Tag Archives: marriage

Must Love Like Tolerate Dogs

At the beginning of any relationship, there is often a carefully orchestrated release of information to make yourself seem more attractive to your potential partner.

In what would now be generously referred to as “alternative facts,”  the majority of the embellishments I would share when I first met Jen regarded my relative interest/experience in doing anything remotely outdoorsy.  For example, walking 8 miles after your car breaks down sounds an awful lot like hiking.

But the one trait I would have a hard time talking my way around was my love, or lack thereof, of dogs.  For that, I would be put to the test when I met Jen’s overprotective, 160 lb roommate.  A feisty gal with personal space issues who just happened to be a Great Dane named Tula.

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Tula and I learned to see eye to eye.  Mostly because she was able to get in your face while you were eating.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate dogs.  Or even dislike dogs.  But I have just never had the bond with them that most people do.  I don’t want to be kissed or licked by a dog.  If anything, I would give them a firm, respectful handshake.  Which would require me to take the time to train a dog how to shake.  Which is a real Catch-22.

While Jen grew up as an erstwhile Dr. Dolittle, living in what sounds like it may have been a discount pet store, I grew up with a dog named Spanky who was treated more like an animal who happened to rent a room from my parents.  My only other dog experience came when I lived with my brother, whose dog Rub was a laid-back Spuds Mackenzie lookalike who was fond of eating loafers.  And nickels.  And the occasional downspout.

As I got to know Jen’s dog Tula, I found out that she was a gentle giant.  As if Godzilla decided that instead of smashing Tokyo, she would rather lay on a futon mattress and watch squirrels at the front window.

Over the next couple of years, I would become the step-father Tula never had.  And possibly never wanted.  We grew into a comfortable routine of her scaring the hell out of me when I would wake to find her an inch from my face and having to keep her distracted by throwing pepperoni across the room like tiny cured-meat rodeo clowns in order to eat some pizza in peace.

When we found out that Tula had cancer, I accompanied Jen across the state for chemo treatments at a hospital that also specialized in farm animals.  Chances are pretty good that I will never again have to extend a trip due to an incident involving radioactive horse urine.

When the day came that Tula got so sick that Jen had to make the choice to put her down, I was genuinely sad.  Not just because the person I loved had to say goodbye to someone that she loved, but maybe, just maybe, because I had grown to love her too.

For the next several years, as Jen and I started a family, the subject of a new dog would surface frequently.  With Jen contemplating a puppy each time she was set to be on maternity leave since she would “be home anyway.”  In hopes of delaying the addition of a dog to our household for as long as possible, I would dance around the subject by using every Mom’s passive-aggressive favorite: “I trust that you will make the right decision.”  As steam would shoot from Jen’s ears, she would slowly realize that having a newborn would already take up roughly 25 hours of our day.

I held out as long as I could, but when you are pitted against someone who once threatened to get a hog because you told her that she couldn’t, you can only last so long.

Two years ago, we brought home a Chocolate Lab named Barry, so named by our son Matthew because he “loves to bury bones.”  Little did we know how prophetic that would be as Barry (Bear for short) has now turned our backyard into a permanent trip hazard in an effort to hide rawhides from some phantom intruder.  But who really needs rawhides when you can eat the screens out of basement windows and chew on the gas meter?

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“Is there something around here that I could eat?”

 

Luckily for Barry, he has a lot of fans in our house.  Jen and Matthew both adore him, and Kate loves him the same way that she loves me.  By that I mean that she tells him that she loves him one moment and then tells him to leave her alone and not touch her the next.  It is really, really sweet.

So, in the cheesy 80’s family comedy that is our life, I have definitely been cast as the curmudgeonly father who gradually gains a begrudging admiration for the family dog.  Only to have that dog knock over the Christmas tree as the credits roll.

So, maybe I still don’t love dogs.  But I love people who love dogs.  So I guess that makes me a “dog person.”

Now, cats….?

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Filed under Dogs, Humor, Pets

What To Expect When She’s Expecting

Walk into any bookstore (if you can find one) and you will find row after row of books devoted to advice for women on their pregnancy. While these books offer tips for dad’s which generally boil down to “try not to be a jerk while your wife is pregnant,” there are very few practical guides for men, outside of Billy Cosby’s 1987 bestseller “Fatherhood.” Which, if memory serves, is mostly just a transcript of that “Cosby Show” episode where Denise makes Theo a really ugly shirt.

So, in the interest of helping expectant Dad’s navigate the minefield that pregnancy can sometimes be, please enjoy these tips, tricks and observations from a man who has went through one pregnancy and is in the midst of a second. This is solely based on my experiences, so your results may vary.

