The Secret To My Marriage

26 Aug

377_44793293834_3508_nI honestly believe my relationship with my wife is special.  Not the kind of special people think of when they say, “You guys are such a fun couple.”  Not the kind of special where we’re a “Match Made in Heaven.”  Not the kind of special that can be defined through grand gestures on anniversaries and times of accomplishment.  I honestly believe my relationship with my wife is special, stronger, and healthier because of the small gestures on a daily basis which are born from how we see each other.  We don’t just have that indescribable thing that makes us click…we have open dialogue and mutual understanding of each other.  I have been thinking about this because recently I have been asked by a number of people how my marriage is holding up due to my new responsibilities at work.  I spend 10-12 hours a day at the office for about a 60 hour work week.  In my spare time I am an owner and Managing Partner of a 288 capacity restaurant and entertainment venue.  In my spare time I am also the co-founder of a non-profit arts organization which requires weekly duties to manage, promote, and provide upkeep.  I recently resigned from a board of directors to open up my schedule so I could spend more time with my family.  I still sit on the board for a health clinic that provides services to the public regardless of their ability to pay and I sit on a community board for my city’s downtown development.  I am a very active guy…and my wife is no slouch.  Aside from being a full-time mom she teaches 3 days a week at the college level, is the CEO and co-founder of our national arts organization which requires her attention on a daily basis 7 days a week, is the president of the board for one of the local museums, is a full-time painter who has just been selected into another publication, and is an organizer on so many committees for our community I can’t keep track.  We are a busy couple!

So…how is the relationship doing?

Fine.  I won’t sit here and lie, saying “it’s never been better.”  That’s not true, entirely.  Marriage was much easier when we were in our 20’s, had no kids, worked from home, and were still in the “honeymoon phase.”  I had more hair and less belly, we argued over things like where to go out to eat, and at night we cuddled up and laughed about how good our lives were.  Now?  Most of the time we spend together is putting the kids to sleep, working on our arts organization late at night, relaxing watching TV, or sleeping next to each other which I call “farting next to Kate with my eyes closed.”  Marriage is harder now.  Marriage can be work, and that’s okay.

Look, we all know that wedding vow:  “For better or for worse.”  We’ve heard it, we’ve said it, but have we really thought about what “for worse” means?  When Kate wanted to move to California for Grad School we gave up our lives in New York, left our jobs behind, and found a way to make it work financially…that’s an easy “worse” to do.  I got really sick after our wedding and we missed our honeymoon due to a surgery I needed, but that kind of “worse” is easy to get through and survive because it has a palpable end.  My panic attack 3 years ago and going through counseling to get through agoraphobia and rejoin the world was much tougher “worse” to get through, but we did…in fact it brought us closer together.  Those are the big “worse” type things that happen to people.  Shit happens.  Life happens.  “Would you still love me if both my arms fell off and I could only talk like a duck?”  Yes…yes I’d still love you.

The real “worse” that challenges a relationship is when someone annoys you.  I’m annoying…Kate puts up with it.  She’s annoying…I’m not as good at putting up with it but that’s because I’m really annoying.  Here’s what brought me to this post:  I fill out a ton of paperwork for medical things, financials, contracts, etc.  Every form there is a section for my “spouse” or “emergency contact.”  That is always Kate.  Every time there is another field that asks me what her relation to me is and I always write the same thing:  “Wife/Best Friend.”  That sums it up right there.  She is not just my wife, she is my best friend.  Think about your best friend.  Have you ever gone a long period without talking?  Have you fought about stupid stuff?  Have you had adventures so silly you cry laughing telling stories.  Do they know your secrets?  Do you know theirs?  That’s a best friend.  That should be your spouse.

Some days I love Kate so much my cheeks hurt from smiling.  Some days I imagine what life would be like if she fell off a bridge.  Some days we hold hands.  Some days we don’t.  Some days we talk for hours.  Some days we just say a cordial “hi” and “bye.”  Some days she feels like my soulmate.  Some days she feels like my roommate.  Some days I can’t wait to crawl into bed and tell her all about my day and hear about hers.  Some days I can’t wait to crawl into bed and just turn off the light.  Everyday I love her and know she loves me too…but I’m aware that love is different from affection, and I respect the ebb and flow of emotions it requires to be in a long-term monogamous relationship with a person.  It requires a foundation of trust and honesty.  It requires the ability to go with the punches and evolve.  It requires the ability to look forward, not back.  It requires a friend…a best friend.

