The one thing you should do for your husband

Don’t you just love date night?

Holding hands. Conversation without interruption. Being out and about together. Taking your time for everything – especially that glass of wine. Acting as if you normally dress like this and have makeup on and are showered (yea, right? That would be something huh, moms?)

How easy our married lives would be if we could always live in the glow of date nights. If laundry and work and cutting the grass and toddlers and making sandwiches and paying the bills didn’t remind us that we have actual responsibilities. 

It’s hard to maintain the afterglow of date nights when life happens. I always resolve myself at the end an evening out that I am going to keep these carefree feelings alive and show my husband how much I care for and love him EVERYDAY. Not just once a month, when we sneak out for an evening together.

Then my dreams face plant into reality.

In my usual frame of thinking, I am much too busy to put myself out there with my husband because the kids need a bath and their teeth brushed and to be put into bed. I have to clean the dishes. I have to feed the baby. I am much too busy to be expected to give anyone else anymore of myself.

Then by the time the kids are in bed, and there is any sliver of a chance of connecting with my husband, I am much too tired. It becomes one more chore on a checklist of things that require something of me. Doesn’t that just sound so romantic? 

I struggle with being needed. And because the children sometimes scream like banshees and are relatively hard to ignore, I go out of my way to meet their needs (because I want the voices to stop.) That means I’m less inclined to make myself available for my husband, because his needs, theoretically, can wait. Because I’m exhausted.

Day to-day life, especially with children involved, is hectic and certainly not always romantic. And you’ll swear that your children are purposefully blocking any and every attempt at romance that you and the husband can muster. 

I’m not talking about being a door mat for our husbands. I’m not talking about always putting them above ourselves. I’m speaking practically about the ways that we can love them, and put effort into our marriage, which is always a good thing. I’m talking about encouraging the romance and affection that you need, too, ladies.

It’s probably pretty difficult to get your mind into a “romantic” setting after you’ve cleaned up from a massive diaper blowout and you haven’t caught a shower. For me, sometimes the one thing I’d like most, connection with my husband, just doesn’t seem possible after a long day.

I need a slow build to get my mind in the right settings for romance. But, ladies, we need that connection with our husbands. And, to be frank, we need intimacy with one another. So often, we relegate it to the back burner when it should be a priority.

So, how do we live our married lives like we are in a state of perpetual “bliss”? How do we choose romance?

Show your husband that you care.

Simple as that. Right?

Not always.

Here are a few ways to pursue your husband:

1.) Be glad to see him when he gets home. 

I’m not talking about being June Cleaver. I’m not talking about the house being pristine and having a hot dinner on the table, which is already set. I’m not even talking about having real pants on, and not the sweats you live in for three days at a time.

I’m talking about stopping what you’re doing for two minutes, and welcoming your husband home. Ask him how his day was. Look him in the eye. Give him a peck on the cheek and a hug. Get close enough that he can smell your perfume (or your staleness, if it’s been a long few days since a shower.)

Don’t look at your husband like he is just an extra set of hands when he walks in the door, though I have been guilty of this on plenty of occasions. Look at him like he is your husband. Acknowledge that is there, acknowledge that you missed him. Then smack that booty.

Let him know you care. 

2.) Do that thing that he wants you to do

Get your minds out of the gutter. 

My husband loves it when I wake up early and keep him company while he gets ready for work. That sounds painful, doesn’t it? Parting with an extra 45 minutes of sleep is an effort for me. I don’t always succeed.

I’m not saying it’s this exact thing for the two of you, but there is probably something your husband would be bawled over if you did for him or with him. 

Watch the game with him. Play chess with him. Keep him company while he washes the car. Make him his favorite dinner. Watch the t.v. shows he wants to watch. The possibilities are endless.

Don’t know where to start? Ask him.

3.) Be romantic with him. 

Now your minds can be in the gutter. 

Ready?

Initiate. Initiate the romance. Don’t wait. Don’t wait for him to guess what you’re thinking. Don’t send subtle signals. Put the kids in bed, then wait a bit (probably more like an hour to be sure they’re really asleep, if you live in my house.) Then pounce. Or meander over. Or, you know, wink at him. 

Game on. 

4.) Give him a break. 

I know what you’re thinking. 

You’ve been cooped up with the kids all.week., mostly inside because it’s been raining or someone had a cold. And YOU want a break from children. 

Guess what?

Your husband just spend 50 hours at work this week, doing the same things over and over. He just had his bosses come over and tell him to do that report he spent two days on all over again. He just answered a telephone call from a less than pleased customer. 

