My husband returned last week from a three-night trip to Miami to watch his beloved Notre Dame football team get walloped by the unstoppable Crimson Tide. Mike’s getaway left me the sole parent, a role I have played many times and one I typically milk for as much resentment as possible.
Mike is exceptionally good at making plans with friends for activities he enjoys. Whether arranging football weekends, golf outings or ski trips, Mike knows what he likes and what will bring him joy and connection. He makes both a priority in his life.
Until recently (read today) I’ve been exceptionally good at being a martyr. And a scorekeeper. Not a fulfilling combination in our marriage. (And certainly not a satisfying role for an intelligent, smoking hot woman in her prime.)
Here’s our scorecard:
Yes, I’m exaggerating. I’ve only taken one trip: a weekend visit to New York City last June with a dear friend.
This disparity has been an issue in our marriage for years; ever since we were blessed with children. Our pattern looks like this: Mike makes plans for a night or weekend away. I collect a chit for a future getaway.
And by collect I mean hoard. My chits are stacked to the ceiling and threatening to overtake our living space. The time never feels right for me to plan a solo adventure, so I save my chits for a future, better time. When will this magical “better time” occur? Perhaps when our young daughters are away at college?
Don’t get me wrong, we do a lot of activities together as a family and as a couple. From date nights to nights away, we tend to our marriage in ways big and small. But most of my time is family time. When it comes to making room for individual pursuits, I’ve lagged behind (hid behind?) my socially-engaged husband for years.
I believe I deserve my own time, but am afraid of using up my IOUs and never having more; afraid of committing to my own happiness. If I keep my adventures in the future, I’ll have something to look forward to – you know, when we’re 84 and living on a fixed income. Then I’ll make time. Woot, I’ll live it up!
While pragmatism can be a worthwhile asset, I don’t want to model martyrdom and deprivation for our daughters or teach them by example that only one person in a marriage gets to enjoy time away for fun and pleasure. And somehow resentment doesn’t look as good on me as I hoped.
I believe people are put in my life, by choice and by design, to teach me things and help me hit bottom on traits that don’t work for me anymore. Under that belief, Mike has been trying for years to teach me to grab what I want and enjoy every big, juicy bite of it, trusting that more is on its way.
I have a choice. I can resent my husband and be a victim (Option A) or learn from his example and plan my own time away (Option B).
Option A: “What the fuck, Mike? Why do you get to go away on another boondoggle? You should be here with your family having fun, damn it.”
Option B: “Have a great trip, Mike! Before you leave, let’s coordinate our calendars for next weekend because I’m going away with my girlfriends. You have the babysitters’ numbers if you need them. Wanna have sex before your flight?”
Which would you choose? Exactly.
Today I cashed in one of my chits and spontaneously planned my own weekend getaway with two girlfriends. For next weekend! Although I’m feeling squirmy, I’m proud of myself and excited to try on a new role in my family.
One concern: without my regular martyrdom and resentment fix, who will I be? Time will tell, but next weekend, I’ll be the one sitting by a pool reading a book. You may not recognize me. But I bet I’ll be looking damn good.
Also linking up with the good-looking group of writers at Yeah Write. Come check us out.