There’s only one reason

It started out happily, before I came to the realization that the gulf that separates me and my husband might be too big to bridge. Finally liberated from the long hellish winter, we began the process of readying our house and yard for spring. We spent the weekend raking, clipping, and trading out snow toys for warm weather gear. The kids “helped,” mostly by begging us to pull them around the yard on sleds. Which is hard. So I said no.

Lucky for them, Tim is much more fun and less lazy than I am. He stood sweating and catching his breath after finishing his umpteenth run around the yard dragging the kids behind him on a sled, when he suggested that I give it a go. “It’s actually a lot of fun. After all, running around, being active, and playing with the kids is the whole reason we work out at the gym.”

Um, what? This is when I fully understood the immense breadth of the chasm between us.

I don’t exercise so that I can just exercise more with my kids. WTF? Who does that? The ONLY reason I work out is to not be fat. That’s it. End of story. Any health benefits are secondary side effects. Certainly ‘the ability to run around at other times’ would never make a list of Reasons I Work Out if such a list needed to exist. Which it doesn’t. Because there’s just the one reason.

I wondered if I’m the only woman living with a fundamentally strange and misinformed man, so I asked my co-authors from I Just Want to be Alone what they thought.

Stephanie Jankowski from the blog When Crazy Meets Exhaustion understands: “My goal is to not have my thighs rub together as to prevent starting forest fires; his goal is to be ‘heart healthy.’ Meh.” 

Robyn Welling who blogs at Hollow Tree Ventures said, “I started a regular exercise regimen last week – exercise every day! So far I’ve stuck with it – and I have gained 4 pounds. My husband wants to lose 5 or 10 pounds too, but he figures the weight will come off in the spring when he starts working in the yard again. What pisses me off is that IT WILL.”

Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying gets me, “I work out because sugar and cheese.”

Suzanne Fleet blogs at Toulouse and Tonic and she’s with me too. “Oh it’s all about not being fat. Otherwise, I’d just sit here and read a book instead of sacrificing that time to something so unenjoyable.” EXACTLY!

Christine Burke from Keeper of the Fruit Loops adds, “I run to support my eating and drinking habits. Case closed.”

Lynn Morrison from The Nomad Mom Diary definitely gets it. In fact, her essay in I Just Want to be Alone is called, “My Obnoxiously Skinny Husband,” in which she quips, “I’ll do almost anything to avoid conversations about my weight, but I draw the line at actual exercise.”

Rebecca Gallagher writes over at Frugalista Blog. She shared this story to demonstrate just how much her husband has no clue. “Once, my husband and I after dinner were arguing over the last bit of wine. I said, ‘You have it, it will save me some calories.’ He’s like, ‘Pfft, what’s a couple hundred calories?’ I’m all, “WHAT’S A COUPLE HUNDRED CALORIES?!! Says the man with Michael Phelps’ metabolism. Fuck you! I have to count calories or I’ll be a size 20. Asshole.’ He’s like, ‘Gosh, didn’t know it mattered.’ And this is why men can be douchewads.” That’s pretty much exactly what I think every night as my husband sits down to his after dinner bowl of cereal, and then his after bowl of cereal bowl of ice cream.

So I’m not alone in the world, just in my house. Between the children who choose running over walking in just about every scenario and my husband who confoundingly exercises so that he can better exercise at other times, I am an island in my limited tolerance for working out. If God wanted me constantly running around, he wouldn’t have given me so many bouncy parts.

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Domestic Bliss and Wrappers

As I discard the wad of lint containing an embarrassing number of mini Cadbury Cream Egg foil wrappers that I accidentally left in a pocket, I have a moment of silent gratitude that I am the only person who would ever clear out our dryer lint trap. My mini Cream Egg secret is safe. As the only person who does many household things, I can keep many secrets.

My children don’t use the garbage can. This is very useful because I can eat their candy and throw the wrappers out without worrying about being caught. Likewise, I don’t have to bury thrown-out child-made masterpieces in the recycling bin as it’s a place they’d never look. When they have garbage, they just drop it on the floor where they stand. So my secrets are safe in the trash can.

