With Valentine’s day looming, we’re all looking for recipes for marriage, but it’s easy to miss each other in life. We compromise. We demand. We complain. Sometimes, hopefully most times, we meet in the middle around the screaming kids and the dog’s anal leakage and the dead mice that the cat leaves in the driveway and the checks that we dole out for the plumber for the clogged pipe in the basement.
According to a new USA Today report, 49 percent of women want to have sex with their husbands too but are just exhausted. Oh the difficulty in getting’ some!
I can attest. The other day, I had a conversation with a friend at the playground. We talked about our sex lives. (Not too much. It’s the playground, after all.) We both agreed that we love our husbands but that lately we’re too exhausted to find the time to connect. Physically. That we sound like old bitties complaining about falling asleep at 1030 instead of giving–or gettin’–some action. That touching feet while watching television in bed is sometimes the best we can do.
And because exhaustion and crankiness come hand in hand, the why aren’t you doing this for me lately grievances pop up. Andy and I have only been married for four years. What about those of you who have 20 + years under your belt? How do you handle fights? I have a few friends who are in marathon marriages. ”Do you fight?” I asked a girlfriend who has been with her husband since college.
She answered: “No. Not really we don’t fight.”
Hmmm. I find this suspect.
I asked Andy about this. How is this possible they don’t fight? Maybe it’s their interpretation of it, he said. Maybe they work things out without screaming or yelling. Maybe they work it out in a different manner.
This non-fighting isn’t something I’m familiar with. My husband and I don’t fight often, but we like to argue and then make up.
In her book “Marriage Rules,” Harriet Lerner writes:
The first rule about fighting in marriages is to make rules for how you as a couple will treat each other. Make rules that you are responsible for following in the heat of the moment.
Andy and I have one rule: don’t bring up each other’s parents. He’s not allowed to tell me I’m being my mother. I’m not allow to tell him he’s being his.
In his NPR radio show, Alec Baldwin interviewed Erica Jong and her daughter Molly Jong-Fast on marriage. Alec discusses Marvin Worth, a famous movie producer (Malcom X, etc.) who has been married for 40 years. Here’s their conversation about Marvin’s marriage manual:
I said to [Marvin], “How did you and Joan do it, how have you and Joan been married for over 40 years.” I go, “What is it, you don’t fight?”
And he said to me, “Uh, do Joan and I fight? We fight every day.”
He said, “But then after we’re done fighting, I say, ‘Joan, I’m not going anywhere, and you’re not going anywhere, so what are we gonna do about this problem? I’m not going anywhere.’”
And, actually – this is very funny because [my husband] says, “I’m not going anywhere.” Just what Marvin said. And I say, ” couldn’t stand anyone else.” And part of it is we really make each other laugh all the time. When we have a disagreement, we always get it out there. We don’t hold it in.
This is what I relate to. Letting it all out. You can’t do this often. But for us, we need to “get it out there” as Erica Jong says when the emotions call for it. It’s our style of marriage.
I’ve seen others represent their marriage–loving, caring, lasting marriages–with added stressors. Bipolarity, for instance. On her newest entry on Flux Capacitor, Maggie May Ethridge’s writes openly about her husband’s bipolar diagnosis and how it affects their marriage. Here’s what she says:
My husband is in the January Kill zone, and when he will come back to me I cannot say. I know it will be OK, sooner than later, and I know he will come back, and I know he is doing everything he is responsible to do to ensure that. I am putting up with his shit.
She circles around the other side of the spectrum with his perspective: he puts up with her shit as well. I get the feeling they don’t put up with each other shit at the same time. You must take turns in this.
Here’s one last method of “getting it out” and reconnecting. Public spanking. That’s right. Add a little bit of Betty Page to your marriage. The aforementioned USA Today poll found that 33 percent of couples spank each other playfully in public.
In my family, we have a “butt slap” rule. Each person is allowed one butt slap. It’s not just relegated to the parents. The children butt slap us. We butt slap them. There’s something inherently satisfying about a little butt slap.
Then, at night after all the family butt slapping, and if we’re not too exhausted, or fighting, or getting it all out, or dealing with diseases and sicknesses and the dog’s anal leakage–we make room for each other.
Happy Valentine’s Day.