Shh. It’s early. I have sneaked (snuck?) downstairs to have a little rendezvous with you before the kidsters are awake. I inadvertently made coffee the consistency of pancake syrup but I’m just going to suck down that nasty bidness anyway so my brain can wake up. And then you and I can have our special time together.
Because I have missed you.
Let me just get my excuses for not writing out of the way so we can move on to more interesting things: moving, doubling my job, kids underfoot, little bit o’ family travel and some grownup-style socializing here and there (momma must get out, after all) have all teamed up and roundly kicked my roundly ass. As a result, my body is no longer accepting the synthetic sleep serum that I’ve been offering it (caffeine) and is instead insisting on the real deal. But sleep is like organic fruit — I know why it’s better for me but it’s so darn expensive sometimes.
It’s before 5:30 AM as a I write this. I’ve become quite fond of this time of day over the last 7 years since I’ve become a mother — not because I love getting up early but because the wee AM hours are often the only time I can grab to work or to write. And I’d like to make a little report to those of you who aren’t up at this time: It’s getting pretty sweet out there right now. That’s because it’s still dark. I love the summertime as much as anyone but the delicate slide into fall gets me every year. It’s so impossibly gentle yet so powerful, like the small of a woman’s back. I just want to grab a seat on a hillside somewhere and not get up until it’s November.
So enough of that. I know that’s not why you come here. You want to find out what’s going on in the life of single-momma Trish — and I suspect that you don’t want to hear about the dishes that need done or how fast the kids are growing. You want the good stuff. You want to know if I’ve gotten over that shy thing yet (nope — but working on it), if I’ve started hiking my boobs up to my chin in order to attract a little attention from the male-creatures in the tribe (not quite to my chin) and if I’ve managed to entice one of those man beasts to press his lips delicately or not-so-delicately against mine (not telling, bitches).
And it makes me laugh that you all want to know about that. But I get it. Because while so many of you have expressed your concern, your sympathy and your support during this time, you’ve also expressed another thing: jealousy.
Not that anyone wants to get divorced. But I think the prospect of a little freedom is tantalizing to a lot of you married types. The thought of getting “out there” again, knowing all that you know now … oh, the things you’d do.
And there’s another interesting thing going on with all of you since I dropped the D-word. Let me explain: When I was in college, I had a delightful friend who couldn’t keep it in her pants. (Yo girl! Holla!) This was no secret, first of all because we lived in a dorm and second of all because she was quite generous in sharing tales of exactly who was or was not circumcised. And she was/is a screamingly hilarious chick. (No, I’m not talking about myself.) And, as often happens on co-ed college campuses in our great nation, there was a lot sex going on — much of it of the guilty variety. You know, girls sleeping with people they later regretted or sleeping with guys to land a boyfriend (which rarely works), people neglecting to use proper protection, classmates adding new and exciting levels of kink to their sexual dance cards … you get the idea. As it became known that my hilarious friend was pretty open about her exploits, people started talking to her about theirs. I guess it was like no matter what you (I mean they) had done, you could go confess to so-and-so because she always had a story that would top yours. There was that reassurance of thinking that what you’d done wasn’t so very bad after all.
Since I’ve come clean about the divorce, I sort of feel like that girl in that I’ve slept with everyone in my dorm (kidding). But now that I’m out there with the failed marriage thing, and been open to certain point, I find that people want to tell me their stories about their marriage woes. And I want to hear them. Not because I get off on hearing about people’s problems, but because I’m interested and I care. (Because I looooves you!)
I also suspect that people want to tell me about their marriages as a point of comparison. They want to know if they’re having normal marriage trouble or if they’re having big, scary trouble that will eventually be their undoing. It’s like talking to a cancer patient who started out only having flu symptoms — and maybe you’ve been having flu symptoms, too. You want to know how to tell the difference between a minor bug and a potentially fatal condition and you’re wondering if the cancer patient has any insight.
Now let me pause right here to say that if you have shared your story with me, please know that it is safely tucked inside my head and I have no intention of hauling it out for the world to see. If you read something here that sounds like you, please know that someone else or several someone elses have told me similar stories. Because many of the stories I’ve heard are strikingly similar.
The fact is, marriage can be a lonely place. Even if you’re married to your best friend. Even if you wouldn’t change partners for the world. Even if you’re still attracted to the person on the other end of that ball and chain. Why is that? Is it because we stand there in front of the whole world and go, “See this plate of spaghetti? I love it. I love spaghetti and this plate of spaghetti in particular is so intricately delicious that I pledge, for the rest of my life, that this is the only food I will ever eat again! Come visit me in 50 years and I’ll be sitting right here, still chowing on this exact plate of spaghetti! When I’m on my death bed and they ask me what I want for my last meal, I’ll say it loud and proud, ‘Bring me my spaghetti!’”