My marriage is not perfect, but I don’t believe in perfection.  My marriage is special.  I’m married to a special person.  She gets me.  I get her.  Sometimes we loathe each other.  Most times we love each other.  She is my wife, my best friend, my co-parent, my partner in business; life; adventure; and hardship.  Sometimes she is everything to me.  Sometimes she is part of everything.  I’ve watched so many marriages break up over the past decade for so many reasons, but primarily its been from lack of best friendship.  Guess how many of my gay friends’ marriages I’ve seen break up?  Zero.  I think it’s because their courtships were built on friendship and mutual respect without a legal option to marry…yet straight folks still insist on revoking their rights when they seem to be the most fit to be married and stay in a healthy relationship for life.  That’s a different conversation for a different time.  However, sometimes I literally have to picture Kate like my male friends and take the attraction out of it…and ask myself what my best friend needs…or what I need from my best friend…and is it realistic?

So to answer everyone’s question about how my marriage is doing now that I’m so busy, it is moving forward and evolving as it always does.  We renew our wedding vows every year, because life throws some curveballs at you and you gotta adapt and keep on truckin.  I respect Kate.  I appreciate her as an individual, as well as my partner, as well as a member of a family unit, and as well as a member of society.  I hold her to the same standards I hold myself to, and expect that she do the same for me.  Quite simply, I love her.  I love her more than anyone will ever know.  She is the only one who comes close to understanding how much I love her.  I also like her.  I like her a lot.  She also drives me batshit…so I leave the toilet seat up every now and then and don’t replace the soap bar in the shower.

Kate is my best friend.  She is also my wife.  That’s the secret to my marriage, and my marriage is special.


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Back To School

17 Aug

While putting in 10-14 hour days at the office isn’t my definition of a “fun time,” I do appreciate the fact that it is a change of scenery that affords me perspective on family, parenthood, and my children (2 and 4) I might not get if I were home all day with the boys.  My wife Kate, however, spent the summer home with them…and we agree they are gremlins.  Adorable, sweet, loving, terrifying gremlins.  They have grown up so much and are sooooo sweet!  But don’t turn your back on them…they’ll eat you alive and they always travel as a pair.  I’m not sure if we fed them after midnight, maybe they were exposed to bright lights, and we definitely got them wet since we spent the summer at the pool…but whatever mogwai was left in them has turned to full-on terrifying gremlin as they decimate the small town of Kingston Falls that is Kate’s and my sanity.

We have looked forward to today for a while, Kate more than me.  Today is the first day of school!  For both the boys and Kate.  Everyone is out of the house!!!  We took those gremlins to get haircuts yesterday, bought them school supplies, drenched them in soap, polished them up and…tada!  Cute little boys again!  So please, help me congratulate my wife Kate…she survived the summer and didn’t go crazy despite the constant barrage of…

“Ma! Mama! Ma! Mama! Maaaaaa! Mamaaaaa! Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Maaaaaaaaa…!”


“Watch me!”


School’s back bitches…and I know one Mama who’s stoked to be back at the head of a college classroom.


Dodge & Max heading to their first day of school, Fall 2015

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Bachelordom: Day 4, the Finale

7 Aug

bach·e·lor (băch′ə-lər, băch′lər)
1. A man who has never been married.
2. A person who has completed the undergraduate curriculum of a college or university and holds a bachelor’s degree.
3. A male animal that does not mate during the breeding season.
4. A young knight in the service of another knight in feudal times.

lonewolfYesterday was Day 4 of being an honorary bachelor while my family was out of town.  I finally had a good night’s sleep and awoke feeling conflicted.  On one hand I was so excited to see my family while on the other hand…I was sad to know my days of bacheloring around were over.  I finally ate that lone hard-boiled egg in the fridge and a Tupperware container full of potatoes.  Guess the fridge wasn’t bare after all.  Uneventfully, I went to work where I defiantly ate a burrito with everything on it for lunch…one last bachelor meal that my stomach would regret.

