How many nights a week do you spend with your partners? How much conversation do you have in a day? Are both of you equally happy with that?
As you know, Axel has been gigging a lot recently, sometimes Thursday through Sunday. He practices on a Wednesday night. Practice includes tea, smoking, chatting, computer time, planning, as well as actually writing and running through music.
There's a buzz on for them at the moment, because they're going to England for a week and a half to record another album, and they're getting it right. And they're excited about the trip.
So Axel went to practice last night, and popped over from four to eight today to run through more stuff. Then he came home with the boys and they've gone back out to the pub to discuss plans. He'll be playing gigs Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
On nights when he's not gigging or practicing (three out of five) he's home at 6.30. He'll often put Olivia to bed now. And sometimes I'm late enough with dinner that we'll all eat together. Then he crashes out on the sofa and gazes at motor sport programmes, or American Chopper, a programme about a father son business who make custom built motorbikes and bitch at each other. It has its moments, but as you may understand from the episode guide, a girl can only take delight in so much of Teutul Senior and Junior saying 'ass' to each other.
If I talk to him about much other than the band, he tends to stare at the tv in silence. He's so wiped from the four days of gigs followed by work that he's got nothing left for here.
I do understand that. Except. Except he's all animation for his bandmates, all fun and jokes and up til the small hours and getting things done. He'll be off in the pub now having a laugh and a chat, making plans, but if he was here, he'd be staring at the tv, feeling irritated by my attempts to talk to him.
Someone recently said 'FFS, enough with the 'my husband has a gig'. But I have a sinking feeling. How many nights a week would you spend with your husband, anonymous person? How separate are your married lives? If you're happy to be apart most of the time, how often do you come together, to eat, talk, have sex, go out? To do the things that adults in a relationship do.
Perhaps there is an answer in more counselling. We went to a bit. I'd go back, except I don't really have the energy to sit there discussing how I need more of a personal life, and having Axel nod dispiritedly and agree that we could perhaps manage a night out together once a month, even though we don't have any money and I say that would be nice, and we all smile and it's great and then we go home and that was last winter and the date has yet to materialise. So I either live without it or I nag him about it - because that's proved effective in getting some one to love you more, eh?
It's one thing to say I should make more friends, and get out more. Get out on the two nights he's in for? Monday and Tuesday. The thing is, I don't think it's a bad thing to want to be able to have some quality time with the man you married. To talk in a way that isn't just information exchange. Or arguing over the kids. I would like some time that is our time. I would like some time to feel... I don't know. Like part of a couple in. Usually if I go out it's either to one of his gigs, so I don't see him, or by myself, where I'm always half of a couple. Jo on her own. Who needs to be home at 12 o clock so her Mother in Law babysitter can get home.
I usually buy Axel eco type shaving cream, but he ran out a while back and started buying Gillette again. I used it on my legs, and this long forgotten aroma filled the shower. The smell of youth. Of getting ready to go out, of anticipation and possibility, cleanness, and sex, and the night is young. The smell of happiness.
Perhaps if we didn't have children and no money, things would be different. Freer, less stress, more fun, more space for me to be able to have a separate life that didn't just involve the kids.
Or perhaps we would have broken up by now. Certainly, the smoking alone makes me want to leave.
Because we have children, and a relatively stable family life, I don't think a break up would change anything for the better, or be good in any way for the kids. Nor do I want to leave (except over the smoking). But the stuff I've been talking about doesn't sound hopeful, does it? It's hard to keep my self esteem at reasonable levels when my husband so clearly prefers his mates' company to his wife's. On paper, it just sounds like he's miserable, depressed, and wants to escape. Yet in counselling we talk about me. And my loneliness. And my dissatisfaction, and my issues. As if the problem is all with me, and it's only my hormonal hysteria that's causing me unhappiness. If I had a hobby, or a social life, maybe, then it wouldn't matter if I only see my husband a few hours a week.
I don't know why (I really don't!) but I always thought with total confidence, that I would be good at having a relationship. That I wouldn't do the things my parents did, that the communication in any relationship I had would be completely open and effective. How would I ever not be able to talk things out? I don't know why that made sense to me. My parents had a terrible relationship they were both very unhappy in and any relationship skills I might have learned from my father were completely negative ones. And Axel's parents had a bad marriage too, though in a quieter, more traditional Catholic way. There was no communication there, just resentment, hurt, misunderstanding, and separate beds.
And here I am, in truth, humiliated, with a Bad Marriage. The phrase whispers itself to me through the day, it taunts, and pokes, and forces me to look at it, a flash card held up in front of my eyes. Is it just the stress of having young children, of having no money, of me trying to work and look after the kids, of Axel being demoralised by the last three jobs he's been in? Or is it simply a Bad Marriage, Bad Marriage, Bad Marriage that is not going to improve?
If anyone reading this is worried, please don't be. Nothing has changed of late. I just wondered what it would be like to say Bad Marriage out loud.
Oh dear, I have no meaningful ending. No closure. But I'm falling narcoleptically asleep trying, so I think I'll just go to bed. I should have made icing. Tomorrow is a cupcake day, I should be baking about sixty of 'em. I wonder how that's going to go :) I think I'll start it all in the morning, it should be fine.