Everyone’s a Jerk Sometimes

The Man is definitely not an auditory learner. I’ve learned this the hard way a few times lately. In the latest instance, he wanted to order a septic system doohickey for work, but doesn’t have a functioning laptop, and asked me to look up the item in question. After doing so, and me reading stuff I didn’t completely understand from the screen, he said, “Order it!” excited that he could maybe create a few more job opportunities using this doohickey.

When the doohickey came on Saturday, he was amazed at the size. “Well, you did order the 100 foot version,” I said. “I didn’t want that one. I wanted the 50 foot version,” he said. I thought, “What? I read you what was on the screen! What didn’t you understand about it being 100 feet long?” but I said, “Well, we can return it if you want. It would cost us about nine dollars to ship it back.”

“Let me think about it,” he said.

This morning, he threw the box away and attempted to use it at work. He called me and said, “They sent the wrong thing! This thing is a different type of doohickey than I needed!” (paraphrased)

I said, “But it says right here in the description that it is supposed to work with your other doohickey.”

He said, “Well, it’s not the right thing, and I have to buy this other thing which costs $37 and we just need to send it back.” He was clearly frustrated and quickly got off the phone with me (we usually say “I love you” and when he doesn’t, I know he’s ticked off, usually at me).

And I thought, “Well, that was kind of jerky. It’s not my fault you didn’t pay attention and the doohickey isn’t what you thought it was.” My feelings were a bit hurt. And then I remembered back to this weekend when I snapped at him when I couldn’t locate my debit card and he said, “You lost your card?” Ooh, I let loose a little on that one (the card was just in the wrong pocket in my purse, but caused an overabundance of anxiety for about an hour).

I apologized later for snapping, just as he will apologize later for “being a little short” with me. We’re all a little jerky sometimes. You can’t expect your partner to have a perfect record in the emotional management department, especially when you are a little shy of perfect yourself. As long as apologies are forthcoming, and there was no intent to harm, I think you’re doing quite well. You’re doing even better if you can recognize what’s going on and make a mental note to work on that emotional management stuff.

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Remarried Life

The Man and I celebrate three years married today, and I feel so much more competent at being married than I ever have. It really helps to have married the right person. I think the perspective from being married previously (to the hopelessly wrong person) helps, as well.

From the beginning with The Man, I saw us as a team. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, she reveals that marriage in the early years of western civilization was actually an act of civil disobedience against the all-powerful church (who preferred that individuals be married only to God), and became an “us against the world” partnership.

This coincides nicely with the advice I picked up somewhere that suggests you should never speak ill of your spouse to others. It’s all too easy to complain to friends and family when you feel like your spouse is being unfair or overreacting to something you did, but I have really tried to hold my tongue and keep any issues we may have with each other where they belong, between the two of us.

Here are a few other perspectives I have picked up along the way:

  1. The “never go to bed angry” line is nonsense. You don’t have any control over your emotions and how long you will feel the way you feel. You don’t look at the clock and say, “Oh, it’s 9 o’clock so I need to stop being miffed now.” But do go to bed together. It means that you are still in this thing together, even if you aren’t agreeing right now.
  2. Try not to let the little things drive you crazy. There are times when I fantasize about big heavy cast iron pans when the snoring has gone past its usual 20 minutes, and the TV is still on and he’s asleep. But there will come a day when there won’t be any snoring and no TV to keep me awake, and I’d much prefer to have him there next to me, even if earplugs are required.
  3. Show it don’t say it. Those three little words lose their meaning when repeated so often. Offering to do the dishes when he’s tired, not pointing out that he’s complaining too much, and letting him listen to Conway Twitty on the car radio go much further, sometimes.
  4. Being right is overrated. I come from know-it-all stock. I used to wield my intelligence like a cudgel, at times. Now I know that it’s ok to let my husband think he’s right about the mouth-being-a-very-clean-place-actually-because-he-heard-a-story-about-it-on-NPR.

The Man was nervous about getting married. His first experience wasn’t such a good one, either. But he knew it was important to me, and so he proposed. After about a year of marriage, he told me he was a convert – he hadn’t realized it could be so good. I hadn’t either, but I believed in us, in our team of two.

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Benefits of Being Married to an Older Man

The Man turns another year older today.  Last week, he commented, “I’ll be able to collect social security in another 4 years, and you have to wait another 20 plus!” I almost threw the pillow at him.  But this is a rare occurrence when our age difference really comes up. OK, it also comes up when we tend to settle on the 70s XM radio station in the car… but besides that. 😉

We’re almost two years married, and past five years together, and the age difference just hasn’t been a big deal like he thought it might be in the beginning.  Sure it’s irritating when he gets mistaken for my dad, but I think it’s happened maybe three times in those five years.  Like I told him, that won’t happen for too much longer, because men like him seem to stay the same age, almost impossible for a woman.

