"We Fight All the Time"

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Her Turn, continued

"We've been married for five years. In the beginning we were always on the same wavelength. We met on a blind date and talked for hours. I was struck by the way he approached the world so rationally. Little did I know that would come back to haunt me. He'd send me roses at work for no reason at all. Now, talking is like picking our way through a minefield. Mike is quick to take offense and insists that I'm criticizing him when I'm not. 

"It took me a long time to find the right man. My parents' marriage was a disaster, and I had no intention of falling into the same trap. My father, a lawyer, was a cocaine addict, an alcoholic and a philanderer -- your basic catastrophe of the '70s. Chaos was just around the corner: I never knew when my parents would start screaming and throwing things. Then Dad would leave town for weeks at a time with one of his girlfriends. My mother, a housewife, was constantly on the phone, pouring her heart out to her friends. I was fifteen when they divorced, and my father died of a drug overdose when I was in my twenties. Mom remairred and moved to Oregon.

"Mike and I became serious pretty quickly. We weren't kids--Mike had been married before for five years. When he wanted to settle down right away, I thought that was great-- I was tired of commitment-phobic guys.

"We were married a year later in a small outdoor ceremony. I threw away my birth control pills, but we never imagined I'd get pregnant immediately. I had an awful time--.my hormones were way out of whack, and I sobbed uncontrollably for months. Mike didn't know what to do with me.

"We Barely Have Anything in Common"

"The night Jenna was born is symbolic of all our problems. My water broke at 2 a.m. -- a month early. It took forever for the doctor to get back to me, and my husband refused to get out of bed. He told me in this very condescending voice to calm down, then rolled over and went back to sleep. Of course, Mike has a rational explanation for his selfishness. He says he knew we'd have a long day ahead, so he figured he was helping both of us by getting a good night's rest. He has a way of intellectualizing everything-- and making me feel small in the process.

"And then there's Mike's mother, the most overbearing woman on the planet. I have tremendous respect and sympathy for what she's gone through-- Marion survived the Holocaust, then lost her husband and had to raise two children alone. But that doesn't give her license to take over our lives. When I was nursing, she insisted that the baby needed water. Even though I told her no a hundred times, the second my back was turned, she'd pop the water bottle right in Jenna's mouth. My husband can't understand why I don't want to spend every Sunday with her.

"Mike also complains about our social life and our sex life. I don't like to leave my children with just anyone, and, frankly, a good night's sleep sometimes sounds a lot more exciting than dinner or a movie. As far as sex goes, when I'm nursing, it's always felt funny to have Mike touch my breasts.

"I'm tired of fighting, tired of trying to make this marriage work. I'm lonely. If it weren't for our kids, Mike and I wouldn't have anything in common."

Continued on page 3:  His Turn


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