My Husband’s Rut

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One of my favorite characteristics in Chris is that he is unshakable.  Unstoppable.  Unflappable.  You know that phrase, “He takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’?”  They basically wrote that about Chris.  There hasn’t been any challenge I’ve seen him face that he hasn’t been able to rise to, take on, and move forward as a better person.  And usually, he does this while bringing his family to a better place, too.  He’s just that kind of person.  He believes in success and he believes that he can be successful at anything, which makes him one of the strongest people I know.

Also?  He looks good holding a baby.

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Lately though, Chris just can’t catch a break.  He got a big promotion at work a few months ago – actually the very week that Gracie was born – which basically gave him two full-time jobs at his company.  He’s completely capable of doing both jobs, but the transition to wearing two different hats at the same time has been challenging and exhausting.  But you’d never know.  He doesn’t complain or make excuses.  He just keeps his head down and plows on through.

At the same time, we’re in the process of buying a house.  The first house we put an offer in on didn’t work out, but we’re just about to complete the process of buying a different house and we’re scheduled to close on July 15.  While I have been involved in the process, it really has been Chris who has taken the responsibility of buying this house on his shoulders.  He won’t say it, but I know it’s because he’s trying to keep me from cracking under all the uncertainty and anxieties.  To help me stay calm, he’s been the one gathering paperwork for the mortgage company, handling the inspection process, and working with our realtor on hammering out the details of our contract.  And, as anyone who has bought a house before knows, those are all stressful burdens to bear.

On top of those two stressful things, Chris comes home at night and jumps right into parenting.  He cooks dinner, plays with Bean, sits with us during bath time, feeds Gracie, and somehow manages to even spend some time with me.  All of that is good for our family and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s not exactly relaxing.  Chris and I don’t get to bed until about 11:00 or 12:00 and then there’s Gracie’s 4:00am bottle (which I usually do, but it still makes for interrupted sleep for Chris), and both our days start at around 6:00.

Chris and I actually struggle with the same problem.  Neither of us speak up and ask for help until we’re at our breaking point.  It’s just that my breaking point is a lot lower than Chris’s.  So, when CHRIS hits the wall, I’m not quite sure what to do.  He makes it really hard to help him.  He’s frustrated and that sometimes comes out in angry little snaps.  He’s overwhelmed and that sometimes makes him seem like he’s not paying attention to me.  He’s tired and that sometimes makes him eerily quiet for days at a time.  I never know whether to hug him, help him, or just leave him alone.

We’ve been married for six years.  Together for twelve.  You’d think I’d have this stuff figured out by now.

But that’s one of the great/sucky things about marriage.  We’re not married to characteristics.  We’re married to people.  And people change.  They ebb and the flow.  And so do our relationships.  Ultimately, I may not know exactly how to stand by him sometimes, but I know that he needs me.  And that I need him.  Everything else we’ll figure out eventually.

Like, by the time we’re soaking our dentures in glass jars together.

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54 Thoughts to “My Husband’s Rut”

  1. Wow, Chris is Super Dad/Husband! This sounds like one of those rough times, but it’s so wonderful that the two of you are getting through it together, and that you recognize when you need each other. We’re always learning about our partner, I think…no matter how many years we’ve been together.

    P.S. How could you let Gracie get near that Gator shirt? Come on, Katie! 😉

  2. My fiance will have issues at work every now a and then (particularly after his dad passed away) and I won’t hear about until months later. Whenever I have a work issue that bothers me I go to him for support. I wish he would open up to me but I think he feels like he has an obligation to work and take care of us and just bare down and do it like his dad did. It’s inspiring but come on, I always go to him for my issues!
    I hope Brandon takes after Chris in the parenting arena. You should give Chris a belated father’s day gift like coupons for a massage or a home cooked meal or something…I’m volunteering you here but just an idea. Maybe he should take one mental health day off. Little things will ease him though. Oh, and LOOVE the Gator shirt. ; )

  3. Chris sounds pretty amazing! My husband is very similar, and he’s literally the calmest person I’ve ever met – total contrast to me. 🙂 I love what you said, “We’re not married to characteristics. We’re married to people.” That really resonated with me.. SO true!

