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.

First year of Marriage: check!

I can no longer describe our marriage length in terms in months, for we have officially passed our first-year anniversary! Baby, we did it! They say the first year can be one of the most difficult a couple can go through, so if minor arguments over movies, cell phones, and pants were the “tough” parts, we are doing ok!

Apparently for us, it’s year two that’s proving to be more difficult, as we discovered about 4.5 hours into the first day of our second year. Oh the stories I could tell you about our “romantic” weekend at Granny’s cottage… I would require more than a simple blog post. But for now, I will settle on sharing just a few details about our anniversary weekend; dog vomit, fish hooks, and all.

Things you need to know before reading further:

  1. Our wedding anniversary fell on a long weekend which we decided to spend with Howie’s entire extended family at his Granny’s cottage
  2. Our dog Monica has an extremely sensitive stomach
  3. Howie’s cousin Dean owns a old, long-nailed, scabby-legged Jack Russel with a severe non-stop shaking issue, his name is Whisky

We were blissfully asleep in Granny’s guest room, when all of a sudden at 4am, we awoke to a sharp, irritating yelp going off about every five seconds. Was Granny having a nightmare? No, Dean had gotten fed up with Whisky’s barking and moved him from the bunkie into the main cottage, for all to hear.

Granny: “Dean! Dean! Get that dog out of here!”

Whisky: ARP! ARP! ARP!

Granny: “Whisky shut up! Be quiet!”

Whisky: ARP! ARP! ARP!

Granny: “Dean I mean it! Get that dog out of here!”

Dean: “Geez Granny I can’t take him anymore!”

Granny: “Well don’t bring him in here! Get out!”

(Silence)

Finally, we could go back to sleep. But wait, what’s that? Oh yes. Monica just vomited all over Granny’s bedspread.

Cheryl: “Howie! Howie! Monica’s puking! No! She’s ruined Granny’s sheets!”

Howie: “Monica noooooo!”

Cheryl: “Get her off of here Howie! This is why I tell you not to let her sleep up here!”

Howie was in the process of putting on his shoes and taking her outside, when…

Cheryl: “No!! She’s got diarrhoea all over Granny’s carpet!”

Howie: “Monica! Let’s go outside!”

Howie took Monica outside while I tried as swiftly as possible to clean up the sheets and the carpet. Then Granny woke up. Long story short, she provided a lot of advice on how to clean up everything. From using copious amounts of Sunlight dish detergent to using two feet instead of my one foot to blot out the stain. I felt terrible.

By the time the messes were taken care of it was almost 6am so I joined Howie outside and we went on a little de-stressing walk. By the time we came back the sun was fully up and we weren’t inclined to go back outside. I decided to read my book in the lawn chair  while Howie went fishing.

Howie: “Darn! I don’t think there is the right kind of attachment in here…”

Cheryl: “What do you mean?”

Howie: “I’m just worried that this lure could fall off, I don’t have the right kind of clip to make it stay on.”

Cheryl: “Well then don’t use it.”

Howie: “But I really like this one.”

(Pause)

Howie: “I’m sure it will be fine. I won’t lose it.”

Cheryl: “Howie, don’t use it if you could lose it.”

Howie: “It will be fine.”

Cheryl: “Ok, but I’ve warned you.”

I go back to reading my book. In what seems like two minutes later…

Howie: “Cher! I’ve lost the lure!”

Cheryl: “I told you not to use it.”

Howie: “I’m going in.”

Cheryl: “You’re what?! Going in?! Howie why?!”

Howie: “I lost it right near the dock, people could step on it if they go swimming!”

Cheryl: “Oh Howie…”

Howie proceeded to strip down to his boxers, then started creeping up to the four-foot deep water area where he dropped the lure.

Howie (crying out in little girl-like yelps): “Ah! Ah! Cold! Cold!”

The water crept up even higher over his thighs.

Howie: “AH! COLD! WORST PART! AH!”

Cheryl (uncontrollably laughing): “Oh… this is awesome.”

Howie was holding up the sides of his boxers, in a futile attempt to avoid getting them wet.

Cheryl: “Howie! Why are you holding your boxers up? Just take them off!”

