Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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I Hit Our Car With a Shovel. On Purpose.

I get called a 'mommy blogger' a lot and I understand why, but when I think about this blog I don't think of it as a mommy blog. I think my marriage features just as prominently as parenthood.

Because I've written pretty openly about the bad times during my marriage (here, here, here and here) it may come as a surprise to you that I don't feel like I've written openly about it. I have a tendency to employ humor to relay events that were absolutely not humorous while occurring which results in a not entirely honest portrayal of what really went down. And that bothers me. Because I want to be able to honestly tell you some of the stuff that's happened in our marriage and hear your own stories and perspectives. I mean, what good is this blog if I'm not being truthful to myself and my life? That's how I feel. I guess everyone reads blogs for different reasons. Me? I read them to relate to what others are going through, especially the hard times. If I get even the slightest whiff of someone pretending to be something they're not, I'm gone.

A couple things keep me from full disclosure, though. First, it isn't just my story to tell. In as much as it's my story, it's Serge's story as well. Thus far he has been more than generous in allowing me to write whatever I want. If I write anything personal, he always reads the posts before I hit publish and very rarely has he asked me not to write something. I can't even remember a time that he asked me not to write something. IN FACT, he recently wrote something that I asked him not to publish. I regret that now. I should've let him write it. I didn't though because I was afraid of all the people who would comment about how dysfunctional I am.

But, guess what? I AM dysfunctional. I happen to think it's a garden variety dysfunction - as popular as tomatoes in the gardens of the world - and yet somehow I've allowed people who don't argue within their marriages make me feel like I'm the very worst of the worst. And even if I am the worst of the worst because I've thrown things or told my husband to fuck off, well, that's who I am. Writing about it doesn't mean I'm proud that I'm this way, it's just being honest. And that's why I started this blog. To be honest. I don't want to pretend I'm someone I'm not. I don't want to appear to have this most amazing marriage, which is what you might come away with after reading the story of how we met. Yes, every word of that story is true. As true as the dramatic ups and downs of marriage since those heady first days of being in love.

Another reason I can't blog as honestly as I'd like? My kids will read this one day. For the most part I hope reading it will teach them a valuable lesson about what hard work goes into being married. But still. I don't want them to be embarrassed either.

A third reason I stop myself from blogging about the really difficult stuff? I don't want to turn into a "trainwreck" and not realize it, you know? Time and time again I've witnessed perfectly rational, intelligent women fall apart and start revealing personal things that are uncomfortable. I guess it's all in the way you reveal things. The tone. Are you lashing out and blaming or are you honestly trying to paint an accurate picture of a moment in your marriage and maybe even learn a few things about yourself and why you do the things you do?

I'd rather reveal too much than too little. It's just how I am. With all that said, it can be hard to sit down and write authentically when you're constantly balancing the pros and cons of sharing a certain event in your life. Especially when you know your mom and dad and in-laws and every neighbor will be reading. For me it isn't the thousands of strangers that will read but the people I have to face on a daily basis. How do you write about kicking your husband out of the house and, when he remains in the car in the driveway, you open the garage door and start banging a shovel on the hood of the car as hard as you can until he is forced to back out and drive away - how do you write about that and still hold your head high and look your mother-in-law in the eye the next time she comes over to babysit?

Perhaps you don't. Perhaps you deserve public shame for so completely losing your shit in such a way. But it takes two to tango, you might shout at the people who call you nuts. You don't know what he did! Does it matter? Have you then turned into a trainwreck and don't even know it? See? The balancing act is neverending.

But then I think of the blogs I read and how some of them aren't very revealing anymore. Bloggers that once laid it on the line and inspired me and made me feel a little less alone in this world are now cranking out humorous posts on the goings on in their life that amount to fluff pieces. I still love these bloggers, I still check in daily, but something's missing. And yet, I understand the compulsion to withdraw because it's hard to write so personally in public because society has told us to hide our real feelings and pretend like everything is okay, which is good advice, to a point, because it would be pretty awful if all of us were always walking around telling everyone our dirty secrets and true feelings. Everyone would hate everyone. But sometimes it's nice to hear that other people are struggling, isn't it? It makes us feel better about our own fucked-upness and, if the writer is honest and raw, maybe even prompts a little self-reflection that, in turn, inspires us to change our ways. Or try, anyway.

Marriages are filled with ups and downs. It's hard work, man. I actually think being married is harder than parenting. I really do. I know others would disagree but Serge said something the other day that rings so true. Walls naturally erect themselves between two people. They just do. I used to think it was the couple who built the walls. They don't. That's what's so sneaky! You aren't actively working to build a wall in your marriage, it happens when you aren't paying attention or even when you are paying attention but are just too damn tired by life to tear it down.