But come on. It’s a tall order. That’s not saying that I don’t believe in marriage, because I think there can be a lot of fantastic things going on in the good ones. But I’m saying it’s really easy to get tired of doing the mental work to relate to that spaghetti anymore. And eventually it becomes easier to just skip some meals rather than go back to that same plate of food.
OK, I think my little metaphor is falling apart here. Let’s speak plainly, shall we? Here are the things that I’m hearing over and over:
1. My spouse doesn’t understand what I’m going through.
2. We’re not having sex.
Right now I’m imagining a bunch of you going, “Wha? You mean we’re not the only ones?” Nope. There’s a whole subculture going on here, people. I have heard this A LOT.
I wish that I could trot out some great advice for all of you celibate, lonely married people at this moment but honestly, I’m too busy trying to get laid. (Another joke.)
However, since I’m a chick I can offer just a wee bit of insight to the dudes out there. This probably won’t help any of you, but what the hell?
If you’re in the land of supposed domestic bliss, and especially if you have children, you need to help the fuck out. (Said with love. Lots of love.) I think some of you are great at this. I have seen this in action. But I’m talking this kind of help: Send your woman off for the day (or several days). Hold down the fort. Don’t be a whiney baby about it. Let her go off by herself or with some girlfriends and let her remember who she is. Because the mental load of motherhood is much more formidable than the list of tasks on her to-do list. Yeah, she wants to sit down and take a break, but she also wants to stop thinking about what everyone else needs and just think about herself for a bit. Let her remember that she’s funny and interesting and worthwhile for a bunch of reasons that have nothing to do with getting someone’s breakfast. Motherhood can be phenomenal in a million ways. But it can also be a big, fat identity crisis. When roughly 99.2% of your day belongs to the care and upkeep of other people, it’s pretty easy to not feel so sexy. Having the expectation of 0% privacy throughout the day doesn’t help, either. It’s hard to take the time to conduct all of that personal groundskeeping that women require when you have short little people peeping around the shower curtain.
On the reverse side, ladies, you need to take the time if he’s offering it. Go. Don’t look back. If he’s not offering it, comandeer it. Explain why you need it (which he may or may not get — doesn’t matter) but then GO.
And obviously, men want more sex. And if they’re getting plenty, chances are that they still probably want more. And then even more. I’m just guessing about this …
Sooo … the question is, how do we get this all humming along so that everyone is happy? I read something a while ago by John Gray (the Mars/Venus guy) that relationships are cyclical, in that woman need romance and intimacy in order to feel sexual and men need sex in order to feel intimate and romantic. The thing is that someone has to get this cycle started. So if you’re reading this, I challenge you to be the one. Consider it your homework assignment. BUT …. but, but, but … don’t expect an overnight miracle here. You have to work this program for a while, I think, before the cycle starts running on its own. I also just recently heard something from a wise person who said, “You wouldn’t go to the gym once and then go, ‘Well, nothing happened so I guess it didn’t work.’” Put in the time. (And yes, to answer the obvious question, I applied all of this to my own marriage. I’m not saying this system fixes everything but it’s an important starting point.)
Obviously, I’m no expert at any of this. However, I have a friend who I think is a good case study. She is the most contented person I know, in her life and in her marriage. Her husband really shares the load at home (they both work). They each let the other get away, guilt-free, pretty often. They’re getting busy a couple times a week — not always like rock stars, but still, there’s a frequency. I think they have some pretty spectacular fights here and there but they’re airing things out. Another key: I suspect that she feels pretty sexy — as she should because she’s a hot momma. So there’s something to be said for taking care of yourself (although between you and me, I doubt the bitch has ever had to work very hard on it). But even if you don’t have a rockin’ bod, it’s worth taking the time (yes, I understand time is hard to come by) to wear clothes that make you feel pretty and to go out get a good haircut, etc. Those things help. Because ultimately, neglecting yourself is neglecting your relationship. Ladies, speak up about this. Spell it out. Inform your man-beast that it takes work to look hot and sexy and to FEEL hot and sexy so you’ll be motivated to get him all hot and sexy.
And it’s now 9:00 in the morning and I’ve been writing all of this while getting breakfast for the munchkins and changing diapers and sitting in a lawn chair in the basement so I can keep an eye on them while they’re playing and now sitting on the sticky deck. If they only knew what their momma was up to. Enjoy this now, peeps. Someday they’ll be old enough to have Internet access and then I’m going to have to start writing about knitting patterns and how to make a great meatloaf.
Reminder: Do your homework. Report back.