Scott and Alex

When A Marriage Needs A Little Help

While Scott and I laughed at ourselves in yesterday’s post, it is also one of the reasons I’m cutting back on work. When my spouse arrives home at 9:30 p.m., I would like to ask him how his day is. I may be good at fake listening, arguing and multitasking, but doing many things at once means nothing gets my full attention. Multitaskers fail to do anything very well, and I want to do my marriage well.

Last week, we canceled everything that we had scheduled after the kids’ bedtime and spent those hours together. Monday through Sunday, we dated. We talked, watched movies, debated about world events, watched TV shows, got into a fight, made up, put away laundry and did it all with each other. Before that, Scott and I hadn’t spent more than two nights together in six weeks and not because of travel or unexpected events. Our lives were revolving around everything except our marriage, which is not something a week of dates fixes, but it was a good place to start.

The most important talk we had during our week was about our schedules (and this is where the fight happened because change is hard, yo!). We can’t have a marriage based on no time together — ships passing in the night. And the morning. And the afternoon. Our conversations consisting of: I’ll take the kids here and you take them there and I got bedtime and you got bath time and I’ll write and you go to work. And when we were together, all four of us were there, which is like being a part if it’s our only together time.

We have never been a couple who needs time away from each other. We are naturally independent and will continue on our merry way doing a Scott or Alex thing for weeks while slowly forgetting why we like each other. I wasn’t a MARRIAGE IS EVERYTHING person. I was a Scott is why I wanted to get married person. I’m fine on my own. Scott married into three cats, and I still like how I put away dishes, manage the kids’ bedtime, and train the dog better than how Scott does it, and Scott feels the same way about me.

I can appreciate the quote: “Compromise is when no one is happy.” I don’t like choosing to be happy over winning an argument, and I certainly do not like admitting I am wrong. I’m not so foolish as to pretend I am not who I am and how easily a great relationship could slip through my fingers. I like being lazy, dirty and mean. Scott does as well (although he showers more often). That’s why we have marriage rules, but spend enough time away from being a couple and no one gives a crap about the rules of engagement.

But I love my marriage, and I adore Scott. My relationship with him is worth more to me than anything in this world except for my relationship with God so my tendency to put so much above it makes me wonder why my brain hates me. How can I think one more scroll through Facebook or one last text message or one more work email or, even with my better self, one more commitment to help someone or one more volunteer project or one more rally to save the world is more important than the man with whom I have spent the last ten years and plan to spent the rest of life?

Well, because those commitments are easier. I get pats on the back. Immediate gratification. A laugh. A cry. I save the world. I am noticed. Thanked. Impressive. Funny. Scott loves me, but love is at home and quiet and full of crumbs on the floor, dirty socks and farts. It is the best part of our lives, but it is the hardest to stay present for.

We trudge along anyway. We are hand-in-hand with a new schedule and a new plan to spend a little more time staring at each other and a little less time staring at the rest of the world. I don’t think the world will notice, but we already do.

Scott and Alex
I think we’re going to be just fine.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

36 thoughts to “When A Marriage Needs A Little Help”

  1. I seriously think you should consider writing a marriage advice book. The two of you seem to have this thing down. I love your ability to see the beauty in your marriage even in the midst of the hard parts, where as my usual go to reaction is “oh my god this is terrible what’s so great about marriage anyway I think I will go eat my weight in chocolate.” Or something. I think you two crazy kids are gonna make it. 🙂

  2. My heart broke a little one day when during a “discussion” Christian mentioned that he loses me every night after the kids go to bed and I start on my work (which probably wouldn’t even take me very long if I wasn’t distracted by social media). So we mainly unplug on the weekends. We watch more movies, have a beer together. I look forward to those nights more than anything.

  3. I’ve been making a conscious effort to turn off electronics when Joel gets home and just focus on him. It’s ridiculous how easy it is for us both to sit in the same room with the tv on and laptops in our faces. We’re together, but we’re not *really* spending time with each other. We’ve been so much happier with just the little effort it took to truly pay attention to each other. I’m loving it.

  4. I get very comfortable because John and I commute together…so we’re together in the car, we’re together at work, we have lunch together..if I want to talk to my husband during the day, I walk over to his desk. But sometimes that backfires, because we believe that because “we are together all the time” that we are communicating the way we should, and when we’re home we tend to go our seperate ways because “DEAR GOD we’ve been together all day” . I love those nights when we can talk without the boys interrupting or talk about things that have nothing to do with our children, refinancing our house or work. I just want to talk to my husband…and so I do.

    I agree with Julia, write a book…because you have your finger on the pulse of this. xo

  5. THank you thank you thank you and i’dloveto talk to you about this personally. Maybe tonight before or after, but don’t want to take away time with my hubby or your hubby to do so 🙂

  6. I love when I read one of your posts and it hits right on what’s going on in my own world. Just last night it hit us again how much we need to spend time together. Our world is incredibly crazy with two full-time jobs, commutes, me as a doctoral student, my husband’ commitment to martial arts, and a couple of school-age kids. Last night neither of us felt like cooking so we threw a pizza in the oven for the kids and got some take-out sushi for us. We let the kids rot their brains with computers while they ate and had dinner together where we talked and talked and it was awesome. We were reminded how much we really like each other and want to do that more often. Write that book, Alex!

