Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Secret to a Good Marriage

I realized something this morning which I will call "The Secret to a Good Marriage." Anybody who's married knows you can't boil a marriage down to one point but this point, I think, might go a long way... If there's something you feel you are not getting from your partner, it's a good bet he/she feels the same way. That's not infallible of course--men and women do have different needs sometimes--but when it comes to getting time, support, encouragement, space, we really both have these needs. If I am not giving those things to him, how will he know to give those things to me?

I've been sad lately because I want more encouragement. It seems like JT can barely drum up enough interest to grunt, "Cool," when I tell him I scored a $200 freelance writing job (for a library science publication) and that I've made a promise to myself to try to write one short story a week for the next year. The other day, I set up a Tumblr website for it too--please feel free to visit and show me some love: I don't have much up on it yet but I'll post my first story middle of next week. Anyway, I was proud of myself for setting writing goals and so far meeting them, and I wanted some encouragement. Instead he kept me up all night with his worries about money, and said he wants me to get a second part-time job.

So I spent all day yesterday applying to other part-time jobs that might allow me to continue to work at my present job, as well as applying to full-time jobs. I was sad I didn't get any writing done. I wanted him to give me some time to write when he got home. But he says I am being selfish. From one point of view, he is probably right. I'm asking for support or sympathy when he's overdue for a medal. Still, calling my writing selfish is a low blow. That one comment will give me enough fodder for years of writer's block.

We argued about this for fifteen minutes, and while I was trying and failing to convey what it is I want from him, I left the baby in her room. I come back and she got into a container of petroleum jelly. It says to contact poison control. JT was LIVID. He said I was a stupid mother. Yeah, I probably deserved that too. JY was fine, Poison Control says there's no danger. She went to sleep and I spent the night on the couch.

It still hurts, but I've been thinking: maybe there's something I should learn from all this... It wasn't until a few minutes ago that I realized, if I don't want him to be so insensitive about my feelings and goals, I should take his feelings and goals into greater consideration.

Let's face it: every day that I congratulate myself for getting up at 6 am and writing for two hours, is a day that JT had to get up at 4:30 to drive 50 miles to his job in the jail. He got an offer for that full time jailer job, but it didn't give him much cause for elation because it won't pay anywhere near what we were hoping for. He's sad about that, and worried about money. He's still working in a hospital one day a week and is just exhausted.

I have to do something about our financial situation and I have to help him so that he is not working so hard. I am not going to get the "attagirl" or emotional support I am craving if I do not learn how to give that support to him. You have to give in order to receive. While I was complaining about writing, he brought up a good point, that he hasn't had time to practice his guitar in ages. I need to make this a priority. I need to get out his guitar and carve out some time where he will get to sit and play and I will take care of JY--I need to encourage him to do it because he is a good musician who needs more encouragement.

Last night I was feeling sorry for myself that I am a blocked writer, and that my husband contributes to my block by telling me I am selfish. But what have I done to help him unblock? What have I done to make his life easier? I am going to do something about this. I thought this was the year I would work on myself and my writing, since school is finally over and I have my master's. But perhaps instead I should take this year to work on my marriage, make my husband happy because he deserves that.


  1. This is such a good, heartfelt post! I really appreciate you saying all this. I can relate. I think everyone can. I think we are all selfish to some degree. That's what makes us human. But it is not selfish to set some time aside to write. Everyone needs something that they do that is their own. That is what you do. It is your passion.

    We have always struggled on and off with communication. I think that HF works so much and is hardly home that we want to have all his time and attention when he is home. He would like to go ride his motorcycle with friends, write music for his guitar, etc. Sometimes I interpret that to mean he doesn't care about us or want to be around us and I am pretty much the enslaved woman at home. I, on the other hand, want to pawn off the kids on him so I can relax and do my thing. We don't have family around to help or reliable friends. So Hard!

    I believe that if we focus our energy on our spouse's happiness that we will strangely enough find happiness and shockingly the TIME to do what we want to do. The best book I have read (in my opinion) about working these sort of things out is "The Surrendered Wife" by Lauren Doyle? Not sure on the author right now. The title does not sound like a book that would benefit the wife in any way, but it is not like that at all! It's all about getting the kind of marriage you want and your husband to "change" by making the changes in yourself. Pretty much that saying, "Be the change you want to see in others". or whatever that saying is. I do pretty good about following it for a time and then I fall off the wagon for a time, and so on and so forth.

    Anyway, great post and all I really wanted to say was I hear ya! And I'm looking forward to reading your stories on the new blog!

  2. Thank you so much, Mrs. Fuzz! I will look for that book. That's exactly what I need to learn to do: to be the change I want to see in him! Thank you for your encouragement too. :)