Tuesday, March 1, 2011

5 Things That Surprised Me About... Marriage

My husband, the incomparable yet curmudgeonly Cap’n Coupon and I have been together for fifteen years and married for over thirteen. We’re still getting to know each other. Half the things he says make me go “WHUCK are you even talking about?” But I think that may be why I still want to hang out with him. Because there are still a lot of surprises. Also, he's cute. 

Marriage is pretty surprising in general. The longer I’m in it, the weirder it gets.  The following are five things about marriage that have surprised me:

Time is relative.
When we were courting and newlyweds (i.e., "the Schmoopy Period"), we were together all the time. We HAD to be together. When I would go a couple of hours without seeing the Cap’n, I would get lonely for him. If one of us got too busy with school or work or our friends, the other person would feel sort of hurt. I didn’t want to be alone, I just wanted to be with him.  It was like a bad Carpenters' song.

Now? I’d rather be alone for five minutes than win Mega Millions. Buying groceries by myself is the highlight of my week. It’s no different for the Cap’n - we now play cut throat games of rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to go Target unaccompanied. About a month ago, he saw that I was about to lose my Schmidt after a really grueling day stuck in the house with the little terror suspects and he said: “I’ll put the kids to bed. Go to Target, honey. Take your time.”

If he had given me a diamond necklace I couldn’t have loved him more at that moment.

The truth is that, as we have both gotten older, we have discovered that we are like calories and fancy underthings.  We need -- and can accommodate -- a lot less than we did years ago.  And that's okay.  But we still love each other, maybe more than before.  It's just that we wish that we could give ourselves timeouts from time-to-time.

Relatives are relative.
In-laws are family, until you say something about my mother. It may be more accurate to say that in-laws are just like family. But be careful what you say because, unless you are very sure of your footing, you could walk into a big, steaming pile of crap. Example:

Lydia: My uncle Joe is fully coco-loco. Can you believe he did that?
Cap’n: Of course I can believe it, he’s been moon-bat crazy since before there were moon-bats.
Lydia: What. Exactly. Do. You. Mean. By. That?
Cap’n: Nothing. You look pretty today. Is that a unicorn out there on the deck?
(Lydia looks, Cap’n runs away)

No such thing as little things.
The Cap’n and I don’t really fight about big things. We either agree or compromise. Where to live, how many kids to breed, jobs, friends, family – all the important stuff we work out with surprisingly little difficulty. But the little things… Putting plates on the dishwasher instead of in the dishwasher, saying he’ll be home at 7 and then not leaving the office until 7 and forgetting to call me, not being able to find something and then glaring at me as if I have purloined whatever it is he’s looking for. Like I have any use for the 2010 Baseball Prospectus. It’s a book of statistics the size of an encyclopedia. About baseball. What possible use would I have for that thing? These are issues that have driven me to freak the freak out on a fairly consistent basis for the past fifteen years, and there seems little hope of that changing in the future.

There’s never enough money.
The first year we were married, we owed about 4 times more money in student loans than we earned.  We were broke-itty broke.  It was The Year of Ramen Noodles.  Over the years that ratio has flipped, but with every extra dollar we earn there seems to be about twenty more things we need to spend it on.  About the same time we dug ourselves out of debt, three short people showed in up in quick succession. Let's be honest: they're cute and all, but they're expensive as hell.  And I decided to try working and found out that after taxes and childcare, we actually made less money

We don't live large. I mean, I drive a big white Ford tampon that was bought used (that's right, I drive a used tampon). But when I say there's never enough money, I'm not even talking about all the things that I want but can't afford.  You know; the trip to Disney, a new MacBook Pro, or anything awesome that I stand practically no chance of getting my grubby little hands on.  I'm talking about all of the other things I thought we'd have all sorted out by the time we reached the ripe old age of ...nevermind.  Things like having a decent start on the kids' college funds, or our retirement, or maybe owning a house, you name it.  Was there some sort of advanced grown-up class that we missed?  Where you learn how to have a sitcom family? At this rate, we'll never be Huxtables...
Romantic evenings usually include the grocery store.
Do you have any idea the amount of planning it takes to schedule a romantic evening? First, you have to find a babysitter. Then you have to have the "Well, where do you want to go? I don't know. Where do you want to go?" conversation.  Then reservations must be made.  Then you have to get gussied up. No wait. First, you have to gussy up your house because if your teenage babysitter had any idea how nasty it usually is she might not ever agree to sit on your couch and text work for you again. Then you go to dinner and probably eat too much and then on the way home you realize you're out of milk and Pull Ups.  That's how every single hot date we have ends up at the grocery store. 
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. OMG, that last one is so true it hurts!