Howie: “What if Granny sees my wiener?!”

Cheryl: “Oh Howie, it’s 6am, no one is looking.”

Howie: “I can’t risk it!”

Howie got to the spot of the lure. At this point I think it’s finally sinking in (no pun intended) that he’s got to submerge his upper half in order to retrieve the lure.

Howie: “Cher! Can you bring me my t-shirt?”

Cheryl: “What for?”

Howie: “I’m going to use it like a glove so I don’t prick my fingers on the lure!”

Cheryl: “Augh Howie! Then your shirt will get all gross and lake-y!”

Howie: “Just pass it to me please!”

I passed Howie his t-shirt. Like a heroic duck, Howie bobbed under the water and came up with the lure in his t-shirt wrapped hand.

Howie: “YES! Got it!”

Cheryl: “Good work babe.”

Howie: “Ha ha! How is that for impressive eh?”

Cheryl: “Very impressive babe.”

Howie: “My eyes sting.”

Cheryl: “Why would you open your eyes in that water?”

Howie: “I don’t know.”

And thus began year two of our marriage. Let’s hope the following 364 days are not as eventful, or early…. or involve so much vomit.

How did other newlyweds celebrate their first year of marriage? Please tell me it was as romantic as ours!

The Difference Between Men and Women III

Oh yes. It’s back by popular demand. The Modern Wife’s introspection into some of the most head-scratching differences between men and women as discovered through extensive research and observation of the male species. Well, the male species as observed in one specimen, namely my husband Howard.

So one would think that a date night at the movies would be easy right? I mean, in nearly ten years of having a relationship we’ve probably seen hundreds of movies together. However, the longer I’ve been with Howie, the tougher I’m finding it to compromise on our movie selections. It’s as if the longer we’ve been together, and the more “comfortable” he gets, the less likely he is to watch a chick flick with me. What’s up with that?

Travel back to December 2002 and you will find a sweet, caring, ever-so-eager-to-please 16 year old Howie who couldn’t be happier to escort his girlfriend of one month to Maid in Manhattan.  Fast forward about 9.8 years and into 11 months of marriage and you have a 26 year old Howard who dragged his wife not once, but twice to see Avengers in the theatre without even repaying the favour with a subsequent chick flick. Oh the humanity!

Chart A:  Howie & Cheryl's Movie-Watching Situation

Chart A: Howie & Cheryl’s Movie-Watching Situation

So with the final instalment of the Dark Knight series coming out this Friday you can imagine my “delight” to see yet another lame action movie based on comic book characters. My attitude is not sitting well with Howie, he is appalled at my lack of enthusiasm and can’t even fathom why I’m not pleased to be lining up 1.5 hours before the movie even starts.

After failing to pre-order his precious movie passes online due to an internet issue, Howie decided to drag me to the actual movie theatre on a Tuesday night so he could buy them ahead of time for this Saturday.

Cheryl: Hey! Since I’m going to see Dark Knight with you Saturday, why don’t we go and see Katy Perry’s movie tonight?

Howie: (Loud laughter) Yah right! I would never go see that movie! Why would you even want to see it?

Cheryl: I don’t know, it looked kind of fun… plus it reveals how her divorce with Russell Brand went down!

Howie: No way Cheryl. I could never see that movie.

Cheryl: Funny how you drag me around to watch your lame movies but you won’t even see one movie I want to see!

Howie: (Gasps, struggling for air) LAME movie Cheryl? I hope you are kidding. Dark Knight is probably going to be the most successful movie of all time. Have you even watched the previews? It’s sick! It’s going to be awesome!

Cheryl: On a scale of one to ten on how excited I am to see that movie, I’m probably a two.

Howie: (Gasps, shocked) Two?! You are only excited at a two level?!?

Cheryl: It would probably be a low one if it weren’t for the frozen yogurt.

Howie:  I do not understand your taste in movies at all.

Cheryl: Well it’s way better than your taste. Remember how awful Avengers was? What was that? Some evil “moon-prince” wanted to make people bow down to his glowing sceptre? So lame.

Howie: (Coughs) Ummm… well millions of people agree with me Cheryl. It made the most money of all time, and it’s record is only going to be broken by the Dark Knight.

