More Than A Day

The children (plus Niece), Dan and I spent Sunday afternoon at his office cleaning.

Do we know how to have a good time or what?

He had gotten new carpet in his therapy room, and everything on the second floor needed to be moved and cleaned and dusted. It didn’t take a long time, only about three hours, and the children were good. Flora and Michael even teamed up to shred old bills in his admin office.

I mostly carried things up and down stairs. We took home all the Christmas decorations. It was a good, productive, exhausting day. Kate and Niece played together nicely.

At one point, Dan, vacuuming and dusting in his small therapy room, said, “Thank you so much for coming and helping. This really needed to happen.”

I said, “Well, this is my house, too you know.”

And I realized something (after 13+ years of marriage): You don’t marry a person, you marry a life.

I didn’t invent this idea. I grew up in a household where my parents were partners in marriage, child-rearing, and business. When Dan came to me about buying his office building (a house in Crafton), we talked about the pros and cons, and about what it meant for our future. He was committing to private practice, which comes with a lot of work — paperwork, admin, billing, taxes, and so on. It wasn’t just showing up somewhere to do therapy and collect a paycheck.

Plus, two houses, which is why our family was spending a Sunday vacuuming and dusting in Crafton instead of at home.

We’re still learning the ins-and-outs of medical practice. His sister and his mother have been big helps with billing and paperwork. It means long hours for him, and me holding down the fort at home.

But it’s been worth it. Even the stressful weeks when billing has been off, or the insurance has denied more claims than it accepted, or that time he got audited because he had to testify in court. Even when my job has been less than ideal, or the children have a lot of school issues that need to be handled.

When I said, “I do,” I wasn’t just marrying Dan. I was committing my future to his, and vice versa. We were hitching our trains together for the long haul (not a euphemism).

It’s a little scary to think about before you get married, probably. If people who are getting married ask me for advice (those silly people), I tell them to try to find a marriage class (or pre-Cana). It can help you focus on what comes *after* your wedding day. It’s a lot of conversations that you don’t necessarily think about when you are excited about planning your wedding day with the love of your life.

But they are important conversations to have. What are your priorities? Do you both want children, and if so, how many? If it’s hard to have children, what measures will you take (if any)? What about careers? What about careers and parenthood? How much time will you spend with each others’ families? What about seeing friends? Who will take care of what around the house? If you expect the chores to be split 50/50, you need to express that in words.

If I’ve learned one thing about being married, it’s that you need to express things in words.

++

Last week, several news outlets reported that the oft-quoted “50 percent of marriages end in divorce” is no longer true, and hasn’t been true since the 1980s, when divorce rates in the United States peaked.

This is good news for marriage. Researchers attributed the drop to later marriages, family planning, and what the article calls “love marriages”. (Does anyone know what this means? I mean, it seems evident, but I’ve never seen it put like that.) Of course, fewer people are choosing to tie the knot, as well.

++

And this isn’t meant to be an anti-divorce screed. Dan and I made a series of purposeful decisions and commitments. We’ve had fights and been through some shit. We haven’t considered divorce in any serious way because we know regardless of the shit going on around us or between us, we are better off with each other than without each other.

That is not the case for everyone. I understand that.

It’s taken a long time and hard work to get here. We’ve had bad habits to overcome. We still have to consciously not take each other for granted, and we still have to communicate with one another. I don’t imagine that will end.

I really don’t have any idea how to cap this off. I’m not trying to tout marriage as the be-all, end-all of human existence. Everyone has their own lives to live and choices to make.

I guess I’m just feeling good about my own marriage, and our own choices. And I wanted to tell you about it.

My honey and me

My honey and me

Lucky Number 13

I didn’t marry my best friend.

I married this guy

Marrying Dan was the best decision I have ever made. He is the best partner I could ask for, a solid teammate. 

I was recently discussing marriage with a woman who has been married three years. I mentioned that my 13th wedding anniversary was coming up.

“Wow. Thirteen.” She laughed and said, “Got any advice?”

Poor girl, I did.

