Category: Marriage

The Stopping and The Looking

The Stopping and The Looking

Before you read any more of this post, take a few minutes and go read this one; without reading that post, this one might not make much sense.

My husband and I don’t disagree on much. Before we met we’d both been through horrible relationships. We knew what we wanted, and we definitely knew what we didn’t want, in a marriage. And we do NOT want to have a cookie-cutter marriage. (We certainly don’t have one. If you’ve met my husband, you know what I mean. The man is Crazy — the best kind of Crazy.)

I am blessed that he always tells me he loves me. He always tells me I’m beautiful.

If the one person in this whole world from whom I want to hear it gives me that lovely input on a consistent basis, then why don’t I feel it?

There are things he sees in me that I simply don’t — can’t — see. I disagree with nearly every compliment he gives me (not aloud, so much, anymore, but always in my head). Why can’t I agree with him on these things?

It’s because of The Stopping. And The Looking.

If you read the article I linked above, then you know what I’m talking about.

My husband says he sees beauty in my laugh lines and wrinkles. He’s touched by the five-person-exit that is my c-section scar. He’s accustomed to busting into whatever room I’m in, door swinging, Kramer-like, and shouting, “You’ve got a great ass, Harling!”

Yet I can not agree with him.

And now I finally know why. Now, it seems so incredibly simple.

I harbor the constant thought that I Can Not Live Up To That.

“That” is the idea of female perfection that is thrust upon all of us, everywhere, all of the time. It truly is inescapable. And it truly is bullshit.

I feel like I’ve fought for my boys’ brains their entire lives. I’ve railed against what the world has told them a “real woman” is, because the world’s idea of what a real woman is couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve tried to instill in them an appreciation for people’s actions over their outward appearance, and I’ve done all of this with a ferocity I honestly didn’t know I had. (One son’s huge lesson in how much a person’s actions speak to how much they love you: I chased a guy who had pulled a gun on my kid about five seconds before I pulled up to pick him up. Yeah. Fierce. Don’t mess with my kids. And don’t try to mess with my kids’ heads, either.)

If I look at my boys’ actions and listen to the things they say, I think I’ve done a decent job of teaching them what a real woman is. But, how can I know for sure? I mean, look at what we’re up against here. Too many people, men and women alike, think:

  • A woman’s worth comes solely from her partner’s opinion of her.
  • Women don’t deserve equal pay.
  • Women owe men their bodies.
  • Women are weak.
  • Women need to be perfect in every way.

Now, most men don’t understand why women feel this way. They don’t understand it because they don’t think like that, and I could never say enough about how grateful I am for the many, many men who do not engender these kinds of ignorant thoughts.

However, as Dan points out…

Guys, when you Stop, and when you Look, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve told the woman in your life how beautiful she is or how much you love her; every Look completely negates every compliment you’ve ever given that woman and replaces it with negativity and pressure. Guys… read that line again. Seriously. You may not believe it, you may not understand it, but it is absolutely True. Every lingering glance at digitally-created perfection on a magazine cover, every click on a pretty actress’s Google image listing, raises the bar in that woman’s head to the unattainable standard that society has set.

And pretty soon, as Dan eloquently points out, a guy can find himself in the horrid predicament of not being attracted to anything that is real.

How to fix this? I can’t pretend to know, really, except for two things:

  • Women: you are Real. You are amazing. You are worthy. Find that worth in yourself and stop depending so much on needing that input from the men in your life.
  • Men: make your actions match your words. Try to overcome the falsified societal pressures of what Beautiful is. Make sure you aren’t accidentally taking away every positive thing you’ve ever said to that woman in your life with the habit of Stopping and Looking.


Week 7 Before Shots – Lovey-Dovey

Week 7 Before Shots – Lovey-Dovey

We don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day here in The Frat House. Not because we’re boring or against romance in general, but because we both believe that we ought to go out of our way for no reason to show each other how much we appreciate each other every once in a while. For years, Mike has brought me “Happy <insert day of week here>” gifts; getting cupcakes or a card with a goofy yet heartfelt sentiment scrawled inside for no particular reason other than the fact that someone loves you is one of the best feelings ever. I draw him silly graphs charting my new-found love of vodka & cranberry juice (the hockey team is corrupting me verily) and leave Post-It notes on the back door reminding him to take his coffee with him and telling him I love him.

However, I’m feeling all lovey-dovey lately. I can’t tell you why. Perhaps it’s how sleep deprivation on an epic scale affects me; whatever the reason, I’m feeling all sweetly-romantic and full of love as of late, so this week’s pages are all about that. (Full disclosure: I decorated these pages while sick with the worst freaking evil cold I’ve had in a long time. I still feel just plain awful. So, if the decoration isn’t quite what it could be, I apologize. My brain is partially on hiatus.) The incredible paper I used to decorate is from NutsClipart on Etsy.

Week 7 Weekly View Before Shot
Week 7 Weekly View Before Shot
Week 7 Monday Before Shot
Week 7 Monday Before Shot
Week 7 Tuesday Before Shot
Week 7 Tuesday Before Shot
Week 7 Wednesday Before Shot
Week 7 Wednesday Before Shot
Week 7 Thursday Before Shot
Week 7 Thursday Before Shot
Week 7 Friday Before Shot
Week 7 Friday Before Shot
Week 7 Saturday Before Shot
Week 7 Saturday Before Shot







The Weirdness That Is Marriage

The Weirdness That Is Marriage

Marriage is strange.