  4. wow, I give Chris a lot of credit for taking all of that on. Quite the amazing husband you’ve got there! Last year my husband was dealing with a few things, and like you, I had no idea how to help him when he just shut down and was in a funk. For him, meds helped for a year (not that I think Chris needs that!).But we powered through it and things are much better now. Good luck with the house buying. We did it two years ago, took us a whole month to close because the bank was being a pain, don’t miss that process at all!

  5. My husband is the exact same way! I hate that it’s so easy to soothe/make me feel better, but when it comes to him, its always a guessing game… hug? leave him alone?…. hold a pillow while he punches it? OYE!

    ~ GGG

  6. Wow! There is a lot going on at the MC house! I understand how you feel. When it rains, it pours, so it seems. Sometimes my husband can bottle things up inside, too. When he does that, I try to gently prod him to use his words. It is not that he does not want to talk, it is that he needs some prodding to get to the bottom of what is going on. Like you said, I have found marriage is less about “fixing” things and more an agreement to keep trying hard to work out whatever comes our way. Good luck with everything!

  7. Ya’ll are busy people. I completely understand the not asking for help. I think my husband and I both do it too. And then when we’re overwhelmed and frustrated it shows. And it ain’t pretty. I usually snap and you can tell, but I think men in general are harder to read. What to do to help is a mystery? Either way, I always have to remind myself that this too shall pass and we’ll be on another (stressful) event in our lives. 🙂

  8. “…We’re not married to characteristics. We’re married to people.” – That is the ‘a ha!’ moment of my day, and it’s not even 9:30 am. Thanks for that!

  9. Wow what a list! Men are tricky like that, at least the ones I know. They just push everything down until it comes spewing out like a fountain. Mac and I just had a huge talk about stuff that has been festering for 5 months. Keeping this stuff hidden puts tons of stress on even the tiniest of cracks. Good luck Katie!

  10. I think that must be a man thing. I think that sometimes (cough) men have a (cough) problem (cough) expressing their inner (cough) feelings?!??

  11. You should trademark this paragraph –>But that’s one of the great/sucky things about marriage. We’re not married to characteristics. We’re married to people. And people change. They ebb and the flow. And so do our relationships. Ultimately, I may not know exactly how to stand by him sometimes, but I know that he needs me. And that I need him. Everything else we’ll figure out eventually.

    So much truth…since you both have each other’s best interest at heart, you’ll figure it out and come out better for it.

  12. JM

    I have to chime in on this: since you’re the one not working and home all day (though I know taking care of kids is hard), YOU need to be cooking dinner, YOU need to make sure the house is picked up, and YOU need to have the kids bathed. Give the guy a break! He works like a dog! Let him come home and put his feet up! Like you say, these times are temporary and if you know he’s under so much stress, you need to step it up – you’re in a position to do so. Give him a relaxing, comfortable place to come home to. If he won’t speak up, just silently do what you know he needs. He may be quiet, but he will appreciate it so much. It’s give and take for BOTH partners – not one standing by watching while the other struggles.

  13. “We’re not married to characteristics. We’re married to people. And people change. ” I love this. I know everything will work out because you are a woman of prayer! Best blessings your way!

  14. JM

    And I should have mentioned in my comment above that the reason he’s under all the stress is because he’s taking care of YOU and the kids! Give and take, Katie. (And I find it ironic that he does it all to save you from the stress of it all – come on!) It’s in the little things – you can’t do his job for him, and you are avoiding the house-buying process, so do what you CAN do, and that is: make home life as smooth as possible for him until he gets the paperwork done on the house and his work situation sorted out. (And I should point out that I am NOT a man – but I’ve been through this with my husband, who works very hard to support our family while I stay home. I make it so that he has to do very, very little, house-wise. It’s the least I can do since he provides so well for us.)

