Friday, September 7, 2012

House Rules

My husband and I have an arrangement. It is one of several little deals we have worked out during the course of our marriage to keep both of us happy. I'm not talking the basic, "don't dingle the strippers" or "paychecks are not for beer and lottery tickets" type of stuff. I'm talking the meat and potatoes of day to day life.

For example, we have a rule about cooking. "If I make it, he cannot complain about what time it is served. If he makes it, then I cannot complain about what time it is served." What this boils down to is that I cook early, he cooks late. We are eating in daylight when I'm in charge and by the light of the moon when he's in charge.

There is also a well-known rule about working late. I've mentioned it here before. It's the Barnes and Noble tax. For every egregiously late night, I get a $25 BN gift card. Look, I'm not a monster. I understand that shit happens and sometimes you have to put in the extra time. Those nights don't count. A quick phone call and a reasonable explanation is all I require. However, on those nights when all communication is nonexistent, or "I'm leaving in two minutes" turns into two plus hours, or one late night becomes three late nights, plus the laptop gets broken out as soon as he sits down? I get paid for that nonsense. Why? Why punish my husband for following his own basic, workaholic, human nature? Because it reminds him that there is a price to pay for ignoring his family, for not being home in time to put his kids to bed, for forgetting that when he dies, God isn't going to ask him for his résumé. It's actually sort of sad, it has worked so well that I haven't bought new books in months.

Recently, we had to come up with a new rule. I just joined the PTA and as a result, am expected to attend a multitude of family functions. My husband, the anti-social misanthrope, hates these things with a flaming passion. Hates. So our new rule is our simplest - I go, he doesn't. Our biggest fundraiser takes place on a Friday. I'll be at school from sunup to way, way past sundown. My husband agreed to take the entire day off - with one caveat. He does not have to step even one foot inside the building. He's not getting out of the Father/Daughter dance for love or money and the soccer beef & beer is required for coaches, but everything else? I'm flying solo and he's got the kids.

This all sounds like we have a very distant marriage, but he much prefers to stay home and watch goofy lawyer shows on TV and I way prefer to socialize with the ladies and not worry if he is having a good time. It also saves on babysitting fees. One ticket to an event, zero alcohol, and an extra $20 for the inevitable basket auction is one thing. Two tickets, enough alcohol to get him through the event, double the amount of auction tickets because he gets competitive about seeing who can win, plus $10 an hour in babysitting? That's a whole other thing entirely. Why throw money away so we can look like a happy family? Instead, we can save the money and actually BE a happy family. He always stays up and waits for me and will attentively listen to me vent or gossip and I always smuggle him some dessert and wait to chat until he finishes what he is watching. It really does work out well for both of us.

So, when you see me out without my husband, don't worry that things are rocky at home. Know that I got a kiss on my way out and I'll get another one on my way in and that the drunk guy in the corner singing karaoke at the top of his lung? He isn't with me.

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