The hard work of marriage comes from constantly attempting to break down those motherhumping walls. Kicking through them and removing the rubble in any way you can so that you maintain communication. If you don't, the walls keep building themselves. The longer you wait to tear them down the harder it will be. You go on autopilot and just live enough to get through your day and go to bed and before you know it the wall is so goddamn big you can't even find the person you once called your soul mate. Every day you've got to do something. Even just reaching out to hold your lover's hand for a second or two. That small act right there punches a hole in the wall big enough to call their name and tell them that even though they can't see you you're still here and looking for them. I'm still here! I know you can't see me because of this big ass wall but I'm here! Don't go away, I'm looking for you! I'm trying, I'm trying.

Serge and I have a hard time. A lot. We are in a weird place right now. It's nothing alarming. But even as I write that I think it is kind of alarming, if something can be said to be kind of alarming. Yet it's nothing out of the ordinary. Just a normal downturn in the ebb and flow of a marriage. And I think that's key - realizing that marriage has ups and downs and the downs aren't anything to panic about. The downs are when you really need to roll up your sleeves and make shit happen. Start scratching at that fucking wall, yo! Now. Before it's too late and you lose each other. That's how marriages survive. Thus far in this downturn both Serge and I have been making halfhearted attempts at making it better. Shouting at each other through the wall occasionally, checking to make sure the other one is still there and that's been about the extent of it. But that's done. This post is me rolling up my sleeves and publicly announcing that I want to make it better.

These past few months I have been desperately clinging to the things about Serge that annoy me instead of focusing on the good stuff. Even writing that sentence makes me mad because then Serge responds with something like "See, I AM a good guy and you just focus on the negative!" which is true, but in acknowledging that I do focus on the negative I lose the battle of trying to get him to change the things that bother me. I'm having a hard time with that. But I am increasingly aware of the fact that I won't be able to change those things and my unwillingness to accept them is tantamount to me mortaring the bricks of the wall between us.

What are the things that bother me? They sound silly now when attempting to write about them (And that's why I need to write about them! To gain perspective!) but when they are a part of your everyday life over and over and over again they mean everything. Here's one. He's an angry driver. He must analyze everyone else on the road. "What's this asshole doing? Look at this idiot! Why's he stopping, why's he stopping!" It's enough to make me not want to go places with him. But is it really a big deal? No. But yes! It's the little things that make up a marriage, isn't it? Or am I just a difficult-to-please asshole? A little of both, is my guess.

And there it is, I suppose. Marriage. The little things add up, bricks and bricks and bricks and then you've got one big ass wall to tear down. So hand me a shovel, wouldja? I'll use it on the wall this time, I promise.

Reader Comments (63)

These posts always make me reflect on my own marriage. You aren't the only one. I get mad when my husband doesn't pull the blankets back up after he gets up for the morning. How can he be so thoughtless as to let the cold air in around me? See how petty that sounds? You go girl for admitting you hit that car with a shovel!!

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWendi

You're real. And people appreciate it more than you know. Which is why you've amassed such a following. I really like your analogy. My marriage recently suffered this wall you're talking about...but rather than reach out to tear it down, he cheated. It's the most painful thing I've ever dealt with, and yet, I'm learning. It takes 2. It always takes 2. As much as we don't want to blame ourselves, we can all be selfish jerks. I hope things start looking up for you guys. You've a beautiful family. Love from New Zealand.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterB

Dude, people who don't fight in their marriages have a much bigger problem than do those of us who do fight in our marriages! Living and making a life with another adult sovereign being is really hard.

I love the shovel story.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Monica, I love your writing, and I completely get how hard it must be to write about reality for all to see, especially those who are closest to you. I just want to say how brave you are, and I love your honesty and dysfunction. People who don't hit cars aren't necessarily any less dysfunctional; they are either in denial or drowning in their own passive aggressiveness. The take home point is that just because people don't talk about it doesn't mean it isn't there. Your blog is so captivating because of its truth, yo. I strive to be more honest and open like this in my own life; like you said, getting it out there is what helps us gain perspective and move past it! We have to feel everything first before we can grow. You and Serge are awesome, and clearly have a solid foundation and commitment that is rare today. I so admire how you encourage each other's creativity and expression. Y'all will get through it and appreciate the lovey dovey times all the more for the tough work that got you there.

Thank you!

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbeth

I have been reading your blog for a long time. Just several months ago, I was inspired by your writing and others to begin my own blog journey. I completely understand what you mean about laying it all out there for the public to critique. I've had an incident in my life that I fully intended to tell "my side" of the story on. I tried to do that in my blog, as a healing technique maybe to get it all off my chest, but I don't feel that it came out crystal clear. I suppose I will keep trying to work on my blogging skills. I really enjoy reading your stories about the kids and your husband. It's good to know there are other REAL couples out there, who do argue over minor things. Keep at it! :) Thanks for sharing!

