Category Archives: Marriage

Crazy Eight

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Today, KJ and I are celebrating our 8th anniversary. (Yay us! We made it through the reputed “itchy” year!) It feels like we should be getting credit for more than eight, because we actually met 17½ years ago when his brother married my childhood friend. Our history is long and complicated and full of drunk dialing and tearful diary entries. (I won’t tell you whom is responsible for which… )

Suffice it to say that he has been very important to me for a very long time.

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Taken a long time ago, when our biggest stress was which Jazzfest weekend to attend.

I don’t write about KJ or marriage very often on this blog, mostly because he is an adult and his life stories are his to share. Or not share, as the case may be. (But he does have some doozies, so next time you see him, ask him to tell you a few of them. Buy him a few beers first and the stories get even funnier.)

But today I’m going to make an exception. I’m going to share a few of my thoughts about marriage, and similar to my thoughts on parenting, it’s not all sparkly and pretty and happy unicorn glitter because, well, marriage can be hard. (Don’t worry KJ… I come around to complimenting you, I promise.)

We’ve all heard the expression that “marriage is work,” and while that’s definitely true, I’ve discovered that marriage also includes waiting. Because like so many other things in life – parenting, productivity, creativity – marriage has its “up-cycles” and “down-cycles.”

The up-cycles are magic. You and your spouse are connecting. You’re laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  You’re communicating. You’re getting stuff done. You’re bringing out the best in each other and you’re making each other happy. It’s all just working. You’re connected.

That’s the easy part.

But inevitably, the up-cycle ends and you hit a down-cycle, and things are just a little bit off. Maybe there’s work stress or family drama or uncooperative hormones… whatever the cause, the down-cycles are… yuck. Both of you are a little bit more annoyed… and a little bit more annoying. You’re not communicating well and there may be just a tiny bit of bickering.

Down-cycles are about disconnect.

A down-cycle can last for weeks or it can last a day. (And I remember seeing an old couple on Oprah once who said they hated each other for a year. That’s a helluva long down-cycle but they were celebrating their 75th anniversary, so they must have done something right.) Sometimes you can talk your way through it, but sometimes, you just have to wait it out.

It has taken me eight 17½ years to learn that the up-cycles and the down-cycles are inevitable. Not every up-cycle means you’ve “figured it all out” and now have the perfect marriage. And more importantly, not every down-cycle means you have a shitty relationship that is destined to fail. There are highs and there are lows. And as the years go by, the goal is to make the up-cycles last longer and longer.

(I promise KJ, the nice part is coming.)

What I’m trying to say is that when you choose to spend the rest of your life with a person, he or she should be someone that’s fun and funny and makes you laugh and loves you and respects you and all of that. Because when you’re in the HIGHs, nothing is better than having that partner by your side.

But you should also choose someone who is knows there will be lows and is worth the lows, because there will be times when things feel annoying and disjointed and crappy. You have to want to get out of it. You need someone that’s in for the long haul – a safety net. You have to choose a person who will be waiting on the other side of the down-cycle with a Margarita, saying, “Well, THAT sucked, but we’re back!”

I did.

I picked a guy who is fantastic in the up-cycles. He is funny and kind and interesting and supportive and a great father (although I’m not sure the smack talk during the Trouble games is setting a very good example) and we laugh. A lot.

But he’s also patient during the down-cycles. He’s not critical. He’s not angry. He just waits. We both wait. And then they come to an end.

Then things get great again. And we laugh. Again.

One of our favorite family quotes is when my very wise brother-in-law said, “Women are ALL crazy… it’s just a matter of finding the crazy you can live with.”

KJ, I’m so glad you decided that I’m the crazy you can live with.

Happy Anniversary… and cheers to many more years and many more up-cycles. 🙂

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Please note: For those of you wondering, KJ did get “previewing rights” for this post and has approved all points for public consumption – i.e. for the 18 of you.)

Lucky #7

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Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of the best party I have ever attended. EVER. It had everything I love about a good party… great food, lots of drinks, a candy bar, a chocolate fountain, lots of dancing, late-night DJ playing Bon Jovi and Bruce to a Jersey-centric crowd, and most importantly, almost all of my closest friends and family. The party was my wedding, so you may think I’m biased, but honestly, I’m being completely objective when I say that it was the best party ever in the history of ever.

Anyway, it has been a pretty busy seven years for us. We had only started living together a few weeks before we got married, so there was THAT whole transition. (I’m talking about the proverbial “He really leaves the cap off the toothpaste? People really do that?” arguments discoveries.)

And then there was the whole “having 16 kids in four years” thing. So almost immediately we were debating the pros and cons of having an amnio instead of debating Indian vs. Thai food (spoiler alert: naan wins.) We started talking about cribs and diapers instead of Jazzfest and Phish shows. And the biggest change… like sooo many other brave Suburban Migrators before us, we went from an awesome apartment in the Village to suburban life – minivan, swingset, soccer fields and all.