First of all, don’t be a jerk. Your wife will be going through a lot of physical changes, and you are going to see, feel and hear a lot of things. Things that you will want to make “funny” comments about. Don’t. For those nine months, you would be best served by sticking with Omerta, the Mafia’s Code of Silence. You didn’t see anything and you didn’t hear anything. “My wife is as beautiful today as the day we met” is what you will say under oath. And that’s all you will say.

The real challenge comes with the emotional changes she will be going through. During Jen’s first pregnancy, she would cry during insurance commercials, old episodes of “Friends,” and anything featuring dogs and the music of Sarah McLachlan.

This commercial should be outlawed under The Geneva Convention.

This commercial should be outlawed under The Geneva Convention.

During this pregnancy, things took an even stranger emotional turn when Jen passed gas like a long haul trucker, then asked me to leave the room, then started laughing, which led to crying, and then went back around to laughter. When she asked me to come back in the room she went into a half laugh/half cry which I can only imagine would be the reaction to finding out that a beloved clown had passed away.

In these type of situations, you will be expected to react accordingly to the situation. Do you offer reassurances, laugh with them or just offer a hug? I would like to be able to offer you a guide on how to respond accordingly, but the truth is that no matter what you do, you will have made the wrong choice.

The most important piece of advice that I can give to expectant Dad’s or new father’s is to always be doing something. Fold clothes, hang pictures, unload the dishwasher. It doesn’t matter. To be safe, just carry around a tape measure.

While the first pregnancy can be tough, the second can offer a whole new set of challenges as memories from the first time around are still fresh on your wife’s mind.

What I didn’t realize when I became a father was that I would never again be truly tired. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am very tired. But I can’t say that I am tired without receiving a reply from Jen that begins with the question “You think you’re tired?” Apparently, she has not slept more than two hours straight in the last 15 years. Like Leonardo DaVinci….or a meth addict.

Similarly, after your wife has had a baby, any physical pain you may feel pales in comparison to childbirth. I don’t care if you have stepped onto a bear trap, unless you want to hear the phrase “Now imagine if that bear trap came out of you,” it is best to keep it to yourself, hobble your bloody stump to the kitchen and take out the garbage.

And when you add a toddler to the pregnancy mix, as a Dad you better be ready to take it up a notch. Our son Matthew hasn’t quite figured out that he can’t do a running belly flop onto Jen’s stomach, so I need to take some of the heat off of her and bring his attention to me. Like a rodeo clown.

As a Dad you need to recognize that your pregnant wife needs some time to take it easy, and that means you to take over baths, play with blocks for hours at a time and read your toddler loads and loads of terrible books. I don’t think the author of “The Teletubbies in Who Stole the Tubby Custard?” was even trying. But I may just be bitter because Tubby Custard was my nickname at summer camp.

So basically, whether it is your wife’s first pregnancy or her sixth, the real key is just to be a good guy. Be nice, get involved, and save all of your snarky comments for a little-read blog.

I think that ultimately, my wife will be able to look at this and laugh. Or cry. I really can’t tell at this point.

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Filed under Baby, Fatherhood, Humor(?), Parenting

The McMueller’s: Year Three

Three years ago today, on a cool and somewhat drizzly evening, I watched nervously as the most beautiful woman I had ever seen walked down the aisle and said “Yes” when asked if she would share her life with me.

Three years ago this morning, I was at Sam’s Club purchasing 30 bags of apples, because I loved that same beautiful woman who wanted to decorate our wedding reception to look like a fall festival.

I’m not sure what I am whispering to Jen in this picture, but I’m sure it was hilarious.

Things have changed quite a bit over these past three years, but my desire to make my wife happy has not changed.  And as I have learned, the apples were just the tip of the iceberg.  But in an attempt to be a good husband, I have worked to keep my facetious comments about my large fruit purchase to under 10 a year.  However, it gives me some comfort to know that someone at a homeless shelter three days after our reception said, “Again with the apples?” (That’s number 7 for the year.)

What I couldn’t have known on my wedding day was that being a husband is only one of the many jobs I would be taking on over the next three years.  I am a landlord, a landscaper, a painter, an exterminator, a picture frame hanger, a plumber and so many other jobs that I can’t even list them all.  Now, granted, I am not particularly good at any of these jobs, but I sure try to be a good at being a husband and my newest job of being a father.

I already knew that I was unbelievably lucky to marry my best friend, but my luck definitely held out when I saw how great Jen is at being a Mom. 

How lucky am I? I not only have a beautiful family, but I also got through this day without having to buy any fruit. (Comment number 8 for the year)

We now live in the same house in which I lived in a single man.  And with Jen and Matthew in my life, what was once a mostly empty home is now filled with a lot of love …. and a lot of picture frames.