  2. “I’ll put the kids to bed. Go to Target, honey. Take your time.”
    I. <3. those. words.

  3. You don't want to be Huxtables, anyway. They have to wear those ugly sweaters and probably *Never* drink wine out of a cube.

  4. Oh, so glad I'm not the only one!

  5. Holy. Crap.

    This is so true. Going out requires more cleaning than having someone over for dinner, because when you're GONE, you can't keep them from going into the room you piled all the crap into. You can't keep re-directing them away from the blanket that's covering the huge pile of festering laundry in the corner of the room.

    And our dates are getting disturbingly short. As though we have forgotten the art of taking our time. We hired a sitter from 6:00 to, say, 10 p.m.one night. And we were HOME by 7:45. And that's only because we went to get gas AND we grabbed diet Cokes from the 7-11 and drove around for a while.
    What did we used to DO for four hours? Dinner only takes -- at most-- 45 minutes. And I can't ever go to movies in the evenings because I . Fall. Asleep. if the movies start after 5 p.m.

    Maude, help me~
    --kate in Michigan

  6. Lydia-

    My hubby and I just celebrated 15 years of dating - almost 8 years of marriage... We have 3 little rugrats, 6,4 and 2... However, I drive a red minivan, that we also bought, used. ewww...

    Thanks for your posts, they keep me sane! And, yeah, we missed that class, too. And - btw- next time you guys have a "date," you should try, Bugsy's in Old Town Alexandria, they have a lunch buffet, all you can eat salad and pizza for 6.95, best pizza ever!

  7. Ahhh, Wegmans! The incomparable end to every great date. Also a great Mom's Night Out. (Who knew that shopping alone for basic necessities would be so much anticipated in my week? Sad. . . .)

  8. So glad I ran across this on facebook. This is the best Blog ever! It is like reading what goes on in my own home and family. LOVE IT!!!

  9. "I'll put the kids to bed. Go to Target, honey. Take your time."

    Yes! Those 13 words can save a marriage!

  10. Love this! My in-laws have been married for 30 years and on their anniversary I overheard my MIL say to my FIL: "Well, there's no divorce now. Only murder."

  11. Purloined! You have won my heart with your fancy language. And your romantic trips to the grocery store. My husband and I love to stroll through the produce section. And long walks down the freezer aisle. Moon lit, of course.

  12. 17 years and counting and I hear you on this! Only we just decided to have kids so ours are 3 months and 3 years. Had to re-learn how to be married after nearly 15 years together. What a trip!

  13. I dunno, Lyds... that baseball book sounds like it would be handy for LOTS of things. You know, holding up the dresser that I broke the leg off of, or keeping a door open. You could put it somewhere with the spine hidden and use it to lift a cute tchotchke off of a table. And then, these people thought of a bunch of good things you could do with it:


    Like I said, I may have to side with the Cap'n on this one.

  14. I love being in Korea, it's an awesome adventure. But I really DISLIKE all the Korean confusion I have to go through to try to post on here. This isn't Rants fault by any means... but I just wanted to lament my frustration aloud. Besides it probably won't post because I'll not answer whatever question it's asking me correctly anyway! :-D

  15. LOVE this post! We've been together for 9 years, married for a little over five, and now have two kids and I can relate on so many points! On Saturday we went out to the movies and realized it's the first time we've been out on a "date", just the two of us, since last July. And it makes me feels so much better to know that I'm not the only one with money issues. I'm constantly amazed that my parents made it seem so easy when I was a kid - I keep waiting for the day when I figure this all out!

  16. Oh what perfect timing you have. Today is our 20th anniversary and I still am not sure what I'm doing! Kids went to Grandmother's house on Sunday for an overnighter. We went out to dinner (with a coupon), DQ (with a coupon), picked up a Redbox (spent the whole dollar) and were home by 630! Amazing part of it? We didn't fall asleep watching the movie. Sometimes being in your own home with no noise is like a little honeymoon.

  17. You guys KILL ME!

    I especially LOVE the part about romantic evenings at Wegmans. (Which is the best grocery store in the world, btw.) Some days I daydream about just sitting in Wegmans with a Cinnamon Bun Latte with skim milk, reading the D&C with my husband next to me.... quite a fantasy! And I only have 1 child!

  18. I thought hubby and I were the only marrieds who did the rock, paper, scissors thing---except we do it to decide who's going to the kitchen to fetch a midnight snack/drink.

    Married for 13 years, together 15! Woot!

  19. I'm talking about all of the other things I thought we'd have all sorted out by the time we reached the ripe old age of ...nevermind. I have said those words 8 quadrillion times! That we shouldn't be worried about money anymore, that the bills should all be paid and that retirement wasn't jut a pipe dream! Once again, you are in my life/head/heart. Getting cozy, isn't it?