Mine is young at heart.  He doesn’t act his age, by any means, and anyone who knows him will attest to that.  And although his body has begun to give inklings of not being what it once was (i.e. after a day of hard, laborious work, he may complain that he isn’t 25 anymore…  Nope, you’re not even 52 anymore!), he still runs around with the neighborhood kids, still has wrestling matches on the futon cushion with The Boy, and still surfs for hours on end in the summer.  We just hiked the dunes at the state park this morning!

Mine knows himself quite well.  He knows how stubborn and pig-headed he can be, and is quick to apologize for it.  He knows his “triggers” and can give me a heads up if the kitchen counter is getting too cluttered for him before it becomes an issue.  He can read me like a book, too, and knows before I even say anything that I’m upset.  Having experience in relationships can be a good thing, if he’s learned his lessons well.

Mine is responsible.  I don’t need to worry about him going off half-cocked on someone because he’s angry.  I don’t need to worry about bills going unpaid, or cars being repossessed. I know that when he tells me something, it’s the truth.  I know that for the first time in a long time, he feels responsible for me and The Boy, too, and that he enjoys that responsibility.

Mine likes to teach me things.  It can be irritating, living with someone who is almost always right.  But he is, and that just leads me to trust his judgement.  He also likes to teach me stuff, and I like to learn, so it’s a win-win.

Mine is experienced.  My mom reads this blog, so I won’t go into this too much, but trust me.  It’s worth considering an older man just for that.  Yes, indeed.

Mine knows how rarely you get a second chance.  He’s careful with me because he knows how wrong it can get.  He knows how lucky we are to have found each other and to be such a good fit.  When you spend a long time being alone, you don’t say things that can’t be unsaid, and you don’t do things that can’t be undone.  You cherish the ones you love.

He makes me a better person, and I can only hope I have the same effect on him.  There were so many reasons it shouldn’t work between us, with the difference in our ages being one that seemed a big deal five years ago.  But we were younger and less experienced then.  We’re older and wiser now. 😉  Happy Birthday to my one and only Man!

Sex Ed for Sale

Before break, 7th graders at The Boy’s school had a week-long sex ed program.  A couple of days in advance, an opt-out form was sent home that also explained where materials could be viewed (in the library, something like the following day in the middle of the day – very realistic for working parents, but I digress). I have never opted out of these programs for The Boy in the past because I feel it’s important, and I want him to have access to the same curriculum as his peers.

About the second day of the week, I noticed that the “workbook” for the program was in The Boy’s backpack and thought I would sit down and see what was in it.

The first page I had a problem with claimed that condoms were ineffective against STDs, and that only abstinence would ensure that you would not get an STD.  Half right, in my estimation.  I went to the CDC website to fact-check the information on the page, and actually found that this workbook page contained some inaccurate statements.

Concerned, I continued to read the workbook.  And then I came to this page:

gender

Ah, boys are logical and girls are sensitive.  Boys deal in facts, and girls deal in feelings.  All couched in “sometimes” and “generally” which are the equivalent to “no offense but…”.

Nope.  Not acceptable.  Not even “generally”.  And then, I found this:

marriage?

Check out Attitude #6.  Because if you don’t want to get married, there’s something wrong with you.

What in the world is this crap they are teaching the 7th graders in my county? I googled the name of the group that put the curriculum together.  It’s actually a women’s pregnancy clinic that maintains an anti-abortion stance, and sells this curriculum to school districts.  A pregnancy clinic that doesn’t even know the facts about STDs and condoms.

I emailed the principal, knowing that this curriculum was probably selected by a committee, and was approved and paid for by the school board.  I asked her who I might contact with concerns about the program.  She took several days to email back, and even then only said that one of the counselors would be contacting me about my concern.

At least a week and a half went by before a school counselor called me and referred me to… drumroll, please… the pregnancy clinic that published the curriculum.

That would be like referring a library patron with concerns about pornography in the library to Larry Flynt.

I will be pursuing this with central office.  I will attend board meetings if I have to.  This curriculum is insanely out of date, and presents opinion as fact, which is a very slippery slope.  I just wish I had had better access to this in advance, and I wish the school had handled my concerns more appropriately.  I’m extremely disappointed with their response.

Sometimes You Just Need a Walk

So much has been new and different since our move to the South.  Right now I am dealing with a job that I used to love turning into a job that I absolutely dread going to each morning.  Suffice it to say that I am experiencing things at work that I have never encountered at a place of business, and it is mind-boggling the amount of drama, backbiting, and just plain nonsense that occurs daily.

So I have begun the job search again, and because I am who I am, I am often preoccupied with thoughts about either my job, or the desperation to get away from it way too much.  It’s soul-crushing sometimes – I turned to The Man at one point today and said, “There were a lot of things I didn’t like anymore about teaching when I left, but at least I was respected.”

