Tag Archives: relationships

Wasted Youth and 10pm Bedtimes

youth
Photo by Jordan McQueen

We heard them before we saw them.

Some background first. My wife and I were in downtown Boston celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. It was a blissful and rare occasion where all three kids were taken care of by relatives, the dog was temporarily re-homed for the night, and we were free to dine like royalty and use the city as our playground.

We ate a delicious meal at a small Italian restaurant in the North End. We had a few cocktails. We went back to the hotel lobby bar and had a few more. But soon we grew weary and decided to return to our hotel room.

The elevator doors were closing when a group of kids in their 20s yelled at us to hold the door, and then piled in. They were cocked. So happy, so giggly, so loud, and so carefree. Celebrating their friend’s 21st birthday in Boston, they had just finished pre-gaming and were getting ready to head out to the bars and really kick things into gear. Their night was just beginning as ours was winding down.

It was 10:07 pm.

One of the guys apologized to us for the raucous behavior. “Sorry sir, ma’am…we’re a little drunk.” Sir? Ma’am? Ouch. MJ and I smiled and told him not to worry about it, as we remember those days well. Those days — somehow simultaneously yesterday yet a million years ago. Fun to think about and even replicate once or twice a year, but now no longer wanted. The comforts of Netflix and a warm bed being the preferred option of Sirs and Ma’ams everywhere.

We looked at them and saw  youthful exuberance. The ability to push yourself without sleep and somehow feel like a million bucks in the morning. The gleam of adventure in their eyes, never really knowing what excitement the night holds but eagerly anticipating whatever’s in store.

We were once like that. But unlike many 30-somethings who enjoy looking down their noses and lecturing young people about TRUE happiness and REAL satisfaction that can only come from marriage and REAL love that “can only be had between a parent and child,” I don’t think that way.

I think they’re plenty happy. I know I was. Those years were some of the best of my life, and without them I wouldn’t be who I am today. Even though some of them might one day choose a different path, I know marriage and kids is far from the only way to be happy. Satisfied. So I refuse to look at them with condescending pity like I know better.

I also see them look at us with a mixture of emotions.

They laugh at the thought of going to bed when they’re used to going out for the night. They tell themselves they’ll never be that old, and maybe they’re right. Or maybe not. Either way, they can’t fathom the idea of marriage, kids, and 10 pm bedtimes because why should they? Being in your early 20s is exactly the time to feel invincible and crazy and awesomely impervious.

And yet there’s a tiny glimmer of curiosity there. Could it really be possible to find one person and be happy? What’s that like? Maybe it’s not so bad.

And so it was — an emotional crossroads in a Boston elevator as the wild and careening trajectory of youth briefly touched the more measured plodding of the near middle-aged.

I think both sides enjoyed the interaction, but were glad we weren’t the other. As it should be.

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Why I Have to Stop Saying “She’s Out of My League”

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I’ve been saying my wife is out of my league and too good for me for 10 solid years, ever since we started dating. Because…well, look at her and look at me. Many guys express similar sentiments about their wives, and we genuinely mean it as a compliment. Unfortunately, it’s a sentiment that’s really started to harm our marriage.

Background: the same scene has played out in a similar fashion over the years no matter where we go and who we meet. MJ’s beauty turns heads as she enters a room and attracts more than her fair share of attention. It’s not uncommon for strangers on a train to stop her and tell her exactly how gorgeous she is out of left field, even when I’m sitting right there. And speaking of me, I get looked at too. Only it’s very different.

They look at her, then they look at me. Once more at her, and then back to me with eyebrows raised. It’s the “Huh…how the hell did that happen?” look. Is he rich (he is not)? Is he famous (nope)? Did she lose a bet? Does he have her brainwashed? You get the point.

Even my friends, on our wedding day, asked her what the hell she was doing.

Did it sting? Yeah, it did. But instead of letting that show, I just embraced it and went with it. It became my go-to response and elicited laughs every time. Unfortunately, it stopped being a joke when, somewhere along the line, it became my reality.

I’d routinely ask MJ why she was with me. I’d demand to know how someone like her could possibly want to be with a schmuck like me. At first she’d give my ego a stroke and list out my good qualities, but that only lasted so long. Soon when I brought it up she’d just roll her eyes and say nothing. Until recently, when she had PLENTY to say about it.

“Do you have any idea how hurtful it is when you say that? First of all, women like confidence. I don’t want to hear about how awful you are and a list of everything you think is wrong with you as you throw yourself a pity party. Second, you have no idea how insulting it is to ME when you say these things about yourself. If you’re so clearly horrible and you have to constantly ask me why I married you, it makes me feel like an idiot for marrying someone I shouldn’t be married to, according to you. And if you tell someone the same thing long enough, they just might start to believe it.”