I can hide birthday and Christmas gifts in plain sight. The plainer the sight the better in fact. I live with people who can’t find the ketchup while looking in the fridge, even after I say, “It’s on the left side of the second shelf in the door with the other condiments – where it always is absolutely always every single time without exception like last time and the time before that.”

Really though, I have a great family. Each person does a lot to help around the house. My kids wash the bathroom floor! Well, they wet the bathroom floor, and sometimes soap it. And they often then leave towels and underwear on it, certainly in an effort to dry it. What swell kids! They clean my couch daily. Clean it of those pesky couch cushions that is. Possibly misguided efforts, but they’re young and it’s the thought that counts. I have a couch cushion strewn floor to prove that they’re always thinking of ways to help out.

My husband is exceptionally helpful. I hear horror stories about other husbands but I can’t complain. I don’t even have to ask for him to clean most of the dishes after dinner. He also empties the dishwasher unbidden, and puts most of the stuff away. He considerately leaves his laundry right near the laundry basket so all I need to do is pop it in! Always a gentleman, he thoughtfully leaves the butter and jam out on the counter for me, in case I want toast at some point during the day.

The truth is that if the family was more domestically involved, I would have a harder time hiding my stashes of good things. I have small presents secreted away that I sometimes remember, caches of candy, and even an emergency bottle of wine. So, as I don’t bother burying my candy wrapper filled dryer lint in the garbage, I’m reminded of how very lucky I am.

 

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I did, and would do it again

I’ve been thinking about weddings and marriage a lot lately, in part because tomorrow is my eleventh anniversary! It’s hard to believe that eleven years have passed since that day in that lovely dress when I enacted what is easily the best decision I ever made.

Is marriage everything I thought it would be? No. It’s almost nothing I thought it would be.

I remember planning our wedding; I was consumed with all of the wedding details. They felt so very important. Whenever I approached Tim stressed over choices of things like tablecloths, he said, “The wedding is just one day. The marriage is forever.” Naturally, this pissed me off. “You aren’t helping! I know that the marriage is important and blah blah blah, but do you like the medium-red, the dark-red, or the medium-dark-red roses better?!”

Like many grooms, Tim did not take part in so many of the planning details, and he’s probably quite unaware of how many details our wedding entailed. Does he know that I had to decide on little things like the various sundries for the baskets I placed in the bathrooms? (Does he know there were baskets of sundries in the bathrooms?) Does he know that I picked the chairs? Does he know that I labored over fonts, paper and the type of printing we used? Now when I think of how much money we spent on items like our invitations it makes me a little sick. At the time, setting the tone felt important.

If I could go back, I’d do so many things differently.

But not everything.

I’d still marry Tim. I’d marry him over and over again regardless of what freaking paper we used to invite our guests. I’d marry him with different flowers, the cheaper chairs, and the other tablecloths. I’d even marry him with without the band and the passed hors d’oeuvres. And if I had to, I’d marry him without the fancy dress or open bar. (Thankfully, I don’t have to.)

Our wedding lasted a few (fabulous) hours. Our marriage has been every day since. It’s been great days and stressful days. It’s been sickness (man colds) and health. It’s been joyful moments and moments when everything felt wrong. It’s been a million and one different moments but one thing has never changed: Tim has been by my side and I his.

Our future stretching before us is unknown and uncertain. As much as we like to think we’re in control, we really have little power over what is going to happen to us in the days and years to come. Tragedy or dumb luck can strike at any time. One thing I can control is my half of my marriage. Each day I choose my words and actions, how to be a wife and partner. I don’t always choose wisely. Luckily, Tim chose to marry an imperfect creature so he knew what he was getting into. Imperfections notwithstanding, each day I choose Tim. Again and again.

Eleven years later I can’t remember which tablecloth I ended up with and I couldn’t name my flowers if my life depended on it. I’m certain that my wedding guests can’t remember what they ate or what my invitations looked like. And none of that matters. My husband was right.* The wedding is just one day. The marriage is forever.

*I will neither confirm nor deny if he’s been right about anything else since.

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