You are the “life” in my “life story”….?

I’ve had this post as a draft for the last few months, not feeling that it was polished enough to post. It’s a sensitive topic that requires precise wording, and I’m not sure if I’ve captured it right (so don’t be too harsh with your feedback!). But in the last few weeks, life seems to be pointing me back to this topic….so I’m giving it another try.

When I first got married, my husband was my life; as is probably true for most newlyweds.

Recently, I’ve been noticing that it seems to not be a newlywed thing, but a woman thing.

A friend of mine was offered a great work opportunity. Upon finding out that it would cut into her scheduled date nights with her boyfriend, she asked him how he felt about her taking the position and missing out on that time together.

I don’t judge her for asking, I did the exact same thing when Jeremy and I first got married (see my pervious post about passing on study abroad opportunities in college)

Now I look back on those times, and on my friends current situation, with frustration. Frustration that women are so relationship focused that our careers come second to men.

Being considerate of others feelings is a wonderful thing. Working on your relationship is a great priority to have.  But at what point does it become a detriment to our own success?

This topic came up with my friend, and then again a few days later when I was meeting some new wives on base.

I was discussing with some other wives the question of if they stay with their spouses until the final good-bye of deployment; when they get on the bus and drive away.

I shared that at my husband’s first deployment I stayed until he left, but at this second, I dropped him off and then went home…because I had to work very early in the morning and he wasn’t going to depart until 2 or 3 in the morning.

A spouse commented that “I should have called into work”

This comment stuck with me, because it so clearly echoed the conversation I had with my friend just days before.

I’m not saying that I don’t treasure those last moments with my husband before he leaves for deployment. There is nothing wrong with trying to rearrange my schedule to be there for him. He would do the same for me; and he has, when he asked for permission to come home from a training mission for the day so he could be at my graduation.

But the idea that I should call into work, that it’s selfish to not sacrifice my career for time with him, chafes me. The idea that I shouldn’t work evenings, because I don’t want to miss out on time with him before he deploys. The idea that my friend should base her decision on taking a new work opportunity on her boyfriends schedule.

The idea that my time and my goals as a woman are less important than my partners.

There was a time in my life when spending time with my husband was the most important thing to me; above my friends, my own hobbies and interest and my job.

Maybe my friend is still at that place. Maybe some women never leave that place (and that works for them). Maybe our culture and expectations of women, work and relationships will never evolve.

But for me, that’s a place that I’ve left behind. My husband and my marriage is still one of the most important things to me, but it’s balance with the other parts of my life that I value; it’s no longer the sole focus of my life.

I heard a quote in a movie trailer recently (I can’t remember the movie now) from the female lead to her male partner: “you are the life in my ‘life story'”

At first, I thought that was romantic (which goes to show how much our culture has impacted my views of women and relationships). But then I realized how messed up that quote really is.

I am the life in my life story: my marriage, my career, my family, my friends

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Different Interests, Same Values

Last Friday Jeremy came home late from work. Not horribly late, just a few hours later than normal (7:00 instead of his usual 4:30/5:00). I didn’t pay much attention to it, since I had been busy doing my own things; got home from work around 5:00, took the dog to the dog park, started making dinner and cleaning up the small messes around the house that had accumulated over the week, etc. 

As we were sitting down to dinner, Jeremy said that his boss tried to give him marriage advice today. Jeremy had stayed late at work to finish a project, and his boss told him he should go home and spend time with his wife, not stay at work.

Overall, not a bad message, and certainly preferable to having a boss that has no sense of work/life balance. However, his bosses motivation for his comment are what struck me.

He told Jeremy to go home because his wife must be lonely and waiting for him at home. When Jeremy explained that I have a job and I had actually spent only two hours “lonely and waiting”, he was shocked and actually asked Jeremy, “what do you mean she has a job?”. Yes, a military spouse that has a career of her own….CRAZY!

That, however, is not the theme of this post. Jeremy’s boss then said that he had overheard Jeremy saying that he was going dirt biking on Saturday and golfing on Sunday…so Jeremy should be going home early to spend time with me to make up for the fact that he is leaving me alone all weekend.

This is the point of my post.

Jeremy and I have never been one of those “attached at the hip” couples. We are both introverted, so we like to be alone a lot…even away from each other (although I can tolerate Jeremy being present during my “alone” time lol). We also have very different hobbies and interests. That used to really bother me, and I would wonder how we can be a couple and have a long-term marriage if we have nothing in common! Aren’t we doomed to fail?!

I read a blog about this topic earlier in the week after my friend had posted it on FB: If We Weren’t Married, We Wouldn’t Be Friends

I’m not a huge fan of the title, because I do think of Jeremy as my best friend. I love spending time with him when we do things together (they talk about in the article how couples do find joint activities, even if their main hobbies are very different) and he is someone that I trust and can talk to. 

What I loved most about the article, was that they highlighted a concept that I believe to be very true. Something that I feel plays a major role in how happy I am in my marriage and how stable it is. 

The truth is that you don’t need to like the same things in order to be married (or even to be friends!). What you need in order to have a strong relationship is shared values….Our long-term goals align with each other’s. In those things that are truly important, we don’t clash.

A compatible marriage isn’t about shared hobbies (although that probably makes things much smoother and fun), but about the deeper, more important, aspect of an individual. Core values, long-term goals, etc. 

So, no. I don’t care that Jeremy goes golfing and dirt biking on the weekends. I don’t think that our marriage will fail because he is spending too much time on his own hobbies. We may not have the same interests and hobbies, be we are aligned in so many other important ways. 

So, while Jeremy’s boss was coming from a good place with his marriage advice…I think we will keep doing it our way 🙂 5 1/2 years of marriage and I would still choose him all over again.