  20. We have 36 down, and our kids our launched--as in, no one asks for $$ very often. Keep doing the daily stuff for what seems like an ETERNITY, until poof, you can't remember getting babysitters any more. We "seasoned moms" are pulling for all you young moms.

  21. When you're in college, you could live for days on $10, then when you're in apartment living/single time, you were so excited to have $100 - then, you get married and have kids and bills seem to come in marked in the $1000s - car repairs and house repairs and then, vacations - gesh, dragging all the kids along, you need like $10,000. So, I guess we are progressing..... right up to the $100,000 college bills we will be facing. Ahhhh, thank god there is still wine for under $10!

  22. Ah yes, the unaccompanied trip to Target. Good times. My favorite gift from my husband on his days off: "Honey you sleep in. I will get the kids ready and take them to school." Sure their clothes won't match and their hair will be...special...but I get to sleep in so all is well in the universe on those days.

  23. I still can't find your hidden camera in my house. Right down to the Baseball Prospectus (bonus, they have a website you can PAY to read! Woo-hoo! Um, no.), and ending a date with a trip to Wegmans.

    But the real reason I'm posting is 'cause I found you about a month ago, and I just finished reading the whole blog! Loved it, laughed 'til I cried, it was better than "Cats." But now I'm left feeling like the Blowfish at the end of Finding Nemo--"Now what?" Hmmph. I guess I could clean up the house. . . Can't wait for the next post!

  24. This was an awesome post, made awesomer by the fabulous Wegman's shout-out. I am a former upstate NY-er and now Michigan transplant, and I miss Weggie's more than I should say (so that no one questions my sanity any more than usual). If only my husband and I could go to Weggie's on the way home from a date... sigh.

    The leaving at 7 and not calling thing is definitely the norm at our house. I do not understand why it is so hard for him to understand that I need to know these things to plan the evening routine for the kids and so I don't get bugged every 5 seconds about when Daddy will be home you said he would be home now I want Daddy WHERE'S DADDY.

  25. I think you have cameras in my house. No, really....I love to Target/Publix shop alone. :)

  26. Hilarious post! And so true, all of it...

    A good mom friend told me about the night her husband came home to find her THIS CLOSE to killing the three kids. She looked at him and said "If you take care of them for the next two hours, including putting them to bed, I'll give you a BJ." Yes, why GIVE them away when you can barter them for time alone -- with yourself...

  27. Thank you!!! My husband & I have been together for 15yrs (married 11) & sometimes I think we're the only ones who "fight" over who gets to go to "Wally World" & who stays home with the little bundles of joy :). And don't get me started on the in-laws, my girlfriends & I are still trying to figure out how you can fall hopelessly in love with someone, but, (under other circumstances) you wouldn't choose to be friends with the "village" that raised him. And your right, I can say my sisters a "nut" but depending on my mood he had better choose his adjectives more carefully. As always thanks for the laughs, Karen

  28. I like that not only do I love reading your posts, but the comments too. We've been together 19 years, married 13, and have 2 kiddos 8 & 6. The last time we went on a date, we went to Olive Garden (coupon & giftcard), went to the movies (giftcard & $10) and had to pay the sitter ($40). I'm looking for sitter cards to get punched or something! :o) Our kids are getting older so our dates are getting more frequent - having the sitter over is like playtime max for the kiddos, WIN all around! Our dates usually end at Walmart, but that last one didn't - WOOHOO!!! (Namely cuz I wanted to get home before we owed the sitter more) :)

  29. Things like having a decent start on the kids' college funds, or our retirement, or maybe owning a house, you name it. Was there some sort of advanced grown-up class that we missed?


  30. Angry-over-something-not-really-filched little thing? Yeah, that's totally us! He gets a squinty-eyed and mean, and then he trips over the thing he thought he'd lost. Then he argues about how nothing is ever put away in the house.

    In defense of the Cap'n though? The 2010 Baseball Prospectus was on the NYT Best Seller list.

  31. AHHH< the part about the babysitter on the couch texting...hahaha, I wondered if ours was the only one doing that! She needs to realize though, that our oldest 3 are 7, 5 and 5 and tell. mommy. everything. Now I hide the computer and the iphone charger so she has to play with them!

    p.s. the rest was right on too, love it!

  32. My friend is getting married this summer. I'm giving a speech. I'm going to read this post. I will give you credit. I SWEAR.

  33. My hubs and I recently had our first "date" since our daughter was born and, yeah...we ended up at the grocery store buying peanut butter and wipes. Only instead of getting gussied up and going someplace nice we went for pizza and I got to wear pants that don't have elastic in them and a bra without removable cups which was gussied up enough for me.




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