Can I talk to you?

I probably beat to death on this blog how important communication in a relationship is. I’d have to say that honesty, communication, and respect (which really partners with honesty) are the most important tennents of any successful relationship.

So why are there so many people who cannot talk to their significant others? Some of it is can’t, and with others it is won’t. There is a major issue with both. Not being able to because someone just makes themselves completely unavailable emotionally or otherwise is one thing. Flat our refusing because you’re playing games is a whole other sack of cats.

Recently I was talking to a friend about some issues going on in her life. I love her to death. My advice was that she really needs to find a way to be open with her husband because she can’t make it through the things she is going through without him. I don’t feel that is unreasonable. I mean, you have chosen to share your life with this person.

The response I felt was a little hostile. She told me that she and her husband aren’t like my boyfriend and I. They can’t be that open. I was pretty taken aback by this. I mean, I wasn’t throwing anything in her face. I didn’t bring up anything about my current relationship. I just said that they need to find a way to get through this together because they need each other and really it’s his job to be there for her like she should be for him. I mean, I thought that’s what a marriage was about? Always having this person there with you for better or for worse?

And let’s face it. My track record in the communication area is fucking shit at best until recently. It took me more years than necessary to learn my lesson there. I had one guy that flat out ignored me if he wasn’t berating me. Another who just refused to talk back if there was a problem. Like problem solving wasn’t on his agenda. Ignoring me was. And then another who everything with him was non-negotiable. His way or no way. Not open to discussion.

I don’t understand it after living it. How do you just accept that you’re with someone (man or woman) that you cannot confide in? That you can’t go to with your problems, secrets, or even good news? How do you go through life not talking to this person you have specifically chosen to live out your days with?

How did I almost marry one of those people? It’s damn unfathomable to me looking back that I almost chose that.

What’s even worse is that with social media, people are trading talking to their significant others for passive aggressively posting messages to them. I was talking this afternoon with some girls about this phenomenon. It’s disgraceful! How do you get away with that shit? It wouldn’t fly with me at all.

It’s immature at best. Why are you inviting you and your 300 closest friends from kindergarten through your fourth career change into your shit? On top of the fact that only one side of the story is being posted, so your outcry for attention to get all of your friends and family to immediately side with you, you’re resorting to shaming the person you love.

The internet is not your laundry room. Stop using it to air your grievances in place of addressing them head on. We all  have frustrating moments and shit that we post online to vent. Christ, how often have I posted that my kid is driving me up the wall? And sometimes he does. But he’s also aware of it. However, there is a strong difference between a, “My kid is driving me bat shit crazy today” post and one talking about your intimate issues with your spouse or partner of whatever status.

Social media isn’t supposed to be a crutch for getting through life. It’s fun and has almost unlimited benefits, but people ruin it with their attention craving needs. Pay attention to me! I’m too afraid to face my fights with my spouse over something that could be solved with just a little open communication!

And bigger problems- they have no place online. No matter your situation. Cheating and other issues don’t belong on your Facebook timeline. Those are private problems that need to be addressed with your loved ones.

The internet is not your personal therapist, especially when you’re being ridiculous about it and using it as a means to throw shit in your spouse’s face. Asking for advice and posting stupid shit with the full intent of getting under their skin are two different things. It’s dumb as fuck. If you want to live your life like an 8th grader, that’s your business, but in the process you’re making your business the rest of ours.

If you can’t or won’t talk to your spouse or partner, find someone you can rely on… but first you may want to work on your “look at me!” ways.

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I’m sorry, but you’ve expired

Why the hell do we stay with people we don’t belong with for so long? We all do it. We’re all perpetually guilty of staying with people for the wrong reasons or because staying together seems like the easiest thing to do.

I remember with my son’s dad the exact moment I should have opened the escape hatch. I was talking to my parents about this fight we had a week before I was supposed to move in with him. My excuse? It’s too late! I can’t now! I’m moving next week!

My shit wasn’t even packed yet.

It wasn’t too late. It is never too late. I could have ended that shit right then and there and saved myself another two years of misery and crying and fighting and wanting to put a pillow over his face at night.

Three months after move in, it came back around: “Get out of this relationship. Get out of it now. He is emotionally dead. Get out.”

But at that point I hit comfort and familiarity being my excuse. I think this is the biggest factor in why we stick it out. It’s familiar. You get into a routine. You know what to expect and predictability trumps happiness. We confuse the comfort with love. We’re just settling for what is fine for now instead of putting in the work or simply waiting to get what we actually want.

So another two months go by and we have another explosive fight. I had just lost about 30 pounds. I worked my ass of. We were driving 4 hours away to a concert right after work. I had been up since 6am and not eaten all day. We’re on the highway and I say that we have got to stop at the next exit and grab whatever was available so that I can eat. He called me, “tubs.” I pulled over the car and told him to get the fuck out.

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I didn’t talk to him for another 5 hours. It took arriving at our destination and drinking for me to acknowledge his presence. But it was a long few hours drive where all I could think of was how badly I needed this relationship to end.

Another month goes by and I find out I’m having a baby! Total calm on the outside. Dying inside because I know exactly what is coming in my future. But I tried. I tried really hard.