Cheryl: Just because millions of teenage boys also go to the same movies you do, does not mean you have good taste. This is the same audience that made Sponge Bob famous.

Howie: Whatever Cheryl. Clearly I have the better taste in movies. Yours are all the same. Couple falls in love, they have a problem, and then oh look! They end up together.

Cheryl: Not all the time, in The Vow it was left unclear whether they end up together!

Howie: Oh The Vow was one of the worst of them! You only like it because of that Tating Channum guy!

Cheryl: It’s Channing Tatum, and no, I don’t like the movie because of him.

Howie: Well I’m just as good looking as him anyway. Those girls of yours thought I looked exactly like him … (smirks)

Cheryl: Howie my girls’ group was standing like 100 feet away from you and couldn’t see that clearly. Plus, they were like thirteen years old.

Howie: Still…. (checks himself out in the mirror)

Exhibit B: Channing Tatum vs. Howie Martin (personally I prefer the one on the right)

At that point we had arrived at the theatre and Howie went in to buy the Dark Knight tickets for Saturday. He came out holding them as if they were the Holy Grail or something then placed them carefully in the centre console of our car. I will go and see Dark Knight with Howie. But he’s going to have to return the favour. It’s only fair.

I’m going to make him watch something so ridiculously sappy he’s going to be wishing he had agreed to Katy Perry. Yes… (evil laugh)… some sort of historically-set romance, preferably in 18th century England…with accents….and Colin Firth….

Are there any lucky ones out there who share their significant other’s taste in movies?!

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Liked this post? Check out the Differences Between Men and Women 1 and 2

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…

“RETRO WIFE PROJECT”

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

“Too Poor to Have Kids”

I came across this article in the Huffington Post, but if you don’t have time to read the article in its entirety here is the Modern Wife recap:

  • The article asserts that “young Americans are just too poor to have kids”
  • Population growth is at its all-time slowest growth rate since the Great Depression, and the birth rate has been falling since the housing bubble burst in 2007
  • Average wage of college-educated 23 to 29 year olds plunged 9% in the last decade
  • Three in 10 of these young adults are choosing to move back in with their parents rather than beginning their own households and families
  • For the first time in U.S. history, unmarried households outnumber married couples
  • Economic growth is expected to continue to be sluggish because the labor force is growing at a slower rate. Population growth is the key driver for consumer spending, housing demand, and household formation

Bottom line is, according to this article: poor economy is propelling many of us millennials to delay or opt out of having our own families.

So what exactly is going on here fellow Generation Y’ers? Are we really too poor, too down and out, too financially strapped to venture out and begin our own households? The more I considered this article the more convinced I became that the economy is just a small little piece of the “millennials aren’t reproducing” pie. We need a generational attitude shift.

I’m going to take you back to early1960 when a young couple decided to get married. Having emigrated to Canada with their respective families as children in 1950, they left behind a war-ravaged European country that had no jobs, little food, and scarce opportunities. With little more than the clothes on their backs and a few pieces of luggage, their families made the long passage across an ocean landing  on the east coast at Halifax. From there, a long train ride took them into southern Ontario. These large double-digit families rented small farmhouses built for six and worked on other Canadian farmers’ fields to make a living. Everyone, fathers, mothers, teenagers and young children pitched in.

The Dutch farming community of southern Ontario was fairly close-knit and that’s how this young couple met and fell in love. Barely past their teenage years, they got married and started their own household in much the same manner their parents did: renting and working on other people’s farms. Up until the day they got married, that young man gave his paycheque to his parents. The couple soon welcomed their first child and were thrown into parenthood in living conditions that involved outdoor bathroom facilities.

Year by year and four children later, they worked their tails off and gradually carved out a nice living for themselves. He went to night school and became a technician at a booming car plant and she became a self-employed cleaner when she wasn’t raising children. Fifty-two years later, they are retired and live in the third home they’ve owned, spend their winters in Florida, and play golf in the summer. These people were my grandparents, and they kick butt.