Newsflash: your husband does stuff, too, while he is out of the house all day. 

So, sometimes, he wants to get out of the house and feel like a human being that isn’t running the endless rat race of the 9-5 (or shift work) work-force. Sometimes, he wants the house to himself for an hour so he can watch wrestling and wear the sleeveless shirts he doesn’t want anybody else to know that he has. 

Sometimes, he wants to be Al Bundy, sit with his hand in his pants on the couch, drinking a cold one, watching the television. 

He’s a peacock, you gotta let him fly. 

5. ) Treat him like a person

Don’t nag him. Cus he’s grown. 

Ask. Request. Suggest. Encourage. Talk to him like an adult.

Don’t nag him like he’s an extra child. Don’t harp on him. Don’t expect him to do things the EXACT way that you would do them.

Especially when it comes to how he interacts with the kids.

Let him learn to navigate the art of fatherhood all on his own. The kids may be wearing mismatched clothing and still be awake at 10:14 when you get home from a night out with the girls. He may not have touched the dishes you asked him to do. He may forget to take out the trash.

Whatever it is. Calm down.

Don’t treat him like a paycheck. Don’t act like your staying home with your children is a favor you’re doing for him. Don’t act like he owes you for everything (except for when you clean up profuse amounts of dog poop or puke.) Don’t act like he couldn’t get by without you. 

Just be grateful when he’s there. The way you want someone to be grateful that you’re there, catching vomit at 1 a.m. or cleaning the goldfish crumbs out of the back of the van when it’s 90 degrees out. 

Forgo the martyr act, and treat him like a flesh and blood person.  

 

There you have it, ladies. Go and have some fun with your man…just Maybe shower first, if you can? It’s funner for both of you that way.

Here’s what I think – Maybe skip 50 Shades of Grey?

I avoid delving into pop culture too much on here. But I have opinions, folks. Fancy that?

And what kind of person would I be if I wasn’t talking about Fifty Shades of Grey? Because er’ybody be talking about 50 Shades of Grey.

The movie adaptation opens nationwide today. And it’s gonna make a lot of money, just wait and see on Sunday when the final box office numbers roll in. 

Half of the country will see it. The other half may not, but they will still have an opinion on it. 

I will be honest from the jump – I haven’t read the books nor do I plan to. But I have read enough about it, and the varying opinions on it, to have the feel of things. 

It’s actually a very brilliant move, opening a film right before Valentine’s Day. Though this is one that I will not be dragging my husband to see. 

I have been married for nearly ten years. But there isn’t a lot that I can say with any iota of authority that I definitively KNOW about marriage. Sometimes, I’m stunned as to how I got so lucky to find my best friend and soul mate at such a young age. 

I see a movie like 234 shades of Grey, or whatever it’s called, and I’m told it’s provocative. It’s edgy. It’s never been done before. 

Part of that may be true. 

But provocative? Eh, I dunno. 

I read that lots of housewives gobbled up the pages of 50 Shades of Grey with fervor. And those same housewives attribute the trilogy to a renewal of passion in their own boudoirs. 

That’s the casual assumption, I think. That if you have been married for a long while, you need “help” in the bedroom. You lose the idea of what it means to have fireworks and be sexy with and for one another. 

This is such a sad premise. Of course, there are seasons in life where this is true. I currently have a breastfeeding newborn and a saggy belly. I. Get. It. 

And what could ole married-for-ten-years me know about seduction and passion? Isn’t a lot of our love-making just out of duty and obligation at this point? Because it’s not like we have a choice in the matter of partners, right? Because variety equates erotic, both in the number of partners and in the manner of sex.

Once you’re married, it’s like you’re put out to the proverbial pasture with your best days squarely behind the two of you and a future of twin beds side-by-side at night awaiting you. 

I’m ten years deep, currently battling a stomach bug and I have to fight to stay awake past 11, and we don’t have a room in our house that’s exclusive purpose is to house our variety of S&M stuff. Poor me, right?

Let me propose something revelatory to some of you.

I’m married. And a christian. And I believe in the importance of marriage. What if I told you that marriage is also strongly important to God? And not just marriage in the sense of the marital vows, but also the sex part of marriage? God designed marriage, he also designed sex. It’s the way to consummate the covenant of marriage after the vows have been spoken.

It seals the promises made to one another. 

I think that, even if you’re not a christian, you could get down with that idea because bottom line: sex is both sacred, and profoundly important to the health of a relationship. 