  15. My Chris has a much higher breaking point as well. I feel like I have a mini-breakdown every day! And so when he breaks down, I feel helpless as well..

    I love how you said “not married to characteristics”. So true. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. Jon is actually really similar to Chris in that way. He never speaks up when he’s overwhelmed and it sometimes comes out in him snapping at me here and there. And I have no idea what I am supposed to do since he is usually so even-headed while I’m the hot-headed one that speaks out about absolutely everything. We’re behind ya Chris! You’ll get through this.

  17. “We’re not married to characteristics. We’re married to people. And people change.” I love this. Great sentiment. Keep on doing what you need to do, for yourself and your family!

  18. I’ve been in a position similar to Chris’ since my son was born. I work all day and then come home and do the bulk of the childcare and cooking, regardless of whether or not my husband was home that day or not. And while the cooking and childcare is a welcome change from my work day, I wouldn’t mind a day “off” from it once in a while or if certain things were done so it’d be easier (like if the kitchen was clean when I got home so all the appliances, cookware, and plates were ready to use and the dishwasher was empty). Little things like that make a HUGE difference in my day. You wrote that you’re not sure whether to hug, help, or leave him alone. I’m willing to bet a little of all three would work. Help in small ways, whatever you’re capable of. Hug, just because. And then allow for space as needed. I don’t think you can go wrong. It always seems to me that you and Chris have a good rhythm together and even when it’s out of sync, it’s like jazz music – somehow it still works.

  19. Jessica

    Katie you got it right, you are an amazing wife and mother. I very much disagree with JM, you are doing whatever you need to do to help your household. My husband cooks just like Chris because he enjoys it, not because I am lazy. He also does bathtime because it is his time to spend alone with our son, not because I make him do it.
    I think it is great that you tell us about your life, I look forward to your posts. Don’t let someone tell you that you are not stepping up to help. That is just hogwash.

  20. RH

    JM – I think the whole point of this is that Chris is a wonderful husband who wouldn’t be able to enjoy sitting around with his feet up while his wife was struggling. I doubt the answer to his struggles right now is to be less involved with his family. Your comment was just so judgmental and totally not helpful to anyone in any way, I just had to say something.

  21. 80

    I had to chime in too€¦
    Wow JM where did Katie ask YOU to write a list of things for her to do, I doubt this post was written wanting advice from YOU! YOU don’t know Katie or Chris therefore YOU cannot assume things are not being done just because YOU didn’t read them on this post. Katie’s blog is not a Big Brother type of blog, so I doubt that she is giving us a look at “EVERYTHING” that goes on in her home and marriage.

  22. Maggie

    Maybe folks like ole JM there shouldn’t assume to know everything about every marriage. Katie said “Chris comes home at night and jumps right into parenting.” Not “Christ comes home and jumps right into maintaining our household.” With children that age, feeding, bathing, getting ready for bed, etc. are key bonding times. Katie wouldn’t do her children or her husband any favors to make sure she handles all those things.

    The only other thing mentioned is cooking, which for a lot of people is the best way to relax after work, it isn’t a chore.

    This is a place to learn about marriage and parenting and share experiences and ideas – not to tell strangers what to do or how to do it.

  23. BFF Emily

    JM, you crack me up. You seem to be a little on the “seen and not heard” side so I’m going to go ahead and make a call & guess that all of those oven fumes and microwaves from never leaving the kitchen are starting to make you think that Katie’s blog is the appropriate place to do the whole YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU thing. I’m sorry, but who are you again? Get a life, sistah! And seriously, lose the CAPS. ALL YOU’RE DOING IS YELLING AND IT’S REALLY, REALLY LOUD.

  24. Anne

    Can’t believe JM’s comment… who does this person think she is telling others (that she doesn’t know) what to do? Katie, thank you for sharing so openly about (parts of) your life. I love your blog (and no, I do not agree on every single thing you write, and then about other things I think exactly the same as you, or I do learn something from you. And that’s what makes life interesting! Not telling others what to do!). Keep up the good work Katie!

