Deal Breakers

When I got married I did so with the belief that that was it, it’s over, amen.  And we were going to live happily ever after of course.

Well, ten and a half years later we’re still kickin’ and that is an accomplishment in and of itself (although whether we’re kicking each other or kicking together against the world depends on the day) but it has required a lot of compromise and possibly even more of just letting things go.

Case in point: I hate Sean’s hair.  It’s not just that it’s long, I don’t mind a little extra length, but it’s way too long.  I think it makes him look like a guy who graduated from high school in the early 90’s and never really got over it.  (There may be some argument there that that’s exactly what he is, but that’s not who he is to me, and don’t I know him better than anyone?)  Regardless of the reason for the hair he likes it so he keeps it.  And what am I going to do?  Divorce him over it?  How stupid would that be?  And unless I’m really willing to go there I don’t see the point of taking some kind of a stand.

I have a friend who got a job somewhere int he pacific northwest (I don’t even remember where, we’re not that close.) So he packed up his young bride and they moved.  She wasn’t happy there.  About six months into it she came back to Utah to visit her mother.  And refused to leave.  That’s it, the end, she was not going back so if he wanted to be with her he’d better find a way to move back.  He did, but unsurprisingly, their marriage didn’t see the end of that year.  When one member of that union is willing to throw their weight around like that (or is willing to risk their marriage on getting what they want) it just can’t last long can it?

So what is a deal breaker?  I have some thoughts on this topic but I’m not going to go into it yet (because obviously, I would state my arguments so eloquently that you’d all just agree with me and then this couldn’t be a discussion) but I’d like to hear what you think.

Would you leave over hair length?  Over where you lived?  How about cheating?  Always or are there cases of cheating that you could work through?  Does cheating just mean sex?  How about a little making out?  Would you leave over his (or her) leaving the church (whatever church you belong to)?  Joining another church?  Drinking?  Social drinking when out with friends?  Drinking in your home?  Smoking? Socially?  At home?  Around the kids?

Where do you draw that line?  Do you even know?

Really, I’m interested.

Sean

I spent last weekend in Las Vegas with some fabulous gals having a fabulous time.  But I’m not going to blog about it.

But if you want to see pictures and hear about what we did and even more interestingly, what we said you can go here, here, here, here, or here.  (Mad and Shantae, I would totally have linked you but Mad, you didn’t really post about it and Shantae, well, you’re private (so private, in fact, that I don’t even have access.  Even after all we’ve shared… *sob*))

Instead I’m going to blog about my wonderful husband who turned 37 today.  I stole this meme from Bythelbs who did it for valentines and I kinda think I should hold it until our anniversary but I’m not good at waiting so I’m doing it now.

How long have you been together?
We’ve been married for 10 1/2 years and together for 11 plus.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
11plus years, I’m still waiting for him to ask me out.

Who asked who out?
I proposed, does that count?

How old are each of you?
I’m 29 (perpetually) and he’s now 37.

Whose siblings do/ did you see the most?
Mine.

Do you have any children together?
Four of them, but we’re willing to sell, make me an offer.

What about pets?
There’s a rabbit that lives in a hutch in the backyard, but it goes with the kids.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
Money has always been the hardest thing to deal with.

Did you go to the same school?
High school, no.  College, yes but we didn’t know each other until after he dropped out.  Oh, I guess we did go to the same community college four years into our marriage.

Are you from the same home town?
No.

Who is the smartest?
I’m a better student but he regularly thinks of things that would never occur to me.

Who is the most sensitive?
Neither one of us is very sensitive as far as being offended but he’s very considerate and sensitive to what might bother me.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
The movies.  (we don’t go out to eat much but we go to movies whenever we can.)

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Virginia.  Once for our wedding reception and once for my sister’s wedding.

Who has the craziest ex’s?
I’m the only one who has any exs so I guess it’s me by default.

Who has the worst temper?
Me.