So long bachelor meals…so long.

My wife and I checked in as she made the 8 hour drive back with the kids.  With her in the home stretch, just a few minutes away, I sat down in the back yard with a Whiskey and a cigar to watch the sunset one last time…like Brad Pitt in “Interview with the Vampire,” but with much less hair and no Lestat looming over my shoulder.

So long doing what I want when I want…so long.

wolf-7That night I read to the boys and cuddled them in my arms for the first time in nearly a week.  It was so good to have them home.  They showered me with kisses as they hugged me as hard and told me all about their adventures on the farm in Iowa.  They fell asleep hard & fast, happy to be home in their own beds.  Downstairs, Kate shucked Iowa sweet corn that had been on stalks the day before at her family’s farm – it doesn’t get much fresher than that.  We feasted, played a drinking game while watching the GOP Debate, and teared up watching Jon Stewart’s final night hosting The Daily Show.  Kate cuddled up to me on the couch and I recoiled a little in surprise.  “Are you okay?” she asked.  I wasn’t used to having someone to cuddle with.  I replied, “You can’t expect me to be so easily domesticated after leaving me in the wild for so long.”  Kate ignored this comment and exclaimed, “No one left you in the wild you big baby.”  She cuddled in.  My home was full of love and affection again.

So long TV at full volume on a school night…so long.

As I turned off the lights I remembered there were two sweet little boys sleeping in beds…not just an empty room I walked past en route to Sad Town, USA.  I tucked them in one last time and kissed their foreheads as they slept.  They breathed heavily as they slept and my mind was at ease.  I climbed into bed and found my missing puzzle piece waiting for me with open arms, I was engulfed in the arms of loving affection from my best friend.  Kate planted a kiss on my lips and then earnestly asked me, “Are you eating beef jerky?”

I was.

It helped cancel out my beer breath.

I also had malted milk balls.

I jogged to the bathroom to brush my teeth.  I had to come back from the wild and was remembering how to be part of the pack.  ArooooOOOoooo!  I know it was only 4 days but I came to love my time alone.  It reminded me of why I started this site in the first place…to document my transition into my 30’s, corporate America, parenthood, and responsibility.  So much change all at once and it came rushing back in just 4 short days.  I remembered what it was like to be the lone wolf, and it was lovely.  Odd…I was so scared of it leading up to the week.  I had so much anxiety asking myself how I’d fill my time during these 4 days.  What would I do when I was left alone with…with…with…myself?!  The answer?  Eat beef jerky and malted milk balls with beer on the couch while watching TV at full volume in my underwear whenever the heck I want…dammit.

So long bacherlordom…so long.


And now, the end is near; and so I face the final curtain.  My friend, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.  I’ve lived a life that’s full.  I’ve traveled each and every highway; and more, much more than this, I did it my way.

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Bachelordom: Day 3

6 Aug

bach·e·lor (băch′ə-lər, băch′lər)
1. A man who has never been married.
2. A person who has completed the undergraduate curriculum of a college or university and holds a bachelor’s degree.
3. A male animal that does not mate during the breeding season.
4. A young knight in the service of another knight in feudal times.

Yesterday was Day 3 of bachelordom, also known as “How to eat like a moron for a week while punishing your liver.”  It was a relief to know that it was my last day alone without my wife and boys…and also sad to think my fast-food-eating days of summer were over.  Ah well!  The day started with a bang, things got going terribly wrong early.  I sauntered into the bathroom for the morning routine and asked myself, “Why are my feet so cold?”  I switched on the light to see that I was standing in over an inch of water.  My brain couldn’t quite process it yet since I hadn’t had coffee in 3 days but it was clearly from the thunderstorm the night before.  What was puzzling was the fact that the bathroom was on the second floor.  Then I remembered that my wife and I had been talking about an issue with the gutter and the bathroom window.  I’d seen water come in that window before but never like this, this was a flood.  I scooped up the water with buckets and towels, then blocked off the window with a garbage bag from the outside.  I called the roofing contractor, set up a meeting that day, and boom…problem solved(ish).  Except where does water go when it’s on the second floor?