When I was a kid, I always watched my parents. My dad has always teased my mom nearly-mercilessly; not in a negative way, but out of love. And I watched it make my mom crazy. Due solely to it’s repeated occurrence to this very day, the phrase, “Oh, Michael,” coupled with a sigh, a head shake, and sometimes an eye roll for good measure, makes me feel like I’m eight years old again.

I swore I would never marry someone like my dad.

I love my dad, so incredibly much, but I didn’t want to choose to spend my life with someone who would incite so much sighing. Or head-shaking.

Fast-forward all these years, and here I am, married to a man named Michael whose greatest joy in life is to push my buttons as often and as thoroughly as possible.

Marriage is weird.

My dad accepted a great promotion at work when I was in junior high. He began traveling Europe for his job, with a crazy Dutchman named Frans who, with his public antics, made my dad seem meek.

I watched my mom’s eyes fill with tears every time we put my dad on a bus to O’Hare, and I watched those tears spill over when we picked him up again.

Suddenly, it was just the three of us – my mom, my brother, and myself – at home, for sometimes up to two weeks at a time. It was so *Quiet*. No one yelled, “Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate,” when mom asked if they wanted anything from the store. No one watched really old Westerns just to belly-laugh at the horrible stunts. I mistakenly thought, in my clueless middle-school mind, that these work trips would give my mom a break; who wouldn’t *want* a break from someone who prepped the kids to sing “The Old Grey Mare” as you came down the stairs on the morning of your birthday, every single year?

But, marriage is odd.

She wasn’t really whole when he was gone. I mean, if his traveling caused issues between them, they never wore those feelings out in the open where I could see them. But I know she was more herself when he was home.

Today, I find myself at the end of what has been an extremely busy month for my husband. January was extremely hockey-heavy.

I support him with all I have. I am incredibly grateful that he has a job he loves, and I adore the people with whom he works. (Seriously, if you want to meet the nicest guys on the planet, hang out with a hockey team for an evening.) I also struggle with envy when, once again, he’s off to some new place and I’m here with seven kids, struggling to carve out a sliver of time just to work, let alone feel like a human being.

Sometimes he’s been gone so much, and I’ve felt so overwhelmed, that it almost feels odd to have him home. I am desperately afraid of that feeling.

My grandparents divorced before I was born, for that very reason. My grandfather travelled a lot for work. Not long after I turned 30, I asked my grandmother what had happened, why they had gotten divorced.

“He was gone so much that it didn’t feel right when he was home anymore.”

That has stuck with me ever since.

When things get strange here, I think back to my parents. I never felt things get strange or distant between them, but they must have. Then I remember the times when my dad sat on the living room floor with his legs stretched under the coffee table that was littered with work while my mom puttered around in the kitchen, doing her own thing, or went off to ceramics class. It must’ve been in some of those times, when they were together but apart, that their marriage felt odd.

Like borrowing someone’s coat who is three sizes bigger than you are — it keeps you warm, and you’re grateful for it, and you love them for sharing it with you, but it still doesn’t feel quite right.

We’ve adjusted, thankfully. It sometimes takes us a few hours, but we’ve both learned that there are things we both need when we’ve been apart. As contrary as it may seem, I need to be left alone for a bit. I need to catch up on work without wrangling a toddler or answering to The Mom Chorus. Mike needs to take my place in those things because it reasserts his feelings as a Dad.

And then we need to do something ridiculously fun together.

We dance in the driveway.

We eat cupcakes.

We laugh at our kids.

And we push each other’s buttons, mercilessly. Out of love.

8 Things You May Not Know About Living With 7 Boys And A Man

8 Things You May Not Know About Living With 7 Boys And A Man

1. They take their socks off and leave them right where they removed them (usually the middle of the living room), or, worse yet, shove them in between the couch cushions.

2. They can make an entire room reek in less than two minutes of occupying said room. And you immediately hope the stench is coming from their de-socked extremities and not elsewhere.

3. They could each star in an episode of Hoarders based on the amounts of dishes in their bedrooms alone. I have, on more than one occasion, wandered from room to room filling a clothes basket with dirty dishes.

4. Regardless of whether they’re 42-years-old or 1, you can track their whereabouts by following the trail of Stuff they leave in their wake with very little forensics training.

5. They have no concept of clutter or filth whatsoever except for apparently feeling that there’s never enough of either one and they must always make more.

6. Prodigious towel use after showering still results in a wet boy upon exiting the bathroom (and a floor covered in wet towels).

7. Filling the refrigerator with food and drinks is an exercise in self-flagellation. It will be empty in an hour.

8. They will break your heart with their wit and their minds and their love.

The Heavily Sarcastic Woes of a Hockey Widow

The Heavily Sarcastic Woes of a Hockey Widow

Poor, pitiful me.

I am a Hockey Widow.

The Frat House Boys with The Stanley Cup
The Frat House Boys with The Stanley Cup


I have to go to hockey games and cheer for a team whose players and staff are amazing.

I have to include my whole family in my love of this sport.

We have to watch away games together as a family and talk passionately about a team whose members we adore because we get to know them on a personal level.

And then there’s stuff like this…

Being A Hockey Widow Definitely Has Its Perks
Being A Hockey Widow Definitely Has Its Perks

Yep, being a Hockey Widow really bites.

Thank you for making me your Hockey Widow, my MikeyFace. There’s no place else I’d rather be.


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