It would be impossible to count the number of times I’ve heard, “I just need to get out of the house and have some grown-up interaction.” Sound familiar? Prior to the end of my stint at law school, the number of times I actually felt sorry for my wife when she would say those words would be approximately zero.
What used to run through my mind whenever I would hear those words was something like this, “Blah, blah, blah.” Followed by, “You should try studying for 18 hours per day while the entire weight of your family’s ability to have a place to live rests on your shoulders.” That thought is what usually began the typical competition of who had it worse in our household.
I thought that I was completely justified in my unsympathetic stance towards my wife’s need for an outside life. She got to stay at home and hang out with our young daughter all day. She got to surf the interwebs, watch TV, and go to the Children’s Museum a few times a week. I didn’t think taking care of a kid all day was a joy ride, but I didn’t think it compared to what I was doing at school.
The fact that my wife “got” to go to the Children’s Museum a few times a week should have been a clue that what she was doing wasn’t the equivalent of eating cupcakes on a warm evening Saturday. Rightfully so, the stance was a significant contributing factor to the struggles my marriage endured.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if taking care of kids is easier or tougher than going through law school, or working in the oil field, or working at night while going to school in the day. The fact is that parents need time out of the house just as I needed intermittent breaks from law school. My friends and I used to gather in the school’s lunch room to discuss anything but law school for about an hour a day, and we’d head out to lunch somewhere on Fridays. There’s really not much of a difference between what I was doing with my friends and what Casey needed to do with her friends. For some reason, I just couldn’t see how the two situations were similar.
After my wife and I recommitted ourselves to our marriage, the competition of who has it worst in the marriage fell to the wayside. It doesn’t come up. Ever. If one of us needs to take a night out away from the parenting struggles that go on in this house, we take the night. If one of us is just having a tough day, the other steps in to help. That change has made a huge difference in our level of happiness. In fact, I can count the number of fights my wife and I have had in the past two years on one finger. Sound like a ridiculous over exaggeration? It’s not.
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