It’s serious bidness. 

God says that we should enjoy each other. And christians, I think, get a bad wrap because it looks like we don’t want anybody to have fun – ourselves included. Because we believe that maybe sex has some constraints on it.

It is within the confines of marriage that sex finds its deepest purpose, most profound pleasure and the truest intimacy with your significant other. 

(I am not passing judgement on those who have indulged before marriage. I am seeking to make a point about romance and sex and marriage that perhaps others have not considered before.)

So, part of me gets a touch riled up to see a false, pre-digested and then regurgitated version of romance take such a hold for so many. Especially women. It would be one thing if I felt the books allowed the man and woman to be on equal footing with one another in their dalliances, but I don’t necessarily believe that they do in this case.

I believe that, yet again, we find a young woman with ill-conceived notions of romance and love and sex taken for a ride and finding herself with a man who doesn’t value her in even the slightest other than as his toy. A man I would consider running over with my mini van if he ever came near either of my daughter’s. 

I don’t believe this because I believe women to be innately inferior to men or perpetual victims. Sadly, I believe this because I want better for female characters in books and in film. I believe this because I think someone sat down and wrote this because they believe it to be something that women desperately want. I think that there are those who would think pain always equals pleasure. That a woman wants to be stalked and dominated and lorded over. 

In this culture, we have confused wanting strong men who lead with wanting men who stalk and own us.

Deep down. I don’t think that the book means to be anything other than what it is. But I don’t think that some will know the difference, because so many of us don’t know the difference anymore.

I know about provocation, ladies. And it does not look like 5o Shades of Grey. 

I know a man, who comes home from work every day to his wife who is standing over a stove. And he brings her flowers on occasion and kisses her when he sees her. A kiss that feels like they haven’t kissed in weeks. And he strokes her cheek and tells her how much he missed her that day. 

I know a wife who finds comfort in laying her head on her husband’s chest and listening to his heart beat while they watch the evening news. He strokes her back and smells her hair and they consider going to bed early. 

I know two people who have known only each other for what feels like eons, and who know the thrill and rush that can only come when the walls around each other drop away and they are sunk into new levels of intimacy and relationship with one another. 

I know two people who can find their home, their passion, their thrill in one person alone. And that person knows them in ways that one else does. 

I know two people who have arrived at a new edge of romance and relations and who have dived over it. Who continually reaffirm and recommit themselves to one another alone. 

I know that the premise of 50 Shades seems…sexy. It seems evocative. Who doesn’t want to watch beautiful people make love and find casual escapism? 

But if you happen to go and watch it this weekend, don’t make the mistake of confusing the premise as one of actual relationship and romance. 

It’s not. 

The things the characters do to and for one another? Any two people can do for each other. 

The full of effect of romance and deepest love can only be found in the bowels of deepest and most genuine intimacy. The true pleasures of making love only with someone you have allowed yourself to love, you have chosen to be vulnerable with, cannot be thoroughly contained in the pages of a novel. 

Now that I have probably effectively ruined things for you, I hope you all have a great weekend. Feel free to comment and tell me what you think on the matter. This post was not to start a war, just to propose a new point of view. There will be others that disagree, and that’s okay. But maybe I gave them something to think about?

Happy Friday

I’ve seen you do both

I heard the alarm. Felt the bed move as you sat up and swung your feet over the edge. You were sitting there in the dark, eyes foggy, head cloudy. Probably wondering why 3 a.m. even exists, anyway.

I listened as you dressed in the dark. Felt you lean over to my side of the bed while you whispered to me to have a good day and felt a kiss on my face. I watched you leave the room and begin to descend the stairs in your uniform. Heard the hum from your car as it started.

It may have seemed like I just went back to bed at this time every day, but in truth, I never could until I was assured that you were completely gone. I always laid there and listened to the engine of your car fade. I always waited. I had to hear it. And I couldn’t wait to hear it again nine hours later.

You returned later that day smelling of oil and grease and sweat. Cover off of your head, finally free from your blouse. Boots still on your feet. Smiling.

Somehow, I feel like I remember you always smiling. 

I’m sure it wasn’t always that way while you were in the service. I actually know now that it wasn’t. And that a lot of those times that you were smiling you were actually heavy-hearted and carrying so much on the inside.

I remember your fledgling days when you first separated from the service. Flung back out into a world that didn’t exactly understand, full of people with different priorities than you, who felt the weight of responsibility differently than you. Appreciated all that they had a bit less than you.