Considering their story, and thousands of other stories from grandparents just like them, the “we are too poor to have children” dilemma just doesn’t add up in this millennial’s mind. Are we actually too poor to have children? No. We think we are. And there’s a lot of other self-interests we want to pursue before we have them. The economy is a just handy excuse to use when you need to keep a grandchild-craving in-law at bay.

We were raised in a culture that promotes the pursuit of personal ambition. We were raised thinking things like televisions, video-games, cell phones, and iPods ranked right up there with water, food, and shelter on the list of life’s essentials. Have a family before you own your home? Shocking! Move out of mom and dad’s place before you have your own high def TV? Oh the humanity! Get married before I’m a senior manager and have a pension set? Stop! You’re killing me! These thoughts cause heart palpitations to millennials.

How can a generation who was raised with everything, be motivated to start out with less than their parents? Though our grandparents and parents had every best intention at heart in wanting to give us more than they had as children, something has become lost on us. Something to do with hard work, sweat, tears, patience, making something out of nothing, and a willingness to roll up our sleeves has become lost on the millennial generation. We want success, we want wealth, and we want it now. Children, families, and “settling down” have to take a backseat until we feel we have it all together.

Of course I am generalizing, of course there are exceptions. But take a good hard look at the 20-somethings in your life and I think you will find some truth to what I’m saying. Is it wrong to pursue a career? Is it wrong to want it all together before we start our own households and have children? Maybe not. But let’s call it for what it is.

No, we are not too poor to have children. My grandparents were too poor to have children, my parents didn’t “have it all” to have children, but they had children anyway.

Thoughts welcomed. Was I too harsh on my generation? Are we too poor to have kids?

The Name Change Discussed

Last month I explored my feelings about the decision of married women to change their last names. It resulted in quite a lively discussion with many readers weighing in through comments and the survey. We heard from different cultures, different generations and of course, heard lots of differing opinions. As promised, I’m sharing the results of that survey among some of my favourite comments.

  • Of the women who responded to the poll, 63% changed or plan to change their name. Over half of those women said it didn’t even cross their minds to keep their names or they thought it was best for a family.
  • 10% of the women hyphenated their last names or were still undecided.
  • 27% of the women polled said they did not, or will not change their last names. Half of these women said they were keeping their last name because they were too attached to change it. One-quarter of the non-changers kept their names because they were “too lazy” or didn’t like the sounds of their partner’s name, and the remainders thought the practise was sexist.

The results of my informal survey actually fell in the same distribution as a much larger survey conducted in 2011. Generally, about two-thirds of North American women still prefer to change their names. A connection to the personal identity one feels with their name and the professional reasons for keeping one’s name were the most cited reasons for not changing to your partner’s name.

Some of my favourite comments from your responses to my post included:

“I took my husband’s last name but i added it to my three names because, the way I saw it, marrying him added something to my life and who I am. It didn’t replace who I was and it didn’t trump the me i had been for twenty-three years.”

“In my family it’s not a question of “will you change your name” but “WHY would you change your name?” I have always been very impressed by my mom who didn’t change her name in 1975, when it was still very much expected. And as for your children having a different last name, I can honestly say that it made absolutely no difference in my life, we don’t live in the 1800s, we introduce people by their first names now.”

“I was personally one of those who dreamed of getting married just so I COULD get rid of my last name. It’s not horrible, but I did get made fun of enough to scar me for life. Now I like to say that God was exercising his sense of humor when He matched me with someone with the most generic last name in the country. I love being Mrs. Smith.”

“I was honored to be able to take the hubs last name as my own because not only did it symbolize our union but it provided me with a connection to the hubs father who died two years before mine. That being said, it was just as important and meaningful to me to keep my last name so that I always have that link to my family and of course my dad. I made my maiden name my middle name and took my husbands last name as my last name.”

“I could not answer your poll because my answer was not an option! When we got married my husband decided to take my name. Where we’re from it is not that unusual though the norm would still be to have the woman change her name. For me that was never an option as my surname is unique, which is quite useful in these days of globalization and internet. As it is a very unusual surname it has also been an important part of me growing up and I identify very much with the name as you also did, very often people would just refer to me by my last name – so how could I change that? My husband is a progressive guy (I would not have married him otherwise) and he likes my name also so decided that he changes his surname.”

