Kicking and screaming to change

Now that we are officially in the middle of fall, I am reminded that in the coming days I will be hitting some major milestones as an adult. I didn’t think they would be that big of a deal to me but as they grow closer, oh, let me tell you…they are huge.

First up, in a few short days, the Man Unit and I will celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss/unbliss and back to bliss. Where the hell did the time go? 15 years ago, this week, I stood in front of my Dad who married us and promised all these awesome things while looking fabulous in a small single digit sized dress. I have more or less kept those promises, and after a reworking of the life contract, I don’t really have too many complaints except, who stole the Man Unit’s hair? And where the hell did that girl’s body go?

Which brings me to the next milestone, I turn 40 at the beginning of the year and while we are still wrapping up this year, the fact that I turn 40 at the beginning of next year is looming large in my mind. 40 is not the new 20 or 30 people!!! 40 is 40 and while I know I have many absolutely fabulous attributes, the fact is I have changed and while I have never been a beauty queen, there are moments when I am just not one with this new and improved body. I was reminded of this a few days ago, when I dressed up in my artsy best and even wore the good bra for some boost and immediately felt like I had become someone else. Hell, even attractive young men were saying hello and opening doors for me. Thanks people! Guess when I am not intentional, I am looking like an old sea hag these days, tis life.

Seriously though, aside from the outer changes which are too numerous to change, though I sometimes wonder do I need to start the plastic surgery fund…I jest. There are the internal changes, which I actually feel. This past week, I was unable to make it to yoga more than once, I barely got in any walking and by the end of the week, my body was revolting with stiffness. Yep, if I don’t stay on my daily movement plan, the stiffness sets in. Gee, thanks. Let’s not even talk about the fact that at my next visit to the eye doctor, I may need to upgrade to some reading glasses. Why the hell are the fonts so damn small?  I am pretty sure reading articles on my phone does not help…helloooo, enlarge the fonts people! Then there is the memory, the man unit has 5 years on me and for years I have teased him about his memory…now? I am the one who struggles to remember names. Payback is a bitch, thank goodness though for sticky notes, my saving grace and memory assistant.

Lastly, not along after I turn the big 4-0, the eldest kiddo turns 21. Dude, 21 is like a real adult and when the hell did he get that old? I know, I know, he’s young and I am young but when that is your kid, the human you created becoming old enough to head to the bar and down a pint, it’s a strange feeling.

Change is part of life, change is often good, hell it’s necessary, it is part of the journey we call life but it doesn’t mean it will always be easy. So it’s my season to embrace all the changes I have headed my way, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Heavy lifting…marriage restructuring project underway!

As I sit down to type this, I am not sure it will see the light of day as it is a personal issue and even I have my limits to what is appropriate for public sharing especially when it involves my life partner.

Last night I was reminded of why marriages fail, because we spend so much time looking for a wedding and thinking we will ride on into the sunset and being happy that even for the best of us it’s easy to forget just how much hard work and heavy lifting is required to keep the relationship viable for both parties.

The truth is as we head towards our 14th wedding anniversary this fall, 16 years total together that we are truly facing a challenge that will determine whether or not we stay standing or not. Oh, its nothing dramatic, nobody is slapping anyone around or emotionally abusing anyone…come now, put a hand on me and someone leaves in a body bag. That’s been my personal motto. No, I fear we have fallen victim to life. Jobs, bills, kids, changing bodies, that getting old shit…life.

In many ways I have been a smug bitch (yes I know some of you will cringe at my use that word but on my blog I can call myself what I want to call myself), in the past several years I have seen so many girlfriends’ marriages and partnerships fall apart…I have tried to support them yet somewhere in my mind I always said that would never be me. Why? I am married to my best friend, business partner, lover and our bond is rock solid. We are the couple that is always together, the Spousal Unit works from home, I do part of my work from home, as a one car by choice family, we are always together barring my occasional outings and work related stuff. Yet despite that I finally had to admit that somewhere along the way things have shifted and maybe we aren’t working so well together. Again it’s nothing noticeable, but just that pang in your heart that says “Is this it?” I have tried to ignore it instead saying it’s not really that but in my search to find me, I have had to accept no this is not a momentary thing.

I have to admit the man was stunned and we are talking about what we can do to get the train back on track. I made a joke this morning that people joke about the 7 year itch, maybe there is a 14 year itch. Turns out I might not be joking at all. I did some Googling on the matter and it seems there is a growing body of work that suggests that in previous generations couples did grapple with the 7 year itch but now its marriages in the 10-14 year range that face the greatest assaults and threat of divorce. It makes sense as couples marry later, have kids later in life, it is after the first decade when the pressures heat up. In the first 7 years of our marriage, we went through a custody battle with my ex, lost both our mothers, moved 1100 miles to a state neither of us wanted to move to and started going broke in year 7. In year 8 our daughter was born and we officially went broke, so badly at one point we had to use Medicaid for health insurance.

Looking back, the first 7 years of our marriage weren’t exactly a cakewalk especially since I spent most of that time accruing over $100,000 in student loan debt for an education that while it enlightened me has not enlightened our bank account. I made that decision banking on a good economy and like many assuming I would have higher earning power but so far it has not come to pass.