Trying isn’t enough when the relationship is that sour. There was nothing to salvage. There was no love. There was just two people who knew each other, knew their surroundings, knew their routine, and knew what to expect every day. So it had to be enough.

Until finally enough was enough. And the only thing that saved me from not going on to marry him was the thought of my son growing up in a house with a mom who hated the sight of his father. I promise you I would have married him. So in a cruel and weird way, having a baby saved me a lifetime of misery or at least a messy divorce. (Don’t regret ever having that wonderful little boy though. He’s the only thing I’ve ever gotten 100% right.)

This vicious, psychotic cycle we put ourselves through is insane. It defies all logic and reason.

I’ve heard and made every excuse to stay in a relationship that simply should not have been.

I’ve stayed because I thought loving someone would be enough. I’ve stayed because breaking up with someone who was nice didn’t seem like a good option, no matter how incompatible we were outside of being cordial.

Really though, the familiar sounds, smells, and routine of a day or life in general are enough to make anyone stay. Who wants to start over when you can’t be thrown off by anything? Even shitty behavior is at least shitty behavior you’re aware of.

We become complacent with the worst living conditions, the most unhealthy relationships, because it’s less work than breaking through the fear of what changes life will bring if you end it.

Settling is what we do when we’re afraid of opening up to greater possibilities. It’s what we do when we convince ourselves that this is as good as it gets. It can get better if we allow it. We can move on and form relationships that mean something when we decide that “comfort” isn’t the only thing we want in life.

We need to stop seeking comfort in our own sadness instead of reveling in all of the things that will put us exactly where we need and deserve to be.

 

Happy Wife, Miserable Life

I was watching Love It, or List It on the DIY channel the other day. It’s a show where a couple gets their house renovated and is shown 3 other houses. At the end of the show, they either stay in their current house or move into one of the 3 homes they looked at. Most of these houses are above their budget. On the one episode, the renovation was just mind blowing to their kitchen. Hell yeah, I’d stay in that house! It was seriously the most amazing kitchen ever.

But, they ended up moving into a home waaaay over their budget. The guy said, “happy wife, happy life.” It was the wife who wanted to move. Okay, so to make her happy, you moved into a home you cannot afford?

My dad and I made some comments about that sentiment and how it’s total bullshit.

I’ve heard plenty of guys say, “happy wife, happy life” or that they do something just to keep their wife happy, even if it mean their own misery. I’ve also heard women insist that their home live by that mantra.

I have major issues with this. I’ve been in some seriously one sided relationships where I was living in absolute grief. My happiness didn’t count for shit. Ever.

Relationships are a partnership. “Happy wife, happy life” removes the husband and the rest of the family’s happiness from the equation. Some women are fucking selfish. As long as they are getting what they want, no matter how their husbands feel, all is well.

That’s not how shit works. Why don’t we say, “happy partners, happy home” or some other awful cliche shit?

It just seems (and movies and tv perpetuate this stereotype), that women are nags and as long as they are happy, husbands will shut their mouths and just do as they are told.

One of the reason I loved the movie Neighbors, was because the husband and wife were best friends and both immature in their own ways. I actually felt like I could relate to it relative to where I am in life right now.

Why don’t we ever talk about the man’s happiness? Don’t you think you’d both be happier if both people were considered? Isn’t that what marriage and relationships are? It’s a bond that you both share.

My mom has told me since I was 17 that I need to make sure that I marry my best friend. If he isn’t my best friend, then we aren’t right for each other. Who has a stronger bond than best friends? Would you treat your plutonic best friend like this? Probably not. So why would you subject your husband to making his sole purpose in life to keep your mouth shut?

All we talk about anymore based on current trends on Twitter, is female equality. I’m all for it. Yes! Let’s be equal! But what a lot of people really want is to be greater than.

That’s what “happy wife, happy life” sounds like to me. It sounds like something out of Animal Farm. “All partners are created equal, but wives are more equal than husbands!”

The truth of the matter is, if you are constantly going by “happy wife, happy life,” you’ll probably never be happy to begin with. You’re likely just a bottomless pit. No matter what money is spent on you, no matter what concessions are made instead of compromising, you’ll just take and take and take.

How many times have you, as a female (yes, I’m talking to you ladies) thrown a temper tantrum over something your boyfriend or husband did or didn’t do, no matter how unreasonable it was, but you didn’t care how terrible it made your man feel as long as you got your way?

Here’s an example from the other side of this:

My son’s dad a month before he was born threw a tantrum because I wouldn’t buy him an XBox 360 for Christmas. I didn’t have the money for an XBox and I was bringing a baby into the world in a month. Babies are EXPENSIVE. We still needed furniture for our new apartment plus things for the baby, and he’s throwing a fucking fit over an XBox. “If you really cared, you’d find a way to afford it.”

Yes. At 8 1/2 months pregnant, let me just work as much overtime as I can and never get any rest before I push a 7 pound child out of my body and never sleep through the night again. That’s exactly what I feel like doing.

He threw the same fucking fit at Father’s Day. We were making enough money collectively to get by with a little to spare, but there wasn’t XBox money. Especially not with an infant who outgrows EVERYTHING in a month and is going through a case of diapers a week plus formula.