“Talk,” I told her. “Talk, talk, talk. Talk even when you don’t want to. Talk even when it’s going to make you cry, when it’s going to make you angry. You’re allowed to take breaks, and you’re allowed to go to bed upset. But keep talking anyway.”

The three most important things in my marriage — I can’t presume to speak for all marriages, so I won’t, although this is advice I’ll probably pass down to my children eventually — communication, humor, and sex. Without those three things, I don’t know how our relationship would survive. 

Dan and I love to make each other laugh. The important thing about humor and laughter in our partnership is that is doesn’t come at the other’s expense. We really do laugh with each other, not at each other. (Well, okay, sometimes we laugh at each other, because sometimes we’re idiots. But it’s all in good fun, and never mean-spirited.)

And sex. I mean, I don’t know what to say about this without being TMI. We make time for it. There’s a lot of give and take, and a lot of communication about this. 

And after 13 years, and four children, and amidst the work of raising three children plus our careers, it is better than ever.

One thing that was vital to us from the get-go was that we be married and partners even after we had children. Even once we became parents, we needed to take time to reconnect with each other. We have dates. And, we have a bedroom door with a lock (very important if you are going to have a sex life. Children get impatient and have terrible boundaries).

Dan is my favorite person. I’m so happy when he gets home at the end of his day. I love having a family with him, and I love when it’s just he and I out to dinner or at a concert, or catching a cocktail on the couch after a long week.

I’m so lucky.

Happy Anniversary, Dan. I love you.

“With this ring, I thee wed;
with my body, I thee worship;
and with all my worldly goods, I thee bestow.”

wpid-20140718_204121.jpg

The Strength of a Man

Dan texted me Tuesday: “Do you have a minute.”

My reply: “Yes.”

Dan and I touch base at least once a day via text or phone call. Most of the time, it’s a quick check in: How are you? How’s your day going? Some of the time, it’s a question that needs an answer: Can you stop at the store/bank/beer distributor? And very occasionally, it’s urgent.

A few moments later, he called. His tone was very intent. “How is your day?”

I know my husband well enough by now to know that with that kind of opening, there was a purpose behind the call.

“It’s okay. Getting stuff done.”

“How’s the tension level?”

“Well,” I said, tensely, “it’s starting to ratchet up now!”

Dan sighed. “I just got some very bad news, and I’m trying to figure out where you are mentally before I dump it on you.”

Me: “I’m fine. Shoot.”

A friend of Dan’s called him. Her sister, who was past her due date with her first baby, had just discovered that the baby had no heartbeat.

And just like that, it was June of 2003 again.

My husband said, “What should I tell them? What do you think they need?”

I listed a few things:

1. A photographer if they can find one. This may sound morbid to some people. But having this experience recorded and having images of the baby — it’s important. It’s vital to grieving. Or it was for Dan and me, and I’ve heard from other baby loss parents that it helped them too.

2. A support community. My go-to for these situations is usually Glow in the Woods. Compassionate Friends is helpful as well, especially when parents are ready for real-life interactions.

3. “A Fr. Ray,” I said.

Father Ray is the priest who married us. He was a good friend to Dan while they were both at Duquesne, and he’s become a friend to both of us since the wedding. He was there when we were in the hospital with Gabriel, and he has baptized our subsequent children. Everyone should have a Fr. Ray — if not a religious person, a therapist, a counselor, a sounding board, a shoulder to hang onto to.

Dan became their Fr. Ray.

++

It was hard to know that my husband was carrying this for the couple. I honestly don’t know how he did it. That phone call from him brought back a lot of memories. Not bad memories, exactly. Hard memories. Painful.

Knowing that I was going to have to go through labor with nothing to show for it. (For awhile, denial and shock protected me from that. My brain knew it, but my heart didn’t accept it. Shock and denial are very useful tools for a body.)

I couldn’t help thinking about what this first-time mother was facing. A labor that could be long, possibly painful. My epidural wore off, and I was finally put on a morphine drip. It took four days to deliver Gabriel. I barely remember the last two because of the pain and drugs.