Who hogs the bed?
He does.

Who is more stubborn?
He is.

Who is more jealous?
I guess me, I’m not really the jealous type but he knows all about my boyfriends and he doesn’t care whereas he doesn’t even have any TV girlfriends so I don’t know if it would bother me.

Who does the cooking?
We used to both cook a lot, lately it’s been me but he’s still willing.

Who is more social?
He would say it was me but he would be wrong.

Who is the neat Freak?
I am.  No question.

Who wakes up earlier?
When neither one of us has to work we both lie there trying to out last the other until finally someone gives up and gets out of bed.

Where was your first date?
We’ve never been but I’ll say that the first night after we decided that we’d have to get married he told me his life story on the way to Salt Lake from Provo and back.

Who has the bigger family?
I do.  I have 6 sibs, he has 5 so that’s closish but my sibs have been more… fruitful than his.

Do you get flowers often?
Not often.  Maybe once a year, but that’s enough for me.

How do you spend the holidays?
With family.

How long did it take to get serious?
Counting from when?  First kiss to engagement, I’m going to say a week or two.  But we were good friends for several months before that.

Who does the laundry?
He does mostly but we fold together.

Who drives when you are together?
He does always.

Is your family still growing?
Yep, the kids are growing like weeds.  Good thing we’re not having any more.

So that’s Sean, or more accurately, us.  (But I’m going to go with it.)  He’s cute and unconventional and extremely old (and just getting older) but I’m still glad I picked him.

Ten Years Ago Today

I woke up in the apartment that Sean and I had been living in for the previous week. (Oh, come on, we got the apartment and bought some stuff and we were both hanging out there all the time anyway, so why not both sleep there?  We were good, one of us almost always slept on the couch.  But don’t tell my mom.  If she asks, Sean was living with his aunt and uncle.)  I put my hair in curlers, and spent extra (that’s code for any) time on my makeup.

Ten years ago today, we hopped into Sean’s cute little Honda Civic with his father and headed downtown.  I took the curlers out of my hair in the parking lot before we headed across the street to the temple.  When we checked in I didn’t have my gown with me, although I did have my shoes.  I wasn’t wearing my gown for a while anyway and my sister would bring it when she finished making it.  The lack of gown worried the very nice little old lady at the front desk but I wasn’t worried.  Nothing could bother me.

I headed into the brides room and got dressed.  My sisters both said that they cried in the brides room (they didn’t look quite how they had always pictured) but I thought I looked great!  I wore the same dress I wear every time I go to the temple, the same dress I’ll wear this weekend when Sean and I will get to sit for a few quiet moments in the celestial room again, just like we did ten years ago today.

Because ten years ago today, Sean and I knelt across an alter from one another.  He took me by the hand and he became mine, and I became his.  Forever.

In the intervening years we’ve laughed together a lot and cried together some.  We’ve brought four other people into the world and we’ve laughed and cried with and over them.  We’ve had 3 homes, at least 8 cars, 2 pets (not including about a billion fish).  We’ve watched  roughly a billion movies and eaten several times our weight in brownies and ice cream. We’ve stuck up for each other, and picked on each other.  We’ve been the best of friends, and some days we’ve been … not friends.  We’ve understood one another without words and we’ve talked our hearts out and never really known what the other was trying to say.

But when all is said and done, I’d still rather hang out with him than anyone else and if I had to do it over again, I’d absolutely do just what I did, ten years ago today.

Can I Get This Toolbelt in Pink?

Two things occurred to me while the surly young man at Lowes was helping me load 12 sheets of plywood into my car today. the first is that I’m not as young or as cute as I once thought I was. (Whether I was ever actually cute could be a matter of some debate but that’s a debate that I’d rather not hear -unless you’re on the “you were really really cute” side– but then the “were” part of that is going to depress me –so let’s stick with my original statement- don’t bring it up). The other is that I have kind of a strange marriage.

