Diary of a Marriage: All Good Things Must Come to an End.

Em & J. Snapped by CD.

Em & J. Snapped by CD.

Almost exactly three years ago I waltzed into the office of my colleague, Carrie, who also happens to be a dear friend. (And the editor of Philadelphia Wedding.) We worked together before I knew J., and she was there when I got the breathless phone call from my mother all those years ago: “Honey, I just met your future mother-in-law in the deli line at the grocery store. I gave her your email address—you remember her son, don’t you?” A few weeks later, Carrie heard all about our first date; a year or so later, she squealed appropriately when I came in one Monday morning wearing an engagement ring. {Ed. Note: Nothing about my endurance of your wedding planning??}
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Diary of a Marriage: On Love, Compromise, Honeymoons, and Pearl Jam

Diary of a Marriage: On Love, Compromise, Honeymoons, and Pearl Jam.

On the left, honeymooners Marianne and Andy in their matching t-shirts. On the right, Em and J., after finally reaching the merch stand.

Last month, J. and I were on the El in Chicago, feeling very proud of ourselves. We’d gotten up somewhat early, muddled our way through the city’s public transportation system, and were now rattling along to Wrigleyville. We were in Chicago to see Pearl Jam; they were playing Wrigley Field the very next day. They’d opened the merchandise stands a day early due to high demand for things like posters and T-shirts and key chains and bottle openers; J. wanted a poster and a T-shirt. “We’ll get there early,” he said. “We’ll beat the crowds and probably only have to wait for an hour or two. Then the second half of the day we can do what you want to do.” I booked the river cruise architectural tour for that evening. We were the masters of compromise.
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Diary of a Marriage: Our Fifth Anniversary

Diary of a Marriage: Our Fifth Anniversary

Em and Justin on their wedding day.

It’s 11:23 on Wednesday night and I’m sitting up in bed, panicking. Our wedding anniversary is coming up soon—like, in two days—and this is what I have to show for it:

  • 1. An ugly painting of a basket of yellow flowers on a big square of wood. My parents were throwing it out and I had visions of painting over it. It’s sitting in the garage, next to the loveseat I picked up one night on the side of the road and which I plan to reupholster soon. It’s been four and a half years but I’ve been pretty busy. Also I don’t know how to reupholster things.
  • 2. A 22-by-28-inch white canvas. I bought this approximately three hours ago on a last-ditch AC Moore trip. I also bought:
  • 3. A laughably huge tube of black acrylic paint.
  • 4. Six sponge-tip paint brushes.
  • 5. Two packs of letter stencils. One is a “rustic” font. The other is blocky capital letters. They are both ugly.

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Diary of a Marriage: Me, My Husband, and the Neighbors

Diary of a Marriage: Me, My Husband, and the Neighbors

Fuse

To say that I have a storied relationship with my neighbors is an understatement. It started, if I think about it, back in middle school with Fran Croft, the 900-year-old cat lady who’d pay me to feed her assorted felines while she was away. Then she accused me of stealing her silver, which made things awkward. It wasn’t until she died that her silver was discovered in her own oven, where she apparently hid it and then promptly forgot about it.

And then there was the issue of our next-door neighbors who left their Christmas lights strung on their bushes through June. The lights shined annoyingly through my bedroom window. They’d probably still be up there now, a decade later, but my high school friends and I sneaked over under the cover of darkness and snipped them with kitchen shears. I’m not proud of it but if I’m being really honest, I’d do it again. I hate gaudy Christmas lights, especially in June.

After getting married, J. and I moved into a quiet townhome community in the suburbs. We were instantly welcomed by the lifers as the new young couple on the block. We reminded them of their kids, their grandkids. They loved us. They invited us over for wine, and they slid block-party invitations in our door handle. I’d never had neighbor friends, and suddenly people wanted to say hi as I rolled the trashcan to the end of the driveway. The kids next door knocked on our door and handed us pictures they drew and flowers they picked. This was small-town life. It was cute. And then it was annoying. We liked our neighbors; we just didn’t want to be friends.
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Diary of a Marriage: My Husband and I Have Very Different Vacation Styles

Diary of a Marriage: My Husband and I Have Very Different Vacation Styles

Jupiterimages

It was during our honeymoon that I realized that J. and I have very different definitions of ‘vacation.’ We were at a posh Hawaiian resort, and he was standing in front of me, soaking wet, and blocking my sun.

“I’m gonna go down the slide again,” he said. It was roughly his seventeenth time going down the slide. I watched each time as he climbed, without a wisp of self-consciousness, to the top of the twisty blue water slide and waited, the lone 6-foot-tall adult in a line of giggly six-year-olds.

Me, I was content to sit in the cabana, devouring piles of US Weekly and Vogue. I lazily lay on my back—flipping like a burger on the grill every so often—and every movement I made seemed momentous: arm drifting over to turn the page, head slightly lifting for a sip of piña colada, finger slowly twisting a lock of hair. Time was standing still, things were quiet, everything moved slowly, like we were all in a big vat of jelly.
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Diary of a Marriage: The Things I Won’t Do In Front Of My Husband

Diary of a Marriage: The Things I Won’t Do In Front Of My Husband

iStockphoto

When I was younger, my mother said to me about marriage: “Always keep some mystery.” She might have been talking about any number of things, but if I remember correctly, I think she was talking about pooping. Ever since, I’ve drawn a connection between going to the bathroom in front of your spouse and imminent divorce.

