Nobody keeps baby in the corner…

Our little family has changed a lot in the last two years as well. We added Georgia to our family. Del and I struggled in our marriage as we tried to figure out how to go from two people to four (I highly recommend marriage therapy). We left our church of 10 years, and are working to settle into a new church family. My mother and father-in-law moved to be closer to us, and I have never felt more consistent love from my family.

Yet inside of my body I feel so incredibly lost. Someone at work told me they were going to start looking for a new job. When they told me that it caused a spark inside of me that is gradually turning into a brush fire. I applied to a different job within the same company and start next week. When I told my boss that I was quitting my job she asked me why. I told her, “because I haven’t thought about myself in the last four years.” It hasn’t been four years, it’s been 35. Without consciously realizing it, most of the moves I made were to keep myself safe from others.

My childhood was hard. Most days we didn’t know what it was going to be like when he came home. Would he come home with a new movie and we’d get to watch something Disney on VHS? Or would he come home screaming and yelling at us? I quickly learned that the easiest way to survive was to be perfect. It’s hard to be mad at a little girl when she’s getting straight A’s, running lots of clubs, and getting a master’s degree in her twenties. I did it all so he would love me, but he hasn’t called me to check in since… I can’t remember when? It turns out when people are screaming at you it’s really about their pain and not the things you were doing. Why am I living this life pleasing people who don’t care if I’m happy?

I’m trying to figure out what my happy is. I bought a singing bowl in Ann Arbor to practice meditation. Del and I are going to Utah on a spiritual retreat in September. I’m going to try a pottery class in a few months. I’ve been completely changing how I style my hair every single day.

It turns out the little girl who is scared and hiding never fully got to come out. She was trapped in the corner just trying not to get yelled at. I’m trying to let her out more and more and see what she wants to do. Today, she wanted to write this and so I did.

Maternity Pics…

It took me over 30 years to get here.

Where is here? It’s at the corner of pregnant, and embracing the beauty of my body.

A few weeks ago we did a babymoon. We wanted to do maternity pics, and Del is a fantastic photographer. So we merged the trip with the photos and below is what Del created. I love how these turned out. I feel like they capture how amazing growing a human is, how beautiful I felt (most of the time), and how much Del and I are excited to share in this new journey.

36 weeks along

Hours. I spent hours staring at my growing belly. I would touch it, talk to our sweet girl, and pray that she grows up to be big and strong.

My Dellie. When people ask what I’m most excited about becoming a parent my answer is always “Seeing Del become a father.” I have no doubts he is going to be amazing.

On how to have a crappy marriage…

A few weeks ago, someone I know was going on endlessly about her terrible husband. Let’s call her “Mrs. Crankybutt.”

“I do everything! He NEVER does this! He doesn’t do that!”

After listening to Mrs. Crankybutt complain for an hour (yes, an hour) about her terrible husband, I told her, “If you want a happier marriage, you can start by trying to be nicer to your spouse.”

That didn’t end well. Mrs. Crankybutt came back at me with, “What would you know? I read your blog, and your marriage is perfect!” I’ve thought for several weeks about that last sentence. How does my blog portray my husband and my marriage? Do people really think my marriage is perfect? Do people think my husband is perfect?

What gets me the most about Mrs.Crankybutt’s sentence is the sheer irony. Maybe instead of listening to all of your friend’s pooptastic advice about how to “fix” your spouse, you should listen to the person standing in front of you that you think has a “perfect” marriage.

Both my husband and I are divorced, so I’ve tried to refrain from writing a blog on “How to have a good marriage,” because it seems exceptionally hypocritical given this is my second marriage. What does not seem hypocritical is to write the opposite; laced with all of the sarcasm I can muster.

How to have a crappy marriage

Publicly degrade your spouse

My ex-husband once had a group of guy friends over. They were playing a board game, so my ex-husband asked me to get the guys some drinks. When I said, “Sure” he looked at the guys and said, “See, didn’t I train her well!”

I was totally humiliated. I am not a dog. He was not my father. If you want a miserable marriage, make fun of your spouse. If you want a terrible marriage, mock your spouse in public.

Megaphone optional

 Hold onto past grievances

My favorite thing to do to my ex-husband was hold onto any error he ever committed.

He forgot my grad school graduation day. I held onto that for at least two years.

He didn’t get me anything for my birthday. I held onto that for at least three years.

I asked him to wash the dishes, and he didn’t. I held onto that for a few months.

Eventually, I held onto so many things that the resentment was untenable. This person I had loved became this person I could no longer stand to be around. If you want to hate your spouse, hold onto everything. Let it burn the inside of you until you melt.

He held onto resentment…

Blame your spouse for everything

During her one hour rant, Mrs. Crankybutt said to me, “I’m grounded. I’ve got my stuff figured out. But my husband – he needs to work on his issues.”

Mrs. Crankybutt. Is. A. F$%@&#$. Idiot.

Everyone has issues. Every person can improve him/herself.

My husband has the habit of leaving his clothing all over our house. I was once going to tell him to pick his pants up, but then I looked down and saw a clustering of my shoes surrounding his pants. I was so focused on what he was doing wrong, that I didn’t see my own stuff cluttering up our space.

If you want to dream of slapping your spouse, live in the ever-lasting denial that you don’t have any issues. Focus on all of your spouse’s flaws, and make sure to rub them in. Never take that log out of your eye, but focus on the stick in your spouse’s eye.

