Days of Bathroom Letters are Over

I admit I can sometimes be a little hard on Howard on the blog. Though he knows that I jest in love I feel that on Valentine’s Day he deserves some credit where credit is due. I woke up this morning to a wonderful little box – containing beautiful pearl earrings. Which is awesome, considering I’ve already lost one pearl/diamond earring he gave me as a present on our wedding day (see my propensity to lose things here). But the man has certainly stepped up his game in recent years. I mean, this gift was almost as good as last year’s gift, when he got me the full collection of Harry Potter movies.

When I think about things like this it takes me back to the Howie I knew five to ten years ago when we were a young and clueless couple. Howie went from buying me a rose on our first date, to an unfortunate slump around years 4 and 5. I don’t know if it was the extreme sense of comfort and “easy-goingness” of our relationship, but there was a period of time that can best be characterized as the Toilet Love Letter years. And oh, how I am so glad those days are gone.

One particular anniversary (maybe our fifth) I presented Howie with a nice little card and present – probably a DVD or CD of some kind. To my dismay, Howie had to break the news that he unfortunately had not had time to go out and get me something – but not to worry, he’d have something tomorrow. Tomorrow came and went, then the next day, and pretty soon a week had passed by with no anniversary present. As if my scowl wasn’t enough, Howie asked what was wrong.

Cheryl: “I don’t know what to say anymore Howie! Do I have to BEG for an anniversary gift from you?! You promise and promise and still nothing!

Howie: Baaaaaaabe….stop…..

Cheryl: Well it means nothing now! I don’t even want a gift! All I wanted was to feel a little bit of appreciation from you – you could have at least written me a letter or something!!

Howie: Well I did write you a letter!

Cheryl: You did?

Howie: Y…yeah… Let me go get it.

(Howie walks out of room. I hear some rummaging and papers. Then I hear the bathroom door lock. Ten minutes pass by, he emerged from the bathroom. Love letter in hand.)

Howie: Here you go!

Cheryl: Did you just write this on the toilet?

Howie: No.

Cheryl: Seriously Howie?! You just wrote me a hap-hazard letter on the TOILET?!

Howie: I don’t see what the problem is, it’s a nice letter!

From there the conversation digressed into an emotional rant in which I was convinced Howie didn’t have a romantic bone in his body. Let’s just say that was the last time Howie wrote me a love letter in the washroom… and the last time we ever celebrated “dating anniversaries”.

Regardless, Howie and I have grown up a lot in the 10+ years of our relationship. He’s like a fine wine that gets better with age. I feel so blessed to be married to my best friend and appreciate the fact that we can look back on the Toilet Love Letter incident and laugh.

Howie, Happy Valentines Day. I love you more than chocolate.

Calling all Grandmas!

Life As Modern Wife is looking for 10 fabulous 65+ year old women who would like to be part of the new and exciting…


The Retro Wife Project is a new essay series in which I will interview young-at-heart senior women about love, life, marriage, and family. As a self-described hobby-historian, I have been intrigued by the evolving roles and expectations regarding women and societies for a long time. It is my hope that this series will bring an element of sharing, learning and appreciation for women of past generations who have been there and done that long before us millennials. There is a lot to learn from each other!

Here is what I’m looking for in my Retro Wives:

  • 65 years or older
  • Married, or was married at some point in her life
  • Willing to discuss somewhat personal details about her life including: early family life, education and/or career endeavours, dating life, wedding, marriage, family, managing a household, etc.
  • Able to submit two photos: one photo from her younger years (under 30, perhaps a wedding photo) and one recent photo (photos can be scanned, they do not need to be originals)

How to become or nominate a Retro Wife:

  • If you are (or know) a woman 65+ years and older who would like to share life experiences and be featured on the Life As Modern Wife blog, fill out and submit a brief form by July 16, 2012 by clicking here!

Can’t wait to begin this project! Ultimately I am hoping to present a wide range of diverse stories and experiences. Have questions? Please post a reply or contact me here.

How did we get here?

Christopher Columbus

Leading up to their wedding a couple tends to get a lot of advice (usually unsolicited) about marriage and relationships and how to be happy. The groom is told that a “happy wife is a happy life,” and to “just say yes dear,” and as a bride I was told to “not sweat the small stuff.” While we tried to assert that we’d be just fine and we knew what we were getting into, married couples had a knowing, smug look that seemed to pat our heads and say “Of course you do, you silly, young couple.”

It was as if there was some sort of impending, pivotal shift that would occur after we were married and only they knew the full extent of what would happen. We assured ourselves that we would never be one of those couples who bickered, argued over the remote control and stopped cuddling every night. We would be different. We would be in a permanent honeymoon phase. Who could have imagined I’d be sleeping in the guest room in six months, furious over Christopher Columbus?

Howie and I have what I like to call a healthy sort of communication style that can be teasing at times. I like to complain about his permanent cow-lick and lack of hair gel while he likes to pretend to get mad about me tasting some of his food when we eat out. It just works for us. Sometimes I find we might push the teasing limits a little bit, like when I made a comment about his muscles not seeming as big as when he played hockey (that was a mistake). But all in all, we usually know when to pull the brakes on our little banter.

