Diary of a Marriage: In His Shoes

Sometimes, I just don’t know how he does it.

Medioimages/Photodisc photo, courtesy of ThinkStock.com.

I stood in front of the classroom yesterday at Philadelphia University, my first time in a classroom in years. The eyes of 15 girls were fixed directly on me, waiting for me to say something. I blanked for a second—what was I supposed to be talking about again?—and thought for the millionth time that I really don’t know how my husband does it.

Alana Tosti, sales director of Philadelphia Wedding, and I were part of Philly U’s Talkin’ Fashion speaker series, and we were there to impart our wisdom about working in the magazine field. I looked around the room. One girl looked bored, one looked frighteningly interested, like she was hanging on our every word, and another girl, I realized with a start, was either taking pictures or videotaping us with her phone. Again, the thought: How does J. do this every day?

My husband is a high school teacher, which means that, every day, he stands before one hundred or so teenage boys and attempts to make classics like the Canterbury Tales and Medea relatable. He’s told me before that kids start trickling into his office before class begins, around 7:30 in the morning, to ask a question or hand in a draft or request an extension or talk sports. With locker room duty and cafeteria duty and tennis practice and the school newspaper, he rarely gets to spend time with his colleagues during the day. Most of the day, he’s Mr. G.—an authority figure, the voice of reason, the guy with the answers. He’s molding the minds of the next generation, for God’s sake. Talk about pressure.

I’ve often wondered how he does it—how he’s on all day. At least I get to ease into my workday with a nice long train ride and a newspaper, a cup of coffee and a quick morning chat with my coworkers, most of whom I’m lucky enough to also consider friends. Meanwhile, J. can barely set down his briefcase without having to turn into teacher mode. Exhausting.

I’ve said this much to him before, and he feels the same way about my job. “You always have to wear fancy stuff and schmooze with people at events. I get to hang out with a bunch of kids. That’s a lot less pressure.” I disagree. I’d much rather sip coffee with a local interior designer or meet with a gallery owner over drinks than feel the stares of a dozen or so teenagers all day. But that’s just another of our basic differences, I guess. And what makes us work. I’m more serious; he’s a big kid at heart.

In the end, Alana and I had fun, and it was rewarding to talk with the college kids about my career, and to get to walk in J.’s shoes for an hour. It made me realize that, hey, I have a pretty cool job. And also: Thank God I’m not a teacher.

Have you ever had an experience that made you appreciate what your significant other does every day? That gave you a better understanding and a real appreciation for your differences?


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