The kitchen ceiling didn’t give out but it was sagging in places and much spongier than it should have been.  Day 3 was looking to be a hectic one.  For shits ‘n giggles I checked the basement.  Water in the basement too.  Bingo!  Things got dried out, contractors were called, and before long it was a pretty normal day for me at the office.  I had to make a few runs out to the house to meet with the roofing guys and talk through the repairs, schedule, and costs.  Projects at the office got done on time and before I knew it the end of the day was rolling around.  I had an invitation from a friend to join her family for dinner at 7:30 as well as standing invite from my buddy to go see a 10 PM movie downtown and drink beers.  I was ready to do both when it dawned on me, “This is what my uncle would do!  Free dinner at someone else’s house and a late night movie?”  I decided I was a much younger (honorary) “bachelor” than my uncle and I would honor my past!

They say a picture says a thousand words, so I’ll let this picture speak for itself:

Bachelor Dinner of Champions

Bachelor Dinner of Champions!

I put Godzilla on the big screen at full volume (no kids) and relaxed to the soothing images of Brian Cranston acting while wearing a terrible wig.  The cat gave in.  She walked up to me and howled from the floor as loud as she could.  She was lonely, and since I was the only option around…she gave in and asked for affection.  I obliged.  We sat on the couch together watching this odd movie in which Godzilla is either the supporting character or hero depending on how you look at it…the leading character is the dude from the movie “Kick Ass” and the leading lady is the Olsen Twins little sister.  That’s how they should have billed this movie!


Godzilla!  Staring the dude from Kick Ass, the Olsen Twins’ little sister, and Brian Cranston in a terrible wig…but the wig is okay because he dies really early in the film but not in a cool way, but it was better to promote him as the star in all the trailers instead of the dude from Kick Ass who is becoming a rising action star but has no notoriety yet because people still think of him as the dude from Kick Ass.  Seriously though, Brian Cranston dies in like the first 20 minutes when he falls off a walkway and is solely there to make the viewer accept that the dude from Kick Ass is going to be the lead character now.  Also, Godzilla is the good guy…sorta…but you can’t call him “God-Zilla,” you have to say “Hwadziya!”  However, you’ll never really see Hwadziya directly because there are clouds, and oceans, and stuff that make it really hard to see him…plus he’s like many different sizes depending on what looked cool in post production CG.  Hwadziya!!!

Following Hwadziya, I crawled into bed and was happy to be joined by the cat.  She stayed for 15 minutes.  That is the most amount of affection I’ve had in 3 days and I soaked up every second of it.  I fell asleep fast knowing it was my last night of faux bachelorhood and that I’d soon be hugging my boys and cuddling my wife.  No thunderstorms flooded my house.  No loneliness kept me awake.  No God lizard terrorized my city.  Just sleep.

So long bachelordom.  See you soon family!

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Bachelordom: Day 2

5 Aug

bach·e·lor (băch′ə-lər, băch′lər)
1. A man who has never been married.
2. A person who has completed the undergraduate curriculum of a college or university and holds a bachelor’s degree.
3. A male animal that does not mate during the breeding season.
4. A young knight in the service of another knight in feudal times.

sportscenter-titleYesterday was my second day “bacheloring” around while my wife and family are out of town.  The first thing I noted was how quiet the house is when I wake up without the kids running around terrorizing the cat.  I got better sleep in the 6-7 AM time period with the quiet, but when it came time to get out of bed…I missed the raucous sounds from the family room forcing me out of bed.  I had not set the coffee machine the night before so there was no coffee.  I didn’t want to bother making breakfast, so I sat on the couch eating a large bowl of cereal while watching SportsCenter.  Seemed pretty bachelor appropriate.  Can’t remember the last time I watched SportsCenter in the morning…usually some cruddy kids show is on.  Octonaughts?  Is that a show?  There’s a cat in a diving suit exploring the sea…or something…dunno, I usually ignore it.  SportsCenter is much more fun to watch in your underwear with cereal.