This is when I am so, so thankful to have The Man in my life.  I tend to obsess about my worries, and I let them overtake me physically.  I tend to be sedentary anyway, much more so since I took my current job, and when I am stressed, my first instinct is to curl up into a ball and shut the world out, thinking, thinking, and over-thinking the problem.  The Man, however, will not let me do this.  And it makes me cranky sometimes.  “No, I do NOT want to go for a walk right now,” I think as I sulkily get my shoes on and follow him out the door.

But it helps.

It helps to be outside, with my boys, looking at the houses in the neighborhood, dreaming about what our next one will look like, making jokes, feeling the warm air, and enjoying the sunshine.  Enjoying real life, as opposed to stewing in the what-ifs.

I can rely on him to dose me with the perspective that I need to get over the toxic thought cycle.  And I’m so thankful.

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Equality and Divorce

In the state where I was married (and divorced) before, in any marriage lasting 10 years or longer, spouses are automatically granted half of their former spouses retirement, no questions asked.  Therefore, even though the ex was college educated and quite capable of getting and maintaining his own job with a retirement plan, but chose not to, he is entitled to half of my retirement.

For the same reason that I disagree with “no tolerance” policies in public education, as well as all-or-nothing inclusion policies, I find this law completely without merit.

I understand the reasoning behind its inception: it was designed to protect housewives of yesteryear who were often left with no way to support themselves financially after a divorce, having given up any career options they may have had to stay home and raise the children or what have you.  I applaud the thought behind it, and I’m sure it did a lot to even out the playing field in years past.

But now that it benefits someone like the ex, who chose a seasonal, menial job over a salaried position using his degree in graphic design, and chose to take unemployment all winter rather than find a different type of job for those months, who chose to use that time at home smoking pot and doing very little of anything else that might contribute to the running of the household, now this law has jumped the shark.  It has ceased protecting the people it was designed to help, and instead is benefiting those who clearly do not deserve the benefit.

One of the newspapers posted a story about dads fighting back in the court system in regards to custody and child support, and me with my big mouth decided to comment in the comments on the facebook link that it would be great if they could also review that archaic law that decides that 10 years of marriage means you deserve half of someone’s retirement, and guess what?  Yup.  Just about every misogynist on the internet responded back to me.  That we women wanted equality, and now we have it so just suck it up and “pay up Buttercup.”

Bleh.

Never once did I bash men in my comment.  I asked for a review of the arbitrary law, and declared that I would like a more thoughtful approach to the division of assets.  But in response, several men decided that I was the source of their misfortune in life, and that I should pay for the wrongdoings of every woman who had ever wronged them.  Nevermind that a review like the kind for which I advocate could and obviously would benefit at least some men, including these men who have been so wronged by some apparently evil women.  Nope, that didn’t matter.  All that mattered is that I was a woman, women have asked for equality, and now that “we have it” I should shut up.

We still have a long way to go, ladies, if men are against any of our ideas, even if it would benefit them, just because a woman has voiced them.  A long way to go…

 

Judgement Not Welcome Here

512px-WGHardingRecently, I posted about a couple of my friends whose marriages have faltered.  Then I was notified about a couple of comments on the post, comments that were rather judgemental of my friends.  I know this person who commented may not realize how preachy her comments sounded, but they were unwarranted, and rather unwelcome.

Those of you who have gone through divorce can probably guess what they said, verbatim, because it’s just what a person in their situation does not need to hear.  The I-hope-you’ve-really-thought-about-this, and you-have-no-idea-how-this-is-going-to-impact-your-kids kind of crap that I heard, too.

First of all, there are enough single-parent households out there nowadays to prove that the world doesn’t end with a divorce.  Plenty of kids not only survive but thrive in a single-parent household.  This notion that a home without two parents is somehow “broken” is positively ludicrous, and needs to be sent packing, back to the Victorian age from whence it came.  My son has thrived since the ex left our home.  The idea that “staying in it for the kids” is better somehow, as if children aren’t negatively impacted by two parents who fight constantly, don’t ever speak to each other, do not show any sign of affection to each other, or contribute to an ever-present tension in the house is just plain wrong.

Second, I dare say that the great majority of people who decide on divorce did not make the decision lightly.  If you think that’s the case, you’ve been watching too much “reality” TV.  Divorce is a heart-rending, soul-breaking decision to make.  And there is enough hurt, guilt and anger in that decision already without having to also be judged by society at large.

Third, just like the old saying, “If you’ve met one kid with autism, you’ve met one kid with autism,” no two marriages are alike.  No one knows what goes on inside of a marriage except for the two people in it.  They may be over-sharers, but the outsiders are only getting one side of the story, and therefore no one really knows.  When I got divorced, my ex mother-in-law actually sent me a letter saying that they “never saw it coming.”  A perfect example, as the ex and I had both been miserable for the previous six years.  The two friends I wrote about?  I never claimed to know what caused either breakup, because I don’t know.  I even said that I didn’t think the autism, either father’s undiagnosed nor the son’s caused it, although dealing with autism in the household can strain any marriage.  My friend has never once said anything about it, and is not using it for “justification” of anything.