The parents were probably discussing a name. I wonder if the one they picked was one they had already decided on. They didn’t know if they were having a boy or girl. Dan and I hadn’t known if Gabriel was a girl or boy at the time either (although, my mother’s heart thought “boy”). We had had a girl’s name picked, but I didn’t want to use it on our still baby. We discussed a lot of names. We finally decided on Angela or Dolores for a girl. And Gabriel for a boy.

While we were at the hospital, we had a lot of support. My parents, his parents, siblings, and friends. I don’t know about Dan, but after a while, I felt like *I* was responsible for comforting *them*. Telling them that it was okay, that I was okay, that — all evidence to the contrary — it was going to be okay.

The pain. The frustration. The waiting. It really is not okay, any of it, but what are you supposed to do? What are you supposed to say?

I just waited it out. I remember asking Ray if Gabriel (well, “the baby” at the time) needed to be baptized. Ray said no, that he had gone from one world of love into another, of love and light.

That helped.

++

The baby came. Dan held him. The parents named him.

Dan came home, spent. Utterly drained. I made him a cup of chamomile tea.

We sat on our respective couches to pick a show to watch. We couldn’t face Breaking Bad, nor could we deal with most of the Netflix documentaries. “None of these are happy,” Dan pointed out.

We came across the listing for the updated Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch (whom I insist on calling Bernard for some reason) and the ever-affable Martin Freeman. “Look,” I said. “It’s Khan and Bilbo! Let’s watch this!”

Partway in, Dan griped, “I wish we had a TV in our room.” I expressed my dislike of that idea.

“Yeah,” he said. “But if we had a TV in our room, I could lay down next to you and be warm.”

I made room on the couch. He fell asleep before Sherlock was over.

SHMILY

Do you know what SHMILY stands for?

If you ever took a pre-marriage class (or as we Catholics call it, pre-Cana), you may have heard the story behind SHMILY. And if you haven’t, I will explain it to you in a moment.

I’m telling this story because before I walked out of the door today, my husband handed me my travel mug full of coffee.

This is not something he usually does. Mornings are usually a fustercluck: me urging the girls to get ready, Dan wrangling Michael into pants, both of us adults trying to dress and eat breakfast before we are on the road. So I usually pour my own travel mug — and about a third of the time leave it sitting on the counter.

But this morning, as I was herding the girls out the door, Dan handed me my full travel mug, coffee with cream, and gave me a kiss.

And it made my whole day.

++

The story they told us at an engagement retreat/pre-Cana weekend involved an older couple who were married for years. They would surprise each other every now and again by hiding a note with the word “shmily” on it. Or write “shmily” someplace unexpected (a steamed up mirror in the bathroom, in snow outside). When the other person saw it, they had to re-hide the note, or do their own shmily in return.

Finally, the granddaughter who was witness to these sweet “shmily” shenanigans asked (I believe it was at the grandmother’s funeral) what “shmily” meant.

It means, “see how much I love you”.

++

If you haven’t done a shmily — ever, or recently — try to do one for the special person in your life. A note in their lunch. A text message, a post on their Facebook wall. Make them tea, bring them a beer, buy them a cookie. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. All it has to do is remind you both of your love.

It will make them feel so loved. And I bet you’ll feel pretty good too.

Show of hands, who knew what SHMILY meant before they read this?

Horndog

(Dad, this one may make you uncomfortable. Read at your own risk.)

I’ve always had a pretty high libido — no, let me rephrase that: When Dan and I got married, I had a very high libido. I had an enjoyment of and appreciation for good sex. Dan and I were well matched in this area (as well as in most other areas, for the record).

Then, of course, came four pregnancies, three live children, and, you know, nearly 11 years.

My libido dropped, and in some months (years?), disappeared down the rabbit hole nearly entirely. This was a bummer for Dan, who instead of an enthusiastic bed partner, got a dutiful one.

Since about March or April this year, I have noticed an appreciable spike in my libido. Which in some ways is delightful, although it does occasionally warrant extra cautious measures so as not to displace Michael as the baby of the family. I am excited to have my libido come roaring back (and, yes, so is my husband).

