Pop Quiz

This one’s for the guys. One question. Multiple choice. Girls, no hints. Here we go:

Your lady comes home after a long insane shift at her job. She starts talking, telling you not just about that particular day, but about all the frustrations that have been building around her at that place for the last several months, perhaps longer. She is obviously frustrated and venting. You want to help, so what do you say?

a) “You can look for a new job if you want.”
b) “You think that’s bad, let me remind you about what I deal with at my job every day…”
c) “Why don’t they just [insert suggestion of something beyond her control here]?”
d) “You should never say/do [whatever she said/did wrong], that’s just going to make it worse.”
e) “Wow, that really sucks.”

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Noting Says “I Love You…”

Like fresh brownies.

My hubby loves me. He’s the coolest. I’m going to spend some time with him now instead of hanging online because I worked all day, and now I’m home. And he’s right there. And did I mention there are brownies?

On a Sunny Day

The last few weeks have been rough. James has had one of those important visits from some important corporate person hanging over his head. It’s been postponed and postponed again. Which sometimes is fine in the short-term–like the days when he would have had to put in an extra several hours on top of a full shift, he ends up home in time for dinner–but as the weeks have dragged on, there are more days than not when we barely have time to communicate the very basics of household activities. Did the kid eat? Are the dishes clean? Do you need any pants washed?

Needless to say, we haven’t had much quality time together. Which leaves me feeling a little lonely. I’ve been missing a lot of my friends. I’ve been trying to do something that makes me feel better about our situation. That being, me waiting for James to have some time not only for me, but for himself. He had been doing very well with his physical fitness and determination to meet certain goals he’d set out for himself. Now, though, with all that’s happening at his store, it seems like we’ve landed back in purgatory. And here I am again, the disappointed optimist.

I’m trying to figure out what I can do to change our circumstances while James works. I applied for a job I probably don’t have a chance at getting. I am racking my brain to think of ways to cut the spending budget. The only income increase I can hope for is that I get some extra hours tossed my way soon. Or some freelance work comes in. I am feeling burdened and trapped. And I feel like the only one carrying the weight.

I have some ideas. But it’s not going to be easy. And I can’t do it alone.

The sun is shining. M rode his bike very well this morning and had fun, and James will be home for dinner. Maybe we can come up with some plans together.

Four Years

On Wednesday, James and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary by working opposite shifts. We didn’t see much of each other, but we exchanged sweet greeting cards and looked forward to a date on Friday.

It’s not an easy time in our lives. Which means that the marriage thing takes a bit of extra effort, too. But we’re in it together. Fighting our way back into the black, and it actually looks like we might even be making some headway. In the meantime, we were able to take an afternoon for the two of us, thanks to a friend coming over with her daughter to play with our boy for awhile. And we caught a movie and lunch. We even had the opportunity to talk to each other for awhile.

The extra working has been hard on us both. But when we do actually exchange a few words here and there, I’ve been feeling the value there a little more than I used to. The quality is still good, even if the quantity has lessened. Just another one of those reasons I love that guy. One of those reasons I married him.

Happy anniversary, James. There’s no one I’d rather have fighting by my side.

Love Languages and Antenna Television

I have been known to be one of those obnoxious people who pities the folks who have to take home relationship books from the library or anyone who shells out hard-earned cash for a title from the “self-help” section. I mean, looking for answers is fine, but I’ve seen a lot of what’s been published in this genre, and it looks a lot like the steaming piles that my neighbors let their dogs leave all over common property.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had a pretty stable and happy relationship for nine years. But it isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much your head knows when your heart begins to ache for something you can’t define. You might know what words need to be spoken or what actions to take, but you can’t always reconcile that with what you feel inside.

Marriage has mostly been easy for my husband and me. But over the last few months, we’ve had some extra strains and stresses come our way. These various events and occurrences, choices and lack of choices have had a significant impact on this relationship of ours. I never questioned that I loved or was loved, but I began to feel like something had gone missing between us somewhere along the way. So I brought home some “self-help” books from the library and spent some hard-earned money on a “relationship” book, and I read them. And I talked to my Christian moms’ group friends. And I talked to God. And eventually, James and I started to work together more. To talk to each other about things that mattered. And we learned, we made some difficult choices, and we are growing.

I read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. One of the moms I know had recommended it awhile ago, and since I couldn’t find it at the library, I bought it. I think it was worth it, because I learned more about what I need in order to feel loved by my husband. I think I always understood my own love language on some level, but when I started to feel more empty, I didn’t know how to pin it down with a definition that I could show to James without seeming like nagging, accusation or passive aggression.

