Chicken Drums Divorce Planning
My Chapter published in Clash of the Couples edited by Crystal Ponti
My husband and I don’t really argue. Every single argument about something important that we ever had goes something like this: I tell him what’s up, he fake apologizes, and then he proceeds to resent me for being right. It truly gets under my skin, too, because I swear I can read his mind now on account of the fact that we have been married for almost ten years, and I get more mad at the things he’s thinking than what he says. Then he starts getting angry at the things he thinks I’m thinking about what he’s thinking. Basically, we have telepathic arguments, and they’re heated, raw, and uncut.
I’m the aggressive one in our relationship. When it comes to communicating, I’m the proactive one. I don’t really complain about him unless I find a humorous way to do so and then generalize it to all men on my blog somewhere as a way to vent it out. Sometimes, I confide in my mother or best friend, but that’s usually just for the reassurance. Mostly, I’m the type to just tell him what is bothering me as it occurs. I take a no-bullshit approach where I seek instant closure. I don’t like letting an issue haunt us for days or months at a time, even though they usually do.
I’m fair about it. I justify his actions better than he could. I’ll be the first to make excuses for him. I’m constantly trying to see things from his perspective, but I want to fix the problem, whatever it is. If it’s my attitude, I will work hard to adjust it, but if it’s something he’s doing, I try every psychological route to resolving the issue.
One of the biggest bollockings my husband ever reaped was the day he said, early in our marriage, “You’ve gained weight. Other guys would have a problem with that, but I don’t. I still love you.”
I was like, “Really? Don’t you dare come at me with passive-aggressive controlling shit like that ever again. Do you really think men wouldn’t be interested in me because I gained weight? As if you’re the only person who will love me even when I’m fat?” I know he was being sincere, and really trying to give a real compliment because he really just has no game, but I’ve seen guys do this to my friends. It starts out with back-handed compliments like that, geared to make a woman feel like he is the only man to be interested in her, and then it ends in an overly controlling environment. I’m not saying my husband was trying to be a sociopath, nor that it would end up that way, but people only do to you what you allow them to do to you. This was a boundary that was important to me.
Men may think I’m a bitch, but I won’t be their bitch. And I do look like a bitch to my husband’s friends, and even worse, his family in Puerto Rico who are stuck in 1950s gender roles. But the fact of the matter is, if I don’t stand up for myself, who will?
Early in our marriage, we were both content with each other’s flaws. It really was a world where we could be who we are without judgment from each other, no matter how ridiculous the flaw or how damaging it could be. I remember my husband telling me when we were dating, “Marriage will change a woman. It always does. She goes from being really nice and complacent to being a controlling bitch.”
I always responded, “Marriage won’t change me. Becoming a mother will.” I was right on the money. Having kids did change me. No longer were some of his flaws (as well as many of mine) something I could live with.
But before that really sunk in, I remember the biggest argument we had was when our first baby was a few months old. We were living in Wyoming on a military base far away from friends, family, and any perceived or potential support, so it was just the two of us raising this kid on our own, having no possible clue as to what we were doing. And our baby cried a lot. She was like a colicky baby, except she didn’t really grow out of it.
One day she was crying, as usual. I did everything I could think to do. I fed her. I burped her. We did the gas dance. I was so ready for a break, and my husband was actually trying to help for once. This reminds me of the two times he did the dishes and broke the garbage disposal, twice. It’s like his help isn’t exactly what I call help.
I said, “Put her in her bouncy.”
He retorted, “No she likes the swing.”
I rebutted, “No, the bouncy is her favorite.”
He returned, “No, the swing.”
We actually ended up arguing for a good hour, with a baby crying in the foreground for most of it, about whether or not the baby preferred the bouncer or swing. In the end, we were both right. She loved both of them. We were also both wrong. Neither device got her to stop crying at that moment. She ended up soothing herself with tummy time.
As our marriage progressed, our arguments became more heated, resentful arguments. In fact, our arguments switched from a simple disagreement to one of us being really in the right and the other being stubbornly wrong. Our marriage has survived profiles on sex sites, sharing of nudey pics, lies, spending money behind backs, hitting on the opposite sex, Jerry Springer family drama, an insanity diagnosis, and a few other show-stopping, divorce-causing things. Despite all that we’ve been through, I have found the only person I can count on when the world is against me is him, and he, me. He is by far my best friend, and I am his.
Before I get into this story, I first want to point out I’m usually carefree and insanely lenient about things. One time I caught the husband messaging a woman from his hometown in Puerto Rico. It was in Spanish, so I had to get a translator, but I discovered he proposed to her, several times, and they frequently fantasized about each other to each other. To digress for a second, watching my husband hit on other women, I have confirmed that he really has no game. I really should start hitting on these women for him under his profile. And my reaction? Outside of tossing tips his way on Serenading 101, I asked him if he wanted us to fly her up here. Let her move in. I get to keep the master bedroom. Really, if she wants to marry him, she should be closer to his dirty laundry she should be cleaning instead of me. I’m serious. I searched plane tickets asking him what dates would be good for them. I was already re-decorating the room I was going to stick them in, and penciling in a life I could potentially have with a live-in babysitter.
Honestly, I just want him to be happy, and if another woman makes him happy, then so be it. He had a change of heart after I confronted him about the chat I found by accident. What really changed our mind? During one of the discussions about it in the car, the radio played Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason.” Yes. Pink saved my marriage. She is one amazing woman and recipient of my Bad Ass of the Year award. Did you know she was bitten by Chuck Norris once? It’s not true, but after three days of pain and agony, Chuck Norris cried. Yeah. That’s the level she is on.