Dan and I practice NFP (natural family planning — NOT the rhythm method), and it’s kind of a drag. Plus my charting has really gone to pot, and I need to up my game there — I downloaded an app to my phone (oh yes I did), and that should help. We briefly discussed a copper IUD, and I may still have that conversation with my midwife, but for now NFP is it. (Permanent sterilization was not on the table, for either of us, which has some to do with our Catholicism and a lot to do with REALLY SHARP OBJECTS near our parts.)

I hate the stereotype of the married couple who don’t have sex; I hate even more the stereotype of the horny father and the sexually unavailable mother. I understand (now) the physiological reasons for the latter, but eventually reestablishing sexual intimacy should be viewed as a given. And for that matter, something to look forward to.

I sometimes wonder about the reasons for my elevated sexual interest. Is it a function of a biological clock? In which case, poor clock. Your imperative has been fulfilled three (almost four) times over. Is it a function of more sleep? More independent children? A renewed ability to focus on self? A continued desire for all levels of intimacy with my husband? All of the above?

Is this type of surge common to 40somethings? Or if not age-related, could it be related to reclaiming of the body for something other than reproduction? If a woman has several pregnancies in her 20s, when her last baby reaches a certain age, does she look around (presumably in this scenario at her husband) and think, “I gotta start hitting that more often?”

I know. Lots of questions, and probably everyone’s answers are different.

Being this horny (again) is distracting. In a good way, but still. And even when my libido wasn’t raging, Dan and I managed sex (or like activities) about twice a week on average. The thing about sex — if you like it anyway, which I do — is that even when I didn’t start out in the mood, I still often managed to have a pretty good time. Good lube helps, in case you need a #protip.

These days, I have dirty, dirty dreams. I spend too much (?) time fantasizing at my desk and sending my husband suggestive texts. Again, he’s not complaining.

Speaking of texts, I don’t really get sexting — do you just delete the pictures from your phone or camera later? What the sexiest thing to sext? I’m guessing cleavage, which if that’s the case, I should just stick with suggestive texts.

What say you, readers? If you’re in a long-term relationship, what keeps the home fires burning? If you’re a mom or dad, did you have to regain your mojo? How do you manage your sex life? Do you schedule it, or wait for the mood to strike you both? Or do you go along with the partner with the higher libido, compromise? What’s your favorite lube? I’m a fan of the old standby, Astrolube, although Dan and I have experimented with some fun KY combinations. (TMI?)

Belated: Happy Father’s Day

It always struck me as a little unfair that babies usually said “da-da” before they said, “ma-ma”. At least, my babies did. In some cases, the sound/words were close together — Michael of course being the exception. He’s been saying “dah-dee” for *months*, and only just started saying “mah-mnee”. He’s making up for the lag by saying “mah-mnee” every .7 seconds, though.

From an evolutionary standpoint, saying daddy first is probably advantageous, right? You’re this little wrinkled defenseless being, your mom, while soft and good smelling and your food source, probably isn’t bringing home the bacon otherwise, or scaring away the saber-tooth tigers. That big, loud hairy thing that hangs around the fire (making funny smells while he’s there) seems more intimidating. Why not win him over to your side?

Dan didn’t wait until hearing his first “da-da” to be utterly devoted and captivated by his children; most modern-day fathers probably don’t. He was pretty much hooked from birth (if not a bit before). They barely got those babies — our babies — out and cleaned up before his heart was lost.

How funny language is. Because it’s not that his heart was lost, or gone, or melted. If anything, for Dan, it was the opposite. That in Flora, Kate, and Michael, Dan’s heart was found — especially after our loss of Gabriel. That part of his reason for being in this world was fulfilled in becoming not just a father, but a “da-da”.

This post is a day late because we were so busy yesterday, probably not the most ideal of Father’s Days in my husband’s view. We cleaned, and had brunch for his father and brother-in-law, set up a kiddie pool, and then got everyone cleaned up (again!) to go to my brother’s for dinner with him and my father. But ultimately, I know that being woken up (not until 10 a.m.!) by his children and their big handmade card was pretty much the pinnacle for him. That we can celebrate my husband’s fatherhood means the world, and not just to him.

