A personal ad for Eric

I have noticed a husband-bashing backlash lately and it’s not sitting well with me. If I have to hear one more woman tell me that they are blissfully happy with their husbands I think that I might throw up. I mean really, is that what everyone else’s marriages are like? If not I think that we are doing a disservice to just-getting-by wives out there by pretending. Or maybe what I need to do is take a personal ad out on behalf of my husband. Something along the lines of:

MWM seeking WF 35-45. Me: Smart, kind, hard-working, long-suffering. You: Drug and disease free, able to live without piling all belongings on every available horizontal surface in house, also without homicidal thoughts when I mention unwashed dishes. James Taylor fans need not apply.

The first time I saw Eric I was a seventeen-year-old waitress in a dumpy Country Kitchen restaurant in a college town and he was a twenty-five-year-old going-to-be philosophy grad student. He was the high school friend of the boyfriend of a woman that I worked there with.

For weeks before Eric’s arrival in town the other waitress had been telling me that she was dying to have a threesome with her boyfriend and another of their friends, a man I will call Henry. Now it would not be much of a stretch to say that I was significantly more naive than kids seem to be today and the very idea that someone was telling me that they were fantasizing about having sex with two people at the same time was almost more than my sweet little ears could bear to hear. Let me just say that I am over that now… I even have basic cable, so you can just imagine the things I have seen by now.

Anyway, one day the three men came in and sat down with Eric and Henry on one side of the booth facing our waitress station and the boyfriend on the other side, facing away from us. The other waitress came up to me and pointed the table out. “There they are,” she said. “That’s Henry.” She motioned to the two people at the table I hadn’t met before.

I am not kidding when I tell you that my breath literally caught in my chest as I looked up at the men at the table. “Oh,” I said, “I can see why you are so attracted to him. He is the most beautiful man I have ever seen.”

The other waitress looked at me with eyes rolling, sighed and said, “Not him. That’s Eric. Henry is the other one.”

Now, while I find this a sweet story about the first meeting I had the man who would later become my husband and the father of my three children, Henry, who is still a close friend, isn’t a big fan of the story since, as he points out, the other waitress didn’t ask which man I was talking about, she just assumed (correctly) that I was swooning over Eric. I would like to take this opportunity to say that Henry is a wonderful man as well. He is kind and attractive and I don’t really have any reason to believe that he screens my phone calls despite my penchant for talking on and on, which also makes him a good, if not all that bright, friend.

That said, I was thinking of this story today because I was reminded of a funny analogy that I had once seen in a movie. In it one of the characters said that she always pictured marriage like a stick that both people are holding on to. Sometimes, she said, your hands are close enough together that you can look into each other’s eyes, but sometimes you are so far apart that you can hardly see each other, but still, you are both always holding on. If that analogy were Eric and me, I would have to say that each of our ends of the stick are in different states at the moment. I am just so deep in the work and angst of motherhood that I am perfectly useless to him right now. Perhaps worse than that is the fact that I am too tired to care much about my uselessness.

From a distance it seems that I have every reason to be one of those women that waxes on. I mean if I made a pro/con list about Eric the pro side would fill pages and pages. For example:
1. He is a great dad. I mean he has seemingly endless patience for wrestling and lifting giggling kids and outside play that I have no interest it. He never gives you the feeling that he would rather be doing something less “girly” when playing with the girls.
2. He has taken a job making much less than he could get in the private sector in order to do the kind of work he believes is valuable. And there isn’t a day that goes by that he isn’t giving his all to that job.
3. He actually gets notes from victims whose assailants he has prosecuted telling him that he is a hero. Seriously, he is an actual hero to people.
And the list would go on and on and on like that.

And you know what? The con list would be about one item long, but it would be in all capital letters:

He may be the most beautiful man I have ever seen (and honestly my breath still catches when I see him out somewhere unexpectedly), and he may be someone’s hero but it is all I can do to not kill him in his sleep when he says a word to me about the house or the ever growing pile of magazines I keep meaning to read but instead insist on keeping on the floor by the couch. I am not saying that he doesn’t have a valid point, anyone that has been to our house knows that without Eric I would become Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout… but still.

I am happy, don’t get me wrong, but not blissfully so. I can’t be the only wife out there who feels that this time in our lives feels more like slogging through with a comrade-in-arms rather than dancing along with my soul mate. I think that he would agree.

Maybe it’s the fact that the balance of power is totally thrown off when one of you does a highly respected job and the other one cooks, cleans, and plays endless rounds of “I Spy” in clinic waiting rooms. Maybe it’s that as a nursing, co-sleeping mom my body isn’t mine and hasn’t been for years.

But the good news is that neither of us is going anywhere– no personal ads have been placed. After all, that threesome didn’t seem like a good idea then and seems like an even worse idea now. I think we’ll stick it out with each other and our basic cable.

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