Season 2 Episode 3: Great Dads, Low Standards

Have you seen Ali Wong’s Netflix special?

You haven’t? Well, let me tell you… It’s a treat. And it’s also what sparked this topic about how to be a great dad.

Lucky for all you dads out there, the steps are pretty simple:

  1. Get someone pregnant.
  2. Go to a few doctors appointments.
  3. Make dad jokes.
  4. That’s it.
  5. You’re done.
  6. You’re now officially a Great Dad!

Obviously we’re kidding.

Kinda.

But really, in this episode we talk a lot about the low threshold dads seem to have when it comes to being considered a great dad.

I mean, viral YouTube videos get passed around when they so much as show an interest in learning how to braid their daughter’s hair. (and yes, we realize this is really sweet but it’s also laughable; don’t come at us.)

But when a mother isn’t able to seamlessly juggle career, motherhood, and “wifely duties,” she’s a failure?

The amount of times I (Melissa) have felt frazzled because I was rushing between school, work, and home in order to do it all is… countless. And the amount of times I’ve beat myself up because I would forget one packed lunch or paying one bill is also countless.

And as for Shawn? The same “mistake” never seems to phase him, somehow life still moves on when he forgets to take the trash out or misses a doctors appointment.

And maybe the trick is that we don’t need to bring them up to standards but lower ourselves to theirs.

There’s always a certain amount of anxiety in a relationship. And the more it ends up on you, the less the other person has to carry it.

A trick Marie picked up in while doing marriage coaching was that your partner will naturally pick up the slack if you just let them.

Hear me out on this. I know it sounds a little far-fetched, but it’s true.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s an example:

During my 2L fall semester of law school, my schedule on Mondays and Wednesdays used to look like this:

5am: wake up + get ready
6am: make breakfast + pack lunches + prep/cook dinner
7am: drop Shawn off at work and head to school
7am-8:30am: sit in freaking traffic
9am-5pm: school
5pm-6:30/pm: sit in freaking traffic

And for some ungodly reason, I still felt the need to be the one to cook dinner (even though I was getting home almost 3 hours after Shawn was.)

It’s like it didn’t even occur to me that “hey, he could make dinner while you’re stuck in Atlanta rush-hour traffic!” And it’s not that Shawn told me that I had to be the one to make dinner on those nights or that making dinner was only my responsibility.

I just chose to pick up that anxiety and hold on to it for dear life.

And for the first 2 months of that semester, I tried to fanagle ways so that dinner would already be prepped for us.

I did crockpot meals (one time we I left it on too long and it somehow got moldy?)

I tried meal prepping on Sundays.

I cooked it in the morning (as well as our breakfast AND packed our lunches).

But it never failed! I still held so much stress and anxiety about dinner and making it home in time to prepare it on Monday and Wednesday nights.

But eventually, I just let it go. I stopped worrying, prepping, and trying to find ways to not get Shawn involved.

I started just winging it, sometimes just swinging by Chick-Fil-A before coming home.

And after awhile, do you know what happened?

I came home to cooked dinners. He picked up his share of the “anxiety” and did the dang thing.

So like Marie says, maybe the trick isn’t trying to convince them to care more or put in as much effort as we do. Trying to force them into doing or being something they aren’t isn’t going to fix the problem.

Maybe the trick is that we need to stop giving them the option to let the “anxiety” sit. Maybe we need to stop picking it up (the clothes, dishes, anxiety, milk on the way home, etc).

Much like our ancestors, the cavemen, our brains just want to do what it takes to survive. They weren’t carving the fanciest sticks, they were carving the sticks that got the job done.

Men, for the most part, are simply doing what it takes to survive. And if you’re covering all the bases for the entire time, there’s really not much else for him to do but to sit back.

Next time you’re feeling like the load is a little lopsided, consider the fact that your spouse is only doing the bare minimum because they know you’re there to hold the rest of it.

And when you remember that, pull an Elsa and let it the f*ck go.

Marriage Boredom

Today is January 29th, 2018, and today is my husband’s birthday today. Shawn and I have been married for a little over 3 months now, so I can safely say that I’m still in the rose-colored glasses phases. Like, even when he’s pooping with the door open I still think he’s the cat’s meow. I love him. I still gush about him to my mom and I follow him around everywhere. He’s my favorite person in the entire world. Seriously.