The point is, that as we drove down to the Jersey Shore on our 7th Anniversary – I mean, how else would anyone spend their 7th Anniversary duh – I started thinking about how seven years is when you’re supposed to get that itch or something?

But I couldn’t help but wonder.. who the hell has time for a rash? (Ba dum dum. I was going for Carrie Bradshaw there… did you get it?)

No, I really started thinking – as best I could from the middle row where I sat so that I could dole out goldfish the glassy-eyed kids who would only remove their eyes from “Hotel for Dogs” to HIT EACH OTHER and then ask for more snacks – and this is what I realized:

These are our Salad Years.

Go ahead. Take a moment to relish in the profoundity. (Shut up; it’s a word now.)

I mean it, SALAD YEARS. OK, let me take you through my whole internal dialogue (and external yelling) during that car ride. And this is honestly, 100% completely how it went down in my brain:

Seven years. Hmmm. Feels like longer. Maybe because we’ve been macking out* for 20 years. Or maybe because we had all these freaking kids in – Hey guys, a little less screaming back there – a short period of time. But you know what? We are really so lucky. So blessed. We are going to look back on this time and – Loud One, please stop reaching out and waving your hands in The Nibbit’s face – realize that these were great times. Sure the kids can be – Nibbit, PLEASE STOP IT. Saying, “Neh, neh, neh, neh, neh, neh, neh” over and over again is neither cute charming nor– slightly less than perfect, but they’re mostly sweet and – I AM  NOT  KIDDING. KNOCK IT OFF – cute and funny. We’re going to think back and remember being able to travel with Grandma and Grammy & Pop and the cousins – Shhhhhhhhh! – and how are biggest concerns were sleep schedules and – PLEASE do not wake Happy Dude up – meal-planning. I think these are what they call the Salad Years. Wait, is that right? Why do they call good times “salad years” anyway? – QUIET GAME TIME! – I’m going to have to Wiki that one because that’s ridiculous.** The really good times should be called something like … the Sugar Years. Or the Heavy Carbs Years. Although maybe it applies to the fact that right now, my biggest stress is that I really should be eating less sugar and heavy carbs and more salad. Huh. What do you know, it IS appropriate.

So.

Despite my rambling train[wreck] of thought, my [cheesy as it may be] overall sentiment remains the same… I feel truly blessed

I have an incredible family. Seriously, like the best one of the planet. If there were Olympics for families, mine would be like the Russian gymnasts, Nigerian runners, Jamaican bobsledders and Michael Phelps all rolled into one team.

I have amazing friends. Old friends – who are top of mind as I spend time at the Jersey shore (minus the Steve Miller, Sun-In and baby oil) – and new friends who make me feel like life in the suburbs is actually going to be really fun.

And most importantly, I have one super awesome friend that agreed to be my date at the best party I’ve ever attended and say “Yup, I do.” (Get it? It’s KJ.) Twenty years of friendship, seven years of marriage. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns Margaritas and beer but it’s damn close.

Trust me when I say that I am lucky in a zillion ways. I mean it. A zillion. You know how they say “count your blessings?” Well, I did. And it took a loooooong time. (And then it took even longer to knock on every piece of wood in the WORLD so as not to jinx my lucky ass.)

So, we celebrated seven years.

Yup, these are the Sugar Days for sure.

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*Note to my very supportive Dad who reads all of these posts even though this type of blog is most definitely not his cup of coffee: “macking out” means hanging out innocently and doing things like reading the newspaper together. It most definitely is not a term that was created by my college roommates to reflect the kissing behaviors of one Krissy Mac.)

**It turns out that Wiki says that “Salad days” is an “idiomatic expression, referring to a youthful time, accompanied by the inexperience, enthusiasm, idealism, innocence, or indiscretion that one associates with a young person,” which, while I don’t feel particularly youthful or enthusiastic now, MAY be perfectly accurate when we look back in 20 years. 

PS. One final note… for those of you that are questioning my use of “Salad Years” because it’s usually phrased as “Salad Days,” I say this: you are taking this blog too seriously. Stop it.

 

Valentine’s Day Vows

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In the past few weeks, you’ve heard a lot of complaining from me. To read this blog, you’d think I had monster kids and a very stressful life. But that’s totally NOT true… my life isn’t that stressful and my kids are only three-quarter-parts-monster.

But today, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to post with a different spin. This one is all about love. And rainbows. And unicorns. And only a little about pigs. So, let’s get our mush on. (omg, that was SO BAD. I’m sorry.)

