According to Trish

not worth reading since 2009

I’m back!

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.

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6 responses to “I’m back!”

  1. Mckerr Avatar

    You are a deep well of insightfulness, dearest, as always. Just an add-on note, seeing that today’s post is falling into the marital advice column – some people, for whatever reasons, are going to have those times when “2. We’re not having sex” is mostly a matter of circumstances: conflicting schedules, long-term houseguests, illness, crushing chore lists, near-mental-breakdown caused by a day with a child who appears to have been raised by wolves, whatever. Shit happens. During those dry spells, though, it can help to remind your beloved that you’re still thinking about ravishing him/her, even though there’s not a blessed thing you can do about it. At least say it if you can’t do it. It’s better than allowing your partner to exist under the false notion that you’re not interested (unless of course, you really aren’t interested, which is another matter entirely…)

    That said — if said dry spells are dragging on for a month, two months…. then it’s not circumstances, it’s excuses, and it’s time to double-down on the above homework. Now excuse while I go lock the damn bathroom door so that I can attend to the aforementioned personal groundskeeping. Now, where do I leave those hedgetrimmers…?

  2. Mckerr Avatar

    I, on the other hand, am a deep well of typos.

  3. flaherty1013 Avatar

    Interesting thoughts. I too prefer early morning, I find that my head is most clear then, and I am capable of putting together thoughts that later in the day, after work and school and making dinner and doing laundry and setting up play dates (well you get the picture) that would otherwise escape me.

    A couple of Wharton students, while doing some economics research, stumbled upon an unexpected finding: women are bitches. That’s right, we’re unhappy, miserable, anxious bitches who want the world to know it! They coined their findings The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.

    I won’t go into too many details (you could probably write this report if you are said female) but an interesting finding I took from this report is that while female happiness is decreasing…male happiness is on the rise. Because they aren’t sole providers anymore. Because more women are working outside the house and the household income has increased (not in my house but different story). Because they can now share the burden.

    Women, on the other hand, shoulder it all. Work. Family. Vacation planning. Grocery shopping. Sick days. Gum in the carpet. You think of a scenario and then think of the first person you ask for help – it’s mom, never dad.

    So yes, your homework assignment is perfect. Make your marriage work. Talk. Open up about what you want. Expect your spouse to be your partner, not just a burden. If you want your spouse, if you love your spouse, find a way to make it work. Otherwise, you may end up another statistic. And where’s the fun in that?

  4. presocratic Avatar

    Great points as always Trish! I think one huge problem is this assumption that only one partner is supposed to be the primary caretaker. There is no reason both parents cannot do it. FMLA applies to both parents and there are opportunities for each to be equally involved. Even in cases where one parent stays home and another works more hours, there are always opportunities to be involved. No one should ever make excuses that they cannot be the primary caretaker when they have the time to do so just because they are one sex and not the other. And this can be the beginning of a breakdown, since marriage is a partnership and one partner is already demonstrating a lack of willingness to hold up his/her end of the partnership.

  5. Caveman6200 Avatar

    Excellent blog post, as usual. You’ve touched on a subject that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, which is, how do a man and a woman make a marriage work?

    Supposedly, the most important thing is shared values. You value the same things, and then things fall into line. But I think things go way deeper, which is this: Our American culture is sending terrible messages to both women and men that fly in the face of evolutionary psychology. Many of the values being promoted simply don’t work in the real world.

    There is the way we think things “ought to be,” and then there are the way things are. That’s the problem. People are mixing up their “oughts” with “is”.

    The biggest lie to women is “You can do it all or you can have it all.” Some women give it a great shot, and some do well. Most women simply can’t have it all, just as men can’t. At least as boys we’re told that upfront.

    Another issue is women today seem to not have a clue how to treat men and are dishonest about what they want. Men may say a lot of things, but for most men, what we want is a helpmate, sex, food and not to be given too much shit. Pretty simple. More important, it’s consistent.

    Women on the other hand have a series of messages ingrained into them that make it difficult, if not impossible, for a contemporary man to please them. They say they want an enlightened male who will help out around the house, but really, they want a caveman who will ward off wolves, make fire, bring home fresh prey, shake pointy sticks at enemies, and shag them silly on the skins of wild beasts. I’ve never seen a man do enough housework to get a woman so turned on that she just HAD to have him right there on the freshly vacuumed floor.

    Commence the hissing and spitting …

  6. flaherty1013 Avatar

    Caveman6200 – I can honestly report, and I don’t think I’m alone here, that I’ve never wanted to be shagged silly on the skin of wild beast. But nice try!

    I think the issue of couse is the standards by which men and women are held. What are the standards men are help to: muscles, working a manly job (includes things like accountanting but not nursing), mowing the lawn, tight ass.

    What are the standards that women are held to: everything else. This includes a clean home (even if the man is cleaning it, the woman is blamed if its not up to par), a discernable waist line after the birth of one or more children, bringing in a pay check, cooking, cleaning, laundry, christmas shopping, child care, taking out the trash, gray hair removal, cute shoes, boobs that still have a friendly relationship with gravity, sex kitten, tight ass (at least we share something!).

    The comment above is correct: women were sold a lie. We should be able to do it all, right? Nope, not even close. And we feel like horrific failures if we don’t.

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