Saturday, April 10, 2010

Marriage, Part III

I remember the first few years Hot Stuff and I were together.  We were pretty rock-steady.  We usually had one major whopper of a fight per year.  That's pretty good, I think.  We never took each other too seriously.  We never put our relationship or each other under a microscope to be examined or picked apart. We were easy with each other and there was always a good rhythm between us.  Basically, our relationship was low maintenance.  Over the last five years, our marriage has changed - starting pretty much with the birth of the Hurricane.  Nobody can predict what effect having a child will have on a marriage.  I think I changed drastically right away; the realization that I held someone's life above mine hit immediately. Hot Stuff changed somewhat, after a while.  (And by the way, what is up with the fucking myth that men are awesome with babies? That's a load of shit.  Any pregnant women reading this ought to know that lots of men are coolly disinterested in babies until they become fun, at about 6 months.  Just lettin' you know.) Having a baby settled him down, some.

Just like my body after popping out a kid, our relationship was not as firm and fresh as it was before.  It was a lot more work not to snap and go completely fucking insane on Hot Stuff after a night of crying baby, sore boobs, and no sleep.  Eventually, though, our relationship evened out. We got the happy, easy rhythm back.  We got the not-takin-you-seriously back.  Things were smooth again, even including our little Hurricane and his super big personality.

My pregnancy with the Princess was healthy and happy.  We were just a family of three waiting for our Even Number.  We got her, and she was (and still is) a living doll (nowadays, sometimes closer to Chucky than Pretty Baby Pee-Pee Pants).

Can I tell you about the last time I went grocery shopping and bought a pregnancy test? I don't know why I did it.  The Princess was just a tiny baby; I was on the pill, and I was breastfeeding.  That's practically like surrounding my uterus with a moat and then stocking the moat with piranhas and man- sperm-eating alligators.  I had been feeling "weird" for a couple of weeks. Honestly, I think I felt "pregnant" but was too scared to admit it to myself.  Hence, I figured I'd take a preg test, have it come up negative, and go on with life.  Only it was not to be.  I peed on the stick.  The stick had two bright pink lines even as the pee was crossing the second line.  I did not have to wait for some faint-ass is-it-positive-or-is-the-lighting-just-bad positive. It was positive. I took the stick downstairs and went out the front door, where Hot Stuff was having a smoke.  I had the stick in my hoodie pocket.  I started laughing.  I kept laughing. Hot Stuff kept asking me, "What the hell is wrong with you?" I laughed until I was shaking and tears were rolling down my face.  Then I was crying.  Then I was giving him the stick with the two pink lines.  Then he was staring at me. "Are you sure?" No, dumbass, I'm not sure.  I mean, I peed on the stick, yes it's my pee, but there has to be a problem with this lot of pregnancy tests.  I'm going to check it out on the internet, because I am sure as hell not pregnant as I already have a 2 and a half year old hellion and a 3 month old baby.  Not. For. Real.

For. Real. Once it sank in, I was happy.  My third child was a complete and utter surprise.  There is no negative connotation in that statement.  Simply, I did not go from pee on the stick to immediately overjoyed like I did with the first two. I made a few stops with this one, including scared and overwhelmed.

I discovered this pregnancy sometime in spring 2008.  After my terrible summer, Hot Stuff lost his very high paying job in October - a month before Little Dude was born and a couple of weeks before the Princess turned one. He got hired on at a different company doing a job that paid less and was a few giant steps back on the ladder.  I know it killed him.  It killed him to have to step back.  It killed him to have to take a job that he despised, because it came with a guaranteed salary.  A job that forced him to face what he thought was a lesser man in the mirror.  A job that forced him to show up every day and work for 8 hours doing something he hated.  A job that I specifically asked him to not take any out of town work; to only work in or around town, thus drastically cutting down on his ability to make a decent wage, instead of just his guaranteed salary. As a mother to three and feeling incredibly insecure, I needed him to be close to home. As a family, we needed him to have that job.  That job, as shitty as it was for him, saved our butts.  So, so many people went under in 2009 because the ass fell out of the oil and gas sector.  There was no work.  To have a job, even a crap one, that paid our bills was a godsend. None of that ever mattered to Hot Stuff.  His self worth and identity seemed to be so tied to his muckety-muck job and high dollar paycheck, that he could never see himself as anything but a failure for losing both.

And so it began.  Going out after work a few days a week turned into everyday, turned into staying out late, turned into sometimes on the weekends too, turned into big, big problems at home.  I felt very angry, abandoned, resentful, and I felt like I was drowning.  I would ask (beg/plead/cajole) him for help; for him to be home for dinner, help with the kids, help at bedtime, a hug and a conversation after the kids were in bed.  I got the answers I wanted to hear, but I never got the actions to back it up.  I felt enormous pressure to squeeze a dime out of every nickel; from my perspective, Hot Stuff didn't have to give up any of his fun money. I became very resentful that I literally had to figure out groceries down to the dollar to stay under budget, but he was still smoking as much as he wanted and going out whenever he wanted. As I said in a post a while ago, the more I expected from him, the more he pushed away from me.  The more he didn't live up to my expectations, the angrier I would become.  I put so much of my own energy into forcing him to be what he wasn't or couldn't be or didn't want to be. I just felt so overwhelmed.  I think I felt that if I could control him, then I at least had some measure of control over one thing in my life. It blew up in my face.

Towards the end of 2009, things got better financially but worse in our marriage.  Hot Stuff switched companies and started going out in the field to work and making more money.  Things between us had deteriorated so much that I was thinking about a separation.  I started looking for a job at Christmas time, and found one in fairly short order.


  1. Hey there. I've been thinking of you a lot, and now here is part III. Marriage certainly is a different beast after kids. I wish I could offer more than just support from afar. I understand the growing pains of growing family. I understand the THREE kids. I understand the financial strains. I understand all of the outside pressures on the intimacy of a relationship. I know that it is hard hard hard, all of it. And I'm so sorry for you. And I hope you find hope and progress soon. Keep writing. (And, if you're ever near Western Massachusetts, give a ring. We'll go out for a drink!)

  2. I've read some of your blog post (just stumbled-on here) and want you to know that as a wife and Mom I understand...

    And that I admire the risk it is in putting your life, experiences and feelings out there. You do it well and have a grace and humor in your writing.

    Please know that many, many woman share in the up and down, challenging nature of motherhood/wifehood and until we're doing it we can never know just how complex it is - but for all it's worth you do have support via your blog!!

    ~ Jess

  3. I'm still reading. I'm still here. Waiting for the next installment...And sending ((((hugs)))) your way!

  4. This post was so incredibly telling. And I am so glad you you are writing this. For YOU.
    I'll be here for the next one...

  5. Hang in there? Have you ever read the essay "Mad at Dad"? Here is the link:

    I think it helped me realize a lot about my own feelings....I mean, I am not always mad at my husband, but I have had to make a lot of adjustments in my thought process over the years. I am sending you a hug today. :)


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