The other day, a friend of mine asked for my hand in marriage. The salami, smoked mozzarella, basil, and grape tomato stromboli was so good, she asked me to marry her. This is my second marriage proposal this quarter. The prior request came from my favourite dive bar via Twitter. I explained politely that if marriage had taught me anything it’s that I’m not the marrying kind, but that I was sure we could come to some kind of arrangement. I don’t miss being married, which is very different from missing being with someone. I miss being with someone. I’m so used to sleeping alone my cat sleeps in the middle of the bed. I have to wake up in order to turn over. I don’t know what I would do if I had a man over to spend the night on a regular basis. I’m smart, I’m sure I’d figure it out. I also don’t see it happening anytime soon, so I have time to create something akin to a disaster plan.
In a little less than a month it will be the second anniversary of the finalization of my divorce. The writ is still on my refrigerator, but I don’t look at it anymore. I just haven’t gotten around to putting it away. I have asked people not to tell me what he is up to, but it happens anyway. One friend said the car is still on the road-barely. My dentist saw him, his girlfriend, and the kids at the Art Museum. Then there are other things I just intuit. When you are with someone for 14 years, you just know.
I can barely remember his face. I don’t remember his voice at all. I know he’s still on Facebook but I have blocked him. I’ve blocked members of his family as well. I know he has commented on articles friends have posted. I know he made a comment on an article about how women are fed up with doing the lion’s share of the emotional labour; it may have been this article from Harper’s Bazaar. His comment had something to do with dishes. I know this because our mutual friend’s response said the article had nothing to do with how dishewashers were loaded but that women did the vast majority of the day-to-day work required to make a house run. She didn’t mention that many women, myself included, are doing this on top of a full-time job.
In the article the author tells her husband she wanted a housecleaning service for Mother’s Day; her freelance writing job and their three children keep her busy. She wanted to be relieved of the burden of one chore. She knew how time consuming it would be why is why she asked as a gift, giving her husband plenty of time. He dragged his feet, called a single service, threw up his hands, and said they were too expensive. Then he, “vowed to clean the bathroom himself.” I know this well. In ‘the vow’, he vows to take upon himself the most onerous task. My ex’s version of ‘the vow’ involved the dishwasher. In my experience, the promise made in the vow never lasts more than a month, then it’s back to business as usual.
I, too, asked for a housecleaning service. My ex didn’t even put forth the effort. He told me that if I wanted someone to come in and clean, I had to do the research and phone references.I asked because I needed help. I needed relief from one task. Like countless times before, he said no then he complained ceaselessly about the messy house. I had to step around piles of laundry because he would not do them. I would take dishes down from the family room to the kitchen because he had not bothered to move them. I took out the garbage every week and shoveled after every snowfall. He would watch as I donned my snow gear and grabbed the shovel and say, I’ll do it or all you have to do is ask. When I asked, at first he would say, in a minute. Minutes would drag to hours which would drag into never. Then when I asked it was just no. The sad thing is, I shouldn’t have had to ask. And worse, I shouldn’t have had to explain to him that I shouldn’t have to ask.
I did the cleaning, all of the laundry, all of the grocery shopping, paid all of the bills and managed the household finances, scheduled medical appointment, dentist appointments, haircuts, regular car maintenance and repairs, packed his luggage for business trips, unpacked his luggage and did laundry. I made plane reservations, hotel reservations, and dinner reservations. I chose the health insurance plan. When I lost my job and he forgot to register for insurance through the Affordable Care Act, I made the arrangements and paid for COBRA coverage. I found all of our apartments in every town in which we lived. I found the house. I picked the paint and the light fixtures. I was even responsible for finding daycare when we were trying to have a child. I found one but it’s services were never required.
When my requests for help were rebuffed and ignored, I did it myself. I did the work. I was too tired for sex. Too tired to fight also meant too tired to fuck. He never caught on. Whatever he said on Facebook, I knew he had not changed. He had learned nothing. Maybe he is more tolerant now that he has a child of his own, but I don’t know how long it will last. He gave me two years before he started complaining about how my work was having a negative effect on our marriage. In all that I never called him a nag. Women nag when their needs aren’t being met. And being called a nag negates our needs as invalid.
Now, of course, I manage my own household. I love my apartment but I feel little pride of place. It’s my mortgage, HOA fee, electric bill, vet bill, synagogue dues. I make my own medical, dental, hair, vet appointments. I do laundry. I go grocery shopping. I do all of the same things I did when I was married but I do them for myself. I maintain my life as best I can. Some things fall by the wayside. I can’t lie, there are weeks when I come home and I take out the foul-smelling garbage and the mountain of recycling and think no wonder my marriage failed. I can’t see marriage to another man being any different. I will never marry again. I don’t believe in marriage. As a woman, I think it’s a raw deal.