Posted by AVM

My husband has been known to have a romantic streak.  Our engagement story is something out of a movie.  Our first anniversary? Over-the-top lovely and memorable.  He’s given to grand gestures – not all the time – but enough to sweep me off my feet now and again.  I appreciate the effort – even the smaller things he’s done – flowers on our dating anniversary, finding my stash of many RENT tickets and framing them for me, or finding the perfect card and writing a heartfelt message – whatever it is, I love it.  I love that he’s like that – thoughtful, sweet, good to me.  And I hope, that if he were here to respond, he’d say the same of me.

As our years together wax and wane, the butterflies of romance are replaced by practicality.  I have found that his romantic streak, while still existent, has taken on a different form.  My dear husband does all the stuff I don’t like to do.  He takes out the garbage and deals with the recycling.  He does all the laundry, folds it and puts it away (color-coded, I might add).  He does anything and everything having to do with outdoors – gardening, dealing with the cars, all the manual labor.  And all of that is better than flowers and candy.  It’s the real work of a marriage that remains after the lovestuck years are replaced by the routine of children, a mortgage, and a life that doesn’t allow a trip to Paris at a moment’s notice.  Right about now you’re wondering what the hell I do if he’s doing all that?  I get the girls up and ready, fed and off to school.  I pick them up, feed us all, bathe them, get them to bed, and a million other things that help hold up our family and keep it running smoothly.  Although we do share all of the above tasks a lot (read: most) of the time, this is our basic division of labor.  And it’s love.  It’s not our love of years gone by, but it’s love all the same – and in many ways more meaningful.   I love him for it.  I love him for recognizing that this is love too, and that we, as a couple, are all these things.  The whirlwind romance, the engagement, the trips, the wedding, the flowers, the cards, the children, taking out the trash, folding the laundry, being the one at 3AM to find that damn paci the baby is crying for, getting dinner on the table – all of this, and so, so, much more – are all layers upon layers of our life together, proof of our love for each other, made richer by whatever each new day brings.

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Posted by AVM

If you live in certain parts of the North East, you experienced a terrible rain and wind storm last weekend.  The storm downed hundreds of trees in this corner of the world where I live.  Huge majestic pines, great oaks, and the like – trees that were standing for a hundred years or more enduring season after season for decades – came down during this storm and did a lot of damage around here.  Luckily, our home was not affected by falling trees or by the massive rains, however we lost power for a good clip.  The electricity to our entire area was knocked out, and actually, my office was closed for most of the week because of it.

Since the storm ended, the weather has been glorious.  And it leads me to believe that March is living up to its “in like a lion, out like a lamb” reputation.  Spring has sprung here, and all I can do is look forward to the abundance of barbecuing and warm weather activities that wait for us in the coming months.  There is nothing like 70+ degree weather and sunshine to lift your mood and make you really appreciate what a gift it is to be alive.  This weekend made my heart full – it was a family weekend – and we had a blast.

The girls spent the bulk of the weekend outdoors.  Lovey especially loved it.  Bubbles and the bounce house, tricycle riding and swings – she would sleep out there if I let her.  Both of my girls are at great ages.  At three-and-a-half, Lovey is independent and smart, her thinking is getting more complex and it’s amazing to watch.  And our little CeeCee is at my favorite baby age.  She’s six-and-a-half months old and just full of personality and smiles.  CeeCee’s sturdier now, and she’s totally engaged.  Sitting up, playing with toys, whatever you’re holding, she wants.  It’s a great age, a delicious age – when all you want to do is kiss her cheeks forever while she laughs hysterically.  I cannot get enough of her! I hold her hands and she stands on my lap with a big open-mouthed smile – so proud of herself.  My girls are just the joy of my life. I am so lucky.

The best part of the weekend was the surprise night my husband planned for my birthday.  We went to dinner and then to an amazing off-broadway show in the West Village in NYC.  The weather being what it was, the Village looked like it was painted technicolor.  We sat side by side through dinner, drinking wine, and talking close – if people were looking on, they might have thought we were on our first date – ok, maybe our seventh date – instead of an old married couple with children and a mortgage and responsibilities.  The show we saw was Our Town, ironically about appreciating life as you’re living it, and afterward we discussed at length how much we loved the production.  We walked hand-in-hand, energized by the breeze and fueled by memories of many, many similar, lovely evenings shared long before children and marriage came along.  It made me remember that we’ve got a lot of this – these warm, strolling nights in New York – left in us.  And it made me look forward to the coming months even more.  This spring feels like a rebirth in so many ways.  I can hardly wait to see what the near future holds.