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

was just discussing how hard marriage can be with a friend yesterday...and she said that one thing that helped her was, when she wanted to sock her husband in the nose, she would go into a room with paper and pen and write "what do i need right now that *i* am not giving myself?" and make a list. she said sometimes the answer was just "a break". she said it takes the focus off of what he is doing wrong. i liked that idea and i'm going to try it in those times (there have been many lately) when i am so frustrated with what i am not getting from him, or all the ways i want to change him (how can i change thee? o, let me count the ways...)

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra

Last night as I was picking up Ken's socks that he always just leaves EVERYWHERE, I pictured my carefree independent self living alone again, and never having to pick up the cursed socks of the man who was still at work at 9:00 last night while I handled the 3 year old all by myself!! I mean for fuck's sake. I work 40 hours a week. He has an excuse to be be a pig because he works 60? And then I took a breath and did the typical woman thing and called myself an asshole. But don't worry. It will come up in an argument 8 months from now and he'll pay!

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKelli

You know--even though the comments are *already* turning into a "people who don't fight are screwed up, passive aggressive liars" party (impressively fast, and always so fun! weee) I just want to say that I can hear your sincerity loud and clear in this post, and it really speaks to me. I feel like saying it like this, writing it like this, is exactly the right approach. Straightforward, introspective. "This is how it is. This is how I am. This is how we are. I'm just trying to to figure things out." There's nothing more human than that.

You're two people, struggling as people do, trying to sort things out. And I know public blogging can make that process more difficult, but I really hope this kind of reflective, earnest sincerity will keep the trolls to a minimum, and wind up being something helpful and maybe even healing.

Rooting for you.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterProps

You're an incredible writer. This came across perfectly.

He may not be perfect, but whats worse, living with his imperfections, or living without them, meaning, without him? Because remember, he's living with your imperfections too. - My mom always says this to me when things are rocky with my boyfriend of over 5 years and I (we been living together that whole time too, stressful!).

Relationships take compromise, and talking...a lot of talking. The last rouch patch my boyfriend and I had was I guess 2 years ago (and man was it rough!) But we worked...hard. We wanted this, we worked hard for this. People can "change" but only if you work together, and want it.

I used to be a seriously jealous person, very insecure and had trust issues. My boyfriend has a very flirty personality. This did not bode well, especially if we were out drinking. We realized how big of an issue it was and made a plan together. We figured out what we both needed to be happy, without trying to change who we each fundamentally were. He likes who he is, he likes being social and flirty and joking around. And I like that about him too. I don't like the feeling of jealousy, so it was something about myself that I wanted to change. Not just for him, but for myself. It took a lot of work, not just alone, but with a therapist, and I've been able to learn to trust again. He also became more aware of the things that bothered me, and made some changes to his actions, that didn't compromise who he was, but made me feel better, and by him doing that it helped me trust him more. Now we're more in love and happier than we've ever been, and it was worth it. But we worked hard for it.

If Serge being an angry driver is something that bothers you, you need to figure out why? Is it because his attitude radiates off of him, and infects the rest of the family? Is it because you don't want your kids seeing him react to strangers that way? Once you figure out why it bothers you, than you can address that issue directly. It's easier to say (calmly, when you're not in the middle of a fight) "look, it really affects me *this way* when you act *like this*" rather than "Ahhhh you drive me crazy I'm not going anywhere with you!" And then Serge would either say "I'm sorry you feel that way, but I honestly can't curb my reaction, its innate"...or something... instead of saying "You're crazy, get in the fucking car". Once you can discuss the issue together, and know why each other acts the way they do, its easier to work through it.

Its clear you guys love each other, and want to work for this!! You will be successful!!

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

Oh, PS: I've also noticed that shift in blogging "tone" all over the internet in the past year or so...and you're right, it does make things seem dry and generic and excessively cautious. Still, I think it's a stage, and one that will pass because of people like you. The internet itself is still so young, and blogging on a massive scale just became an accepted medium only in the last decade. More and more people are casually blogging, to the point that it's not an anomaly anymore, it's damn near normalized. And since the line between "online" and "offline" has become so blurred, I think we're all becoming more aware of how easy it is for people in our personal lives (jobs, friends, family, etc) to see our words, and for those words to misinterpreted or used out of context, which is where the added degree of caution comes in. That said, I'm pretty sure we'll eventually get bored and frustrated with that, as you've described. I think we just have to become better communicators--learning how to be honest without veering into "TMI" or trainwreck category. In the end, authenticity is always more attractive and has more emotional resonance, so I suspect the brave bloggers who choose that route are the ones who will last for years to come.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterProps

I'll tell you the thing my husband does that annoys the fucking piss out of me: He'll ask me a question, I'll answer the question and then he'll ask me the question again to confirm.

For example:
Him: "Did you feed the cat?"
Me: "Yes"
Him: "You did?"
Me: "Holy shit, really?"