So he pouted and threw it in my face as much as he could. Because getting that XBox was all he cared about. Not the financial situation we were in or the fact that he ignored our son anyway because Playstation was all he cared about. Why would I buy you an XBox so that you could shirk your parental duties even more than you already were??? Use your brain for fucks sake.

Look at the big picture. Is what you’re asking for reasonable? Is your reaction to not getting your way befitting the situation? Are you taking into account all the ways that what you want affects your partner and your living situation and the relationship? How important is this thing you want in the grand scheme of things.

Don’t be a diva. Your husband or boyfriend’s happiness and well being counts too. If all that matters is your own happiness, get a cat and move on.

Be Fair to the Kid

I was recently asked for my opinion on dating a woman with a child from my perspective as a single mom. This was coming from the standpoint of, “I’m not sure that’s the type of life I want to lead.”

It takes a certain type of person to date someone who is a parent. This goes for men and women alike. Not wanting to date someone with a child doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s a challenge for all parties involved. It takes more patience than other relationships because there is another person involved and everything that happens in that relationship affects that extra person (or persons).

Even as a single parent, I refused to date a guy with a child of his own. I felt like having two children and two lives with two schedules going around children was more added stress. I also worried about it getting to a point where the kids would meet and get close and I get close to the kid and it not work out. That is more all around heart ache for all parties involved than I am willing to deal with. It’s just not for me.

The most important thing you can do when dating is be fair to the kid. That is the absolute top priority for you and your significant other or person of interest.

My advice is that if you are not 100% certain that you want children in general or that you can find it in your heart to love that child as you would love your own, do not pursue the relationship. Dating someone with a child involves a balancing act. It invovles babysitters and time away from their child when the parent probably already has limited time due to shared custody or work and other priorities. Taking away additional time from that person isn’t fair to them or the child.

Let me give you all a glimpse into what I experience personally in dating.

Before my current relationship, my biggest worry was first and foremost, “is this person okay with the fact that I have a child?” In the getting to know you phase, it was looking for signs that they were worth continuing to see, not just as a match for myself, but as someone who is responsible enough, compassionate enough, patient enough, and good enough to be a role model for my son. It’s mentally draining trying to figure this out but still enjoy yourself.

Then there is the trouble of figuring out when it is appropriate to begin bringing this person around and deciding how they should interact. What is appropriate to you? What will work for your situation? Roles will be different and vary by relationship on how much of an authority figure you will be in this child’s life. How much responsibility you hold could be drastically different between one person and another. There is no text book definition or instruction manual for this.

My boyfriend I was with the longest after having Jordan was 11 months. I got lucky that at the point we broke up, my son was just about to turn 2. He doesnt’ remember this person at all.

My current situation is even more different still because my boyfriend and I were best friends first. My son doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t around. But now the relationship dynamic has shifted. How much affection do we show in front of him? How do we start developing their relationship to be prepared to be a family together some day? When do you even start having these conversations with him? How do we balance having alone time together and spending time together all three of us?  How do we make this all seem normal?

Most importantly, how do you make a child comfortable with gaining a second parental figure when he’s only ever known having one and knows that his dad dipped out on him?

These situations are sensitive. There are so many questions and very little answers because the real answer is that there aren’t any. You have to take your situation and decide what is going to work best for all parties and how will you be most comfortable. There will always be challenges and anticipating them and mitigating them as best you can takes an uncanny amount of patience.

This is all a juggling act. It’s not like I can just go out on a date. I have to look at my son’s activity schedule, because the kid has a greater social life than I do. Ice hockey, roller hockey, soccer, birthday parties. It never ends. Then I look at my schedule because I like going to concerts. Okay, so how am I going to juggle seeing my boyfriend, when in this week I am taking my son and a friend to WWE one night, have my kid’s hockey two other nights that week and a birthday party and a graduation party on the weekend? That is my actual schedule. That is my honest to goodness life in the next week or so.

But I have to be fair to my son and not leave him with a babysitter too often. So where does your time go? I don’t believe in giving up seeing my friends just because I have a boyfriend and he shouldn’t have to give up his life outside of me either. It’s just a different way to have to plan. If I want to see him just the two of us it’s costing me money for a babysitter, plus whatever we spend when we go out. But most of all it is costing me time away from my kid and that time is just as precious to me as my time with him is.

You have to recognize that in dating someone with a child, that that  child’s life is the one that matters most. They are depending on their parent. If you don’t have it in your heart to work around their lives and integrate their life into your own, stay away from the situation. We’ve been lucky to find a way via a ton of compromise to make this work and things are beyond fantastic. But that hasn’t been the case with other guys I’ve dated since becoming a parent.

And it wasn’t all them. I’m still figuring out how to allocate my time so that my kid and relationship are both getting the attention that they deserve and still give my friendships the attention they deserve. But it always will come down to the kid. It does when you’re married with kids. That will never change.

Dating someone with a child can be absolutely wonderful for all parties involved. But before you take that first step, think about what you truly want and if your visions are hazy, be fair to her (or him), be fair to the kid, and move on to the next.