I think our generation has made great advances in working towards being real about parenthood. Today’s parents don’t feel quite as compelled to sugarcoat things, though we do often rush to add the “Of course I love my kids more than anything,” disclaimer. But for the most part, we can comfortably acknowledge that while our children enhance our lives and fill us with great joy, there are parts of parenthood that suck.
I think we might be getting there with the subject of marriage, too. It is more common for “modern” married couples to refer to books to try to understand and improve their relationships, and even seeing a marriage counselor is no longer taboo. I love that people are talking about marriage, and how it’s not all beach vacations and mindblowing sex. I think our generation does a pretty good job finding the funny parts of marriage, too, and learning to laugh at the absurd moments of married life. Which is why I was so excited when I learned that the follow-up book to I Just Want to Pee Alone was about marriage.
I think I Just Want To Be Alone may do great things for the dialogue about modern marriage- it shines a light on some of the frustrating dynamics that exist between husbands and wives, and it does so in a wry, entertaining, relatable way. Rather than highlighting the Facebook world of marriage, (“I am SO blessed to have the most thoughtful husband ever!” ” 20 years together and more in love every day!” Which is great, but…) it’s a hilarious peek into real married life. Nicole Leigh Shaw articulates it perfectly in her essay, “Maybe Paula Abdul Was Right,” sharing an entertaining glimpse into a typical night watching TV with her husband.
I don’t need a spouse who’s my everything. I need one who’s my most things.
Amy Flory cracked me up by sharing how her over-achieving husband drove her bonkers when their baby was born. Lisa Newlin had me laughing out loud with her hilarious chapter, “It’s Beans, Bitch!” (You know you want to read that one, right?) I was so excited to read several of my favorite bloggers’– Meredith Spidel of The Mom of the Year and Stephanie Jankowski of When Crazy Meets Exhaustion— essays about their husband’s somewhat irritating habits, hobbies, and tendencies. There’s some good stuff here, ladies. (Beekeeping anyone? Ill-timed gasoline spills?) And one of my absolute favorites was “The Case for the Bathroom Agreement” from Meredith Napolitano. So. Funny.
I loved Kim Bongiorno from Let Me Start By Saying‘s essay about taking a “romantic” European vacation with her husband of over a decade- it was so refreshing to get a deeper glimpse of real married traveling than just the requisite staged snapshots by historical landmarks. The ending of their vacation was so much richer and sweeter than any “perfect” trip would have been. We all benefit from seeing that other married couples don’t live life out of a movie.
I really enjoyed the humorous, honest glimpses of these women writer’s marriages. I think it’s easy to assume that other people’s marriages are perfect, but let’s be real- that “greener” grass we think is out there is probably just astroturf. Sure, your neighbor’s husband may take ballroom dancing lessons with her, but he’s never changed a diaper in his life. And your sister may be married to Mr. Sensitivity, but he just isn’t the reliable, dependable man you call Hubs.
We all feel annoyed by our partner’s habits sometimes, and I’m sure we can all attest to the fact that we irritate the crap out of our husbands, as well. But sometimes in the middle of those imperfect qualities, those flaws, is where we find true intimacy, when we realize we know our partner better than anyone else does.
So I’m going to share one of our favorite family jokes- my husband and his limited ability to express emotions. His face is so impassive much of the time that often when he has a completely neutral look on his face, I’ll comment to someone nearby, “That’s Shawn’s gleeful face. No, wait, now he’s feeling trepidatious… no, wait, he’s humiliated…” To further illustrate the point, here is our very own:
Shawn’s Feelings Chart
Because really, if we can’t laugh about marriage and family life, wouldn’t we all just cry?
You can buy your own copy of I Just Want to Be Alone here!
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