“There are many reasons pro and con to change your name. Unfortunately one of the biggest reasons people change is to have children that have the same name as you, which really takes a lot of the decision out of your hands. Some couples choose to both hyphenate thereby taking on two new “identities”. Whatever your choice is talk it out with your fiance/husband and come to a decision that you both are most comfortable with!”

“What’s the difference, my dad’s name or my husband’s name? Personally, I think it would be cool to make a new name when you get married, to represent your new oneness. What would you think of Duivtin? Or Marteyn?”

“Here in Switzerland, you have four options of name change when you get married, but keeping just your maiden name is NOT an option unless your husband takes your name, too. Made the decision very simple for me!”

“In the Netherlands, no citizen is allowed to lose or change their birth name, unless under very specific circumstances (of which marriage is not one).”

It was such a relief to realize that other women felt this was a big decision to make as well, not just a “given.” I feel more at peace with my decision to just add his name, without taking mine away. Thank you to all the readers and contributors on this topic, I think it will help many other young millennial women explore this decision.

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If you liked this post, you may also want to check out another naming issue in my marriage: What’s in a Name (or, the Tale of Three Howards)

Domestically Disturbed

I am a procrastinator of the worst breed.

From opening mail, doing a load of laundry, hanging up clothes, taking items back into the house from the car, unpacking luggage, writing to my sponsored child in Guatemala, sending birthday cards to people on time, printing pictures of our wedding, to almost every little task you could imagine, I tend to postpone action until a later date instead of getting things done right away. To illustrate, this is what typically happens on a weekday evening:

(Cheryl and Howie arrive home together, usually around 7:30pm-ish)

Howie: Oh no! We forgot to take meat out of the freezer again! 

Cheryl: Augh! Why do we forget to do that all the time? 

Howie: I will walk the dog if you go get pizza...

Cheryl: How about I will walk the dog if you go get the pizza?

Howie: I don't like that as much.

Cheryl: Ok how about you walk the dog and I start defrosting meat.

Howie: How? We don't have a microwave.

Cheryl: I'll just put the package in hot water. It's fine. We
seriously have to stop eating out so much we have food here!

Howie: Ok, ok. Did you get the mail?

Cheryl: I'll get it tomorrow. Did you take out the garbage?

Howie: I'll do it tomorrow. Did you pay the hydro bill?

Cheryl: I was going to do it tomorrow.

Howie: I'll do it after supper.

Cheryl: (Reaching into dishwasher) Augh! I hate how this thing
never cleans the glasses properly!

Howie: Oh well it's just us. We'll clean them by hand before people
come over.

Cheryl: (Walking into living room) Oh Howie, look how messy it is!

Howie: Oh well who cares? We'll clean up Saturday.

So as you can imagine, when you combine a procrastinator with a gent who isn’t bothered by mess, you get a home that goes from neat and organized on Saturday morning to total chaos and anarchy by Tuesday evening. Then Saturday morning rolls around again and you clean up because you simply can’t stand the mess any longer or what is more likely, you have people coming over and you can’t let them see how you really live.

The problem with being a procrastinator is that you start an inner dialog with yourself rationalizing the situation and convincing yourself that you actually cannot complete certain tasks until you accomplish other tasks of which you have delayed action.

Case in point: I forbade myself from writing another blog post until we cleaned up our bedroom. Result: Bedroom still messy. Didn’t write a post for almost two weeks.

So from now on I’ve decided that blog posts and domestic issues will be kept on completely separate schedules, 100% unrelated to one another. In further efforts to slay the procrastination demon that lives inside me, I’ve decided to open up about my issue and expose my procrastinating life for what it truly is. The first step to recovery is admitting your problem (at least that’s what they say on Intervention) and so I will open up the door to my bedroom, let you all in. Divulge the mess for what it is. And somewhere, deep down, hope that this revelation will either a) Encourage us to never let my bedroom get like this again or b) Make me feel a whole lot better because I will find out other people live like I do. Personally I hope this accomplishes a little bit of both.