My primary love language is quality time. It doesn’t matter what we do or talk about, just as long as we are doing something together or talking to each other without distraction.

I think this is why I was so optimistic about dropping our cable service. I knew that as long as we had “something to watch,” my quality time would be compromised. And because watching television was a way for my husband to unwind, to demand his focused attention seemed selfish after he worked so hard all day. I knew that this particular household decision would be hard on him, but he was also open to it and willing to give it a try.

Since I returned the box, almost two weeks ago now, our relationship has improved by leaps and bounds. I know that it is not all related to TV, but I really believe that it is having a huge impact.

Lonely, Lonely, Lonely

This is about another one of those rough patches in life. In marriage. In the bleak banality of day-to-day survival.

We returned the rental car on Monday, which makes us a one-vehicle family for a bit. Which is fine. No car payment=good. But it doesn’t do much for the one stuck without a car. Namely, me. Especially when it rains. I like to go places. Even if it’s just running errands. It gets both me and the little one out of the house, breaks up the day. Allows for a bit of adult interaction, even if only between me and the checker at Safeway.

James has been working long. Getting home little before bedtime. And last night, when I got home after my shift, and after M was finally asleep, we had a great dinner. At the table, even. His new found enthusiasm for food experimentation is something about which I will never complain. But after? He was so torn over what to watch, and we decided it would be best to watch the UFO show for whatever reason, while I just puttered around on-line, as I usually do when there’s nothing on but reruns or shows that aren’t really up my alley. So he turned on his show and promptly fell asleep on the couch.

He’s been up so early, working so hard all day, even going in for a couple hours on his day off, that I don’t blame him for being tired. For falling asleep around the same time as our son every night. But when we’re only home together for less than an hour awake, it leaves a little bit of something to be desired on my end.

I occupy myself on-line. I read blogs, browse Etsy shops and often find myself following various links on a subject in which I hadn’t gone on-line intending to get so involved. Suddenly, I look up, and the husband’s been snoring for hours and it’s rapidly creeping up on midnight.

The only thing I can do about this lonely feeling is to do something else. Because as much as I need some interaction from my spouse, I can’t always depend on him to read my mind (even though it has happened in the past). If we were interacting with each other rather than passively staring at our various magic story screens, he might not doze off so easily and I might not be left suddenly wondering where my night went.

As for my car-less days, I’ve been in homemaking mode. On Tuesday, I baked. I hauled out the 3-year-old KitchenAid that hadn’t seen much use at all over its three years in our household, and I mixed up a batch of oatmeal and oatmeal raisin cookies. And it was so easy that I might just have to do some of my own food experimentation. I’ll leave the dinners to James, but perhaps we won’t have to buy cookies every time we go to Costco. And I’m having visions of homemade loaves of bread coming into our cabinets soon, too. Sometimes, inspiration hits in an unexpected way. And if these things can be easy, like maybe keeping the KitchenAid handy will make it, it could be a very good thing, indeed.

I’ve also been organizing. A little bit here and there. The other day, I just went through one box. But today, I pulled everything out of the kitchen closet/pantry/laundry area, and put most of it back in there in an orderly fashion. there is so much more space than I thought there was. And I threw things away, set up a pile of things for the rummage sale, and only found two boxes and a tub that needs further inspection. In the two boxes and tub, there will probably be more trash and more rummage sale items, too. Hopefully only a small amount will need to be kept and stored. This is my mission, and even though the urge doesn’t wash over me daily, it’s coming more often now than it ever has in my pack-rat past, so I’ll take it, and someday down the road, life won’t be so cluttered anymore.

I do have to say, though, that M also gets lonely. Especially when his mommy’s in cleaning mode. I always give him my attention when he needs it, but sometimes not as immediately as we would both like. I am looking forward to our play group tomorrow. Even though it does take me away from an afternoon (awake!) with James, we will get out of the house and see friends.

I have a diaper party on Saturday, which will also be a fun couple hours. But James may be gone all day again, which makes the rest of the day’s hours just the same as they’ve been over the last couple weeks. So there’s that.

I’m not sure how to manage this. I’ve been trying one day at a time. I’m trying to do little things that will help with big picture future things. But it’s not enough. There are play dates and phone dates and check-ups and work shifts that break the week’s monotony somewhat, but where is my best friend in all this? my partner? my spouse? I miss him. And I feel like I don’t know what’s going on most of the time, or how temporary it is. I don’t have any idea when I can expect this stretch of single-feeling that I’m going through to end.

At least there’s a laughing toddler involved. The days go faster when M is having fun. And I feel better when he’s smiling up at me and telling me what’s on his mind, even if he’s not speaking much English.