Memory Lane: Date Night, Past and Future

My parents went on dates. Every week. I have very clear memories of Friday night babysitters coming over, and watching my parents walk out the door together, all gussied up.

Usually gussied up. At one point they were in a bowling league. Probably less gussying going on. But they each had their own bowling ball and bag… and possibly shoes. Can you buy your own bowling shoes?

I also recall them taking disco dancing lessons — hey, it was the ’70s. We kids used to clamor at them to show us the moves they had learned. I have an image in my head of my mother in blue bell-bottomed disco pants with a flowing blue shirt with a vest over top. Her red hair was permed into an afro (or as afro as she could make it, anyway). While I don’t recall my father’s outfit, I clearly remember his mutton chops. They boogied for us before they left for the night.

My parents made time for each other. It’s something I’ve carried with me, the memory of their date nights.

Saturday evening, Dan and I had dinner plans. I was feeding the kids while dressed in a robe. It brought back memories of my own childhood, watching my mom get dressed and put on makeup before she went out with my dad. She would wear a robe, do her hair and makeup, get dressed, and then — and this still amazes me — she would don her coat, and polish her fingernails. Then they were out the door for the night.

She still polishes her nails last thing. It’s a trick of hers I have never mastered. I can’t even get a manicure without feeling like I’m going to mess it up before walking out the salon door. Let alone get dressed for an evening on the town with my spouse and polish my nails immediately before leaving.

But Date Night is a tradition Dan and I are working on creating for ourselves. Like my parents, we are partners first, parents second. It’s tricky to remember in the crush of kid-stuff and schedules that are divergent (to say the least). We are looking into playing darts weekly, wine tastings, and dancing lessons. (Not all at the same time.)

I may never manage to polish my nails for date night immediately before leaving the house, but my parents taught me a vital lesson as I grew up. They did it without ever making us feel like we came second, but it was clear they stood united. The fact that their marriage was so very important to them — important enough for them to spend special time together on a regular basis — made me feel safe. It’s something I’d like to pass onto my own children: that as much as I love them, my relationship with their father is something special and (to a certain extent) inviolate. That as much time as I am willing to give them, I also have to give time to Dan (and he to me). And I hope that in doing so, in showing them our commitment, they will learn about marriage and love, and that they will feel safe.

What did you learn from your parents about love and marriage? What do you do on date night?

Cliche

(Dad, you really don’t want to read this post.)

(Oh, it’s about sex. So anyone else can opt out now, too.)

The thing about back and neck pain, of which I have had my fair share as of late, is that it seriously interferes with an already problematic sex life. I don’t mean that Dan and I have problems having sex, except if you count the fact that it is very difficult to find the time (or, primarily on my part, the energy) to have sex. (As Dan put it, “I would have sex during surgery.”)

I never would have foreseen this 10 or 15 years ago. I used to read magazine articles about ‘keeping the spark in your marriage’ or ‘how to prevent children from ruining your sex life’, and I would scoff.

Scoff, I tell you!

Now I want to go out and buy Babyproofing Your Marriage to find out how to do exactly that.

Ah, I look back on those innocent days quite fondly. (Dad, seriously, you’re not reading, right?) I never would have pictured becoming a married woman with children who would choose sleep over sex. Not as a lusty 20-something, whose libido sometimes outstripped those of my boyfriends. One of the things I wished for in a partner was one with a high libido.

Well, be careful what you wish for.

I like sex with my husband very much and (as it’s the only sex I’m having these days, and presumably, the rest of my days) I would like to have more of it. Dan and I are very compatible in many, many way, including sexually — which, don’t let any lame advice columnist tell you otherwise, is vital to a marriage.

Yes, the ardor cools, the passion wears off. The heady early days of getting to know another person physically change into the attraction and comfort of a known quality.

And I am totally cool with that.

