My nostrils flared ever so slightly at the family dinner table. We were being hosted by a lovely older couple from church, and all of my in-laws were present. As the courses went around, and the wine flowed, the conversation turned to topics of new things in our life. And then my husband mentioned “Yeah, and John and I are going to the Sounders game tomorrow.” Cue nostril flaring.
My other sister-in-law, who has season tickets with her husband, and used to sit right next to our season tickets, called me out in front of everyone, saying, “are you mad?”
Of course I’m mad.
And it’s not because I hate the Sounders or don’t want to have my husband have fun.
But walking a mile in my current shoes might provide a minute for empathy.
Instead, I’m seen as the whining wife. The nagging wife who is encouraging her husband to get a new job that just posted because she can’t handle one more minute of public accounting as a career. I’m seen as the career cock block, the one who pressures my husband into things, and complains anyway. And it’s really not fair. I try to be a good sport about it, taking the judgment as it comes, in public at dinner parties, even, but it hurts.
Because instead of calling me out on being mad, how about asking how I’m doing? How about wondering what it’s like to see my husband 1 day a week. What about asking what it’s like for me to watch our 3 year old cry because he never sees his dad, and how excited he is to learn that today daddy doesn’t have to go to work. What about asking how I’m coping with the 3-4 poop accidents a day with a kid who’s ‘potty trained’ but is slightly sick and losing all ability to make it to the toilet in a timely manner. What about asking how I cope on long Fridays when 9am arrives and I still have 10 hours more with a sad toddler to entertain.
Maybe ask how I’ve managed to stay positive, supportive, upbeat when my husband changed careers midstream, going from home by 3 and summers off to working 60+ hours a week. Maybe ask how we structured our marriage around egalitarian principles that have been effectively shot to hell once our careers fell into the female/male stereotypes. I married a type B man on purpose, to provide a different life for my adult self and our children, and I’ve had to live with a type B masquerading as a type A in order to survive his career. A change in jobs would provide more money, but also equalize our relationship, especially as we head into trying for another baby.
But instead I get judgment, for daring to ask for what I need in a partner. A partner to be around for more than 8 hours in a week. For daring to ask for what I want in a father for my kid, who deserves to get to know his dad and not cry every day for not seeing him. I’m not content to sit around and complain. And I don’t write prayer letters to God asking for things to poof change. Instead I ask for those around me to make decisions to change themselves and our circumstances, just like I demand myself to make changes to both my attitude and my actions.
So yeah, I’m mad. For myself. For my son. That another bedtime will be spent alone while my husband is out there drinking beer and cheering for his team. And that’s okay. I don’t have to be a wife that sucks it up in martyr style fashion to be a good little Christian wife. I expect better out of this life.