Since year 8 though and the birth of our daughter, that’s when shit started getting wonky, the spooning sessions we took for granted for the first years together became a rare treat. Having a high needs highly spirited child who still interrupts our conversations makes it hard to talk at a deeper level. In the 5.5 years since her birth, I realized we have only been away from her on a date three times and since the last time was to attend a friend’s 40th birthday party not sure we can count that as a date. Looking at this now, that’s a lot of days to not really connect, oh yeah we talk but I am realizing when we do ever get beneath the surface? Rarely and clearly not as often as we need. Even the fact that we are always together might be working against us since it’s easy to get complacent and not have the deeper conversations when you are always together…after all not all talk is created equal. Also while many folks think working from home is a plus, it does have a darker side, it’s sometimes harder to unplug from work, in my husband’s case being self employed, and unplugging can be bad if a client has a last minute change. After having lost several clients a few years ago, we both are skittish about unplugging from work; the loss of another client would financially ruin us. Good paying gigs for freelance writers are harder to come by these days so it’s the downside to our world.

Ever since I was a kid my nickname given to me by my Dad has been rabbit. Why? Rabbits know when to hop away…yet I am no longer a child and while my first instinct lately has been maybe its time to blow this pop stand, but I woke up this morning with a clarity that said hopping away is not the answer. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am a planner, its how I try and stay one step ahead of the bad shit in life. So in my mind I have already been calculating what I would need to do to leave, how much cash is required, etc. But I look at my daughter, I think of my son, I think of myself and say what the hell am I hopping to? The fire may not burn as high as it once did but there are still some sparks….sparks can start fires. So right now what we need is to create enough sparks to light this forest on fire…anyone who has been married any length of time knows you can’t sustain a fire of love all the time but I do believe at certain stages you need a fire. I think as an almost middle aged woman (though by some standards I am already there but I ain’t claiming it yet no matter what my body says) sometimes you need a deep fire of love to anchor you as you deal with the rest of the shit that assaults you in middle age.

I also know now that just like with parenting the minute you think you “know” or you think you can give some advice on matters of the heart is pretty much when you can expect the universe to kick you dead in your ass and let you know you don’t know jack. I wish I had a simple answer to what my future looks like but the thought of losing my best friend is too hard to bear so we are get ready to redesign our world and life together unsure of what the future holds. Perhaps this is just part of this crazy ride we call life; we just have to fly blind at times despite how scary that feels.

PS: Before posting this I asked the Spousal Unit to read it and give the thumbs up or down as far as sharing…he gave the thumbs up. I know some may question why am I sharing such a personal issue, well I think many people deal with these issues yet few talk about them. In a generation past, women got together with the coffee klatch and talked about this stuff, now we don’t. I think knowledge is power.

His mid-life crisis

This is a personal post, in that I am talking about the Spousal Unit and our marriage. While there are some who would say why do you feel the need to talk about such things in a public forum well its less about him to some degree and more about me and how I cope with these changes. By the way before I decided to write this post, I did talk with the Spousal Unit first to see if he was comfortable with me sharing in such a public forum.

The Spousal Unit is getting ready to turn 42, we have been together going on 15 years. Despite the ups and downs for the most part we have a pretty happy union. I think our happiness in many ways is about the fact that we are opposites. When shared friends learned we were dating, many were stunned since at that time we were about as opposite at least on the surface as two folks can be. For starters the man has always been a bit of a geek, a nerd and I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense. He will be the first to tell you he spent most of his life being the geek, what that meant was in high school and college he was the guy on the sidelines. Yet he didn’t let the fact that his geekiness prevented him from dating get in the way of life, he had great friends and enjoyed being a bookish chap. Hell at 41 he still has a great deal of his comic book collection from his youth.

When we got together it was the geek qualities that I loved though at times they were a smidge annoying, but hey he puts up with me. In recent years though the man has started to undergo a slow metamorphosis, suddenly in his late 30’s he became what I like to joke as geek chic. While it was a big thing when he had to accept the loss of his hair, it turned out that shaving it all off turned him into a bit of a cutie as shown by the fact that for the first time in his life the women started checking him out. He started playing with his facial hair, deciding at certain points to get rid of the full beard and experiment with goatees. Suddenly after a decade the man became downright sexy in his geekdom, add to the fact he is a great father and partner.

Well I always used to joke and wonder about the midlife crisis and was it real? See, my Dad’s mid-life cris involved seminary and becoming a pastor. Yes, I am serious. No new ladies or sports cars for Pops. Well it seems that my beloved husband is going through a mid-life crisis and thankfully it does not involve younger ladies and cars or seminary but…..drumroll please. Cigars and Cognac. Now out of respect for the fact that not everything needs to be shared online, I won’t get into all the details but lets just say the Spousal Unit has decided after a lifetime of always being the good guy that well he wants to experience life and for him that means being the kinda of man that relaxes with a good stogy and a glass of cognac.

I have to say this caught me off guard, after all he has always been a guy that liked a good handcrafted brew and most certainly not a smoker of any sort. I was initially distressed, accusing him of making sports cars and younger ladies his next step. See that SUV we got was his gateway drug! No, he explained he has simply decided there are things in life that he wants to explore and experience since he realizes our time here is limited and that at his age there is a good chance he is at the half way point of life and wants no regrets.

It took me a few days to calm down and come to consensus on the ground rules but what he said did hit a nerve. How many of us want to experience things even if they seem silly or ridiculous yet we never do? Life is too short to not have those experiences, so in some ways his mid-life crisis coupled with my own recent birthday serve as a reminder that our time is short and perhaps its time to ask myself what is it that I am holding back on? No answer yet.

As for the Spousal Unit and I, I plan on embracing this new edgier man who is finally fully comfortable in his skin enough so that he won’t hold himself back. I figure if his midlife crisis is a good cigar and a glass of even better cognac once a week, I need to accept it.

Now dear readers, for those of you who have hit mid-life or have partners who are there already, I ask is there anything you or your partner changed during this phase of life?