So here’s the deal… Valentine’s Day has never been a big deal between my husband and myself. We usually trade cards – he writes something nice, I usually include some reference to beer. We order sushi for dinner instead of pizza. Maybe we see a movie together instead of our typical date night, which as I’ve mentioned before, is driving to the theater together and then seeing separate movies because we can’t agree on what to see.*

*Last time we went to the movies – I saw “The Descendents,” he saw, “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – I sat next to a couple and proceeded to talk to the woman for 20 minutes (yup, I crashed somebody else’s date) about how awful teenagers and how parenting only gets harder and harder. Good times.

But this year, in addition to the beer card, I’m going to make a public effort to let him know how much I appreciate him. Because he’s awesome and – this may come as a total shock to all of you – I’m not ALWAYS super-easy to live with. I know, I know… you can’t believe it, there’s no way that’s true, it couldn’t possibly be, go on… But honestly, on occasion, I can be a bit… difficult.

So as my Valentine’s Day present to my not-quite-better-but-definitely-equal-half, I’m going to publicly confess to my biggest relationship flaws and offer him some Valentine’s Vows on how I resolve to be better. Here goes:

Flaw: Uber-promptness. In my world, if we’re not ten minutes early, we’re late. This translates to leaving super-early for everything and then usually having way too much time to kill on the other end. But what if we get a flat tire? Or get lost? Or have to deal with a poop explosion where we have to hose down a kid, burn all the clothes and disinfect the entire car?

Valentine’s Vow: I will always want to leave earlier than you, BUT I vow not to stand at the door, tapping my toes, sighing heavily, staring at my watch, while you lackadaisically walk around the house making sure every window is locked and every appliance is unplugged. I also vow to secretly set all of your watches and clocks ahead by ten minutes.

Flaw: Snippiness. Whatever.

Valentine’s Vow: Ask a stupid question, get a snippy answ… I’m sorry. That was snippy and so NOT in the spirit of love. Let me rephrase: I promise to try to tolerate your unnecessary questions better.

Flaw: I’m not always so affectionate. I grew up surrounded by a warm, loving Italian family – we hugged and kissed upon arrival, before departure and when the baked ziti was put on the table. But then I had three kids. And they are physically ON me ALL. THE. TIME. So I’m not always as open to displays of affection as I should be.

Valentine’s Vow: I will not squirm when you hug me anymore.

Flaw: I have a hard time letting things go after we argue. Like that time, five years ago, when you told me that … nevermind.

Valentine’s Vow: I’ll try to keep a 24-hour limit on my brooding. That’s going to be hard for me. I’m not making any promises.

Side note: People who say “never go to bed angry” are bullshit. For me, it’s more like “never go into the next month angry.”

So there you have it, in a very public forum (granted, not read by that many people) I have confessed to my biggest relationship sins. I apologize for them and I vow to try to be better at this whole “wife thing.”

KJ – for the 17 years I have known you, you have been the sun to my days and the moon to my … BWAH HA HA HA! Kidding. But I am glad that you are the guy I get to give beer cards to on Valentine’s Day. Hugs and kisses. (See, I’m better already! Virtual hugs and kisses are better than none, am I right?)

Happy Valentine’s Day, people. Bye.

A long PS. A few days ago, I asked C. to tell me about something she loves. She said, “Oh that’s easy… I love puppies and dogs. Especially Huskies. And presents. And Disney World and that Disney on Ice show we saw. And butterflies. And bugs. And Mommy. And Daddy.”

Seriously? Puppies and dogs, especially Huskies, presents, Disney World and that Disney on Ice show we saw, butterflies and bugs are all higher on the list than ME?? The woman who birthed you and caters to your every whim?? Huh. Well, at least I can say, suck it Daddy. She may like bugs better than me, but at least she likes me more than you.

(Wow, again, NOT very Valentinesy… I’m sorry KJ. I didn’t mean to tell you to suck it. I’m sure she loves us equally.)

(Wow, that wasn’t very honest… I’m sorry KJ. I didn’t mean to blatantly lie to you.)

So, THEN I said, “Tell me about something you do NOT love.” She thought and thought and thought and in my head, I’m thinking (Wow, I can think of a million things I do not like – traffic, hangovers, black coffee, temper tantrums, moving wet clothes from the washer to the dryer, social events where I don’t know anyone, cilantro, checking the mail only to find it hasn’t arrived yet, gyno visits, stubbing my toe, exercise, snowstorms, tablespoons, weeding, filling ice trays, pumping gas, blow-drying my hair, putting sunblock on the kids… I could go on and on) and she finally says, “Oh I know. PIGS.”

Pigs?

“Not the cute piglet kind but like the grown-up pigs. Those are not cute.”

Well, at least she’s clear on that.

KJ would never give me this card.