Other people’s husbands are better than your husband.

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In Ireland, the sheep are always searching for higher pasture, greener pasture; they push down fences to get to places where they can try something else, and their lambs are often out in front doing the pushing.

Oddly, most people seem to think their children are better than anyone else’s, and at some stages, that’s probably a good thing as nobody else is terribly keen on the little buggers. Your kids are just special. Since I work in education,, people are forever telling me how smart Johnny and Susie are. I teach at a university, but I am even hearing about how brilliant people’s four years olds are. Geniuses, reading at at middle school level while still in kindergarten. Shaming the other kindergarten kids. Making them cry for their mommies and daddies and so on. But enough about my daughter.

But spouses aren’t exactly the same. There is such a thing as spouse envy.

Qualities one notices in other people’s spouses:

1. They seem easy going.
2. They seem to not get too intense about money.
3. They seem willing to go along with whatever the other spouse wants.
4. They aren’t critical all the time.
5. They may even be generous with money. Note, this is a lot easier if they make a lot of it.
6. They always take time to be with you when you need them. This is probably an illusion. Unless the spouse is rich or unemployed.
7. They take care of all the problems that arise. This might be true. I see some people who are the big problem solvers of the family. My spouse does a pretty good job with this, I have to say.
8. Being patient.
9. Not acting like they know everything. Yes, god yes! And not having to talk down to me. (Sorry, I got a little excited there.) Seriously, my spouse doesn’t do this but so many men do that it is freaking tedious. When I hear a man starting to go on and on in that way they do when they’re telling you all they know about blah blah blah, I just want to take a nap. Sometimes you ask someone a question, like, Hey, I hear you’re an expert on Mongolia, so tell me… but most of the time it’s men just talking so they can puff out their chest like a little peacock because they feel like a little man and want to feel like a big man. It makes me Le tired.
10. They’re good listeners. You’re thinking, look at him/her listening attentively. My spouse never hears a word I say! This is for my husband. Those women aren’t really listening. Trust me. If they’re under 30, they’re stoned. If they’re over 30, they’re buzzed on good California wine or too many margaritas. See that vaguely attentive look on her face? Here’s what she’s thinking. “Is Clive Owen coming? Is that Denzel Washington? No? Ah, too bad. So you were saying?”

The problem with marriage is that the really interesting part happens when no one is looking. If you want to know who takes care of whom, find out who brings the coffee to the other person in the morning.

The parts of marriage that make it real have to do with kindness, passion, humor and conversation.

Are you kind to each other most of the time? You can make it a long way on kindness. And that’s kindness when things go badly. Kindness when things go well is easy.

Passion is a great ingredient because when you don’t have money or work or success, it’s nice to know somebody you adores wants you madly.

Humor is what keeps the days and nights rolling. Being able to laugh at yourself and make jokes. Our family is a constant roll of wit and laughter.

Conversation: The best part of life is the long conversations you are having with people who are helping you understand what it means to be human in the way you want to be human. We are parents, writers, creative intellectual people, so we are having that conversation with a few people, but most of all with each other. That long conversation is connective tissue. For many people, that conversation is about the children and when it’s not about the kids, there’s not enough to talk about.

Ireland has turned cold; and oddly, feels different now. I can see where one would feel like you’re crouched in your cottage. It’s windy, cold and wet outside, so you don’t really want to be out in it. Especially if you’re recovering from a nasty head/chest cold as I am. So, we have got a fire roaring in the hearth and we’re drinking champagne. I made leek soup last night, so maybe tonight I’ll try a mushroom soup.

Published in: on June 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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