My husband and I recently made a promise to go on one awesome date every month. I suppose that when we made this promise I knew we might eventually have to break it, but I certainly didn’t imagine it would happen just a few months into the attempt, or that it would be my fault.
Perhaps I should temper my disappointment with the reality that my husband was home just nine days out of the entire month of March . Squeezing a super rad date in between his much-needed time with our kids, his parents visiting for three days, and my being sick for two could be classified as “ambitious.”
Still, I’m bummed. Because, man-oh-man, did I need to go on a date this month.
And there you have it. I needed a date this month. I needed some awesome.
I talk a lot about the importance of keeping your relationship lively and interesting - that these dates are just one way to help couples spend a little bit of time focusing on their very important partnership. I’m realizing as I write that I’ve forgotten how aptly that notion could apply to my relationship with myself, too.
In truth, we spent yesterday’s would-be date in our therapist’s office. While I desperately needed a date, it turned out that we desperately needed a therapy appointment. During Ryan’s time at home he felt like I was being extremely critical of his every move, from the way he drove to the sponge he used to wipe the counter to the way he cut the grapes. And I was, but I thought he should just deal with it because I have very specific systems in place to make things run smoothly when he’s gone. I can’t simply shut off the part of my brain that, in fact, does have to control everything when I’m the only parent at home for weeks at a time.
I was sure our therapist would agree with me and tell Ryan that he needs to give me a wider berth during his (what are essentially) visits home. He’s been gone for work most of the year and will continue to pop in and out of our home life until the fall, so he should just let me run the show and do his best to fit in. It makes sense.
Ha! HA HA! I can almost laugh about it now… Because what she actually said was, “Angela, what happened to you?”
Further questioning led to a confession about my insanely high frustration level, spiked in the past few months by the combination of working more than I ever have since before our kids were born and having far less help. As I’ve taken on more work (a good thing!) my kids are spending a lot more time with the iPad (a not-so-good thing!) and I’m left feeling like I’m not writing or mothering half as well as I know I can. I feel bad about everything I’m doing. And it sucks - it really, really sucks.
But far be it for me to actually say all of that to my husband. Apparently I’d rather let it out in barbs and jabs and tiny little criticisms that can’t possibly seem bitchy on their own, but taken in aggregate make my husband feel like he’d rather not be in the same room with me, let alone go on a date.
Turns out, if I’m not caring for myself the way I need to - the way I would encourage any of my friends to do, but have a hard time allowing for myself - I become undateable.
That one therapy-session-in-lieu-of-date made me realize that I have to stop trying to do this by myself; it’s time to find and hire the help I need. And I have to be okay with the fact that I’m not superhuman. I’m just a regular human who needs a massage and routine therapy appointments. Oh, and I need to take myself out on a date (yes, I said it - cue the corny sitcom music and ask me if I care!).
It takes a village!
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