I think all marriages encounter this problem to some degree, especially when children are involved… it is the debate over whose life is hardest- Which spouse works the hardest? Who deserves the most sympathy? Zed and I don’t actually “argue” this point, but I can sense that we are both thinking it when times get tough and we are both exhausted. Although we have a healthy marriage, we can get envious of the other at times.
In our home, Zed is gone fishing for several months of the year. I do some work from home, and sometimes I work as a flagger, but most of the time I am home with our two boys. Many aspects of this arrangement are less than ideal, but the part that continually causes problems in our relationship is the lack of understanding of what the other person’s life is like. I have no idea what it is like working on a fishing boat. Well, I know what Zed tells me, the stories he tells, the photos he takes, but I have never done it myself and therefore cannot be truly empathetic. And on the other hand, Zed has never spent any significant time alone with our kids and dogs, maintaining our house, fixing meals, and everything that goes along with being a “single” parent. We are living in two separate (and completely different) worlds, which can make it very difficult for us to relate to each other.
As Zed stands on the deck of a fishing boat, soaking wet, exhausted and hungry, I can see how my life at home with the kids would seem pretty desirable. And for me, raising two little boys by myself for months at a time, Zed’s relative freedom looks pretty damn good. But, I know in my heart that I got the better end of the deal. Zed works harder than anyone I know, and being away from his family is really hard for him. Although being a parent 24/7 is incredible draining (emotionally and physically), I know I could never endure the grueling work of a fisherman and I would be heartbroken to be away from my kids for that long.
So when I’m cursing under my breath at the 5th spilled bowl of cereal in the morning, and sleep deprived from being woken up six times during the night, and someone is throwing a tantrum because I gave them the red bowl instead of the blue bowl, I try to remind myself that I’ve got it pretty good- I have the comfort of my home, I get to sleep in my own bed, I’m well fed, and I have the company (however demanding) of my boys. I am sometimes bitter, but always grateful for the hard work and sacrifice of my husband.