I spent nearly $500 at Lowes today. I bought all kinds of stuff but none of it could be described as pretty. I got a 10lb. sledgehammer and 10 joist hangers and a 1/2 inch masonry bit, that kind of stuff. And 12 sheets of 1/4 inch plywood. I was fine handling most of it on my own. I knew what I wanted and figured out where to find it.

Note: Nothing in this post is intended to be a commentary on poor customer service. The customer service was fine. No one offered to carry my purse for me but I always find those places where they fall all over themselves to shine your shoes a little too much anyway. I could always find people when I needed them and when I asked, they all helped.

I did need a little help with the joist hangers. No, not the hooks you hang your bike from in the garage, the serious hardware you hang 2×12 floor joists on so your floor doesn’t fall into your crawl space. Luckily (well, I don’t really believe it was luck, I’ve been praying really hard that I will be able to figure out how to do this job that I have no business being able to do) I first found a book hanging from a shelf by the joist hangers. it had a lot of charts and a lot of words that I couldn’t even begin to decipher but it also had pictures and some if the joists in the pictures looked like the joists that had been delivered to my house this morning. So I looked for hangers that looked like those hangers. And I didn’t find them. But I did find David.

Now I may have mentioned before that I’m in WAY over my head with this addition that we’re planning. I ‘m reasonably handy but to do this you basically need to know how to build a house. I don’t know how to build a house. But David does. David was probably at least 60, and he used to build houses for a living. He helped me find the hangers that I needed and confirmed my suspicion that the other ones that I needed were not in fact there. But he told me where he thought I might be able to find some, And he was great and now I know more about house building than I did and I love that. I really find this stuff very interesting and I can’t wait to hang my joists. I thanked David profusely (I’ll be back) and headed over to find a few more things including plywood.

Luckily (again) there was a young man just standing in the lumber aisle doing nothing working, who came over to help me get the plywood onto my cart. I thanked him he said you’re welcome and that was it, no offer to help me take the card up front. I probably would have said no but I noticed that he didn’t offer.

I could probably even have loaded the wood into my car on my own but I didn’t see any reason to do that so I asked the cashier if someone could help me.

I pulled up to the area set aside for loading and this young man comes over. I lifted the hatch and he grabbed the first sheet of plywood and between the two of us we start to slide it into the car. for a moment it looked like it wasn’t going to fit and this boy says to me, “do you have a truck?” No, I don’t have a truck. I came to the hardware store to shop for things like ladders and plywood, trust me if I had a truck this would be the time that I would be using it.

I’ve got a minivan, that’s what I’ve got and if I move this headrest out of the way this sheet will slide right in anyway. See? Boy you sure do give up easily. I think that was all he said to me the whole time we were loading the plywood.

And this is where the first realization hits me. All these boys that helped me were just that to me, boys. Geez, they’re just kids. And these kids were very obviously only helping me because it was their job. Time was the boys at the hardware store liked helping me (because I was so cute) but these days I’m the old (not cute) lady with the minivan. The man on the other hand, time was he wouldn’t have given me the time of day, young cute girls don’t need serious help with floor joist hangers.

So we got the wood into the van (it fit perfectly thank you very much) and I loaded in the level and the t-square and the pry-bar and headed home to show off my purchases. To my husband. Who was home with the kids.

____________

But you can tell I’m the girl because I wear the pink gloves.

And Then Out of Nowhere

I made oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies last night (with whole wheat flour so they’re totally healthy). This evening the whole family was in the van and the kids were asking what kind of cookies I had made (they had eaten some and they were still asking, I’ve decided not to think about what that means about my cooking). Anyway, we started discussing oatmeal choc chip v. oatmeal raisin and Sean says, “I love oatmeal raisin cookies.”

“Really?” I ask

“Oh yeah, I think raisin’s better than chocolate chip.”

“Really?!”