Him: "Did you feed the kids breakfast already?"
Me: "Sure did"
Him: "You fed them?"
Me: "I will punch you"

I seriously. can't. fucking. stand. this. If I let myself think about how much this pisses me off and start counting how many times he does this in a day, by the end of the day I'm ready to file for divorce. I don't want to get romantic after the kids are in bed, I don't even want him near me. I can't even talk to him. So, yeah, I hear you about the stupid things having the potential to ruin a marriage.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

There are so many parts of this post I completely identify with, but I'll focus on the marriage stuff. I hear you about feeling like you focus on the negative, and having things that seem relatively minor get to you in a big way, until they really affect things, like making you not want to go places with him. There are things about my husband that I have not accepted, that I honestly fear that I cannot accept, and I fear that I am going to, via nagging and crankiness about stuff that will NEVER change, basically eat up my marriage one bite at a time. Most of the things seem like they should be relatively minor - eating with his mouth open, for example. I know I've got to get to acceptance about it, but it seems impossible sometimes. And what then? What if I never accept that the man will never chew with his mouth closed? I'm not going to get divorced over it - I can only imagine explaining to our families and children, "Well you see, table manners are VERY important to me, so I've blown up all of our lives." But how do I make myself not cringe at the open-mouth eating sounds? What I wouldn't give to just not care about it at all. Anyway, my point is, I hear you about feel like you are focusing on the negative, and about having small things get to you.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

Oh Monica, I love reading your blog because I honestly like you. I find I sometimes read blogs of people I don't think I would like much if they lived next door. Not you though. I think we would be friends (and I'm a picky introverted bitch most of the time - except not the bitch part when I love people). Anyway, I have been marrried for four years and together with my husband for almost 11. Sometimes I just don't think we are meant to be monogamous forever. I mean everyone, not just us. But damn if I am ever willing to give him up. Like you, I have a fairytale love story (not quite as rock n roll, but still), a husband all my friends adore, etc. For me, the part I hate is that we just don't want to have sex as much anymore. I miss that and I am working on it. Like you, I will continue to work on it and anyone who says a good relationship shouldn't take work can bite me. Whether you are explosive fighters or seething in silence, relationships are hard work. Like Julianne Moore says in "The Kids are Alright": "It's a fucking marathon." Or something to that effect.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlice

THIS is why you are a badass. And you're making me feel braver by the second. So, you know, thanks.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersweetney

I feel like there is so much I should be saying right now, but I'm just too damn exhausted with my current mess of a life. Let me just say I hear ya sista!

p.s. I've always been totally impressed and a little jealous of how you seem to do the whole balancing act of what to share/what not to share/what tone to use when sharing. Brava!

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterD

I don't think people judge you for having a marriage where you argue Monica - I think people get upset when you make judgmental comments about others for not having the same marriage that you and Serge have. Everyone is allowed their own experience, each experience is different, one isn't worse or better than the other. No one can say that marriage is x, or y, or z. It is all of those things in different combinations for different folks. You work through your stuff, let other people work through their stuff, and maybe we can all just support each other through it instead of comparing and calling names.

That said - I truly believe the most important part of making any relationship work is trying to be as introspective as possible even when you just want to lash out (or after lashing out). You do SO much of that, and I really commend you for it. It is something I try to do too, and it is so hard to really look at yourself and figure out what to do sometimes, or to accept things as they are, or to see things as they are and decide what to do in the future. But doing it provides so many benefits, and I think you are inspiring others to do it too!

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

I think that old adage that when you know better, you do better is a crock of shit when it comes to marriage. Clearly, most of us know what we are doing that causes friction or tension or arguments or whatever. We keep doing those same things because we get something from it, and because change is hard, and because we aren't that motivated to start with. So I guess you have to A) figure out what you get from focusing on the negative (righteous indignation? Some kind, any kind, of strong emotion? Justification for the other, bigger things you are really mad about? I don't know, just examples), then B) make a real commitment to change, which you have done in this post, but maybe be even more specific in a less public format by maybe writing down specific plans/steps you can implement to make the change real, and C) remind yourself why it's worth doing the work. It sounds like a weekend away, just the two of you, might help in that department.

(I've been married for 17 years and have four kids, in case you want my qualifications.)

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristy

Monica- Please. Stop being so damn likeable. You are so much me, and yet, so not like me at all.

I found your blog a while back during a crazy blog adding frenzy, and honestly, yours is one of my favorites. While I've never uttered a word (though I have thought about it), I've adored getting to know you through your blog. This entry, this one hit a place inside me that needed to be hit.

This part "The hard work of marriage comes from constantly attempting to break down those motherhumping walls. Kicking through them and removing the rubble in any way you can so that you maintain communication. If you don't, the walls keep building themselves. The longer you wait to tear them down the harder it will be. You go on autopilot and just live enough to get through your day and go to bed and before you know it the wall is so goddamn big you can't even find the person you once called your soul mate. Every day you've got to do something. Even just reaching out to hold your lover's hand for a second or two. That small act right there punches a hole in the wall big enough to call their name and tell them that even though they can't see you you're still here and looking for them. I'm still here! I know you can't see me because of this big ass wall but I'm here! Don't go away, I'm looking for you! I'm trying, I'm trying."

