Today is Day 21 for National Blog Posting Month on Blogher.
My husband and I disagree on many things. He thinks Depeche Mode, a staple of his youthful angst, is a mood enhancer while I think every one of their songs is going to drive me off a cliff. I like to leave drawers open just in case I might need something out of them (or it’s just a personality quirk) but my husband can’t sit comfortably in a room with a drawer askew.
We agree in many respects too, of course, and particularly when it comes to raising our combined family. Like all parents, we face new situations each day that force us to act in new ways but at the core, our values match.
One area outside of parenting where we agree is when it comes to fitness. Between jobs, kids, school schedules, custody schedules, family responsibilities and our own other interests – we both need some “down time” and we both enjoy finding that through exercise.
I know that Princess Mommy has blogged before about her own fitness pursuits alongside her husband and all of their triumphs together. I know how exhilarating that can feel (my husband proposed to me just minutes before we ran a half-marathon in Chicago) but I’ve also found that in my marriage, our separate fitness goals pull us apart a bit.
Case in point: when my husband paid an extra $25 to have 24-hour access to our gym, I was actually on board with it. I know he works late hours and sometimes needs something to do to wind down before bed. The gym is just down the street – why not go there to burn off that extra energy while the rest of us snooze? He has certainly gotten his money’s worth so far. But a few times I have found myself feeling just a little bit of resentment at his all-access workouts. On a few occasions, he has headed over to the gym while I was still awake and I bemoaned it.
“Just skip today and relax with me,” I’d say. When he refused (he’s on some crazy 100+ day streak for running), I’d take it personally. He would remind me (rightly so) that I had already been to the gym, or out in the neighborhood to run, while he watched the kids for me. Instead of making me do the same, he waited for them to be in bed instead.
Well, shoot. He makes it sound like a picnic to lounge in bed and play Candy Crush until I pass out while he’s off running 7-minute miles on a treadmill. And to be fair, since both of us work non-traditional schedules from home, our quality time is often spent together during the day when three of our kids are at school and the other is napping. Night time is pretty much reserved for sleeping.
The fitness resentment goes both ways, too. I’ve started doing my long runs with a friend on Sunday mornings but my husband works until about 3 a.m. Saturday night/Sunday morning during college football season. I try to go early enough that the two kids at home won’t wake up before I’m back but there is no guarantee. He gets awoken on occasion – including the time I locked myself out and he had to rescue my friend and I. He tells me to go on these runs but its half-hearted permission.
We’ve tried to head to the gym together a few times but our littlest is a disaster in the kids’ area. At 18 months, she still faces a lot of stress when mom and dad leave her with strangers (even with siblings nearby) so it is LESS stressful for us to just go one at a time than to hear her scream from the weight room. On occasion, we pay for a sitter and head to the gym or a road race together. The baby is a little annoyed but fares much better in her own surroundings when Mom and Dad are gone. With no grandparents nearby, though, working out together can add up quickly.
Despite the occasional annoyance at each other’s individual fitness paths, the benefits to our marriage far outweigh the hiccups. Supporting each other in our exercise pursuits makes us happier and more relaxed which benefits our marriage, careers and kids. We have more energy and our sex drives are through the roof. Most of all, we have a mutual understanding of something we are both passionate about and respect for what the other is trying to accomplish at any moment in time.
What dueling priorities tend to cause some tension in your marriage?
Katie Parsons is a freelance writer who lives with her four children, husband and the sound of the ocean nearby. Before she was a freelance writer, she worked in news media in Chicago, Orlando and Shelbyville, Indiana. She has a Creative Writing degree from Ball State University. Katie is writing a memoir about the time when she was single and pregnant. She owns a content creation company and you can contact her by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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