What I miss is the fact that by the time I am dragging myself to bed, I am too tired — and these days in too much pain — to invite my husband to come upstairs with me. Most of the time. (We both still get lucky, thank heavens!). If Dan is home “early” on any given night (early defined as 8 p.m. in my husband’s case) I would like to exercise my marriage rights, for him sometimes even more-so than for me.

I do a lot of stuff in the evenings. Not even counting the whole feeding-bathing-putting to bed of the children, there is laundry, kitchen duty, lunches to pack, bills to pay, etc., etc., etc. What I call here ‘the daily’.

And that’s all fine. If it’s been long enough and/or I want to feel intimate with my husband, I can (sometimes) muster up the energy for lovin’.

It’s when I do all ‘the daily’ while having back and neck issues. Or if I don’t do any of it (aside from the feeding-putting to bed of children) because of the pain.

Then Hugh Jackman could show up at my door with a bottle of Viagra, and I’d be like, “Hugh, not tonight, babe.”

What the heck chance does my poor husband have?

Public Service Announcement III: Be Nice to Each Other

Sunday night, for the first time ever in my entire life, I cooked a steak.

It was not for me, but for my husband. (For the record, I still think preparing chicken is the most disgusting thing in the world.) It is part of my strategy for getting DearDR to eat better food and learn portion control. He also had a lovely salad of Italian baby lettuce, strawberries, celery, and carrots. (No cheese, no nuts, not for DearDR for a while.)

See, DearDR needs to lose weight. Also, his triglycerides have to come down (to quote his doctor, they are “exceedingly high”), and quickly. If he can’t get them in line — and keep them in line — through diet and exercise, he’ll have to start taking medication.

DearDR is only 40 years old. And I plan on keeping him around a long time. I’m going to help him be a better eater and lose some weight.

A while back, Heather Armstrong at Dooce was reflecting on whether marriage or child-rearing was more difficult. (For her, the latter.) There are days that for me, the two run neck and neck, but part of that is due, to my discredit, to my poor attitude. A kind of “leave me alone” attitude. There are days that I seriously question whether I am cut out for this wife-and-mother gig I’ve gotten myself into. (Newsflash RPM: Too late!) Some days I just feel my household is out of my control, the budget is out of my control, my children are out of my control, and so-help-me if DearDR asks me to make him a sandwich, I’m going to lose it.

But then I get a good night’s sleep, and my children do something amazing, and my husband makes me laugh, and everything is all right again. A glass of wine and some quiet time at the end of a day do wonders, too.

I was having one of those cranky days last Wednesday (note to RPM: adjust the attitude in time for Lost night), and DearDR and I sniped at each other. And then he got his numbers from the doctor on Friday, and I got some perspective.

Remember a few years ago when those “Tips for a Good Wife” were making the rounds of the Internet? I’m not going to say that those are a good idea or anything (I am feminist, hear me roar), but something can be said for being nice to each other.

When your spouse comes home, stop what you are doing (unless this involves leaving a child undiapered or in danger) and hug and kiss him or her. You may not feel like doing it, I know. Do it anyway.

Pick up the occasional treat for your spouse — you do it for the kids when you’re out and about. Just a little something that says, “I thought of you today.” A book, a DVD, some (inexpensive) flowers, a nice beverage or chocolate. I think we all do this early in our courtships, and then it goes by the wayside, especially as other things take precedence. Bring back the treats! DearDR has given me bookmarks, and I’ve been thrilled to know that I am on his mind.

Prepare a meal for your honey — or simply provide one. Whichever spouse does more meal planning and prep needs a break. Give him/her one. It can be as simple as bringing home a Costco pizza to bake at home, or suggesting the family go out — even Eat ‘n’ Park can be a relief.

Cuddle. Watch a movie together. Spend special time on a regular basis with your significant other. I know for DearDR and me, this is challenging because of the children and our schedules. We are trying to bring it back. (I’m not talking about green beans. I’m talking about intimacy.)

I know this is all common sense stuff, but I also know I lose sight of simple things — over and over again. When DearDR and I married and talked about having kids, I told him I wanted us to remember that we were married first. And then I forgot — or, more likely, I get so frustrated with what I perceive is my bad job on the spousal and/or parenting front, and I want to chuck the whole thing and go away for a week.

