Working it out

After having a baby one’s marriage, like one’s figure, ends up all weird from being stretched in too many directions. Those of us who don’t miraculously “bounce back” have to take a hard look at what we’ve got and come up with a new regimen.

The crux of my particular problem was logistical. During the week, my husband sits at a desk inside an office in relative seclusion and quiet. During the week, I walk, run, and play from place to place negotiating sun, wind, and precipitation in the constant company of no fewer than two loud, and very touchy, individuals. It should therefore have come as no surprise that on the weekends I want to sit on my butt inside and think alone while he craves adventure in the outdoors with the kids. And yet it did.

Once the physical pall cast by my pregnancy and Stuey’s infancy (a.k.a., my excuse) passed, we found ourselves at odds almost every weekend morning. It started to seem like we just don’t enjoy the same things. I tried my best to view the situation from the perspective of the person with whom I’d chosen to spend my life, and judged myself increasingly lazy and boring. When we did things my way, I felt guilty and hyper-aware of his happiness, or lack thereof. When we did things his way, I felt bullied and over-extended. Worse yet, I became reactionary, rejecting my husband’s activity suggestions as too tiring even if I’d been about to propose the same thing.

About six months ago, my brain turned itself back on, like a coma patient suddenly awakening after months of barely managing to accomplish the physical tasks required to continue living. I finally put my finger on our weekday experiential discrepancy and the intractability of our differing weekend desires, consulted with my best friend (you may know her by the name “Structure”), and proposed a new system. Every other weekend I am in charge; on the others, he drives. If it’s “my weekend,” I get to choose the activities, micromanage naps, demand completion of honey-do list entries, pick restaurants, and even set an octogenarian bedtime. If it’s his weekend, I do my best to sit back, relax, and enjoy the continuous stream of activity (ours and James Bond’s). Bye bye control issues. Bye bye bickering. Bye bye planning delays. Unsurprisingly, my weekends are a blast for the whole family. Shockingly, his are even better.

As nice as it would be to lose the baby weight effortlessly by “incorporating exercise into everyday life” (you know, like celebrities who paddle board to work and chase their segway-riding toddlers around their mansion grounds and stuff), genetics and circumstance have made me more of a daily gym date kind of girl. I’m sure for Gisele and Tom baby spit-up acts as emotional glue and lost sleep as a communication facilitator; for me, it makes sense that another dependable protocol was needed to shape up.

I’m not certain our strategy will work for anyone else, but as Stuey begins his second year, my pre-pregnancy pants fit and my marriage is tighter than ever.

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