But of all the things that could have caused divorce, the one thing that got me saving money for the occasion was a huge argument because he did something worse than cheating. We were living in the country, and his sister was living with us for a few months. I had no idea at the time that she hated me with the passion of a thousand STDs. Her English wasn’t that good yet, and my Spanish definitely sucks, so we rarely communicated. My husband was working a lot of twelve-hour shifts, as we needed the overtime, and while we were living in an area where I got the most help I ever received with my children from neighbors, and sometimes his sister would watch the kids so I could go grocery shopping, I was still busy. All the help didn’t make me relax. All it did was make me up my game to have a cleaner house more often and to cook more meals. The kids weren’t sleeping all night yet, so I was up around the clock where my only real sleep was an occasional nap at the mercy of my husband.
He would invariably wake me up two hours into it with, “I’m hungry. What’s for dinner?”
I was like “Really? How about a plate of go-make-it-yourself?”
One delightful New Year’s Eve, my husband and his sister decided to make dinner while I was napping. I would almost swear they were planning to outdo my cooking with their Puerto Rican cuisine they so much missed from their mother. When I woke up, my kitchen was destroyed. Mind you, we rented from an evil twat waffle who came by once a month and actually moved the refrigerator to make sure I had been cleaning under the fridge. She checked inside the oven, under the lamp-fan over the stove—everywhere had to be spotless beyond a military inspection because she feared cockroaches would otherwise move in.
So when I saw every pot and pan I owned dirty on the stove, every huge bowl full of grimy, slimy stuff, and green goo oozing from my blender and dripping all over my walls, the inside of the lamp above the stove, on the outside and inside of the cabinets, on the floor, and all over the counter tops, I was livid. It looked like Slimer from The Ghostbusters had jacked off all over my kitchen. The green stuff, by the way, was their attempt at sofrito, which isn’t even the food itself. It’s just an ingredient in the food, one they didn’t use because they couldn’t make it right.
But I got over the mess pretty quick since I was basking in the afterglow of the first good, four-hour nap ever in the time-space continuum, and at that point, I didn’t have to cook dinner. I was kind of excited.
My husband then said, “Go ahead and get something to eat.” A bowl of pasta salad with lunchmeat and one chicken drumstick hid among the mess like Waldo.
My child gave me puppy dog begging eyes, “Can I have that chicken, Mommy?”
Of course, I replied, “Yeah, sure love.”
I looked in the freezer. There were still six frozen drumsticks. Yes, my husband and his sister, both of whom had earned a decent GPA through school, figured six drumsticks were more than enough to feed three adults and two children.
I grabbed a couple bites of the pasta salad, assuming it would taste awful, and it was, to my surprise, delicious. Listening to my husband and sister laugh profusely about things they were saying to each other in Spanish, I frequently asked, “What’s so funny?” and nobody would translate. They literally ignored me like I wasn’t in the room, and between that, the messy kitchen, and the frozen, uncooked drumsticks, my attitude was getting uncontrollably darker.
I went to snatch some seconds from the huge bowl full of pasta salad since I had only given myself enough to preview it. While they made enough drumsticks to feed only my husband, they made enough pasta salad to feed a football team after practice. I grabbed the spoon, scooped out a scoop, plopped it on my plate, and grabbed a second spoonful. The husband interrupts (now I exist), “Whoa whoa whoa! What are you doing?”
Confused, I responded, “Getting seconds.”
He blurted, obviously without any thought before or after, “I need all this for work tomorrow.”
I put the food back and walked out the door. I decided, “Screw them. I’ll go get my own dinner somewhere.” I was so livid that he denied me food after all those years I cooked for him, I was shaking. This was way worse than the time he ate all the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, my top craving, which I had stashed in the freezer when I was pregnant. We lived in the country, so I had approximately three fast food options, all of which were closed for New Year’s.
I called my friend in town, in tears (yes, in tears over dinner) proclaiming that I was, at that point, a single lady. I threw my rings in the ashtray. She lived a half-hour drive away, and I joined her at the club, dressed like a frumpy housewife, getting there about five minutes after the countdown to a new year. Between the empty stomach and the adrenaline from the empty stomach, I was so drunk that I had to crash at my friend’s house. I didn’t get home until probably 8:00 a.m. I wanted to cheat on my husband just to make him as angry as I was, but I was not drunk enough to touch any of the options, like the beer goggles were broken that night, so I just insinuated that I cheated on him when I got home. He probably still to this day thinks I slept with someone that night. I still don’t care. I was single that night. If he liked it then he should have put a ring on it and made it dinner it was permitted to eat.
At that point, I decided it was time to make some longterm goals. Yes, denying me food is worse than cheating on me. Anyhow, I needed a career again, some money in savings, a job, a place to live, and childcare. I had my work cut out for me. I started saving money. Five months later, my husband was laid off. My savings then contributed to living expenses, and by then, I was kind of over the dinner thing. Our relationship really improved when his sister moved back home.
I did clean the kitchen myself. My husband is now allowed to cook with the grill. We are finally getting to a point where he can occasionally make pancakes, but he will never be allowed to make sofrito again. Oh, and I get first dibs on the big piece of meat—which I usually give to him.