  7. This is a thing in my marriage now too. With his weird schedule and my “imaginary” deadlines (I call them that because they are completely self-imposed) we get busy and it is easy to put our marriage in the backseat. I sometimes feel like that with my daughter too. Like I will play with her later and do fun things later…except later there is more work to do. Finding that balance between family and career goals can be really tricky and I am better at it on certain days than I am on others.

  8. This is a great post, Alex! I seem to really busy and my fiancé has been working long hours. We had a similar discussion last week and are working out “dates,” which don’t involve leaving the house, but leaving electronic equipment alone. I already feel the positive change this has made. We weren’t on the brink of relationship disaster, but rather realized how much we miss each other.

  9. “Well, because those commitments are easier. I get pats on the back. Immediate gratification. A laugh. A cry. I save the world. I am noticed. Thanked. Impressive. Funny. Scott loves me, but love is at home and quiet and full of crumbs on the floor, dirty socks and farts. It is the best part of our lives, but it is the hardest to stay present for.”

    This entire paragraph spoke deeply to me, particularly the last line. Yes. Yes, yes, yes… so many times over.

    My husband and I are very much like you and Scott in that we are independent and will go weeks drifting away from each other without even realizing it. The other night, we took everything off the table and sat down to watch a movie together – Source Code, because I’d never seen it. I was cynical and thinking that a movie couldn’t really help us reconnect if we were still sitting there, NOT conversing. But it’s a really thought-provoking movie and we wound up talking at length about it that night, and then again the next day. Four days later, we were still bringing up little “What ifs” with each other about it.

    So, yeah… I was wrong. Movie nights can be about reconnecting, as are many of the little things in life that we often overlook or take for granted.

  10. Yay! I love this post. Thanks for opening up your marriage to us. Great words of wisdom and advice. As you know, this topic hits my family in the gut every year…seasonally…and not seasonally if I’m honest. One of my commitments of 2013 is to make sure my family is set first (God, Hubs, kids – in that order) and use the rest of my time for job/to help/service and not the other way around. I’ve been in this amazing Bible study this year and have learned a lot from some figures (Eli/Samuel) about forgetting their family and all sorts of crazy happens. Also that people are not prone to remember what you DO but what kind of person you are. Whoa. Gotta take care of my personal flock I’ve been entrusted to FIRST and then the rest will fall into place. Thanks for the gut check Alex!

  11. HOnest, valuable marriage talk. The kind no one does because it casts us in a less than flattering light.

    Yes, remember what is important

    I prayed that this morning with my children, “please help us remember what is important, when the world congratulates those that major in the minors.”


  12. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for sharing this and for reminding those of us who need a reminder (I’m looking straight at myself when I type this) that the rest of the world matters, but not as much as what’s going on in our own little world. It’s that smaller, quieter world that acts as a foundation for the rest of the craziness out there. It’s where we should go to get away from the rest of life. If we’re not careful, we’ll end up with nowhere to run to.

  13. I think you hit the nail on the head when you pointed out that you get recognition in the other areas in your life. I respond well to positive praise, but unfortunately my husband is not a talker. I think that’s what I struggle with the most. Thanks for the post, it’s nice to know others have the same issues 🙂

  14. That exact same thing happens to us. We took a marriage class recently that required us to do homework together for 16 weeks straight. That was really challenging but helpful!

  15. I get this. I really do. A few months ago, everything came to a head when my husband said to me that we never talk anymore. And he was right. We would be in the same space, but in our own worlds.

    We’ve since made concerted efforts to reconnect. Simple things like hand holding while watching TV, and sharing a bowl of ice cream. And really talking. Face to face, not face-to-phone/ laptop.

    Kudos to you and Scott!

  16. We made the same decision before the holidays. All the online time was causing issues over here too and it’s been wonderful to be together in the evenings when we can. And even on the weekends more. Yay for you and Scott! 🙂

  17. I needed to read this so, so much.

    I have been neglecting husband time hardcore and I just…thank you. I think I need to do something similar. With my freelance design business and his grad schoolwork, we just never spend time together anymore.

    Also, I just got an iPhone. So it’s even easier to ignore him.

  18. My husband is a pilot and I work full time, and we have a three year old… so the whole ships passing in the night thing sounds about right! On the rare occasion we do get to just be, it is so nice to remember how much I actually like the guy- let alone love him!

  19. This should be required reading material for every married couple!

    You’ve inspired me to implement a week of staring at (er, I mean connecting with) at my husband.

    1. Thanks so much for saying that and for letting me know about your week of staring — it’s so very fun unless you have contacts. Then it’s a major disadvantage and you eventually have to start playing board games instead.

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