Whoa. She’s right. She’s 110% right in every way. And in a fit irony, I realized I now had a very concrete reason for feeling like an idiot.

Like many men, I spent a lot of time worried about leagues and whether I (as a self-described 5 on the 1 to 10 scale), had any business landing what I considered to be a hard 9 (if you need more info and a few laughs, check out this movie). But all those numbers, all those rankings — what a waste of time. Because come to find out, there are no leagues as far as my wife is concerned. The rankings don’t exist. They never did.

My raging insecurities put a genuine strain on my marriage. When I think of all the time I wasted basically trying to convince my wife I’m not good enough for her, I want to slap myself as I wonder “what the hell was I thinking?” But even worse, I’m sure I said some of that crap in front of my kids. Sam isn’t old enough to pick up on it, but Will sure is. So a few days ago when he said “Mom, you always look so pretty and dad doesn’t,” it didn’t surprise me at all. It just saddened me that I passed such a stupid message on to him.

Guys, our wives chose us for a reason. Hopefully, many reasons. We showed them love they never had, devotion they always wanted, and support they’ll always appreciate. And we’re attractive to them or else they wouldn’t be with us. We just need to realize it.

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Would You Wear Pajamas at the Bus Stop?

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Marriage ain’t easy, and we’ve been through more than our fair share of rough spots.

Pregnancy, not being able to get pregnant, multiple miscarriages, dealing with abortion protesters, financial hardships, mental health issues, and the Great Hershey Bar War of 2009 are just some of the bullcrap MJ and I have endured in our eight years of marriage.

But now we face a much bigger — and completely unexpected — problem which is currently threatening to tear us apart.

Pajamas at the bus stop.

Continue reading Would You Wear Pajamas at the Bus Stop?

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Our Love Story: We Met in Middle School

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Since it’s Valentine’s Day, let me break down our love story “How I Met Your Mother” style…

Will, Sam, I’m gonna be honest with you. The very first memory I have of your mother involves her sticking her tongue down Jason Pierce’s throat. She was 12, it was a middle school dance, and it was hard to miss her because she was so damn tall. And skinny — all elbows and knees. But she and I weren’t friends and we didn’t talk because we were in different social circles.

And then she left and moved to Pennsylvania (and then eventually Cape Cod) for high school. I’m pretty sure neither one of us gave the other a second thought.

Fast forward to my first day of college orientation. I picked a tiny little mountain school in the Berkshires, in part because I wanted a fresh start with a whole group of people I didn’t know. So imagine my surprise when one of the first faces I saw was your mother’s. Except I barely recognized her. The girl who was all elbows and knees had grown up and into herself, and she was stunning. I tried chatting her up but she was quick to remind me that I had ignored her in middle school, and therefore I was banished to the friend zone.

And so it was for the next six years.

Not only didn’t your mother and I date, this time we did hang out in the same circles. That means she saw every bad dating decision and questionable hook-up I had in college. I gave up any and all hope of dating her, although I always wanted to.

In May 2004, your mom and I ended up at the same house party. Again, because I thought I had no shot with your mom, I had my eye on another girl. But a friend torpedoed me, which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened. Your mom (over the course of a few adult beverages) told me she always had a little crush on me. And I (over the course of even more adult beverages), responded with the romantic and immortal words that went on to forge the foundation of our relationship: “You’re a f*#@ing liar!”

Then we made out in back of a woodshed, and were engaged 8 months later. Well, 13 years and 8 months later.

I had no idea that at 11 years old I had just met my future wife. But just remember, sometimes the long and windy roads are the most rewarding.

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A bunch of other dad bloggers are sharing similar stories. Check them out:

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5 Things My Sons Need to Know to Avoid Bad Marriages

badmarriage“Dad, when should you get married?”

The question stopped me in tracks — mainly because Will is only 5 years old. As it turns out, Will has an adorable and sweet classmate who has informed him (not asked him mind you, but TOLD him) they’ll be getting married one day. So naturally he wants to know at what point that day will come. But more than that, he is curious about how you know when you’re supposed to marry someone.

My marriage to MJ isn’t perfect, mainly because I’m not perfect and neither is she. And we’re not even 100% perfect for each other because no one is. But while you don’t have to love EVERYTHING about the person you marry, I’m going to tell my son there are some basic requirements — some building blocks that create a foundation for a successful marriage.

I’m no marriage expert, but it is critically important to me that my sons not only look for what makes them happy, but to be able to identify some common red flags of what NOT to look for so they can avoid a bad marriage.

Continue reading 5 Things My Sons Need to Know to Avoid Bad Marriages

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