  25. Jessica W

    JM- Good job on taking a post that is about how wonderful Chris is and a wife praising, appreciating, and loving her husband publicly for all to see and turning it into a post on gender roles, stereotypes and all sorts of things that it wasn’t. Every marriage is different and roles take on different things at different times. Perfectly sound, Biblical roles. For this season of their life, those are the roles that Chris is doing to take care of his family. Katie could have written a whole post on the countless things SHE does daily to take care of their family, but then you would probably jump of her for tooting her own horn instead of focusing on and loving her husband. In other words, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t. And unless she directly asks us for advice or guidance, I don’t think “Imaginary friends” are really qualified to offer things up. She has physical friends and family who see a lot more than we do for that.

  26. Eliane

    Wow JM…….you sure are good at throwing your so called “advice” out there, don’t get too crazy! *note the sarcasm*

  27. Ann G-B

    WOW JM – you are one big meanie!

  28. Tiffany

    Love this post. I don’t personally know you but I have read your blog for a while now. I think you are a wonderful wife and mother. You know exactly how to take care of your husband. Don’t let “know it alls” tell you how.

  29. NieMich

    Katiekins, (I feel I can call you that because I think you’d like it)…these are times of struggle and turmoil, andif your man loves you and does what he does for you, it’s not because he doens’t like it! he loves you, and the kids and that’s why he does it…he knew who you were before he married you. you’ve been together long enough. He is married to YOU and NOT jm (for reasons, that are quite clear)!!!!!!

  30. My husband is a lot like Chris in that respect. Very capable, very helpful, but then he hits a wall and it comes out in frustration rather than pleas for help. I know you will both get through this.

    (Also, I in no way got from this a vision of you sitting on a throne ordering Chris around as he waits on you hand in foot. I got a picture of a lovely, complicated, loving, hard-working couple who are both putting in the time to get ‘er done. Wow, I lapsed into country twang there at the end. Anyway, just felt compelled to say that.)

  31. Amanda

    JM – please never comment on this blog again. It’s wonderful and a lot of us love what Katie writes, so you can take your 1950’s housewifey mindset elsewhere. It’s not appreciated here. Thanks.

  32. Melissa

    Katie-I have been reading your blog for awhile (but don’t really comment) and generally find learning about your life and marriage fun, funny, heartwarming, relevant, or a bit of all of the above. But a lot of the things you’ve been writing about these past few months- the stress of moving and building a new life in a new place have really helped me with things that have been going on in my life. I have recently accepted a job offer that requires me and my husband to move across the country, away from our family, friends, and all things familiar. Its really exiting, but its also really scary. Then you write this post and a lot of it also really resonated with me because I am currently watching my husband quietly stress about finding a new job in a new place while he is also trying to be supportive of my career opportunity. And its really hard to know what to do to help him and make him feel better. So even though you don’t have all the answers (and neither do I), its nice to know that we are not alone in our day to day efforts to do the best we possibly can.

  33. Whit

    Amen @Amanda. What you said. She should remove herself entirely.

  34. Jenn

    I haven’t been commenting much lately – but felt I should in light of your next post after this one. Funnily enough I don’t often agree with what you write but THIS post – I can entirely relate to. I also have a newborn and a toddler – and I feel similarirly greatful and in awe of my husband. Its a tough job have 2 young kids and both of us work really hard 24/7 as I’m sure both you and Chris do. I think its lovely you can recognise his huge contribution, as I’m sure he recognises that you work really hard too.

  35. Ann c

    JM – I agree with everyone’s comments about you. Please stay away from ‘our’ blog.

  36. Haley

    I am a newer reader, and I agree with what everyone has said to JM. I can’t believe that you would say such things to her, when clearly Chris wants to be a part of his kids life and help Katie out…After as that is what a decent relationship looks like…Helping each other out when times get tough. 🙂

  37. Mara

    JM – I really have to disagree with you there. Your situation works one way, but that is not the way it works in every marriage. Given the unhelpful tone of your comments, it doesn’t sound like you’re really interested in offering advice. And it’s unfair for you to assume that Chris’s stress is Katie’s fault. If you read this blog regularly, you’d know that Katie contributes plenty to their marriage, both at home and in terms of earning money.