JESUS! Get out of my head. So much so that I sent it to my other half and told him I loved him, just in case he needed reminding.

And then, since you linked to it, I sat and read every bit of your "How you met" story while I'm at work (shh), and I laughed and I got teary and I LOVED every second of it. So, thanks. Thanks for reminding me that even though shit ain't perfect, and you sometimes have to act like you like your significant other a HELL of a lot more than you actually DO, you never, ever, EVER stop believing and trying. Love rules. And sometimes makes us go batshit insane, but, still, it rules.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKyleigh

Thank you so much for this - for being open and honest while so many other bloggers have effectively shut the gates. I love cute pictures and funny stories about a crazy rambunctious toddler as much as the next girl, but that's not what draws me into someone and makes me a devoted reader. So many of us struggle in our marriages but don't know how to make it right; don't know where the line is between being forgiving and accepting and being a human doormat, keeping quiet to keep the peace and swallowing the little hurts because we're afraid the confrontation will hurt worse. It's so helpful to know that there are other people out there who are passionately in love (anyone with a pulse could tell that you are Serge are in love) but still navigating the bumpy road to a "happily ever after" marriage.

Seriously, blog about sausage and cake mix and whatever else keeps a roof over your head. Keep posting links to babble, I'll keep clicking. Just keep this stuff coming. You're helping more people than you can imagine.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

Recently I've found myself becoming incredibly annoyed with my partner because of his tendency to CARE so much about others. Once, he was voicing concern about one of our mutual friends, and I just snapped at him, saying he needed to let other people deal with their own shit. How did I get to the point where this was my issue with him?

That wall is a motherfucker, man.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterashley

The arguing thing is a weird balance. I think everybody argues and it's normal, but it's true that there's a limit to what's normal. I had a friend who was in a bad marriage and she was forever trying to get the rest of us to 'confess' the things that were shitty in our relationships - she was convinced we were holding out on her, not being honest about our lives. And we were being honest, we just happened to have healthy relationships and hers was particularly dramatic and unhealthy. That marriage ended, to nobody's surprise (except for hers). She couldn't see the line between 'normal' and 'unhealthy'.
But I hear ya on the blogging thing. My favourite blogs have gone down the tubes one by one, either they get sponsorship and the 'tone' changes or they become more popular and don't want to expose themselves to as many people. I understand why, but it makes them less interesting to me.

Anyway, I don't want to bring you down but I do worry about you a little bit. You have been posting a lot about your marriage in recent months, interspersed with posts about how amazing your husband is which to me sounds like you're trying to convince yourself just as much as us. Rare is the marriage that couldn't be helped with some therapy. Have you considered it? It sounds like you two have some communication issues and many marriages have fallen apart that could have been helped with a little perspective and advice from a professional. I'd hate to see that happen to you.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLola

Also, just a bit of advice from someone who grew up in a home which sounds similar to the one you and Serge are creating for your children: If in fact, you DID kick your husband out of the house and went after him with a shovel, please know that although they are small, that is not good for your children. Kids absorb that stuff like sponges. My earliest memories are of my parents and their regular, loud and angry fall outs and though they never hit each other, there was certainly violence of other sorts. (hitting other things, breaking things, and very loud and angry shouting).
It's a stressful environment for kids and I did spend a lot of time in therapy sorting myself out thanks to my volatile home setting.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLola

@Lola - We don't fight in front of the kids. They were asleep for the shovel incident. But I get your point. Oh. And Serge IS amazing. That's why I write about it. But we also fight. That's how it goes.

December 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterMonica

Whew, girl-- watch that shovel... I, too, find the mundane musings that are in most blogs now a little boring but you have a very valid point about the 'hot mess' aspect of writing too much. I think the reason the readers dig your blog is because your entries are heart-felt, honest, and very well-written. More often than not, people can truly relate to what you're writing about.

I think there's a fine balance, though, between purging your problems (I don't think you do it, but for those that do--- well, they've gone too far) and keepin' it real. Personally, I think the -purge- should occur during a therapist's session. I also think that you're wise to take into account wee Violet and Henry (The Wees!). They deserve some privacy, and it's totally up to you to decide how much.