  1. Heap of clothes containing a mixture of both clean and dirty laundry. Since I can no longer tell which is which (the dirty ones have contaminated the clean ones) we will have to wash them all. Also, Monica has probably hidden her rawhide bone in here.
  2. Super expensive and awesome set of coordinating throw pillows which spend more time on the drying rack than arranged neatly on our bed.
  3. Compact drying rack that ironically spends more time holding super expensive (already dry) and awesome coordinating throw pillows than drying clothes.
  4. Our single Blackberry charger that we inconveniently plug into the wall that I need to walk by to get to my side of the bed and often trip on. Thus, unintentionally causing Howie’s charging Blackberry to become unplugged all throughout the night and cause Howie to arise to a still dead phone in the morning to which he angrily exclaims, “Cheryl! You did it again!” and I reply “It wasn’t me!” Even though it was.
  5. One of two Ikea chairs I used in university at my little dorm desk and we now use as nightstands because we haven’t bothered to find nightstands. I have two because I thought I lost my chair one summer and so I bought a chair to replace it only to discover that the first chair had been in storage in my parent’s basement all along. (See earlier musings on my propensity to lose objects)
  6. Space where second chair on Howie’s side ought to be but isn’t because we had to use it at our table for a dinner party roughly two weeks ago. Why hasn’t it been put back yet? It’s a stand-off issue between Howie and I at the moment. I’m waiting for him to put it back and I think he’s doing the same.
  7. Monica’s dog crate which she slumbers in approximately just 3 out of 7 nights a week despite the fact that I swore I would never be a pet owner that allowed a dog to sleep in my bed. You may notice it’s missing the “o” in Monica. I am planning on fixing that at a later date.
  8. Hamper that never holds the dirty clothes because we obviously like to keep our dirty clothes on the floor.
  9. Annoying window fixture that came with our condo that I’ve been meaning to replace for the whole six months we’ve been living here. It has one single defective panel that strategically allows streetlight beams to hit directly into my eye at night.
  10. Half unpacked suitcase lying in dis-array from a weekend at my parents’ 7 days ago. One small victory, Howie now packs his clothes in here instead of plastic grocery bags.)

Phew! That feels a lot better. I feel that I need to follow up this post with some sort of bedroom makeover story! How inspiring would that be? I will definitely get around to that as soon as we clean up this room.

Thoughts on procrastination welcomed!

In Between Moments

Saturday will mark a very special day as my very best childhood friend is going to marry the love of her life in a beautiful, wintery wedding. This girl is totally calm, cool and collected. She rolls with the punches, planned a wedding in five months, and is simply ready to enjoy her wedding. As a bridesmaid I can’t wait to be at her side and enjoy every moment of her big day with her.

Anticipating this wedding got me thinking about moments in a wedding day. And no matter how much energy we brides put into organizing every detail of the day (Exhibit A), it’s the little, unplanned moments that make lasting memories. At some point, you have to throw your hands up in the air and just accept the day for what it is, imperfections and all.

Below I’ve shared some of my favourite candid photos from our wedding.

Exhibit A: My seven page wedding itinerary indicating Howie's hair instructions

My little cousin Kelsie watching me get ready

Popping champagne in the morning

Meeting my dad at the stairs

Seeing each other for the first time

Howie's little brother refusing to co-operate for photos. Hilarious.

My friend's baby in the receiving line

Howie's father Howard presenting me with a "lovely" gift

Saying my speech to Mom and Dad

Wedding cake falling into my chest. Howie's face is priceless!

 Calling on former brides and grooms: What candid moments made your day memorable?

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Photos curtesy of EBaker Photography

This post is part of the Wedding Reflections series, offering the benefit of hindsight to current brides and grooms!

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A Right Way to Fight

One of the other keys to a successful marriage (in addition to girls nights, a talking dog, and overlooking feigned incompetence) is learning to fight fair.

Little Jimmy: “Fighting? How can fighting be a key to a successful relationship Mrs. Martin? If couples are truly in love they will never fight!”

Me: “Ohh… little Jimmy. You have much to learn. Couples who never fight are not only annoying, but they can’t truly know or love each other. Because when you truly know someone, you will always find at least one thing that makes you want to poke your own eyes out.”

