy with his mess and his clutter.  He has found in me the loving mother I was meant to be, drawn her into the light of day.  And I give him grief over the dishes.

Here’s to my renewed efforts toward being the wife he deserves.  Sometimes a glimpse of what is out there can deliver a resounding reality check.

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About Joyce

40-year-old university advisor, 10-years married with two small children, trying to do it all and have it all and still manage the occasional social interaction through the wonderful world of blogging.
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11 Responses to The wife he deserves

  1. It is definitely a challenge of merging two lives, two different people and raising children! It’s funny because I’m kind of the parent in the family who is allowing of the puddle jumping, climbing trees and making big messes. My husband is usually the one standing back aghast and if he deems something dangerous will put it stop to it! He is the more sensible and play by the books parent! I think it’s a good thing! And like you said, there could be much worse things to put up with!!! (P.S. My husband leaves dirty sock laying around too!!) LOL!

    • Joyce says:

      Isn’t it funny how some of the best relationships have a bit of a yin and yang thing going on?

      My husband is notoriously messy and I get soooo mad at him…but when I stand back I realize that he never, ever gets upset with me. He’s better than I deserve, really.

  2. I very much enjoyed this post. I can empathize greatly. SOmetimes, I feel like I am patient and understanding like you say your husband. However, there are times – more than I care to admit that I am like the karate dad. I am not proud of those moments and strive to minimie them, but we all know it is not easy to change oneself. In this case, it is certainly worth the effort.

    • Joyce says:

      Thanks, I appreciate your comment! It’s a challenge when you’re really not built that way, as I was not. I’ve discovered a phenomenal book called “Positive Discipline”…it’s been in print for about 20 years and it is used by parents as well as teachers. It’s been a big help to me. It was recommended by a friend who said it changed her life. I highly recommend it.

  3. This entry is so beautiful. I’m glad you appreciate your relationship with your husband.

    – K.

  4. lexiesnana says:

    I loved this post.You are married to someone just like my husband.aren’t they wonderful!

    • Joyce says:

      We are quite blessed! I got to thinking about all this when my husband started to feel not quite right physically…everything checked out fine but it forced me to envision a future without him…and it was quite lonely.

      Thank you for your feedback!

  5. Sis says:

    Your marriage sounds so relaxed and happy, it’s good to look back and get some perspective.

    • Joyce says:

      Truth be told, it is relaxed and happy sometimes. Other times, the thing that keeps it from being relaxed and happy…is me. I’m working on that. 🙂

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