I remember what it was like to watch cable news with someone who took its content seriously and even personally as events unraveled and transpired in the middle east. Your frustration at a nation who was slowly forgetting herself and that what makes her great is what makes her distinct. And her choice to always genuinely strive to be the best. Something that you have done time and time again.

You probably never told anybody how in the pit of your stomach you worried just a bit if you could do this. If you could find a nitch in the world again that felt right. If you’d find friends who could understand you, that you could understand in return.

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It’s been almost eight years since we drove home. Since we said goodbye to the golden state. And you jumped in with both feet. If you were scared, I never really noticed at the time.

People always seem to think that women are the only ones who are an ocean of complexities, secrets and hopes unseen. How wrong they are.

I see you.

And as the years pass, I see you in ways that I have never seen you before. Even the you from eight years ago. The me of now appreciates and understands and sees just a bit more of the you from then. How I sometimes mourn the fact that I could have been smarter, more intuitive, better equipped to help you, to appreciate you at the time.

Now that you’re the father of my children, I see it all so much more. I have seen you be man and Marine.

I’ve seen you be strong. I’ve seen you be brave. I’ve been comforted by you when you were the one about to deploy into God knows what for who knows how long. How you reassured me. How you assured me that it would one day be in our rear view mirror and we’d be passed it and be all the better for it. I remember that I didn’t want to admit that I believed you, because admitting it meant I had to accept that you were going to go away.

I’ve seen you be vulnerable. When you’d tell me stories about those who didn’t make it back, when you’d wonder if things could have turned out different if you had done something different. The things that you saw and heard and how at times they wrenched your insides, and how they steeled your resolve at others. How the smoke and the destruction and the crawling through the mud and the calloused, tired feet and the obstacles made you remember time and time again that you made the right choice.

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I’ve seen you be gritty. I’ve smelled grease in your hair and the sweat on your neck. When you worked long days, mastering a skill set that you now don’t get to use but at the time was a matter of life and death, efficiency and necessity. You spent your days working with foul-mouthed Marines and, let’s be honest, you yourself were foul-mouthed, too. But you all understood one another. There was affection and brotherhood amongst you grisly, brazen men. 

I’ve seen you be gentle. With our baby girl. With our son when you showed him how to plant green beans in the backyard. With our daughter when you run a comb gently through her cascade of golden knots, and braid it before bed time.

I’ve seen you lead. I’ve seen that fire in you. The kind that looks calamity and danger in the face and says, “not today. Not on my watch.” I’ve seen what made you a Marine, even in the ho-hum of everyday life. I have seen the type of person that would leave everything behind for a passion and cause that he believes in, like those men in the history books who decided that they would give up their lives if that mean securing safe passage for the mantle of freedom to the next generation. I have seen that men like that are still alive today.

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I’ve seen you submit yourself to education and instruction and the leadership of others. Showing that true men know when to lead, but also most assuredly know when to follow. Because sometimes, following, and learning and seeking wisdom make you better. I have seen you give credit where credit is due.

I’ve seen you in a uniform. Dress blues or cami’s. For a Marine Ball or a dining out banquet. Spending time and using the discipline it takes to ready yourself, full of admiration, respect and care for the uniform and for what it means.

I’ve seen you in casual clothes. Where one would only know that you were a Marine if they had a trained, astute eye for such things.

I’ve seen you laugh. This is probably my favorite. How someone who has walked through so much, seen so much, done so much can still love so much. Can still live life in such a way that he still smiles and takes joy in all he sees whenever he can. At his child who just learned how to wiggle his bottom. At his daughter and her affinity for standing with her hands on her hips, barking orders. At your wife, who puts butter in the cabinet by mistake because she is clueless.

You’ve never given that up. You have never given up on us. And I hope that you never do.

As the years pass, and we move further and further away from your dates of service, my understanding of it changes. When we were in the thick of it, it felt so different. It was something that slipped on like a glove. It was what it was. It was our way of life. Because we were around people of the same mind. There wasn’t the need to make a fuss.

Now that it isn’t our daily way of life anymore, and the uniforms are tucked into the back of the closet, the plaques sitting on the shelf in the study, the way that things go when they are sometimes quietly forgotten about I just feel the urge to tell you every day that I remember. Remnants of a season that has passed. Though the dust of time may settle, though you have gone back to quietly living your life without much fuss and have even made a new life for yourself, I remember what you did. I feel the urge to revisit it. 

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To tell you that you really were right. That time is now in our rearview mirror.

And we really are all the better for it.