    If you don’t have anything helpful or interesting to say, maybe it’s better to keep your anonymous comments to yourself.

  38. Ann

    JM’s comments just made my jaw drop to the floor. Katie chooses to share moments of her life with us. The idea that someone who reads a blog entry about a singular moment (which cannot possibly encapsulate the full scope of any situation) could ever deem it appropriate to €œschool€ Katie on how to be a wife to her own husband is astonishing. JM, how you choose to manage your relationship with your significant other is up to you. However, your harsh critique and subsequent edification on how Katie should behave in her own marriage crosses the line.

  39. Ashley Marie

    Katie, don’t let harsh comments get you down. I adore your writing here– if anything ,you’ve shown me that equal, loving partnerships DO exist. It’s not something I’ve ever experienced, and reading your blog reminds me it’s out there.

  40. JM, you are rude and condescending and hiding under the cloak of anonymity. Your unpleasantness is not needed here, this is a place of sunshine and watermelon, not sour grapes and rain clouds.

  41. Erin

    JM — get outta here!!
    Katie … we love you!

  42. Marina

    I have been reading this blog for two years now and I have yet to comment. This seems like an appropriate time. People who feel it’s alright to post such rude and unnecessary comments on this blog should be ashamed of themselves. Let’s just think for a moment people – Katie has been posting on this blog for a good time now and I’m sure there have been people reading it from the beginning. She has shared things with us that most people may not even feel comfortable sharing with their friends and has handled herself amazingly when people criticize her. She has put her life’s choices on the chopping block for everyone to judge and I find it a shame that some people find it necessary to be so cruel. I understand if you disagree with something, but either keep your comments to yourself or say them in a kind way. Katie deserves this kind of respect.

  43. Cindy In Owensboro, KY

    Surely JM was not SERIOUS about what they commented on. In no way is even a stay at home mom in charge of doing EVERYTHING at home. We live in a day and age that the MAN actually should contribute, whether he wants to or not. JM’s comments make me VERY angry, as you can tell. I was married to a man that did nothing at home when he came home from work, and at that time I was working full time also. Of course he is my Ex- hubby now. Five years ago I married a man very similiar to Chris and he helps out a lot!! When we first were married I worked full time and we tried to split everything even. Now I work part time and he still does plenty around the house, cooks most of the meals, does some of the grocery shopping, does the yard work, and helps take care of the children. I think that it is awesome that you have a blog that discusses some topics that obviously are controversial to some people!! Don’t let it get you down. You are a great mother & wife no matter what anyone says!!!!!

  44. Cindy In Owensboro, KY

    Now that I got that out of the way…. I would like to say that this post makes me feel that my relationship with my hubby is completely normal. We are also going through the process of buying a house and moving to Mobile, Alabama. My hubby is like yours and gets very quiet when he is stressed, and I am a little like you and make a lot more noise. There is nothing wrong with that, it just means that we are different people.

  45. Michaela

    JM is a jackass. Let’s just get that out of the way.

    Even though we are at radically different points in our lives, some of the things you write about are just so ageless in any serious relationship. I too have a wonderful man who will take on everything, and leave little for taking stock of his own life. Knowing what I’ve read of you, I’m sure that you are doing what you can too. Admitting sometimes you don’t know the best way to help your partner, is not indicative of an inability to do so. It’s just at a reassessing point. So keep on doing what you are doing, and like I’m sure you are, just keep searching everyday for the things you are able to do to help – like I’m sure Chris also does for you.