Some day, it will be just DearDR and me again. I don’t want us to have to try to reconnect when the kids leave home. I want us to take the little steps we need to take to stay connected. Now and forever.

Couples Quiz

I picked this up over at ClumberKim’s place. It’s standing me in good stead since I’m still in the woods.

What are your middle names?
My middle name, which used to be Marie, is now my “maiden” name. (I hate that term, maiden.) I tend to use it professionally. His middle name is Reed, after his maternal great-grandfather.

How long have you been together?

Our first date was October 1, 1999. We got married September 1, 2001. Coming up on 10 years!

How long did you know each other before you started dating?

We were acquaintances from college, so we probably first met in 1990 or so? We never really hung out, but we knew each other to say hi or have little conversations.

Who asked whom out?

DearDR asked me to have dinner with him. I had to email him about a month later to see if he meant it, though. I didn’t actually give him my phone number the night he asked me — I told him I was in the book. Unfortunately, DearDR didn’t have a current phone book at the time.

How old are each of you?

DearDR is 40; I am 38.

Whose siblings do you see the most?

We see his sister a little more often than my brother, even though we all live in and around Pittsburgh. My sister we usually only see two-three times a year. We live next door to my in-laws. It’s actually pretty even, though, between holidays, birthdays, and random family events.

Which situation is hardest on you as a couple?

Our biggest source of conflict is the household duties. I feel that he doesn’t help out enough; he feels that since he works such long hours (and he does) and makes most of the money, that the household should be my duty. Unfortunately, since I also work and take on the majority of the kid stuff, the state of our house suffers. We both hate it, but until I can hire someone to help me out, it’s the way it’s going to be. It causes a lot of friction, because when he complains, I get very defensive.

Did you go to the same school?

We both went to Duquesne University. Technically speaking, I finished before he did, because I graduated in 1992 (is that right??) with a bachelor’s degree, and he didn’t earn his Ph.D. until 2004, when I was pregnant with Monkey.

Are you from the same home towns?

No. I grew up in Erie and he grew up in Coraopolis.

Who is smarter?

Well, now, that depends. Book smart? School smart? He is, no doubt. But I have more common sense, and a lot more pop culture savvy.

Who is the most sensitive?

He is, hands down. I am clueless.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?

Most often when we’re on our own, we really enjoy Bocktown Beer & Grill.

Where is the furthest the two of you have traveled as a couple?

We went to Italy on our honeymoon — landed in Rome on Sept. 10, 2001.

Who has the craziest exes?

I’m going to go with him. Because, let’s face it, he dated women, and women are crazier.

Who has the worst temper?

He says he does. I asked. I think I get angry more often, but when he gets angry, he gets angrier.

Who does the cooking?

Me, me, me. Unless it’s pancakes and eggs on Sunday.

Who is the neat freak?

Sigh. We both want our house to be much, much neater. I clean more, but he cleans better (when he cleans).

Who is more stubborn?

I am.

Who hogs the bed?

Neither of us. I do hog the covers, though. When a kid ends up in bed with us, she hogs the bed.

Who wakes up earlier?

Me. Every single day.

Where was your first date?

Kaya in the Strip District. The next night, we went to a Pens game together. The day after that, we ran into each other at a Steelers’ tailgate party. You can see we were meant to be together.

Who is more jealous?

He is. And why shouldn’t he be? I’m hot (hahahahahaha!).

How long did it take to get serious?

I knew in the first month of dating him that we were going to get married. It panicked me a little bit, but I rode it out. Eleven months later, we got engaged. Since my dad reads this blog, I think that’s all I’ll say about that.

Who eats more?

He does. I eat better.

Who does the laundry?

All me, again.

Who’s better with the computer?

Hmm. That’s an interesting question. We each know how to do different things on our respective computers — he’s a PC and I’m a Mac — but all-in-all, he is probably a little more tech savvy.

Who drives when you are together?

Usually he does. This is fine with me. I drive enough as it is. Besides, we’re usually running late, so I can do my makeup in the car.