(This is the 12th post of this series. Click here to read the entire series.)
* Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.
Perhaps you all can explain this rule to me. The way I see it, a night with my husband out to dinner with the guys is an opportunity for me to be at home and relax. Am I wrong?!?
Here is a little back story:
I moved to Central PA about 3 years ago... actually, three years ago last week. I came here solely for a job and had no idea really where I was moving to. I rented an awesome apartment on the second floor of an old Victorian home, complete with tall ceilings, original radiators, living room built-ins & plenty of charm (and a crazy land lady).
About two weeks after moving, I received a bill for my first oil tank fill; the apartment was heated, as was the water, with an oil furnace. It was about $600... that was NOT in the budget! Also that week, one of my coworkers made me, as she called, "dance like the wind" in an empty gallery. (I work at a museum.) The final straw was when all of downtown closed temporary while a full sized black bear meandered outside one of my favorite small town diners.
I was incredibly worried about how I would survive in this new place and called in reinforcements, by means of a grad school friend. That Saturday night we did as 25-year-olds do and sought shelter from our lives in the local college bar. It was a straight tequila night. It was also the night I met my husband.
The following Friday was date number one. Saturday was date number two. Sunday was date number three. Six months later I moved in our home. Two years and one month later we were married.
I have a point, I do. It also relates today's rule.
My husband as born and raised about 20 miles from where we live now. He lived in the DC area for awhile and moved back to PA six months before we met. He had an established life and circle of friends here. I was the new girl.
My first two years here were hard. I didn't feel like I transitioned into his group very smoothly and I didn't feel like I was welcomed with open arms by some of his friends' wives/girlfriends. I had always a large group of friends in Ohio and, in my opinion, a pretty active social life. Then, all of a sudden, I was living 300 miles away and it was as if, overnight, I had a completely different life. I had the job of my dreams and the man of my dreams... and pretty much nothing else.
My husband has a best friend who lives less than a mile away. BT (before Tracy) these two spent just about every night hanging out. I lie, it was every night. AT (after Tracy) we slowly transition into a new routine. I like to call it our custody agreement. I get the Hubs on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. His BFF gets him Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday night, as well as 3-4 weekends a year for fishing trips.
For the last 20 years I had one hobby: school. I like to read, but I was still completing my thesis at the time so unless it had "Museology" or "Preventive Conservation" in the title, I wasn't reading it. I loved to shop, but I had just started my first big girl job and had real bills & student loans to pay. Once I moved in with my husband I had a house to care for but seriously, how many times can one person clean a house in a week? I was three steps away from spilling wine on my husband's work shirt so I had an interesting laundry challenge to fill my Tuesday evening.
It took me a looooong time to not resent his nights out. There are still times when I wish he would invite me to tag along. I wish I could share the secret to dealing with this sort of situation, but I can't. There is no secret. It just takes time.
Looking back at that time, I just wanted my husband to fix it. I wanted him to make his friends make their wives be nice to me. I wanted him to help me find a hobby. I wanted him to provide a life for me. Well, as we all know, that wasn't going to happen! Nor was that a healthy life for me.
In the end, my husband did the best he could for me. He listened to me cry. He really did spend time with me and give me all his attention when he was home. He encouraged me when I started new projects- like this blog. This period of my life was sort of like middle school- awkward, angst-filled & difficult with a side of immaturity. Boy I sure am glad I grew out of that too!
I now have hobbies, new friends, my parents just minutes away- plenty on my plate. So much so that I actually look forward to the Hubs leaving for the night. I have, once or twice, gotten upset with him for cancelling plans on a night I had A LOT I was hoping to accomplish. (Bad housewife!) We have a routine where we spend time together on my nights and I plan my chores & hobbies (and nights out too) on the days I don't have custody. It's working for us now but I'm sure at some point things will change again and we'll deal with more growing pains- probably as our family begins to grow.
I should come up with a point here. I guess the point is that a wife can't be all that a husband needs and a husband can't be all that a wife needs. In order for a relationship to be healthy & survive, both partners need to be healthy and thrive. Friends, social lives, hobbies, careers- things that fulfill one as a person outside of their relationship help make you healthy and supplement the happiness you get from your relationship. It's funny, I never understood it when girlfriends of mine were needy, jealous or controlling- not "allowing" their significant others to do certain things. I guess for awhile I was sort of that person but I don't believe it ever had to do with not wanting my husband to have a life- it was more that I was jealous for not having one of my own.
Dear 1950's Housewife,
After thinking about them for awhile, most of your rules actually seem to have nothing to do with husbands after all, and more to do with ourselves. I would say that the modern translation of Rule #11 would read:
Your husband needs a life. So do you. Encourage him to be his own healthy & happy person and embrace your own interests and needs outside your marriage. It's great to have hobbies together, but sometimes you've just gotta tell your man, "Tonight, I need to sew!" Take advantage of your nights apart as an opportunity to catch up on you and/or relax. Oh, and take advantage of your nights together too! ;)
Have a pleasant day,
Mrs. 2010's Housewife