Column: For this marriage, it’s about love, chaos, realityJuly 31, 2013
By JASON RECKER
I approached with caution. Couldn’t hurt to ask, right?
“You think you can watch ”˜The Bachelorette’ on the iPad this week?” I began sheepishly, mumbling like a sixth-grader asking his mother for permission to hold a cute girl’s hand. “Because IU plays in the College World Series at 7. I’d like to watch.”
Should iTunes charge a fee, I said, I was willing to pay. Should ”˜The Bachelorette’ decide that night to leave the show in a rage-filled tantrum including flying vases and bleeped-out expletives, I would offer to flip the station between innings.
She yielded. I applauded. Our marriage lived another day.
In a few days — unless my wife decides to roll her temperamental, obsessive-compulsive, dork of a mate down the driveway with two trash stickers affixed to his forehead — we will have been married for a decade. I’m proud of a few things in my life; sustaining a marriage is chief among them (another is how I can eat enormous amounts of ice cream late at night without waking the kids).
I’m not here to preach or gush or philosophize about what makes it work (the marriage, not the ice cream). It’s just that when I think about what real-life marriage is, at least in my house, I can’t help but laugh.
It’s about Facebook. When three kids extinguish free time and you don’t have a second for a kiss, you flirt by “liking” her status update.
It’s about a high-five in the hallway while she’s en route to remove the pizza from the oven and I’m on my way to untangle a 6- and 4-year-old wrapped in a whirlwind of punches, pushes, pulls and pinches. It’s letting her drive this time while I pander to a disgruntled 1-year-old in the back of the van. It’s I’ll take the dog on a walk so you can enjoy 15 minutes of peace. It’s please take the kids grocery shopping so I can finish cleaning the house.
It’s yes, go see your friends. It’s yes, go play church league softball. It’s not holding a grudge when she’d rather play Candy Crush than talk about work or this weekend or what’s for dinner. It’s not holding a grudge when I elect to fall asleep on the couch watching something on The History Channel. It’s understanding that “too tired” is a reason, not an excuse.
It’s I’m so mad at you right now, don’t talk to me; remind me what attracted me to you in the first place. But it’s all better the next morning. It’s about dropping it.
Mom and dad are on the same team, we tell the kids. It’s about screens and sacrifice bunts and getting up off the bench to say “good job” even if neither of us really did a good job. It’s OK to lie about the little stuff sometimes. Yes, that shirt looks great.
It’s about please. It’s about thank you. Even for something as simple as putting ice in my tea.
I don’t know what I thought it was all about 10 years ago. You hear all this wisdom that it’s about hard work and forgiveness and being best friends. But it sounds so clichÃ©, you don’t really believe it. You don’t comprehend the level at which each of those qualities is required, anyway. Maybe you did. Maybe your marriage is filled with fairy tale chapters and you think I’ve just described an arrangement void of romantic substance.
But I like what we’ve got going.
I see the newlyweds, their made-for-the-camera grins in this newspaper almost every day. Most of them look so happy I could puke.
Funny, the gulf between the pomp-and-circumstance utopia of wedding day and the reality that awaits. Too wide, too deep, too randomly turbulent for even Nik Wallenda.
Not that I saw the crazy man Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon on a high wire. Not live anyway. Watched it two nights later. DVR’d it. She was probably watching one of those “Sex and the City” movies or something.
Sometimes you win. Sometimes she wins.
It’s about compromise. So far, it’s working out.
Jason Recker is the enterprise editor at The Herald. If anything will disrupt his marriage, it might be that he publicizes his private life once a month in a newspaper. Just doing my job, Abby. It’s about a paycheck. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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