But, last night, something happened that made me realize that this really fun and loving feeling doesn’t last forever. Not naturally.

We went out to eat for Shawn’s birthday with his family living in Alpharetta, GA last night. It was a really fancy steak-house in the middle of Avalon, the high-end shopping center. Oaks Steakhouse was magical. It has a beautiful interior, with a very woodsman-feeling to it. It just smelled expensive in there, and I hadn’t even looked at the menu yet.

Once we were all seated, I saw that each steak was around (or above) $60. This was literally the fanciest place I had ever been in my entire life, I didn’t know what we had done to deserve this. But I was excited and seriously so grateful that Uncle John was footing the bill.

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Everything about Oaks Steakhouse was perfect. The servers were really kind, the beer was delicious, and the food… There aren’t enough words to describe how great the food was. Once I started to eat, I was just obsessed. I didn’t pay attention to the conversation around me. I mean, I barely even said two words to Shawn at that point. I was enthralled. It was legitimately the best food I had ever tasted in my entire life. I really think that I’ll talk about this restaurant to everyone I meet if they ever ask me for a recommendation for a special event. On the way home, Shawn and I left G+ reviews. I mean it when I say we are obsessed.

However, while I’m sitting there having my mind blown by the perfect of their brussle sprouts, another family comes in and sits close to us. It’s a mom, dad, daughter, and son. Nothing terribly special. The son, however, is wearing a hoodie and blue jeans. Shawn and I aren’t ones to usually dress up for things. If he could, he would’ve worn gym-shorts and Chacos to this restaurant if he could. But he didn’t, and I thank him for that.

But, back to this kid. He’s wearing a hoodie and jeans and has headphones in pretty much the entire time. He barely interacts with his family and he only takes one headphone out to order his food and then immediately goes back to whatever it was he was doing. And when he finally got his food out, it didn’t seem like he was having the same magical moment that I was having just minutes ago. He ate it like it was a normal meal. I didn’t see him mouth “wow” once. Not. Even. Once. I was astonished.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an attack on Millenials and their use + abuse of technology. I’m not ragging on this kid because he obviously has no people-skills. Literally, I don’t care about any of that (that was all of us when we were 15– attitude + sas.) The reason that I bring this kid up is because it made me have this weird revelation.

Our experiences at this same restaurant with (almost) the same meal were drastically different. And, somehow, this made me think of marriage.

When you first become married or first start to date, we all know what happens– you get swept up in the honeymoon-phase. It’s fun, loving, and new. It’s always rainbows and butterflies; it seems like you’re just floating through life as a princess (or prince). We all know that feeling. It’s a lot like my experience with Oaks Steakhouse.

I was love-struck. I would swear up and down that there is not a better restaurant in the entire city state. And I mean it. I couldn’t focus on anything else but that food. The rest of the world melted away and I focused, almost entirely, on the feeling this food gave me. I was obsessed.

And this kid, a table away, was eating it like he was at O’Charley’s and it wasn’t even free-pie-Wednesday. He was kinda like the post-honeymoon phase. When you get into the rhythm of life and you’re not as impressed with them as you once were. It’s not longer charming that “your bond is so strong” that he will poop in the same bathroom that you’re showering in. His hot-headed nature won’t be seen as passion anymore. The onion is peeled back, layer by layer and you see it all. And now Oaks Steakhouse isn’t this magical experience anymore. You’re not salivating at the thought of it and you’re really not that impressed with their broccoli. It was kinda salty. Honestly, you’re bored.

What I’m trying to say is that sometimes your marriage isn’t this boring, run-of-the-mill relationship that you’re portraying in your mind. Maybe you’ve just become used to the 5-star restaurant and you’re finding yourself unimpressed because you’ve noticed what goes on behind the scenes. You’ve been there so many times that you know that the third booth along the wall has a small rip in it and they still haven’t replaced it. You noticed the mismatched silverware (gasp!) and today there was a chip on your waiter’s shoulder.

Being in any long-term relationship is bound to bring this out in us. We’re no longer searching for the best in our marriages. We aren’t obsessed with one another. We think that this spark is gone and fail to realize that the only thing that has changed is the way you’re looking at the relationship.