“I think oatmeal raisin is my favorite kind of cookie.”

We’ve been married for almost ten years and I had no idea.

______________________________________________________________

I also chose not to think about what that says about me as a wife.

Do the Children Come First?

I’m going to call this a guest post because that lets me pretend that I’m cool enough to have guest posts. In reality it is a repost of my brothers. He blogs here and most of his blogging focuses on mortgage rates and the bond market (whatever the heck that is) and is therefore more boring than dirt not always my favorite thing to read. But when he posts about family he just gets it so right that I feel compelled to share it.
Oh, and don’t skip his blog just because you are also unaware of what the bond market is or does, just browse the archives you’ll find some really really good stuff.  I should also mention that his wife, Jeanette, is currently pregnant with their 8th child so he does actually have some experience with this parenting stuff.

Last week the best woman in the world, my wife, spoke at the Utah County Women in Business Conference as part of a panel of experts on family/business balance. She talked about traditions and how to handle things when your plans get disrupted by sick children, and things like that. She is, indeed, an expert on these things. The panel was well received, as was the presentation by Miss Utah, Jill Stevens, about her experiences in Afghanistan as an Army medic. It was great stuff. Estrogenous, but great.

After the presentations, as Jeanette and I were headed out to the lunch, we were stopped by a lady who said she’d been hoping to catch my wife, because she wanted to ask her a question. “How,” she said, “do you keep your marriage fresh with so many children? I’m just a newlywed myself, but I worry about that. How can you do it?”

We smiled at each other, because hey, part of the answer was right there in front of her. I go to my wife’s presentations, even on workdays, even when things are so hectic we can’t see straight. She’s more important to me than anyone, and there’s only one way to show that.

But there are other things, too.

A couple days ago I read an article about out-of-control birthday parties for children. Some of this stuff you cannot believe. There are the parties where the 1-year-old sleeps through the proceedings while 60 – that’s SIXTY – guests open their gifts to him. Parties where the kids are registered at Amazon.com, where the invitations specify that the gifts be worth at least $35, where the mothers complain that the gifts aren’t even worth the cost of the event. Well, imagine that.

There are hundreds of sites devoted to filling every moment of children’s time with activities from Tae-quan-do to cello lessons. With spending thousands of dollars a term on prep schools to get them prepared to go to Harvard or Yale. The modern generation of parents is obsessed with pouring half the national GDP into spoiling their children. If I were a psychologist, I’d suggest that this is a manifestation of repressed guilt over neglecting the things parents know are truly important. But I’m not, so I’ll just point out that if you don’t buy a kid’s clothes at Nordstrom, it’s much easier to not have to have both parents working.

Anyway, one of the things we told the lady was that we protect each other by being very explicit with our children that they are just not that important. Let me repeat that: our children have been told, in so many words, that Jeanette is the most important thing to me and that they aren’t. You’re welcome to call us and get the whole speech – I’m sure my kids can quote it to you – but the gist of it is that the kids are rentals. We get them for a while, then they’re gone. Only Jeanette is forever.

Now, the lady wasn’t shocked to hear this, but she was a bit taken aback. There’s a lot of crap out there about how kids have to know that they are the most important thing in the world, because otherwise it impacts their fragile self-esteem. This is a wet load of steaming horse manure. What kids need is stability, not lies or a false impression of their importance in the world. Our kids don’t feel less loved because they come second. Quite the contrary. They feel much more at peace because they know that the foundation of their world – which is the relationship of their parents – is solid and doesn’t crack.

We do not have perfect kids. They have inherited many of the worst characteristics of their father, and the only flaw in their mother (not much ability to sing). But our kids do not do drugs, and they don’t sass their teachers or Heaven forbid their mother, and they can work hard. They get good grades, and they love each other. They fight rarely and never yell. They sleep three, even four or five to a room and don’t complain. They wear old shoes and old hand me down clothes without whining. They play hard and they pray hard and they know their parents aren’t perfect, so if they want perfection they better look to Christ. And they do.