Kermit knows. He knows.

Don’t make your marriage a priority

Without asking me, my ex-husband told me he was going to go to law school. He then moved six hours away, and devoted all of his time to school. If I wanted a date night, law school came first. If I wanted to just see him, law school came first. After three years of not making me a priority, my ex-husband was no longer a priority for me.

I once heard of a couple that got a divorce because the husband wanted to play softball six nights a week, and the wife wanted him at home.

Some marriages are broken by alcohol and others by drugs. But most marriages break because one or both spouses make something else a priority – and they make it a priority for a long time.

If you too would like your marriage to break, prioritize other things above your marriage.

Also available with “I HATE My Wife”

May you all live crappily ever after!


The girl with the perfect marriage

Addition as of 6/24

Disclaimer: “Mrs. Crankybutt” is a fictitious character compiled from multiple recent events, and does not depict any one person. 

On losing my independence…

When I was in eighth grade, my history teacher once told the entire class “Stephanie, the day you are married I am going to come to your wedding and when the preacher asks who objects I am going to say ‘I object!  I object!  No one should ever ever marry this woman.  She is impossible to deal with.”

The first time I had a boyfriend, I can remember discussing the news with a girl in choir.  The girl was shocked that I was dating someone and I remember her saying “What?  You have a boyfriend?  But you are so independent.”

Once at dinner my mother and two brothers took a vote on who would be the last to get married.  Everyone unanimously voted that I would be the last to get married because “Stephanie is the most independent.  She just doesn’t need anyone.”

My entire life is spattered with little stories about being telling me I was independent.  Although some of the stories were funny or sweet, a few pointed to the dangers of always acting alone.  We are a country that praises ourselves on being independent.  We are told to free ourselves from being oppressed.  Heck, we even give the entire nation a day off from work to celebrate being free from control.  As I have learned along the way, being independence is not without its flaws.

I was decorating for a sorority dance in college with a sweet friend named Cassi.  Cassi had this idea to decorate the room, and being the independent leader I am…. I quickly told her the idea was dumb.  However “I let her” decorate the room how she wanted, telling her every step of the way that I thought her idea was dumb.  When we were finished decorating it was quite easily the best decorating I have been a part of.  Cassi’s idea was amazing, and I was wrong.  I was twenty one years old the first time I realized that my ideas were not always the best.

When I was about twenty five I taught a college class where we had to do a week-end camping trip.  As part of the trip, an upper classmate led my class of fifteen young adults for the entire week-end.  This was the first time in my life where I could have led, but was told not to.  Instead of leading, I laid back and watched Claire (the older student) take the lead.  By Saturday I was totally relaxed.  By Sunday morning I realized that Claire did a better job leading then I would have – or perhaps ever could.  I was twenty five the first time I realized that I don’t have to lead everything, and that some people do a better job leading then I could.

This morning my husband and I were getting ready for work.  Everything was going fine until he turned on the shower, and thereby increased the odds of humidity ruining my perfectly coiffed.  I lost it.  I walked away and started lecturing him on humidity and what it does to female hair.  I started doing my hair in another room and completely stopped talking to him.  Rather than getting mad at me for being totally irrational, my husband said to me “I love you.  How can I help you?”  I started crying.  Then he added “If you are having a problem I want to help.  Your problems are my problems.”  I started crying again.

I was twenty seven years old before I realized that I am no longer independent.  I have my own thoughts and friends and activities.  However, for the rest of my life, nothing I do will ever exist in a vacuum.  When I was single I could get ready however I wanted and no one would care.  When I was a dumb sorority girl I could blather on about how a room should be decorated (as if it actually mattered).  When I was in eighth grade I could argue with teachers about anything I wanted, and it didn’t matter.  But I am married now.  I am forever tied to this other amazing person.

My husband and I are reading a marriage book together.  The book equates the beginning of marriage to a masquerade ball.  When you are first dating and married you have a mask on and everything looks lovely.  As time passes, eventually the mask comes off and you fully see the person you have been dancing with.  When you are single you can hide your flaws.  Your flaws never come out because you can dance all day then go home at night.  When you are married, every flaw that you were able to hide is suddenly slammed full force into your spouse.  You can no longer hide the things you tucked away, because the person you are with can see them quite easily.

It is true that my independence gene has driven me to many successes.  I got a Master’s degree fairly young, I got to be president and vice president of stuff in college, and I got to lead some amazing things.  If I was listening closely I might have seen the dangers of my fierce independence.  I might have seen how in forces people away, insults people and makes some people feel little.  If I was listening closely I might have seen how it forces you to never ask for help, to lay in corners alone, and feel like no one is there to support you.

My eighth grade teacher never made it to my wedding, but my husband saw glimmers of my fierce independence before we got married.  Thankfully, while God gave me the gift of independence, he gave my husband the gift of collaboration.  While I could lead fifty people up a mountain, my husband would be the one holding them all together – cradling them as they struggle.

So here we sit… one cranky little independent girl and one sweet helpful boy.  We have danced our way to this struggle, and now we have no choice but to tackle it head on.  I have no clue what will happen next or where this will go…. But I am okay with my husband leading me.  I am okay with my husband helping me.  I am no longer the most independent girl you will ever meet, because I found someone I really truly need.