Fast-forward a dozen or so years, and there’s not so much mystery anymore. I’ve peed in front of J. about a million times, he’s held my hair back as I’ve thrown up, and one time I even let him see the numbers on the scale as I weighed myself. But if he ventures near the bathroom while I’m, er, going to the bathroom, I unleash a guttural yell and barricade the door the same way I would if an intruder wielding a gun was in the house. In my mind, by never letting him see me go to the bathroom, I am preserving that air of mystery, and thus protecting our marriage from painful dissolution.
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Diary of a Marriage: Do I Rely On My Husband—or Completely Depend On Him?

Diary of a Marriage: Do I Rely On My Husband—or Completely Depend On Him?

iStockphoto

Last Friday morning, I was driving down I-95, steering with a knee while simultaneously gulping coffee and putting on mascara, when I saw the flashing lights behind me. I was so tired that the bolt of panic and stomach-dropping dread I usually feel whenever I see a cop’s lights in my rearview—even when they’re not on for me—barely even registered. I’d stayed up late the night before doing important things like watching seven episodes of Real Housewives. It took all my energy to stuff the makeup back into my bag so he wouldn’t suspect me of dangerously multitasking, and to pull out a bag of cough drops and scatter some tissues around so that maybe he’d take pity on my poor sick, speeding soul.

I wanted to explain to him the real reason I was running late and looking generally unkempt, but I was too tired, and the truth would have seemed too pathetic: My husband was away for the night, and I apparently lose all ability to take care of myself like an adult human when he’s not around.
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Diary of a Marriage: Finding Time in My Schedule For … My Husband

Diary of a Marriage: Finding Time in My Schedule For ... My Husband

Fuse

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting across from J., trying to schedule a date night. He was frowning at the calendar on his phone and I was furiously rifling through my planner.

“How about the last weekend in April?” I said.

“I have a tennis tournament and then we have that party. What about the weekend of the fourth?” he said.

“Nope. We have dinner plans on Friday night. You have that match on Saturday and I’ve got that party, and then I’m in Connecticut for a baby shower on Sunday. What about the following weekend? I have an event Friday night, but I’m free Saturday.”

“Well, that’s Mother’s Day weekend, but maybe we can fit in both of our moms on Sunday and the two of us can go to dinner together on Saturday…”

Neither of us actually admitted it out loud, but we were both doing it: literally penciling each other in. Date night tonight? Check with mom re: Sunday brunch. NOTE: Shave legs; wear matching bra and underwear. We were one dangerous step away from scheduling sex.
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Diary of a Marriage: That Time I Punched My Husband In The Face (And Other Tales of Co-Sleeping)

Diary of a Marriage: That Time I Punched My Husband In The Face (And Other Tales of Co-Sleeping)

iStockphoto

Last week, I was in an office, talking to a co-worker. He was standing in front of a window and the sun beaming in made him fuzzy around the edges so that I couldn’t really make him out. We’d just come from a meeting, and he’d said horrible, derogatory things to me in front of the entire staff. I was blazing mad.

He continued shouting at me in the office, and I shouted back. I wondered how no one else had heard and why people weren’t running towards the commotion. Was anyone going to call security? This guy is nuts. Suddenly he said something that I don’t remember and I snapped. I threw back my arm and hit him square in the face.

“HOLY CRAP!!!” J. shot up in bed like a rocket, holding his nose. “What the hell was that?”

I think I mumbled something. J. jumped out of bed and pounded into the bathroom. I mumbled again. Why the heck was he up and being so loud? I looked at the clock: 3 a.m. Ugh.

“You just PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE,” he called from the bathroom.

Whoops.
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Diary of a Marriage: How I Felt When I Met My Husband’s Ex

Diary of a Marriage: How I Felt When I Met My Husband’s Ex

Aaron Amat

I think that there are two groups of people in this world: those who can be friends with an ex, and those who can’t. I am one of the latter.

I call it the ‘dead arm’ effect. When I’m dating you, all’s good. Once we break up, I prefer to pretend you no longer exist. I, quite literally, cut you off. Like a dead arm, withered and shrunken and altogether unnecessary. I don’t care if you were my first love, or if you saved my grandmother from a burning building, or gave me a kidney. If we dated, and then broke up, poof, you need to go away. To a different country, or somewhere further. Like space. I delete your phone number from my phone, erase your birthday from my calendars, pack away or toss (depending on length of relationship and cause of breakup) all photos, gifts, and sentimental tokens from the relationship. You are methodically erased from my life and, before long, I’ve actually forgotten things like your phone number, birthday, favorite song, and then I pretty much do forget you exist, until someone mentions you, always by your nickname: Surf God. Nick the Dick. Nomadic Writer.
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