Now before you get the wrong idea, let me clarify that so far Howie and I are quite happy and have just fleeting instances of the eye-poking urge. At this point I think it’s prudent to share that even though we’ve been married for just four months, we’ve been in a relationship with each other for over nine years. NINE YEARS. So my advice comes not as a young, ignorant newlywed, but as a person who has loved a person for nine years. And in nine years, you learn a lot about fighting fair. (Because at first, you do the opposite)

And so, for your romantic-relational education, here is the:

Modern Wife Guide to the Worst Fighting Strategies and How to Avoid Them

1) “Well at least I’m not a drug-addict who runs a brothel!” Don’t be irrelevant. Sometimes when you feel your parter is being particularly rough or critical with you it’s really easy to just throw out these irrelevant one-liners. “At least I don’t watch football all day.” “At least I’m not as bad as Mary’s husband.” “At least I don’t toot when other people are around.” The problem with these phrases is that it completely ignores the issue between you and your mate and adds a whole new level of adolescence into the conversation. Your partner should not necessarily have to put up with some poor behaviour because there are worse things he or she could do. I find that the best way to avoid these kinds of fights is to talk about what the real issue is, in a non-nagging way. Pick the right time to bring up issues with your partner so that they are in a mood to conquer an issue, not put up defences.

2) “You are just like your father!” Never compare to family in a fight. This is one of the worst things you could ever say to your partner in a fight. “You’re just like your mother!” “You’re just like your sister!” “You’re just like your incarcerated uncle!” It’s a low blow, and the sting of that kind of insult remains even after the fight may be over. Not only are you insulting your partner, but you’re insulting their family. And 9 times out of 10, people are way less forgiving when it comes to family. My piece of advice is simple, just don’t do this. Ever. The teensy amount of satisfaction it will bring in the heat of the moment is not worth the damage it causes to your partner.

3) “My day sucks. Why can’t you load the dishwasher right?” Don’t take life out on each other. It is way too easy to take out bad days on the people you are supposed to love most. Ideally, we should be coming to our partners for love, comfort, and reassurance, but it’s incredibly hard for our partners to give us these things when we are acting like angry, nit-picking gremlins. When work is draining, when friends aren’t treating you right, when your pants seem to be getting smaller and smaller, it can be easier to blow of your steam on your spouse than to talk about what’s really bothering you. Sometimes you need space, and if you know you’re going to act like brat just ask for some space (nicely) instead of taking it out on them. Then, make the effort to talk about how you feel when you’re calm, the love and comfort you receive from that is worth the effort.

4) “I wrapped all the presents so you should take out the dog.” Don’t score-keep. One of the biggest killers of romance has got to be routine. The daily responsibility of jointly running a home and managing life can be stressful on a couple and it’s tempting to keep track of who does what and then using it as ammo you’re feeling less inclined to do something. Score-keeping is a nasty, nasty little game that ultimately no one ends up winning. It creates a sense of angst where two people in love start doing things to build up credit against each other instead of doing things out of love and support. Echoing the advice of Uncle Sam, I find that when you ask yourself what you can do for your partner, instead of what your partner can do for you, both people end up doing a lot more for each other.

5) “You never listen and you always think you’re right.” Avoid absolutes. This is a very little thing, but avoiding absolutes can diffuse a fight in ways you can’t even imagine. As soon as someone hears you saying that they always or never do something, it’s easy to tune you out because they are immediately turned off by that exaggeration. Consider the following two ways I could tell you it’s irritating when you leave wet towels in the hamper: A) “You ALWAYS leave your wet towels in the hamper! How come you NEVER listen when I ask you to hang them up?!” or B) “Babe, it’s frustrating when you leave your wet towels in the hamper. Can you hang them up so our clothes don’t get soggy?” Of the two options, I think B) would be a lot more effective at resolving the wet towel issue without making your partner feel like a doofus.

Finally, I want to leave you with this mental picture of resolving issues that our pastor shared with us in pre-marital counselling. Instead of allowing the Problem to wedge itself between you two and create two opposing sides, imagine yourselves on the same team, Problem on the other side, and the two of you working together to conquer the Problem.

The knife is excessive but you get the idea

Which fighting pitfalls do you find most difficult to avoid?