by Susannah B. Lewis
My husband and I have been together for 12 years. It’s sometimes hard to believe that if our relationship were a person, it would be in the 7th grade, donning shiny braces and saying asinine things like “cray cray” and “totes.”
Like all relationships, we’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve had arguments that ended with slamming doors and Michelin tires screeching down the driveway. We’ve declared our love and apologies over the phone once our tempers and transmissions cooled down. We’ve talked out our problems until the sun came up or one of my husband’s farts lightened the mood. We’ve prayed together, cried together, laughed together and gotten food poisoning together after eating disgusting undercooked burgers doused in Heinz 57.
Most importantly, we have prevailed. We have persevered. We are raising two unbelievable children (despite our parenting mistakes), and we both have the same vision of someday pointing our rocking chairs towards the West, watching our grandchildren score major grass stains on the lawn and sharing Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements.
However, as a wife, I make mistakes. And I make them often. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Treating my husband like my third child.
I sometimes forget that my husband is my husband. He’s been around for so long that it seems like he’s just some dude leaving crumbs of Wavy Lays on the couch and dirty boxers on the floor right next to the hamper.
I forget that he’s a hard worker, a wonderful provider and a loving father. I forget that sometimes my sarcasm and jokes hit below the belt. I forget that my job as his wife is to encourage him, compliment him, value him and support him.
I often forget that he deserves my utmost respect.
2. Forgetting that my husband needs to have sex more than I do.
I’m tired. I’m tired a lot. By 9 PM, the only things on my mind are folding the laundry, putting the kids’ snacks in their backpacks, locking the doors, feeding our malnourished fish, setting the clocks, brushing my teeth, lotioning my ashy elbows and getting into the bed to watch a show that does NOT involve animated pirates, sappy music while Danny Tanner resolves an issue, restoring cars or selling rare finds at a Las Vegas pawn shop.
I want to relax and heave a collected sigh of relief that the day is done. I have no desire to play birds and bees. But, by God, men need it.
My husband is just as in need as our hungry Beta Fish. I need it, too, but not as much as my husband. This doesn’t mean that I’m abnormal or completely lacking a libido. It just means my testosterone levels aren’t as high as his. I often forget that sometimes I shouldn’t be selfish. Sometimes I should meet his need, whether or not I’m in the need-meeting mood.
3. Putting my children’s needs before my husband’s.
Since the day my first child was born in 2006, she has been my reason for living. When her brother came alone in 2010, he ranked right next to her on my priorities list. My children’s happiness and well-being far trump anything in my life and sometimes their needs trump my husband’s happiness and well-being.
Date night shouldn’t solely be about recharging my mom batteries or how many margaritas I can consume before it’s time to go home. It should be about refreshing our relationship. I often forget that my husband needs my attention, encouragement and admiration as much, if not more, than my children.
4. Not giving up my sense of control.
I may make a ton of mistakes, but I know how to properly load a dishwasher. I also know how to hang a picture where it will be the most aesthetically-pleasing in our home. I can discipline a kid and cook a meatloaf and I can pick out window treatments. I don’t need help in any of these areas, but my husband sometimes thinks that he should deposit two pennies into those decisions.
But before I even hear his suggestion on how to cram more dishes into the dishwasher or where to hang the portrait or how to spice up dinner, I shoot him down (see #1). Sometimes I make him think that his idea is the worst idea since Miley Cyrus squatted on a wrecking ball. I often forget my husband actually has pretty good ideas and although I’ll never admit it to him, that picture would look better over the mantle.
5. Not making a better effort to look “pretty”
I once sent my husband the most brutally honest text message: “Let me know what time you’ll be home so I can get out of my pajamas and appear to have been productive today.”
Some days the extent of my beauty regimen is brushing my teeth and popping the zit on my chin. If it’s a particularly cold day, I refuse to wear anything that didn’t come from the Gap Athletic Wear Collection. (FYI—you don’t have to actually be athletic to wear athletic wear.) But I know my husband appreciates it when I look nice.
He never fails to tell me that I look beautiful when I’ve cleaned up and accessorized with scarves and dangly earrings. Some women like to believe that “inner beauty” is all a man needs. Newsflash: it’s not. Inner beauty is a wonderful, pure, lovely, noble thing. But a man also appreciates a nice-looking woman. I’m not saying that all women should morph into June Cleaver and mop Kool-Aid from the floor while wearing stilettos, but I often forget that removing eye boogers, washing the Crisco from my hair and trading the yoga pants for regular clothes once in a while are steps in the right direction.
Some days I feel as if I’ve really mucked up the whole wife-y thing.
I rudely rolled my eyes at my husband. I didn’t pat him on the back when he really needed it. I put my own needs and my children’s needs before his. And the guilt sets in because I’ve got a really good man — he’s faithful, hard-working, kind and easy-going. Watching him interact with our children still melts my heart and makes me smile.
I often forget to do the right thing in our marriage, but I’ll never forget how much I love my husband. That love is what fuels my desire to be better. That love is what makes me better today than yesterday. That love is the same love that will be in my heart when we rock on our back porch and watch our children and grandchildren. That love will be there when I forget to buy him Miralax or put tennis balls on his walker.
I’ll always make mistakes, but that love will always remain.