What do children need today? The same things they’ve always needed. Love and attention, and a stable place in the world. Some sticks and a ball to play with. Important work to do and adults to do it with. A roof and four walls, food and water. Interesting things to learn and interested people to learn from.

And that’s it. Everything else is gravy, and probably gets in the way of one of the things above. How do we keep our marriage fresh? We remember that the marriage is the entree, and children are the salad on the side. And we make sure our children understand this.

Of course, we love salad. 🙂

Run Faster Than a Locamotive, Jump Tall Buildings in a Single Bound

I had a roommate in college who always told the greatest stories. They were interesting and funny and always came to the perfect entertaining conclusion. It wasn’t until we had lived together for about six months that I realized why that was.

She was telling a story to some mutual friends when I realized that I had been there when that particular anecdote happened. And it hadn’t happened the way she was telling it. Not that it was completely wrong, she had just rearranged a few things, added and deleted some details, that kind of thing. I realized this about the time she was bringing her story to the perfect humorous conclusion and I turned to her and said, “that’s not how that happened.”

“I know,” she replied, without batting an eye, “but I like the story better this way.”

Bear that in mind when reading my posts, the way I write it may not be exactly the way it happened but I like the story better this way. Besides, I’m a novelist, not an essayist. What do you expect?

(There was some discussion on MMW about the following and kids here, I don’t think I chimed in then but I did know that Sean has some weirdness in this area. I just didn’t think it was quite this bad.)

I was going through the credit card statement yesterday, trying to figure out how on earth we could possibly owe as much as the number at the top says that we do, and I saw a few charges that I knew weren’t mine.

“$100 on Ebay?” I asked Sean.

“I bought some mumble mumble mumble,” he says. “But I’ve got some stuff I’m going to list.”

He’s always got some stuff he’s going to list. Sometimes he even lists it. Sometimes not. But I didn’t pursue it because another charge caught my eye.

“$72 to Nike.com?” I ask.

“Yeah,” Sean says, not elaborating.

“On what?” I ask.

“What? you want a bottle?” Sean’s attention is fixed on Irish1. He holds out his hand, Irish1 takes it and they exit the room.

About five minutes later when Irish1 is happily drinking his bottle. I ask again.

“$72 on Nike.com?”

“Here, let me load up the game for you.” He holds out his hand for the Princess and the Pea because obviously they can’t load a playstation 2 game on their own. And apparently doing so requires his whole concentration, because he still doesn’t answer me.

A few minutes later, the Princess and the Pea both happily occupied playing Sly 3, Irish1 happily drinking his bottle, I try again. “What did you buy on Nike.com for $72?”

“You remember,” he says “I bought those socks but they were the wrong ones so I sent them back and they sent me the right ones.”

I don’t remember, (who can keep track of his socks?) but this is one charge, not two and there’s no refund and recharge so apparently there was no difference in price on the “right” socks. Which means… he spent $72 on… SOCKS?!!!!! I’m grasping for something to say. Several very rude and sarcastic options come to mind. In the interest of my marriage I say nothing.

I can’t stop myself though, from mentioning it to my sisters on facebook. (We have a group there and we chat on a daily, if not hourly, basis.)

“How many socks?” They ask.

Well, that’s a good point maybe it was a lot of socks, I doubt it, but maybe it was.

So that night I ask him, “how many socks did you get for $72 on Nike.com?”

L-O-N-G pause. Sigh. “Eight,” he finally says.

8?? Eight!!!! There’s only one way 8 socks are worth $72.

“Do these socks give you superpowers?”

____________________________________________________

Ok, so that last part didn’t happen but the rest of it I promise, cross my heart and hope to die, is true. After he told me 8, OK it might have been 8 pair (which is still way too much to spend on socks) I actually didn’t say anything at all.

But I like the story better the other way.

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