Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday (er, Tuesday) Marriage Matters: Driving

Thanksgiving went well, although, as I suspected, there is no perfect solution to splitting holidays.  So we're still working on it. 

Thanksgiving also brought up another interesting issue in our marriage - driving.  Recently, when discussing our Egyptian friends, Mark turned to me and asked if the mom in the family drove.  I looked at him as if he was insane, and said, "of course."  (Women in Egypt are allowed to drive.)  He shrugged and said he had never seen her drive.  I looked at him and said, "I don't drive when we're together."  Which is true, except for when we go to some beer related event or festival and I DD. 

This weekend, I did more driving on a car trip than I think I've done the entire time we've been together.  I don't enjoy driving, and I definitely don't enjoy driving on long car trips.  Couple this with the fact that my husband is a major backseat driver (he starts tapping me from like, two miles away to slow down when there is a car ahead with the brake lights on), and that I hate driving stick shift, and yeah, my husband does 90% of the driving when we are together.

I see this dynamic in a lot of couples, and it feels pretty gendered, other than my parents, where my mother drives and my father "navigates" or, sometimes, covers his eyes and cowers in the corner while on mountains and cliffs.  I have a number of little old lady clients who do not drive, and have never driven. The reason a lot of people give is that their spouse likes to drive, and they do not.  I believe I also used this excuse as to why I do not do the income taxes and got a dirty look from my husband, who also does not like to do the taxes. 

I always offer to drive, in the "I'm offering because I know you'll say no" kind of way, but this weekend, I wound up behind the wheel for part of the trip up to New Jersey and the entire trip home, while my husband sat next to me in the car and tried to make pleasant conversation.  That lasted for about 20 minutes and then we decided to see if we could download books on tape.  We wound up listening to 12 Angry Men for most of the ride, which was a lot of fun, and then the Indigo Girls for the rest of the night, as whoever drives gets to pick the music (I suspect this is a big part of why my husband offers to drive.) 

So weigh in - do you drive the most, or does your spouse?  Is it always the man who does more driving?  In same-sex couples, is it the same way, that one partner prefers to drive?  Do you discuss it, or is it just the way it is? 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: The Holidays

It wouldn't, couldn't, be Thanksgiving week without the "how the eff do you split the holidays between your families" post, now could it?

(yes, it's too early for Christmas, but when a fellow APWer invites you over to make gingerbread houses, you do not say no)

This year, we are doing that thing that last year I said I wouldn't do: we are going to visit Mark's family for Thanksgiving.  Which means that not only do I have to go to New Jersey, I'm going to be spending Thanksgiving with my brother-in-law, who normally I like, but he roots for Dallas and apparently the Dallas game is required viewing on Thanksgiving.  I'm trying to not be petty about this, but seeing as I've already e-mailed my SIL to see if there is anything else planned during the Dallas game for the rest of us to do, that's clearly out the window.  

I find myself feeling incredibly anxious about not spending Thanksgiving with my family.  It turns out that also, not hosting Thanksgiving does not stop me from worrying that a) we won't have enough food or b) I'm not making enough food.  Which is why I've offered to bring 5 dishes to Thanksgiving dinner.  

I would be lying if I did not talk about one of the bigger issues here: I'm spending Thanksgiving with strangers.  My sister-in-law has invited both her family and her in-laws, and all are coming (is this what normal people do? My family is hard pressed to do anything normal.)  I have met, and like, her husband's family (they are pretty much the nicest, friendliest, most fun-having people I've ever met), but Thanksgiving should be the time of year in which you can wear elastic waist pants and not worry about sticking your elbow in the cranberry sauce, not a time of year to be on your best behavior so you don't humiliate your sister (perhaps by not writing a blog post about how afraid of her in laws you are...).  In addition, I don't know how they feel politically, which shouldn't be an issue at Thanksgiving, I'll agree, but I do enough political work that it sometimes comes out, and it's also REALLY hard to stay quiet when somebody else says something I don't agree with.  Also, will they follow the seemingly age-old rule that the womenfolk all get up after dinner and do the dishes together while the men sit around the table drinking brandy?  Because that rule sucks and I don't want to take part in it, but I don't want to seem unhelpful.  

I'm trying to focus on the fact that I get Christmas with my family and that this is what our families asked us to do this year - his sister asked to host Thanksgiving, mine wanted to host Christmas, and his mother kindly requested we come up with a way to stop eating and running at the holidays, which is probably fair but has left me without something to agonize and stress out over and I'm just not sure how to celebrate the holidays without that.  (Clearly I'm substituting my stranger-danger anxiety instead.) 

How are you managing this issue this year?  Does anyone have any advice on how to be nice to the Dallas fans at Thanksgiving?  Or to avoid telling somebody that you think that Herman Cain is maybe not such a great choice for President?  How do you get the men to get up and help with the dishes as well as the women?