When Otto and I got married, he was a 36-year-old bachelor. He’d never been married, never lived with a woman. People would elbow me and cast meaningful glances in his direction while joking about how it would take me a while to “train him” (as if he were a puppy who would require frequent newspaper smacks on the nose to learn not to pee in the kitchen), and his friends would shake their heads sadly while telling him “Dude, life as you know it IS OVER.” And I had been on my own with the kids for over four years; we had our habits—such as they were—and bringing Otto in was sure to make for some difficult changes, we thought.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that it’s all been smooth sailing, because change is hard. Period. We’ve all had to adjust and that takes some doing, plus it just takes time for new routines to feel comfortable. So has it been a cakewalk? Of course not. Has it been the stressful calamity some predicted, ending with Otto fleeing from the house to the safety of the garage—where no one shrieks about being touched or poked or looked at, where cups aren’t left to put themselves in the sink, where everything is where he left it and no one needs to sit on his lap right this second? Really no.
And I’m going to tell you a secret about Otto. Let’s keep it just between you and me, Internet. I know you won’t tell anyone. I don’t want it to get out, because if it did, it would really ruin the pervasive notion that there aren’t any good men out there. (As much as I would love to believe that I GOT THE LAST ONE, that does seem statistically improbable.) Anyway, come closer, and I’ll tell you:
Otto is a better wife than I am.
It’s true, and it has nothing to do with anything that I’ve done. He came that way! No training necessary! (Lest you start hating him, or me, just a little, for this, rest assured that he has his foibles just like the rest of us, and I am still working on training him not to tease me when I’m already in a murderous rage. Apparently the “do not poke a caged animal with a stick” rule was not part of his repertoire before our union.) But the truth of the matter is that Otto the Bachelor was a tidy and organized fellow, and Otto the Husband shows me up on a regular basis.
Otto makes the bed every day. Otto always puts his dirty clothes IN the hamper, and when the hamper is full, Otto does the laundry. Otto is—so far as I can tell—incapable of going to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. Otto watches a small amount of television and enjoys relatively healthy snacks while he does so.
For the most part, since our marriage, I have risen to his level. Of course, with him around, sometimes I don’t have to—if I blink at the overflowing hamper long enough, say, he’ll do the laundry. And if I make dinner, magical elves tend to clean up the kitchen while I’m putting the kids to bed. It’s a wonderful arrangement (for me, anyway… as I write this I’m starting to feel a little sorry for Otto…) and without much fanfare we have settled into a comfortable routine.
It all sounds perfect, right? Well, it is. As long as we’re both here.
Enter difficulty: Otto has been away all week. For the first part of the week, my parents were here. They just left on Wednesday morning, which I now realize was only a couple of days ago, but it feels like the kids and I have been on our own for a week. Now, in the interest of both full disclosure and a feeble attempt to justify myself, I’ll point out that this week has been stressful in the moreso-than-average way for a couple of reasons, but still, in the last two days I’ve come to realize something frightening.
I’m the bachelor in this relationship.
Without Otto here, I’ve adopted a “what’s the point?” mentality. Wednesday night I fed the kids macaroni and cheese from a box, and last night we picked up fast food on our way home from practice. Two days worth of dishes sit in the sink. I haven’t made the bed since I’m not sure when, and last night I slept in my “lounging sweats” because I changed earlier in the evening and then was too tired to bother finding my pajamas. There’s a pile of clothing on my bathroom counter that may or may not be clean; I’m not really sure. After I put the kids to bed I park myself on the couch in front of the television with my laptop, and I watch a mind-numbing amount of inane programming while doing some work and making my way through the bag of candy I bought to give out for Halloween. This morning—alright, I admit it; I was strung out and hung over from Skittles and Starburst—I slept through my alarm and Monkey had to come drag me out of bed.
Dude. I’m DISGUSTING.
And although I haven’t hidden any of this from my dear Otto, still he has called every night and professed his desire to be home with me, with us, and resume our romantic coexistence. Last night as we talked he suggested that on Saturday night we sit down, maybe with a couple of nice glasses of wine, and snuggle up and… go over our insurance options before the open enrollment period ends. It brought a tear to my eye, the way he just KNOWS how to make me melt like that.
I am totally going to do the dishes and make the bed before he gets back tonight.