So why don’t we listen to the old advice, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it?”  Why do people insist on getting behind a keyboard to say things to people they would never say in real life?

Judging someone for their divorce is a big no-no in my book.  It makes one look small, and your unwanted “advice” only hurts.  I choose instead to support people whom I trust to make smart decisions and weigh all their options.  Being a parent to a child with autism has taught me that life is hard enough without having to worry about how others will judge you.  You lose nothing by supporting others in their personal struggles.

Last Day: Looking Back

I think it’s only normal for people to look back before starting something new, and New Year’s Eve is a logical opportunity to do so.  It’s also important.  One of the things teachers benefit most from but rarely have time to do is reflect on their daily teaching to analyze what worked and what needs to be tweaked.  True in non-teacher lives, as well, I know.  At the end of the day, thinking back on what was positive, and what we could have handled better helps us learn from our mistakes, and decreases the likelihood that we will repeat them.

This year, I moved house in a major way, got married, left my career, battled for better schooling for my son, wrote a novel, and got a new job which I love.  I’ve left old friends behind (but never forgotten), and made new friends.  My life has improved, sometimes by sheer will.  I compromise more (a new husband and a blended family make this absolutely necessary), I don’t get nearly as many headaches, I relax (fully) more.

At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t see past June.  It was a complete unknown – What would I be doing?  What would my son be doing?  How would our lives change?  Now that I am six months past that point of all that was unknown, I am proud of us for taking this leap, trusting ourselves to get re-married, trusting that we could find a good school situation for The Boy, and trusting that I would land on my feet with a job I didn’t hate, making enough to pay the bills.  I am very proud of us.  It was a big leap of faith, and it has turned out beautifully.

2013 has been a year of great change, of great opportunity, of great hope, and of great reward for me (and us).  I hope it treated you just as well.  I look forward to 2014 with great anticipation for continued growth for all of us.

Happy Old Year, Friends.  And Happy New Year.

English: This came from New Years Eve 2004 int...

Newlywed Report: I Like This

After I got divorced, I swore I would never get married again, and mostly because I had such a horrendous financial mess on my hands, but also because I had been so miserable for so long.  I felt and still feel that people should not have to live miserable lives if they don’t have to.

Even as The Man and I progressed in our relationship to the point of thinking about marriage, I was still nervous.  Did I want to make that kind of commitment again?  Did I want to subject my son to a relationship that could possibly fail?

UsAnd then I came to the realization that all relationships have that potential.  They also have the potential to enrich our lives, help us grow as people, and give us the support to make us the best we can be.  I had never experienced that myself, but I knew the potential was there, and I also knew that I had never ever felt about anybody the way I felt (and still feel) about The Man.

We’re coming up on being married for five months, and in that time, we have joined households, developed routines, and purposely chosen to spend time together when other options were available.  We even work together on occasion.  And you know what?  We work well together.  Yes we have disagreements, and momentary lapses of bitchiness (on both parts), but we never get to the point of purposefully hurting the other person because that is the absolute last thing either of us would want to do.  And 99.9% of the time, we are enjoying each other’s company.

I just got off the phone with The Man.  It was just a random mid-day phone call to tell me what his plans were for the afternoon, and we talked for awhile about this, that and everything.  He said, “You know, I like being married.  I thought it would be bad, and I had bragged for so long about remaining single, and some of the married people I talked to seemed so envious.  But I really like it.  Plus, I have a good woman.  And she’s not bad to look at either,” he concluded.

I think I’ll keep him.  ❤

The Man, a Cargo Van, and IKEA

The Man and I are traveling this week.  Just an overnighter to help a friend’s daughter move from her parents’ house to a deluxe apartment in the sky in a big city about six hours away from us.  We’ll be traveling by cargo van, and staying in a moderately priced hotel, with a quick trip to IKEA the following morning, and hopefully returning home with a new couch.

I know, luxurious, right?

It’s no honeymoon, but I know we’ll still have a good time.  We like spending time together, even while working or doing menial tasks, and he actually loves to drive.  I can’t wait to hit IKEA, one of the things I miss most about living up north.  When the closest one is six hours away, you appreciate it so much more.

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And I can’t wait to have a couch!  We’ve been sitting in chairs every evening, and even though The Man loves his recliner, I’m ready to relax, and stretch out.

We’ll mix a little work with a little fun, and my parents will stay with The Boy – a little changeup to our routine.  Enough to make it interesting, but not too much to throw us off.  This is the life.  🙂