My buddy and I planned on catching the 7 PM showing of the new Mission Impossible movie at the theater downtown where you can order food and beer to your seat.  The last movie I saw in a theater was “Inside Out,” before that “Planes 2,” and before that I think maybe “Frozen.”  I was ready to see explosions, tag lines, plot holes, and even Tom Cruise.  However, things ran late at work for both me and my buddy so we decided to shoot for the 10 PM showing instead of the 7.  After work I stopped by a friend’s house to see her new house and have a drink.  She offered to cook for me but I declined due to the movie…I had my bachelor mind set on a pitcher of Sam Adams with chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks.  Mmm…so unhealthy…  Then that little voice in the back of my head (I think his name is “Responsibility”) reminded me I had to get up early and go to work the next day.  My buddy and I agreed a late movie wasn’t the best idea so we decided to rain check.  Now my stomach wished I’d taken that home cooked meal.

Lasagna!  You always ate lasagna when you were single!  Thank you brain!  I need lasagna!!!

3480744283736_HtgkSfkL_lI raced to the Italian Restaurant near my house and skidded into the parking lot 7 minutes before they closed!  “Please don’t close yet!”  I told the staff.  “If you haven’t cleaned your kitchen yet could you please make me a Lasagna to go?  My wife is out of town and there is nothing in the fridge except yogurt and one lonely hard-boiled egg and I”m starving!”  They smiled and said it was fine.  “Could I have a beer while I”m waiting?”  They poured me a beer, I sat, and the smells of hot marinara sauce slowly crept from the kitchen.  Yes!  This is perfect.  Then the young woman behind the counter asked, “You’re Kate’s husband…right?”  I put down my beer and looked at her as if I had just been caught stealing.  “Yes?” I replied.  “She was my teacher last semester, she left you with no food in the fridge eh?”  My mind pictured the fridge and how it was full of things I had to either assemble, cook, heat up myself, or (God save me) was healthy.  Then I thought of that one hard-boiled egg by the yogurt I had debated eating for breakfast.  I swallowed a gulp of beer and lied, “Yeah…the fridge is like…bare.”  She looked at me and read my guilt, “Sure…lasagna will be right out…we wouldn’t want you starving while Kate’s out of town.”


Upon entering the house I realized how badly the dishes needed to be cleaned…or at least I think I just needed to unload the dishwasher.  I found plasticware in the to-go bag from the restaurant and walked right past the sink and into the family room where I plunked down on the couch.  It seemed that if I wasn’t going to go to the movies it would be a darn shame if I didn’t at least watch a bad action film at home.  I think I watched “The November Man.”  I fell asleep midway through and gave up on its cruddy plot line and bad acting.  When the closing credits rolled I decided to leave my lasagna container and plastic fork right where it was…on the ottoman next to my cereal bowl from that morning.

20150805_081214I went straight to my kids’ room and grabbed the 5 foot long stuffed dog “Chester” I had given them for Christmas last year.  Chester looked at me with his faux button eyes as if to say, “What do you want old man?”  I spoke aloud to him, “Chester…I didn’t sleep last night because I spent the entire night tossing and turning in my sleep looking for Kate…so you are going to sleep on her side of the bed tonight so I can sleep.”  Chester looked at me with blank eyes.  I added, “No funny stuff.”  Maybe he didn’t find it funny…maybe he’s a stuffed animal with no emotions since he’s an inanimate object…I thought it was funny.  I tossed him onto Kate’s side of the bed, crawled under the covers on my side, turned off the light, and closed my eyes.

My mind raced.  I got lonely for the second night in a row.

I reached over and took one of Chester’s large paws and placed it across my chest the way Kate might do when cuddling me in the middle of the night.  I fell asleep seconds later and slept soundly till 5 AM.  Thunderstorms rattled the windows.  Kate and the boys usually turned to me in the night to tell them everything was fine when it thundered like this.  I was alone.  Chester seemed to hug me to tell me it was okay.  I closed my eyes and went back to sleep, unaware of the issues I would face in the morning…

Tune in tomorrow for the next chapter in bachelordom.


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