Role Reversal

This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

I’m not sure exactly when or how it happened, but there’s no doubt about it now.

MJ and I have completely switched roles in our relationship. I realized it fully while driving to McCoy Stadium yesterday to take Will to his first professional baseball game watching the PawSox. I could tell something was bothering MJ, but trying to get information out of that woman usually takes a Jack Bauer type of interrogation. But to my surprise, with a little encouragement she began talking and I was a little surprised at what she had to say.

Basically she’s going through a mid-life crisis at the age of 30. All of a sudden she finds herself longing to temporarily shed the chains of responsibility as relates to the mortgage, working, mothering, etc. She’s realizing that with the exception of one crazy summer about six years ago, she has always lived life as a very responsible adult. She worked two jobs in high school. She worked a full-time job all through college because she was supporting herself, which means there was very little opportunity for parties and letting loose while combining work and her studies. And despite that first summer after college where she let her hair down, those brief three months were followed by getting her own place, buying a car and basically becoming a responsible and mature member of society.

Now compare that to my life, which was decidedly different. Even though I received high marks in college, I partied my face off. While MJ was working, studying hard and scrapping for every good grade she got, there I was doing whatever I pleased, having a ball and getting the same grades without really lifting a finger. And sure, after college I got my own place and a full-time job, but I continued to have fun and go out to bars with friends. In fact it wasn’t until after we were married that I really started to settle down.

So imagine my surprise when my wife tells me she just wants to go out, have fun, dance on a bar and relive a little bit of her youth. I, on the other hand, feel like I’m mostly done with that part of my life, and I’m now perfectly content to stay at home with Will and watch a movie on the couch. Now I don’t drink too much because I fear the hangover. And also because I’m trying to get into better shape and I feel like a night of boozing would set me back too far. It used to be MJ who ate healthy all the time and basically had to force me to go to the gym against my will. But now I’m always at the gym or going for a run, eating healthy and I’ve had to start to get on MJ’s case about eating right and working out.

All of this hit me in the car yesterday and honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. And it’s not like MJ isn’t responsible, that’s not what I’m saying. She makes our household tick and without her, everything falls apart. She’s a great mom, she takes care of us all and I love her. But she wants a piece of her youth back and I’m just not sure she’s going to find what she’s looking for. And I’m also very scared that I could be considered the “responsible one” in the relationship right now. I’m supposed to be the goof off who wants to go get stupid with his friends and pass out on the floor. Now all of a sudden I’m a salad-eating gym rat who runs 12 miles a week and doesn’t want to drink beer because I’m watching my figure.

But I told her I understand where she’s coming from and I support her. She’s been a grown-up ever since she was a teenager. If I hadn’t gotten all my stupidity out of my system in my late teens and early 20s, I’d probably feel the same way. And I understand her desire to go out to a bar with some friends, lose herself for a few hours and maybe even get some male attention from other guys in the bar. Even though I think she’s the most beautiful woman on the planet and I tell her that every single day, she thinks I “have to say that.” That’s not true of course, and I wish it was enough for her, but I can understand wanting some validation from other guys that she’s still a hottie (which she is). I know it’s not in her to cheat so I’m not worried about that. I just want her to do what she feels she needs to do and then come back home.

And as for me, I’m not sure how this grown-up stuff crept upon me but it feels a little funny now that I’m trying it on for size. Thank god my fantasy football draft is less than two weeks away so I can temporarily go back to being a total moron for at least one night!

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