(continued from the Ten Commandments of Fatherhood Part III)
Those four pesky marriage busters!
a. You have no life, because you didn't keep your balance. You fell off the hose, big guy. You have no life because you didn't understand or accept that there would be changes. You needed that guys' night out every single week so you could keep it together, but did you offer her a girls' night out? I'm betting you didn't. Guess what? For three hours you can feed, bathe and put little pie pie to sleep. You want certain things, you give it up on the other end. She'll come around, I promise you.
b. My wife changed, there's no joy in her eyes - the answer of where the joy went resides in two teeny tiny words and a big word. SHE - IS...EXHAUSTED! Let me screech to a halt because I can feel you saying to yourself, "This guy is playing for the wrong team. He's backing her up every time." WRONG...and stop calling me an ass-kisser - I have eyes and ears in the back of my head. The truth is I have been there and I implemented these colossal commandments and I live by them. Now if you've attempted to create proper balance in the past and have offered things, or if it simply hasn't turned out how you wanted it to, there are a few items to take into consideration. If it's soon after the baby was born, say the first year, then she's dealing with hormone issues, likely has a baby attached to her boob and her nipples are killing her, is postpartum, isn't getting any sleep and hasn't since her second tri-mester, is trying to get back to work with her job as we're almost all dual incomes these days, and the list goes on and on. You've made sacrifices too. You haven't slept much yourself. Try shaking up your shifts, and make it equal. If Mom pumps her milk then try to take an entire night or at least three quarters of an entire night and feed the baby yourself. Sleep deprivation is a killer! My wife was dust by nine am before I even got to work. Balance, balance, balance! What does she do, or does she dread doing at this point in her life? Take it off her plate. Make a simple three-dollar investment in massage oil or body lotion and get after her feet. Think that's crazy? Try giving her a foot massage every day for a week. Then drop me an email and let me know if that did any good for you.
c. I don't want to be that asshole who stayed...Guess what, you're a bigger asshole if you leave. You think that grass is greener too, doncha? I know you do. I know you see those twenty five year old girls at the office and you'd love to give them a go. You're older, wiser, somehow even maybe a little more distinguished and better looking...your wife has heard all your old bullshit before, so your stories don't entertain her like they used to. But these girls are fresh, they're hot, they look up to you...and they aren't afraid of that ring on your chubby little finger. Guys give in to this too often. In fact dealing with all the stress at home the idea of having split custody and half of your life back so you can be a full time adult half the time is quite possibly becoming a fantasy. Don't go down that road. Get on the hose, get balanced and put that energy into good use at home. I haven't met a small kid yet that hasn't been somehow traumatized by the split of their parents. Listen, Dad, you are God to your children. You are larger than life, you're what they look up to, aspire to be like and your departure for half of their life until they are eighteen is beyond devastating. Don't downplay it in your mind. You are Superman, Spiderman and Aquaman and Michael Jordan all piled up into one balding, graying, pudgy alpha male. Try an exercise. A female intern came up to me in an elevator after I'd changed into my gym clothes at the office. She playfully touched my leg and said, "You have really great legs for an old married guy." You don't have to be a moron do you? Hello Pandora, oh, and how's your box? In a stroke of rare genius, I went home and said to my wife, "You know, you've been looking great lately. Have you been secretly working out?" Well, I knew she hadn't...she knew she hadn't, and secretly she looked exactly the same to me, but you should have seen how she puffed out her chest, sucked in her tummy and said, "Really?" That ended up begin a very, very special night. It's sort of like the guys who occasionally go to strip clubs and then go home and make passionate sexy time with their wives. There might be something to that. So in review on this excuse. Asshole = you leaving.
d. We fell out of love, now I wonder if we were ever in love. Note to you buddy boy. You were in love. Your love has evolved into a "you don't do enough, and I've got to do it all" fiasco. Remember your trips before the baby came? Remember the first time you kissed each other? Did you see the film, "Knocked Up?" They weren't even in love! The bottom line is that you likely were in love have somehow felt emasculated at some points in your relationship and now with a screaming, beautiful blob of madness, you are completely out of balance. You will likely always love your child. I've never met a parent male or female who has said (or at least confessed) that they don't love or no longer love their child. Never once. No, the suffering and sacrifice comes at the expense of your marriage. Oh, and by the way, even if you're not officially married, for the sake of this book, if you've conceived a child together, consider yourself married. The fact that you don't have that piece of paper doesn't make you any less married, any less bound, any less responsible, or any less a part of the team. Here's a solution to this problem, and believe me I have been there and used this excuse in my head. When things were at their absolute worst in my marriage and in another stunning moment of clarity that seemed beyond me, I found myself calling an extremely expensive spa and resort. Now frugal is usually my middle name. I've also overheard people mumble, "tightass, cheap-o and jesus h, is he going to whip out the calculator to split this bill?" So that should paint a scenario of my normal personality for you as I called the reservation clerk, stuck out my chest and said with some authority, "How much for your most expensive suite?" - the reply was, "That's our Shangri La presidential suite, Mr. Altounian and it's thirty-five hundred per night." Long pause as I gather myself and continue with slightly less authority, "How much is your second most expensive suite?" Well, the second most expensive suite was seven hundred per night. In a very 'unlike me' moment I booked it for three nights. I didn't spare any expense with the spa selections either. I booked us hot stone massages, cold stone massages, mud baths, seaweed wraps and a bunch of other gooky crap I can't remember. In the real world, in the place that we men reside, a trip like this that cost me roughly five grand for three nights (I threw down on a convertible Bimmer rental...that part was for me) isn't exactly something that we'd plan for ourselves. I can think of five hundred other ways I could spend that money. But the truth is, it was one of the best trips of my life. We went from marriage is on serious, jagged, hanging off a cliff rocks to - I'm looking at you again. I'm seeing how beautiful your hazel eyes are. I want to take you back to the hotel room after we finish off this two hundred dollar bottle of wine and show you who you fell in love with and why. That my friends...is getting back on that god-forsaken rubber hose and rediscovering your balance! Answer to the question...you fell out of love, not sure if you were ever in love. Answer = do something that she's always wanted to do...no matter how simple or difficult and see how great it makes you feel too.
Up Next...COMMANDMENT NUMBER 3: THOU SHALT RELATE TO YOUR CHILDREN (stay tuned!)