I have this thing I say about marriage, and I’m sure there are some perfectly nice readers out there I am about to deeply offend with this, but I’m going to share it anyway so that you can kind of understand where I’m coming from. Here it is: I believe anyone can make a mistake—particularly if they got married very young, as I did—and I think nearly anyone can find themselves divorced once. But if you’ve gone through TWO divorces, I think it may be time to stop and admit that you are just not very good at being married.
I share this to make it clear that despite the fact that I happen to be madly in love with my husband, I am also keenly aware that I have used up my Marriage Mistakes. I work hard on this marriage thing with Otto, because I fully intend to do a better job this time than I did last time. (Also, I am allergic to cats, and if we get divorced I will have to admit I’m bad at marriage and then I will have to be a crazy cat lady, which is difficult when you’re allergic and asthmatic. Just saying.)
At the same time, marriage is hard, parenting is even harder, and there are a million things that can and do get in the way a lot of the time.
And so it happens that time goes by and we are but two overworked people passing in the kitchen and asking each other “Did you pour Monkey some milk?” and “Can you pick up Chickadee today?” It’s easy to slip into the details of everyday life and forget that sometimes we need to just have FUN.
[And here is where you shall feel free to tell me that this happens to you, too, so that I don’t feel like I am struggling to maintain a C+ at best at this marriage thing while the rest of you are totally acing the class and writing mean things about me on the bathroom wall.]
Anyway, last night the kids were zooming around pre-bedtime and Otto and I were sitting on the couch. It was cold outside and cozy inside. Otto looked around.
“How about a fire?” he said. “The kids are going to bed soon. Wouldn’t a fire in the fireplace be nice?”
We’ve lived here two and a half years and have never used the fireplace. [Spoiler: This is not an OHMYGOD WE BURNED THE HOUSE DOWN story. We did actually have the chimney cleaned and inspected recently.]
“Sure,” I agreed. “That’s a great idea.”
Otto perked right up and went outside to grab some wood from the little pile we have leftover from camping.
We bid the kids goodnight and Otto commenced arranging the wood and kindling and some newspaper in the fireplace. It took a few tries to get it going, but soon there was a decent little blaze going. I complimented him on his manly MAKE FIRE skills and we curled around each other on the couch, dog inserting herself between us, chatting and enjoying having a fire on our hearth. Otto suggested that we look into buying a cord of wood so that we can have fires more regularly.
The flames started dying down and I gazed deeply into Otto’s eyes with what I hoped was a sultry look and suggested he throw one more log on the fire and come back and sit with me. He agreed and was over by the woodpile in moments. And then I heard him say, “Uhhhhhh….”
Otto is a man of understatements. I am a woman of hyperbole. Chances are excellent that Otto does not say “uhhhhhh” unless it’s a situation where I would be shrieking my head off.
“What?” I said. “WHAT??” I walked over to look.
Otto had set the wood down on an old towel, when he brought it inside, on account of we don’t have a proper wood holder and he didn’t want to make a mess. Now he swiftly gathered up the corners of the towel to enclose the remaining wood, never breaking movement, while he explained that apparently our bundle of wood contained a nest of Palmetto Bugs. [New here? I should really have a separate category to document my hatred of the Palmetto Bug.]
I had to open the door for him so that he could take the whole thing back outside, which was difficult on account of it interrupted my wailing and dousing of the entire house in bleach and roach killer.
Eventually Otto returned, and sat down on the couch again.
“No more fires!” I announced. “No cord of wood! NO MORE WOOD AT ALL! ALL DONE!”
It was kind of a mood killer, is my point.
Maybe tonight we should’ve tried again to have some quality Couple Time, but instead I baked about six dozen cookies, and Otto rearranged the pantry. Woo!
So I don’t know if I’m getting any better at marriage, but he looked pretty happy when I gave him a cookie. And I was ALL KINDS OF DELIGHTED that he didn’t bring a bundle of roaches into the house today, so, you know. Maybe this is exactly what a successful marriage looks like.