"I want to have a marriage like Gomez and Morticia."
My daughter said this to me, last night as we ate dinner. I was bemused and somewhat impressed (she's sixteen and she knows The Addams Family? Thank God for the internet) and then? I was kind of sad.
Because she did not say, "I want to have a marriage like you and dad."
Teenagers are funny and mine in particular are hilarious. I get that they have absolutely no clue what love is, or what marriage really is, or even to some degree why life can't be like what it is on television. I was a very pie-in-the-sky kid and spent at least several years of early adulthood lost in my own brain. I mostly grew out of it, thank God, but I remember, very clearly (and very UGH-ly) crying to my first husband when he told me he was leaving me that YES I DID UNDERSTAND WHAT LOVE WAS!
It's embarassing to have lived and it's embarassing now to remember, but I really believed when I was quite a young pup that I had it all together and by God I understood life.
I often still don't.
Jason has been my husband for 4244 days. Some of those days have been considerably longer than others. On at least a few of those days, I did not like him at all. He's never asked me how long it's been since we've waltzed (never. Never have we waltzed).
We went to lunch the other day, just the two of us. Sweet, right? We try to do that on the weekends. We've been married a long time now. We are busy. We need time to reconnect. We don't want to be people who, once the kids have moved on, look at each other and wonder what we were thinking. People who have nothing to say.
I insulted his shirt.
He had a hole in his shirt. I wasn't dressed up and we were not at some place where anyone else would have noticed this hole in his shirt, but I was wearing nice jeans and a nice shirt and I was just so frustrated that he didn't even make an effort. Here I am going to Zumba and going to Pilates and going running and working so hard and he can't even make an effort! Righteous indignation! Or whatever!
And furthermore, there are plenty of men who would be happy to have a woman as great as me and would show their appreciation and make a little bit of a damn effort.
And I said that.
And his face.
And...I'm an asshole.
And, if I was my daughter? I wouldn't want that either.
I'm not the only woman on the planet who wants to be appreciated. Everyone does, right? I get that. I do demand a lot of my husband as a person, and I always have. I demand a lot of myself as a person too, so it's not like I'm sitting around expecting him to wash my feet with rose petals or anything. I just feel like we're all grown-ups here. We contribute. I don't routinely praise him for things like doing laundry, because adults are supposed to do laundry. I don't expect him to give me a cookie for being employed and making sure we always have toilet paper. It enrages me when people say, "You should just consider yourself lucky he does XYZ!" when it's some basic thing that every human being should be able to do for themselves. We don't work that way.
So, no. I don't think it was unfair of me to approach him about my feelings. I think if he felt like I needed to put some effort into our relationship, I would expect him to approach me about it. I would like him to make more effort. I would like him to compliment me when I look pretty. I would like for him to notice my hard work. Of course I would.
What was unfair was the way I did it. What was unfair was that I was hurftul and shitty and not a very good wife at all.
What is unfair is not that we don't waltz in the kitchen, what is unfair is the way I rolled my eyes at him behind his back but in front of my daughter the other day. That I've blamed him sometimes for being hurt by something he meant kindly (he congratulated me for losing weight and I said, "I was pretty before!" because, yep. Asshole). That I am routinely impatient with him when he doesn't immediately understand everything I already understand. That I blame him for the way people in his family treat me, even though he has absolutely no control over what other people do or say. That I took a nice lunch and made a petty comment about his shirt and took it even further by insinuating that someone else could "get" me, when that's the furthest thing from the truth.
I am a huge part of the reason that my daughter does not want a marriage like mine.
I love him. I love him so much that it sometimes pains me, the intensity of it. More than that, I consider him my family. Which is much more than love, and much harder to explain.
It hurts more too.
And I hurt him.
And I was wrong.
So I did what I should do...what the mom does. I explained that television isn't real (duh mom) and that romances like that aren't really like that. That everyone has a bad day. That everyone sometimes says something mean or crappy or hurtful when they don't really mean it. That no one is perfect and even the "best" love stories involve some hurt feelings from time to time. That even when someone is not always as demonstrative with their affections as you would like, it doesn't mean they aren't a good man. Or a good husband. Or exactly the person you are supposed to be with. That we can all do better, every one of us, to make the lives of others more positive.
While I talked, he took my hand. Squeezed it very gently.
I'm going to do better.
Maybe my daughter will never say it. Maybe someday my grandchildren will.
I wish I could have a marriage like Stephanie and Jason.
That is what I want.