What are you most looking forward to this spring and summer?

Painting by Linda Press

Posted by Duff

If you get frustrated by your spouse and would like to feel less so, please read this article from Parents magazine, written by single mother Lori Gottlieb with more sense of humor than I think I would have in her shoes.

I’m not always able to step back from the moment and appreciate how wonderful it is to have someone around who loves your child as much as you do. And usually loves you, and may show it by trying to do nice things, even when you’re not being nice.

I recently spent nearly three days alone with The Dervish, and if that didn’t remind me how great it is to have someone in my corner, even if just as a backup at his most involved with the  NFL Playoffs, Lori Gottlieb did.

The other day, I asked my husband to entertain The Dervish for three minutes while I spent some quality time by myself for whatever reason I wanted it. Asking should be enough, right? But I need to ask, because if I wasn’t interesting enough to The Dervish (who knows why) just standing in the same room, I become infinitely more so when I walk away, particularly when I need to attend to myself in some way.

Peace.

Fewer than three minutes later, she was trying the doorknob and I was holding it shut (we have disabled the locks in our house for her safety, since she’s lock happy these days). But she persisted, and since I knew she was standing in the dark and probably couldn’t find her way back whence she came, and she was growing more frustrated, I opened the door.

She was psyched to see me. I was not nearly as elated to find my husband seated comfortably in front of the TV, caught up in cycling.

I reminded myself that she rarely seeks him out the same way she does me. He doesn’t know what it feels like not to have a moment for his personal business.  I told myself to ask him for what I needed much more specifically, though pleasantly, the next time we were confronted with the same situation.

And that approach yielded much better results than me asking him what the hell was wrong with him that he couldn’t keep The Dervish entertained for three minutes.

Posted by Fitz

Whoever said that the first year of marriage is the hardest clearly never had a child.  Without minimizing the challenges that some couples absolutely experience within that first year of wedded bliss, I’d like to enter a new “hardest” into our vocabulary: your marriage during the first year of your child’s life.

Picture this: you and your husband, awake for the fourth time in one night, trying to change a diaper (or feed, or soothe, or whatever) on a seven pound stranger who, for some unknown reason, won’t stop screaming.  Rinse and repeat every night for approximately four months (if you’re lucky), and shazam – you’ve got yourself two people who are too exhausted to string enough words together to order a morning coffee.  What happens when this exhaustion sets in?  In our case, we resorted to….bickering.  And that’s a euphemism.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I know with all of my heart that my husband is the one who keeps us all sane.  He’s our rock, our voice of reason, the teller of a corny joke when it’s most needed.  When I haven’t slept, though, or when The Bean and I have had a particularly rough day, that other one percent comes out.  And she isn’t nice.

Ms. One Percent has a nasty tendency to turn conversations about what to feed The Bean into a “Don’t you ever listen to me?  I told you at 3 a.m. that she had sweet potatoes last night!”  She’s irrational, she’s short-tempered, and she doesn’t remember any of the conflict management skills that she used to teach to hundreds of corporate managers each year.   Instead, she’s powered by the insane need to be right and to get her way, without concern for anyone in her path.

The husband, when confronted with Ms. One Percent, has one of two reactions.  Either he shuts down completely to save himself, or he becomes Mr. Defensive.  Can you imagine what happens next?  Of course you can.  Ms. OP either yells at him for not talking or for being defensive.  And so on, and so forth.  It ain’t pretty.

Luckily, we have found a way to (try) and diffuse the impact of our alter egos by having a code word.  When we’re in the middle of a big old bicker session and we know it’s just because we’re tired, we say ELEPHANT.  It’s a funny enough word to jolt us out of our ridiculous temper tantrums while making it okay for us to smile at each other and simply head off to bed.  We recognize the fact that our exhaustion magnifies every annoyance, and that if we just sleep on things they’ll seem much more manageable in the morning.  Now, I won’t lie to you and say that it has worked every single time, but it usually does – at the very least, it gets us thinking about whether our position in the argument is really that important.

So, I’ll take this opportunity to fly in the face of your grandmother’s advice and say that sometimes it’s okay or to go to bed a little bit angry or annoyed.  Of course you shouldn’t listen to my advice if you’re arguing over something potentially dangerous to your relationship, but it’s fine to decide together that you’d be better off getting some sleep rather than hash out every detail of who said what to your mother-in-law to make her think she was invited over this weekend.

Remember, ladies, that the first year (and let’s face it, the next seventeen) of your child’s life is as much about your marriage as it is about the baby.  The best gift you can give your child is a happy home with happy, loving parents, so do what you can to make it happen.  You’ll be happy you did.