I'm sure you'll make the right decision. If you're in doubt, I think you should hold back, and keep the really intense stuff private.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

So I am really sad right now, because I just chose to end my second marriage a month ago. It was a complicated thing, with kids from each of our previous marriages living with us full time. And 95%+ of the time it was still great. But I actually feel better about breaking things off after reading how hard other people think keeping the wall at bay is with all the accumulated mundane stuff. Because the issue that finally broke us wasn't minor - him going back to sometimes drinking heavily to deal with the all the stressful crap. But the thing is that he is mean when he's drunk. And would wait until his kids were at their mom's, but mine was home (usually asleep but still) So when I finally got angry and told him to stop chain smoking in the house and to cool with his bottle of rum and he yelled at me that I am a crazy-ass cunt douchbag whore I decided that had to be the end of the line. It was far from the first time that had happened. Like Lola's comment above - I just couln't put my daughter in the position anymore of growing up in a home where a husband would think it is ok to do that. And I was becoming volatile too, slamming the door so hard that the door cracked. The thing that is the struggle is knowing that all the good things about him are still true, and I miss him. So - complicated.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

This is the best post I've read anywhere in a long time. So true, so true. Thank you for sharing this. It's the question I always ask myself, "Am I being the jerk? Is this worth getting upset over..."

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

Been there, done that. Your post is perfect. You just described every real marriage. Its a give and take, an ebb and flow. You have to suffer the ebb to appreciate the flow.

I make marriage sound like a period. Awesome.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Debbie=. I am feeling your pain right now...virtually the same situation with the father of my daughter...15 years ago. But what you wrote made it feel like yesterday. No, there is nothing worse than sitting alone at night with your child in another room thinking 'should I stay or should I go?" But you will move beyond this for your child. And you can get past the humiliation and fear. For the sake of your child and yourself. You will be in my thoughts... And, Monica, thanks for giving us a space to feel and breathe.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

This post was amazing. All of the blogs I read are so watered down now, but I get it. So thankful that you don't do that, though. Yours always make me think and cringe (at myself). I've been married for 16 years, and when we fight? I sound like I'm in middle school. It's horrific. I make fun of his VOICE, or tone or whatever. Like little kids do. My 12 year old daughter was actually home one time when we had one of these fights (she usually doesn't witness them, but certainly has seen her fair share) and she heard me and tried to clamp her hand over her mouth as she LAUGHED OUT LOUD at my immaturity. Then we all laughed. But god, humiliating in retrospect? I fight vicious. Not all the time or anything, but when things build up , a couple of times a year. We don't have a perfect marriage, but we have a good one, and I would never want it to go away. I'd fight for it, and change for it. I should.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkds

You are very real in sharing this. I refuse to believe that every marriage is perfect. Every marriage has its ups and downs and yes sometimes there are huge walls that are built up. That is life and we all have our own ways of handling them. This post is perfect.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMya Maternity

Phew! Monica, just -- incredible. I felt quite emotional after reading this post. What you said about "the wall" was so well explained and utterly true. I know exactly what you mean because I'm going through it too with my own marriage. Living like roommates, most of the time. Groundhog Day every morning. Love each other, but also irritate the hell out of each other... a lot. And yet we've been married for many years. Our children are grown. You'd think we would know better by now, through all the usual ups and downs.
Your honesty has jolted me into wanting to break through that wall.
So -- you two hang in there, ok? You and your family have a whole world of friends out here who truly care about you!

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTamsin

Monica, I beg of you -- please keep being you and kicking ass, or stop writing altogether. Do not become Dooce. (No offense to the lovely Heather, it is impossible to write anything sounding natural when you've got a multi-million member audience, but still, look at her old writing vs. today, and the difference is striking.) You are awesome. I love each and every post, because it reads like your thoughts. Just, love. Good luck. Keep being you.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin

didn't Farah Faucett take a hammer to the garage door windows? I would bet ANY amount of money there was a full moon involved, Monica. NEVER underestimate the power of those moonbeams on a person's mind and subsequent emotions and actions. I am a firm believer in the tidal effects of the moon as it pertains to the emo-tides...the ebb and flow of marriage. Blsme it on the moon...I loved this post. Especially that part about reaching out quietly. Looking for someone you may have pushed away...reminds me of the Song of Solomon. I guess misery is a common thread in the tapestry of marital life. I wrote a poem once called Porch Swing Rhythm which kind of reminds me of your life..."Minding our own, making it rhyme, it's all coming out, there's dust in the draught..but the rain comes in time."

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergina

thank you for your honesty. I think it's hard for people to talk about the hard parts because love is so romanticized and looks easy in the movies. Sometimes I feel like there's something wrong with me or I'm missing out on something when I don't feel enamored every day. I'm not married, but have been in a relationship for 5 years and some days the last thing I want to do is spend time with my boyfriend, and not because we're in some big fight, just something totally stupid like the way he's eating or the lame things he's talking about. But I know that when that wall gets torn down, it's completely worth the effort.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha

Just because they don't fight, it doesn't mean that everything's alright in "other's" marriages. And the metaphore of the wall is SOOOO true, I really liked it and I'll keep it in mind from now on. We're not big fighters, me and my husband, but we're great "I will never ever talk to you again" people. When something bothers one of us, we just mutter a few words against the other, and then we stop talking, since the rage calmes down. When we're rational again, we start talking, and start to "punch the wall". This "mute" period can last 2 or 3 days, and I hate it, but I'm not able to scream (I end up in tears in 30 seconds, when I'm angry) and I can't stand when someone is screaming at me (I start weeping in this case too) so this is OUR way. Sometimes I think that screaming a bit would help to make me feel better, but I simply can't (my mother screamed a lot to me and my father when I was a child, I was scared and I never reacted 'cause I didn't want her to get angrier).
There are a lot of things that I can stand in him: he gets angry when driving too. I prefer to drive myself when we go somewhere together, and he prefers it too, 'cause he can't stand me when I tell him to calm down.
He's a work-a-holic and I'm alone in charge of the kids after work. I work 40 hours a week, and he works like 60 or 70. He comes home at 8-9 pm, when the kids are almost or already in bed. Ah, and when the little one wakes up at 3 am for the bottle, I'm in charge for that too. He simply doesn't hear her screaming.
I could go on, and on, and on... but... if we're not the first to try to analyse our behavior, and to try to change, walls keep growing, and nobody does a shit to break'em down. I really like your honesty, but I'm also aware of the problems that being so open can bring. Tell us about your marriage if you feel that this can help you, but don't do it for the sake of honesty. I really appreciate you, your style, your way to look at life with a funny and witty humour, your courage in talking about your personal life in your blog; I really appreciate your Babble's posts too, so I'm not judging you if you're writing (or not writing) openly about some things. In both cases it won't change the good opinion I have of you.
oh, and one last thing: even if you think that your children are sleeping, or that they are in another room and can't hear you fight, know that sometimes children seem asleep, or seem to be in another room. Just a little advice from a little girl hidden behind the door listening while her parents fought. They never found out.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSerena from Italy

I do enjoy reading the honest posts. But once again, being a single woman, I don't know how to relate whatsoever. What I take away from this post is "wow, I couldn't do it!" So I admire you for sticking to it.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I'm not going to comment on your marriage, or your fighting within it or for it, but I will say, yes. I used to write a honest blog. And in the last year, when I felt I could no longer be honest online, I shut down my blog. I stopped sharing my stuff. I now send emails and text messages that only vaguely refer to the huge things I wish I could be talking about.

I think, I believe, people would benefit from my honesty. But I am no longer willing to put myself and my family out there. At times I have felt relief, sadness, gratitude, and a range of other emotions. I never felt alone when I blogged because I would get a lot of yes, me too. Although my life is incredibly typical, I don't have that connection anymore, that affirmation of me, too. I have a few trusted friends, far scattered, with busy lives and no time to talk and those are the only people I trust. It's hard either way. It's hard to have an audience and it's hard not to have a network.

You get criticism because you tell your truth, but you also get support. I wonder - I have gotten, I get, not criticism, but censure. Friends have opinions like blog readers do. Pick one to confide in and you get YES me too. Pick another and you get the text message version of a headshake. What's better? 15 detractors and 20 supporters or one supporter and one who thinks you are doing something wrong? One person can crush you - or 20 can validate. It's a toss up, right?

So, you're correct, we stopped telling the truth. Some of us stopped telling all together. You keep on telling, okay? :-)

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz aka EDW

You are appreciated here. Thanks for the honest ramblings. And yes, me too. My husband rages at other drivers; being the youngest of a large group of siblings, he's always eating fast and then wants to eat everyone else's left-overs when we eat out; and so much more. But bottom line - I love him and he has a great heart.

We fight. I'm usually silent or restrained UNTIL there's a more opportune time to discuss things ... and we're usually able to come to an understanding. That doesn't mean the behaviors/issues cease. But to be able to discuss and communicate is important.

I'm also not perfect. But it's about balance. And you seem to be balancing as best as anyone. It's a constant balancing act.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPam

This is not a specific comment to Monica-just my comment about the whole full disclosure thing in general.

I think that if you want to be honest and "real" you will write what you are comfortable writing. If you are trying too hard to be real, it comes off as fake. Know what I mean?

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

Just putting this out there as a possible reason certain blogs become more vague/sanitized over time: People's kids get older. The kids read. Their friends read. What their friends (and anyone else they might come into contact with) think becomes VERY important to them. And so, as a parent, there is an obligation to dial it down and not create embarrassment/mortification/humiliation for your kids. The whole, "Hey, I'm just being me. Telling the truth. Get over it," thing doesn't go very far with kids once they reach about age 9. Once their adults, I'd say, you can lay it all out there again and then you're the cool empty-nester or grandma or crone. But it's that in-between time that's tricky. It's hard enough for the kids and for you when they hit "the wonder years." A tell-it-all blog sure doesn't help.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBEllen

What is Serge doing that warrants shovels on the car, cops being called, etc.?