So I really do encourage everyone to take a step back and look at your spouse as if it were the first time. Put more enthusiasm into your relationship and slow down and enjoy the moment you’re in and who you’re with. Like many (smarter + more experienced) people before me have said: love is a choice.

Episode # 010 – Couple Crushes

We’re not saying that Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard have it figured out completely, but I think that there’s a reason that they’re happy, thriving, and still together through the madness of, not only marriage, but being frickin celebrities. From surprising her with sloths to admitting that their fighting use to be toxic, this couple gives us some great criteria on how to be a power couple

And ok. I (Melissa) couldn’t find much about Jessica being a philanthropist. But I did see that she was a big supporter for the #TimesUp movement going on. So, honestly, that’s good enough for me.

And I (Marie) told you so #hotaccountant. And here is what Dax said about Kristen/Kirsten/Christine said about her being too happy. I loved it.

Episode # 009 – Man v. The (not that bad) Cold

Everyone gets sick every now and then, but the real question is who is the bigger baby. There have been some articles floating around the interwebs about how men really do get sicker than women.

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And even if there is “science” to prove they <s>are weaker than us</s> do get sicker, how many of us actually baby their man-child? Surprisingly, Marie tells us in this podcast that she lets Mark fend for himself.

With that being said, in this episode we talk about who gets taken care of the most, weird remedies, and our go-to comfort foods and medicines when we’re sick. We’ve also compiled a list of the above-mentioned for the next time you or your spouse get the sniffles!

Episode # 008 – Keeping Score

Fair is far, right? Keeping score in a relationship, of any kind, is natural because no one wants to feel cheated. But there are several reasons why this “survival tactic” of ours is actually ruining our relationships. But we know that we don’t have to tell you twice that keeping score isn’t the best idea for your relationship. I mean, the term in-itself implies that you’re not on the same team/page. That’s why we talk about how to stop and how we’ve gotten over this hump in the past by having a chore chart as a way to try and keep the peace when it comes to household duties and how giving more might actually be the key to success.

So, as promised, we’ve included a link to The Go-Giver, the book that talks about this exact topic (spoiler alert: it tells you to stop counting and start giving).

Episode #007 – Setting Goals

As a follow-up to our Getting on the Same Page (Episode #006), Marie and Melissa talk about how setting goals prepares you and your marriage for success. Without a goal in-mind, it’s easy for paths to diverge and find yourself thinking “how did we end up here?”

We also take a closer look at goals we’ve set personally. Melissa has made it her mission to continually feed Shawn’s love plant every week by leaving him random thank-you notes. This is inspired by his love language: words of affirmation. During the podcast, Marie even comes up with her new, personal goal to help feed her relationship and Mark’s love plant (carving out specific, uninterrupted time for him once a week).

So. Because this topic is so, SO, SO important, and constantly glossed over, we’ve also created a pdf of some sample goals you can set as a team, for yourself, and for other areas of your life.

Healthy Pooping is like Healthy Fighting

Yeah, you heard me right. And no, I’m not kidding.

I think there are some similarities between healthy poop and healthy fights:

It’s intact. The ‘mushier’ the poop the less healthy it is. A healthy fight is also intact. It’s about one topic. A ‘mushy’ fight is when you start off fighting about chores and end up fighting about that time 3 years ago when she forgot to pick up your dry cleaning. Keep your fights focused on what topic at a time.

It’s regular. Regular bowel movements are a great sign things are going well. Same thing with fights. It’s not a great idea to let things build up. It doesn’t make fighting or pooping easier. Are you regularly letting each other know what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling? Or are you opting to hold it just a little bit longer? Much like pooping, fighting is good for you.

It doesn’t hurt. This is really important. Pooping shouldn’t hurt. Fighting shouldn’t hurt. But since most of us don’t get to see great examples of healthy fighting many of us are terrified that it won’t feel good. We hide from it because we can’t imagine being in conflict with a person you love to ultimately end in feeling closer. We imagine the only thing that comes from fighting is hurt, so we avoid it. This doesn’t mean painless fighting is natural, I think it’s a learned skill. But, like pooping, if it hurts it’s not healthy.