  46. Heather O.

    JM- Your an jackwagon. I have been in Katie’s boat before and it’s not easy. I think you’re doing a great job Katie. (((hugs)))

  47. Laura Bridges

    Katie, I enjoy your blog and love your candor. Only an ignorant reader would think that the blog is a complete picture of your life. All marriages work a little bit differently, but I know of none that are truly harmonious if wife waits on husband and makes his home life as smooth as possible. Gag! What good husband would want his wife to feel that pressure! This is 2011, you’re doing a great job and I love when bloggers admit that they have bad days. No home is perfect everyday, no matter what JM might think.

  48. Sara

    I have always view blogs as a window into a persons life. if I dont like what I read, its up to me to leave the blog. I repeat the blogs that resonate with me. Ive been following this blog for a while now. Im not married and Im not a mom but I still relate to life and human stuff. Ive read this blog for insight for when I do have this family and I have learned a tremendous amount.

    JM does need to find a blog that is a better fit. Or better yet, learn a thing or two about loving other people, not just the husband. Repeated rude comments-not so loving.

    Another thing I would submit, haven’t you ever just wanted to talk through something without the world thinking it needed to respond and fix it? Just let me process outloud. So to you JM, I say zip it.

  49. LW

    Katie, I read this post more as an appreciation for all your husband does for you and telling the world what a wonderful man he is because you are so proud of him and realize how much he cares for your family. I don’t know where anyone would get that this post is showing you don’t do enough for him. I bet if you had Chris write a post on you, it would be exactly the same and would point out how wonderful you are and all the stuff you do at home and at work.
    We each make sacrifices for our spouses. Yes, sometimes it drives me crazy I make all the meals in our house, but I do it because I love my husband and I want to. Its how I give back to him because he is doing things for me as well. Just like Chris takes things on for you because HE WANTS TO.
    We can’t compare our marriages/lives to others. What may work for JM most likely isn’t going to work for me. My marriage and our responsiblities are completely different than our friends who we have a lot in common. Its how life works…you figure out what works and then run with it.
    Thank you for sharing your life with us…I love your honesty! (and sorry this was so long!)

  50. One thing I do have to say is that I applaud your decision to leave JM’s ignorant comments up for others to read and judge for themselves. I totally agree that it is your choice to remove them if you want, and I probably would have if I were you, but as a reader, it was nice to be able to come back and see what she actually wrote so that I could offer you my support based on the FACTS of what I read, not the conjecture of what others said about it. Again, and always, BRAVO to you!

  51. Lisa

    I’ll just say a big fat “ditto” to all the anti-JM posts. And let you know that when I read this post (before the comments…) I saw it as a much-deserved and well-intentioned acknowledgement and praise for what a wonderful husband you have. We should all be so lucky!! I don’t even have children but my husband and I argue about household chores and duties alll the time. It’s not easy. And to have someone to share it with you so willingly is a blessing. You two are doing what works best for you and your family – keep it up!! And thanks as always for sharing despite the harsh criticism you might receive 🙂

  52. Wowzers.

    Katie, I hope you can tell just how loved and cherished you are. Look at all your blog friends standing up for you. It makes me smile because I can only imagine, after reading JM’s very harsh and untrue words, how good it felt to read everyone else’s. I would chime in with everyone too but they all took the words right out of my mouth.

    Don’t ever leave us Katie…we just wouldn’t know what to do without you. 🙂

  53. Cassie

    I know that this is coming late, but I just have to put in my two-cents (bad habit I’m trying to work on…. but today it can wait). I have a little analogy here for Desperate Housewife circa 1945, otherwise known as JM. Have you ever had a roommate? No? Well it probably would have done you some good. In college, I had my share. Some of us had jobs, some didn’t. But because I had a job, did that mean that my unemployed roommates were held accountable for all chores and all housework? Heeelllll no! That is, unless you want to start some serious roommate drama. Everyone was expected to do their part simply because they lived in the house, even if they may have been paying more than the others. Though marriage is SO much different from living with roommates, there’s something that resonates in this situation. Just because some “work harder” than others and though your husband is the “breadwinner” of the family, this doesn’t mean he shouldn’t do his part. Come out of your little Suburbia, judgmental bubble, JM, and maybe your marriage will improve in ways you apparently never thought it could.

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