Short of infidelity/physical/emotional abuse, these seem like extreme reactions to an outsider without the whole story.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterToby

wow, lots of food for thought in that blog!
i guess i am the complete opposite of you in this respect. whilst i'm very open and honest with my husband, friends and family about pretty much anything that is going on in my life, i can't bring myself to tell anyone when i have a fight with my husband. not even when we were dating. i'd had so many "relationships" where i couldn't tell the guy anything, and would end up spending hours with my girlfriends dissecting every word, every move, every situation. i was like the guy himself was so unavailable to me that i needed a proxy. once i realized things with my husband were for keeps, i completely shut up. i tried mentioning a few vague situations in conversations with close friends, and ultimately people just wouldn't get it, they would paint him as a monster because they love me and they take my side, and i would end up feeling like i disrespected my husband's privacy (even if i had cleared it with him before talking to anyone else).
there's a tradition in judaism where the bride circles the groom seven times during their wedding ceremony, to create a "wall" that separates the two of them from the rest of the world. that wall is the first inkling of the home they'll build together, and the intimacy that only the two of them will share. i guess that is the way we approach our marriage: nobody else's opinions or judgments are allowed into it.
i truly believe this is the best way for us, even though i know it can be lonely for me (i'm sure for both of us) sometimes because i have no one to say "me too"! do you think your blogging affects your relationship dynamic in any way? do you ever catch yourself thinking "this is going on the blog" in the middle of a situation? does serge have any opinions about sharing these things with strangers? it is a very interesting topic.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranother monica

That would be *they're* not *their*. Ugh.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBEllen

Even the best marriages can have the worst moments. Kids, life, finances, moods, chores, impatience. All of it compounded equals occasional explosions. Especially with passionate people.

I'm pretty laid back. But during a move to another state a few years ago, we carted this giant dresser inside. Somewhere along the path to the bedroom I decided I didn't like the dresser anymore and told my husband to set it on the curb for someone else. He looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "It's a perfectly good dresser" he said and then ignored me. I marched down the stairs and grabbed a hammer. I went back upstairs and beat the heck out of the dresser. When I stopped he said "It is looking a little rough, I'll take it to the curb."

We can laugh about it now, but then....not so much.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCassie

@anothermonica's strategy has worked very well for me. Once I realized by partner and I were "for keeps," I didn't tell my friends about our personal issues. We're lucky in that we very rarely have big dramatic arguments and don't call each other names. Of course we argue - but, if I told my friends about every little argument we had, they'd surely believe he was horrible as they're MY friends and would take my side. And he's not horrible and neither am I. That's why we try our hardest to work out any problems we have between us and not involve others. While of course I'll listen to my friends that want to talk about their relationship issues, I'll usually say "I'm here to listen and support you, but if you really want some kind of remedy to this, you need to talk to him!"

Obviously everyone is different and has their own journey. Growing up, my parents had horrible screaming fights with each other (and still do sometimes) yet they've been married for over 30 years and wouldn't even think about splitting. They truly do love each other very much. They're dynamic just includes a lot of yelling and that's something I've had to come to terms with. I don't think I could ever yell and scream at my partner just because I lived with it and hated it growing up.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I second Toby's question. Repeatedly hitting the car that your husband is sitting in with a shovel seems extreme. If Serge wrote about doing the same thing do you think people would be blowing smoke up his ass about how "honest" and "brave" he is to write about it? You've written in the past about cops coming to the house while you guys were fighting. Again, seems extreme. If you're going to write about the conclusion--bashing cars, cops at the house, it would be helpful to understand what led there.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRML

I came to your blog via Babble's list and this is the first post I read and I am now a sniffling, crying mess at my desk.

Thank you. :)

Your description of the marriage wall and the little things you can do to punch holes in it really got to me. It's so very apt. I would be a lot more articulate if I wasn't trying to type while wiping snot from my nose, but I'll just say "thank you" again.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

@ Toby - What Serge is doing that warrants a shovel thrashing is his story to tell, not mine. So you can surmise what you will about whether or not my reaction was warranted.

@RML - I don't need to write anything that would be "helpful" to your understanding of my marriage. I write what I write and you can draw whatever assumptions you choose. Perhaps I am batshit insane. Perhaps Serge is an epic douchebag. Maybe both. Maybe neither. Whatever.

December 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMonica

But you're the one that seemingly justified the thrashing of a car hood as part of the normal ups & downs of marriagehood. I was just curious as to why you would let out that tidbit but not what led up to it? Is it because you're afraid that whatever led up to it really isn't justifiable?

I guess I just don't get the point of this specific post then. Seems you want to say stuff, but at the same time you don't want to say stuff. But TS if the stuff you say leaves the reader scratching their heads?!?!

Sorry, didn't mean any harm. Just trying to suss out....ah nevermind.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterToby

But that's the beauty of a blog, Toby. I can kind of say stuff or not say stuff or totally just say stuff and even try and say stuff and completely fail. For what it's worth, sometimes I think "Fuck yes, I slammed that hood with a shovel and I'd do it again!" and other times I am totally ashamed of what a nutcase I am. No harm. Debate is healthy. But watch out, if you get too feisty I may come after you with a shovel.


December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who

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