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The Second Time

<i>Beneath the sunset and over the sea<i/>
Beneath the sunset and over the sea

The second time couples counseling saved my marriage was in the summer of 2008, exactly three years after the most romantic marriage proposal in the history of all marriage proposals, and less than three weeks after the fight that was the biggest fight in the history of all fights.

The recent six-part story I wrote about babies was supposed to be a post about how important counseling can be when a couple stops communicating, but it ended up being a post about babies because that’s just how I roll.  I could sit down to write a story about ketchup going on sale this week and before I know it I’ll be writing a story about babies.  My biological clock has taken over.

Since I never made the point I wanted to make in that post, I’m going to make it now: Couples counseling saved our relationship and then it saved our marriage.  Now I think counseling is a magical elixir for relationships.  (You can read about the first time it saved us here.)

Instead of re-telling you about how not talking about babies nearly ruined my marriage, I’ll just say that Mike and I have learned the hard way.  Twice.  Ignoring our feelings + avoiding communication = disaster. You could try to argue that couples counseling didn’t work the first time, your evidence being that we had to go back a second time, but you’d be incorrect.  The second time we only needed a refresher course.  We lost our way for a minute but we got back on track in a matter of weeks because we had the strong base we’d built in our first round of therapy.  That being said, I have to admit that Mike and I were lucky in that both times we started counseling, we started before we got to the point where we hated each other.  A lot of couples wait too long and by the time they’re in counseling their relationship has been badly damaged, sometimes heartbreakingly, irreversibly so.

A marriage is another person sharing your home.  There’s you, there’s your spouse and there’s your marriage.  Each marriage has its own needs, it’s own peculiarities and it’s own character.  Marriages need to be nurtured, nourished and cared for.  If a marriage is neglected it will not thrive.

I realize I’ve been proselytizing about couples counseling, but far more important than counseling is simply taking care of your couple, however works best for you and your partner.  Counseling was the magical elixir that taught Mike and I how to take care of our relationship.  What is it for you?  What has been the thing that has saved you and your partner, whenever you’ve needed saving?

Kind of a big deal

Depending on whether or not you’ve read my About page, what I’m going to say may come as a surprise.

I am completely baby-crazy.  I can’t remember when it started.  I do remember a specific evening in April of 2008 when my brother asked me whether or not my hormones had kicked in and my response was to scrunch up my face, stick out my tongue and say, “Blegh.  No way.”
“Really?  Because all my chick friends are going crazy over babies right now.”
“I am so not ready.  The idea of having kids right now makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little.”

That month I received what was to be the first of many emails announcing someone’s pregnancy.  I was horrified.  I wrung my hands nervously and wondered, what ever would she do?  The poor girl was going to have to give up her entire life!  What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was projecting.  My friend wasn’t going to have to give up her entire life, I was.  Except I wasn’t because I wasn’t the pregnant one.  But you know what I mean.

After the fifth email from my fifth expecting friend I started feeling wistful.  I wanted it to be me.  Except if I got pregnant I wouldn’t be able to send out an announcement saying, “we’re over the moon” or “we’re so excited to be starting a family together” or “we feel like we’ve been blessed with a miracle”.  My announcement would read: “Whoops! Looks like we slipped up somewhere because surprise!  We’re pregnant!  We’re totally freaked out and we don’t know what we’re going to do, we’re pretty sure this means we’ll be broke and miserable for the rest of our lives, but we’re gonna give it a go.  Pray for us, keep your fingers crossed, and try not to gossip about us.”

A few months later I realized I had eleven pregnant friends and family members and that must have been when it happened.  A hormone switch flipped.  I don’t know how to explain it any other way.  Maybe it was herd syndrome.  Like when you’re trying to get out of the subway at rush hour and you walk to the turnstile with the longest line instead of walking to the turnstile no one’s using.  I do that all the time.  Three turnstiles crammed with people, one person, one at a time, click, click, click.  At the end of the platform a fourth turnstile, empty, sad, alone, invisible to the herd.  I always stay in the long line because it feels like too much effort to walk over to the empty one, but maybe that’s a different issue I need to be dealing with.  Either way, it happened over night.  One day I was perfectly happy living alone with Mike and four animals and the next morning I woke up and I wanted a baby so badly I thought I was going to die.

Thanks to my Moon Cycle Chart I have learned that these feelings are greatly exacerbated between the fourteenth and thirty-fourth days of my cycle.  Between days one and ten I’m baby-crazy but not to the point where I believe my ovaries are berating me for the eggs I’m wasting.  On the eleventh day I begin rationalizing why this month might be a good time to start trying and by day fourteen I’m kind of like a cat in heat which sounds funny in a literary sense but is actually really awkward.  I recently made Mike promise that he would not agree to start trying for a baby unless we were making the decision between the first through tenth day of my cycle because  it’s a decision I’d like to make with my brain instead of my hormones.

To be continued…