Sometimes I think my husband is an-honest-to-God-Prince-Charming, a gift sent straight from God to help me see everything real and beautiful in the world, someone to teach me about love, selflessness, and true happiness by giving me the best of himself, along with a life I wasn’t even capable of dreaming until I knew him. A life that includes things like the perfect miracles that are our children and the peace that comes from all of us just being together in our home.
Other times, I’m sure he’s a maniacal genius who picked me as the victim in his evil scheme, which was to waylay my life plan, disrupt my dreams, ruin my body, and crush my spirit by saddling me with the unfathomable responsibilities of wife-dome and motherhood.
Evil genius charmed me out the best years of my life, years when I could have been totally selfish and free, traveling the world, writing the next Great American Novel, and fitting into my skinny pants without fail. And now that he’s successfully implemented the ‘trick and trap’ wave of his plan, he’ll spend the rest of his life watching, happy and satisfied, as the last shreds of my youth and vigor fall away, as I struggle and perpetually fail at being an ideal wife and mother, as I desperately slather myself with firming lotions and wrinkle creams and leg lift myself into oblivion, knowing there’s no way I can escape. Not him. Not the kids. Not the endless, drowning waves of laundry and trash and dishes they leave behind.
Why can’t I escape?
Because 1) now he and the kids are like air to me, requisite for basic survival and 2) no woman with any semblance of a soul who’s experienced the pure moments of joy that come from family could ever leave them to pursue selfish vanities and false-happiness. At least not without hating herself and being looked down upon by society.
I’m convinced he leaves his gigantic shoes strategically lying around in the hopes I’ll fall and injure myself, or, at the very least, trip and spill something. He does this because he can’t outright hit me when I smart off or prove him wrong.
This man successfully runs a substantial business, but he can’t seem turn lights off, re-seal food containers from which he’s eaten, close cupboard doors, or put his laundry INTO the basket. For the sake of our marriage, I long ago gave up on getting anything turned right side out.
I think he honestly believes a house fairy clears dishes from his nightstand every day and refills the toilet paper in all the bathrooms. He’s never home from work when he says he’s going to be. He orders way too much stuff off of infomercials he never uses and I know, I KNOW, he deliberately takes at least twice as long as necessary to mow the lawn just so he can listen to music and avoid helping with dinner and bath time.
Yeah, I see him out there with his dodgy glances, weed-eating the same three-foot stretch of fence line over and over.
No matter where he is or what he’s doing, if I have a particularly rough time with the kids, I curse him because it’s his fault I’ve got these kids in the first place. And how much easier and calmer would my life be if I wasn’t re-clipping chip bags, hauling around his laundry, and perpetually feeding kids and wiping rear ends?
Oh. But then I remember I forgot to pick up his dry cleaning for the 6th day in a row and tomorrow he’ll have to go bare-chested under his suit jacket to work.
Then I remember his shirts go to the cleaners because I refuse to iron them.
And that I laugh and eat like a hyena most of the time. And my feet are hideous, seriously, like an elephant’s. And I don’t shave nearly as often as I should. And sometimes I choose to bitch about one little thing instead of being happy about 20 big things. And, when he’s not here, even though it’s still somehow his fault our 4-year-old commandeered a motorized cart at Target, he’s working to support our family, a burden he takes on mostly by himself so I can be with our children, which, now that I think about it, is one of the greatest blessings in my life and not really the torment I act like it is sometimes. He works hard and makes our life easier.
Our life. That we’ve built together. I may not have world travels or the Great American Novel, but I have a partner and friend who absolutely supports whatever makes me happy. His only two requests are that we’re able to pay our bills and the kids get optimum care and attention in some suitable manner. Everything else, totally up to me. Work or don’t work. Write or don’t write. Sure, buy those shoes. Sure, paint the laundry room. Sure, go visit your friends. Occasionally he asks me to pick up his dry cleaning.
I honestly never considered getting married until I met him. He was a game changer. But on the ‘evil genius days’ there are moments when I can’t remember what made me want to get married. I think back and try to pin point just how exactly he tricked me into all this.
Usually it takes about .01 seconds to remember. I love him, a lot, and I married him because he made everything in my life better and he still does. He’s by far the better half of this partnership and I have to work hard to even deserve him.
Yes, there are moments when I contemplate ways to murder him, painful ways, but I think that’s normal, and I agree with the wise and hilarious Chris Rock who points out if you’ve never honestly considered killing someone, you’re not really in love with them.
I see now I didn’t know a thing about marriage when I got married. We were SO young it’s a bit of a miracle everything has worked out as well as it has (so far, we’re just at the decade mark) I feel like we’re off to a good start. We’re having fun and learning as we go.
I’m not naive enough to think things will always be so easy. Who knows what else life has in store for us? But I do know we’re stronger together and I run to him for balance and calm and sense when things start unravel, and I know all the little stuff that makes me NUTS means nothing in the grand scheme of things.
I’ve been married long enough to see if you let it, a good marriage will change you for the better and there’s a sweet kind of relief that comes from putting someone else first. I believe if you put in the work and choose to be happy about the good stuff and stick out the bad, and you have a partner who’s willing to match you step for step, the reward is a kind of rare and pure love that can only be earned.
My great-granny died earlier this year. She was 100 years old and she lived on her own, independent and sharp as a tack until the very end. She’d been a widow since 1978. By the time she died, she’d been a widow longer than she was married. The last time I visited her we talked about old times and the family and my great-grandpa, her late husband. She got real quiet and stared out the window for a while. Then she looked over and said, “You know, Glen was the only boy I ever cared for.”
Back in the day, she was a pretty good singer and musician. She skipped out on a big audition at a radio station to run off and marry my grandpa. I asked if she ever wondered what might have happened if she would have gone to the audition instead and she just looked at me like I was crazy.
Anyone who knew him will tell you he wasn’t perfect, but she loved and missed him right up to the day she died.
So, is my husband prince charming or an evil genius determined to ruin my life and make wretched my destiny? I still don’t know. I think it depends on the day. Maybe he’s a little of both.
What I do know is we’re two imperfect people, marriage is a never-ending work in progress, and my life is infinitely better with him in it.
At least most of the time.