I think the success of our relationship is partly due to the fact that, in the past three years, there hasn’t been a single day in which I haven’t shared a laugh with Jen.  She has a great laugh.

My mother-in-law will say that there are two types of comedy:  slapstick and sarcasm.  And I definitely fall on the side with fewer seltzer bottles.  But as long as Jen and I can laugh with each other more than we laugh at each other, I think we will be okay.  But I’m not sure which side my laughter at her truly original Sammy Davis Jr. impression falls on that scale.

Jen knows me better than anyone else, and I think she can say the same about me.  After all of these years, I still learn new and wonderful things about her all of the time and I think I am starting to figure out the unique way she thinks.  I doubt that anyone else could have guessed what song she was talking about when she just kept repeating the mis-heard lyric “Shhhhh.  I’m the baby.”  (It was “Return to Innocence” by Enigma, by the way.)

I am very proud of Jen in everything she does.  In her work, as a friend, a sister and especially a mother, she is always striving to do the best.  And she is always there to encourage me in everything I do as well.

I love Jen even more than the day she walked down the aisle at our wedding, and the words I spoke to her as we knelt before the altar are as true today as they were then, “You still owe me $10 from when I picked up your prescription yesterday?”

Happy Anniversary Jen.  I love you more and more every day.

But, seriously, you still owe me ten dollars.

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Filed under Humor(?)

I’m a married man!

I have the pictures.  I have the license.  I have the ring.   But nothing has served as a reminder of my semi-newish married status quite as much as the box of feminine hygiene products which has apparently been in my back seat for the last 4 weeks.  

Despite making a whispered phone call from an aisle at the grocery store which I have successfully avoided for the first 37 years of my life, I bought the wrong pink and white box.     

Over the last 10 months, there have been a few “pink and white boxes,” but I have tried to learn from my mistakes and make my way through a crash course in being married.   Like a total immersion French class which drops you off on the streets of Quebec, my wife Jen and I have spent the last 10 months getting to know everything that makes the other person tick.   And while we haven’t had any issues conjugating verbs, we have had more than one conversation about my misuse of kitchen dish towels.  

It is in the common everyday things, cultivated over many years of living by myself, where I can truly drive Jen nuts.  

For instance, Jen does not subscribe to my trailblazing  and non-discriminatory style of laundry, in which everyone goes in together.  Colors and whites.  Beach Towels and dress shirts.    All are welcome.   And I stand behind my record of never turning any shirts pink or filling the basement with suds in a hilarious “Mr. Mom” fashion.  I live on the edge.  I don’t know how to live any other way.  

And for me, the living room coffee table seems like a perfectly acceptable place to leave a baseball cap which looks like one Steve Kline would have worn on a deep-sea fishing trip.  

It's Kline time.

Most recently, Jen has discovered that my version of cleaning the bathroom involves enough chemicals to cause a OSHA violation in most states (excluding New Jersey).  If it isn’t making me woozy, I’m not doing it right.  

A few weeks ago, I got a glimpse back into my bachelor life, as Jen went out-of-town for business.  And to say that things got crazy would be, well, a lie.  I was reminded that my actual bachelor life didn’t resemble the TV show of the same name.  Unless they have recently substituted the scenes of the bachelor being surrounded by women in a hot tub with one of him watching “Mythbusters” by himself and preparing a dinner in which the only serving of fruits or vegetables is included in a Hostess Cherry Pie.  

Fruit Pie the Magician appears nightly at Binion's in Downtown Vegas.

 To say that I wasn’t exactly knocking it out of the park as a bachelor is an understatement.   At the bars, the only conversation I ever had in which the young lady approached me  started off with her saying, “It stinks over here.  Did you throw up?”  Ahh, the one that got away.  (And to answer your question, no, I had not thrown up.)  

The one good thing that came from my bachelor weekend, was that the proprietor of my local pizzeria was very happy to learn that I was still alive.  However, rising tomato prices and the loss of my weekly business has meant that his daughter is just going to have to live with that overbite.  

Someone asked me recently if I thought being single was much easier than being married.  In some aspects it was, but making a frozen burrito for your dinner is pretty easy too.  Sure, you can get by on frozen burritos (and, trust me, I have) but when it comes down to it I would much rather put in the effort on a great meal that I can share with someone else. 

Jen has truly changed my life for the better, and I wouldn’t trade my married life with her for anything.  And despite raising the level of sarcasm in her life by roughly 300%, I think she would say the same about me. 

I know that I am only 10 months in, but I think that you will get the same answer if you come find me in 10 years.  I shouldn’t be hard to find, I will be the guy in the pink shirt.

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Filed under Humor(?)