Then one night we were lying in bed talking about various things, places we’d like to travel, and things we’d like to discover, and somehow (don’t even ask me how) the topic of the European discovery of North America came up. I was convinced that Christopher Columbus came to the Americas way before Jacques Cartier started fishing off the coast of Newfoundland (I’m Canadian eh?) while Howie was convinced Cartier made the trip before Columbus.

The problem with Howie and I is that we can both be “right-fighters,” meaning, we both love to be right, even if it’s at the cost of peace.

Cheryl: Howie are you serious? Columbus was in America WAY before Cartier went to Newfoundland! I can’t believe you!

Howie: Seriously Cheryl? You minored in history! How can you think that?! Cartier was first and it was around the same time period!

Cheryl: You are SO ANNOYING! I can’t believe you don’t believe me!

Howie: I’M ANNOYING?! I can’t believe you don’t trust the guy who majored in history!

(And on it goes)

It got to the point where I was so peeved off that I couldn’t sleep until I had proven him wrong. So I got my BlackBerry and started googling the respective explorers.

Cheryl: A HA! I WAS RIGHT! Cartier was in 1497 and Columbus in 1492! A HA!

Howie: Okay Cheryl, it was like five years apart, I told you it was around the same time, Columbus wasn’t WAY before.

Cheryl: Five years is a long time Howie!

Howie: (Quietly) Tell me about it I’ve been with your for nine!

Cheryl: What was that?

Howie: I said five years isn’t long between 1492 and 1497! It’s the same time!

Cheryl: Augh! I can’t stand this! Why can’t you just admit you were wrong!?

Howie: I will when I’m actually wrong.

Eventually I had worked myself up into such a huffy that I refused to sleep next to a man who couldn’t admit when I was right. I grabbed my pillow and stormed off to the guest room. After a few moments, I stared up at the ceiling and thought, “What am I doing?”

How was I seriously so mad over Christopher Columbus? Why did I care so much about proving Howie wrong? What was the point of that whole argument? The more I contemplated these things the more I realized what a pair of nutcases we were. Was this really worth sleeping in separate beds over? I think not.

So I casually slipped back into our bed, and just as I was about to say, “Love you babe” Howie leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Let’s never discuss Columbus again.”

Agreed. Some things are so not worth arguing over, especially in the bedroom.

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a ridiculous argument and thought, how did we get here?

– – – – –
Liked this post? Check out the Modern Wife Guide to fighting fair

Dorky Soulmates

When it comes to building personal relationships, there are a few things you should know:

  1. If people laugh at my jokes and attempts at humour I will love them
  2. If people “get” my weird accents I will love them even more
  3. Howie has turned me into a semi-Star Trek fan (this is irrelevant to building personal relationships but you need to know this fact for later on)

A sense of humour and a love of dorky things are very important to me. People who are very self-aware tend to have the best senses of humour. If we laugh together, we can be friends. When it comes to my romantic relationship with Howie nothing is more important to me (besides love, trust, etc) than being able to laugh and share hilarious interests together. It is imperative that Howie understands and appreciates the things I find funny.

After a year of trying to get him into Modern Family without avail I was sure our relationship was doomed. Finally, this Christmas he gave me the best gift ever; the first season of Modern Family on DVD with the promise that he would watch and “get into it.” His sounds of laughter and urge to run out and get the second season was music to my ears. Finally, I could rest assured that this marriage would last now that he understood how hilarious Phil Dunfey truly is. (See below: Exhibit A)

Laughter is a huge part of a relationship. Even for people who don’t place as high of a stake in a sense of humour as I do. If you and your sweetie-poo can be completely dorky with each other, without fearing judgement, you know you’ve found a keeper. It’s important to delve into each other’s oft hidden and embarrassing interests. I reciprocate the gesture for Howie. Now is the time to remember that bit about Star Trek. You also need to remember Howie’s obsessive interest in Survivor.

(Sitting on the couch watching Star Trek)

Me: Whoa what's this about? Was Geordi in the holodeck* that 
entire time? You mean he wasn't on a date with that chick? 

Howie: Nope! 

Me: I see. I wish we had holodecks eh? What kind of holodeck would
you progr- 

Howie: Survivor!

Me: That was a quick response. You must've thought about
Survivor holodeck before... 

Howie: Obviously. That would be so cool. I would program it so
that I couldn't lose. 

Me: What's the point in that? That isn't satisfying if you just
programmed the characters to let you win! 

Howie: Well maybe I wouldn't program them to let me win, but I
would make it so that if I got voted out it would just restart
to a point in the game where I could make a different move... 

Me: Ooo that is cool! So you could like, play and try different
strategies with the same characters until you found a way to win...

Howie: Exactly!

Me: Which characters would you want to play with?

Howie: Oh you know which ones I like... Russell, Rob,
Parvarti... basically the entire cast of Heroes vs. Villians. 

Me: I should have known. 

Howie: This sucks. Now you've got me excited about something that
could never happen. 

(Long pause)

Me: You never know Howie, with technology these days holodecks
might be invented soon... 

Howie: I meant Survivor... they will never accept Canadians.

True love means that you can laugh together, be dorky together, and “get” each other’s lameness without judgement.

When it comes to building lasting relationships, what dorky
things do you need friends or significant others to “get”?

* Holodeck: simulated reality facility located on starships and starbases in the fictional Star Trek universe