Marriage

Cleansing my Bitter Soul

I’ve been thinking a lot about this entry from Melissa. Her husband is a constant marathon trainer and they just recently went to NYC for his latest adventure in the 26.2. Her experience was not that great and she discusses how frustrating the whole process is from her perspective. She discusses her anger and her bitterness. And I’m here to challenge her because I think I have her beat.

Now – let me preface this by saying I am not proud of the attitude portrayed in this entry. It shows a very ugly side of my personality that I like to pretend is not there. However, she talked about it and I feel like I must too, if for no other reason so that I can GET IT OFF MY CHEST ALREADY.

I’ve been thinking about her entry a lot because my husband has been training for a marathon since August. Due physical limitations, we’re not sure what marathon he’s training for, but he’s training on a schedule that would have him running a marathon in December. He runs his first half-marathon this weekend. He has realized the last few weeks that he probably won’t make the marathon in December (he has a lot more physical issues to overcome than the average runner) and the idea that this training process my continue on indefinitely is actually killing me. I mean, seriously, I’m losing my mind over here. The idea that there is not a definite “end” or “goal” to this phase of our lives is giving me nightmares.

Melissa said this:

But I also had a sinking feeling that this would be yet another night sacrificed to The Marathon. Like the night we didn’t go to that party because Logan had a long run. The kids and I waiting to do something on Saturday because Logan has a run. The family dinners we skip each week because Logan needed to get a 2 or 3 hour run in. For the last 4 months, our lives have revolved around this event

Man, do I feel her pain. I feel like our lives are crazy enough with us both working outside the home and having one kid that goes out of state to see his Dad on the weekends. And MrZ has always been a Gym Guy who uses 2 or 3 nights a week to keep himself Hot and Sexy. Before The Marathon Training, I have always felt like I wasn’t keeping a good balance on our Weekday lives. I felt like I had too much on my plate and than any shift would make me lose it all forever.

But now? Add The Marathon Training to our previously insane lives? And you have a Zoot who is worn the hell out.

Here is what our weeks look like. Keep in mind we both are at work from 6:30am – 4:30pm or so every day. Mondays are “off” nights for MrZ so we usually come home from work and try to eat a meal together and hang out for the few hours before NikkiZ goes to bed. However, since this is MrZ’s “off” night, he is more prone to just chilling on the couch and watching TV since he doesn’t get to do it any other night. The Good Wife would probably encourage this, but Bitter Wife tends to roll her eyes a lot behind his back and grumble that he’s watching TV instead of hanging out with the family. Or worse, watching TV instead of giving his wife a much deserved break.

(Can you guess which wife I am?)

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays: MrZ comes home from work, spends 30 minutes or so prepping for his workouts/runs and then he is gone for 1-2 hours depending on the task for the night. He gets home just in time for NikkiZ to go to bed. While he’s gone I get dinner ready for him to eat when he gets home. Essentially those three nights involve me parenting and running the house solo. Preparing dinner, giving baths, doing laundry, running errands. By myself.

Fridays are “off” nights too, but since every other Friday LilZ goes to his Dad’s, one of us (lately it’s me) has to drive on Fridays. So, while my husband will be home, I’ll be on the road driving LilZ to Birmingham to see his Dad. Not really an “off” night for me. And another task that puts me behind on every other responsibility in my life.

Saturdays are All Day Football days this time of year. MrZ openly admits he’s useless on those days. The Good Wife would simply be supportive of that and look at it as his “Him Time” to finally take a break from The Marathon Training and enjoy some time doing what he loves best: Watching Football. But the Bitter Wife takes the kids to do fun stuff and play at parks and go for walks and also finds time to do the grocery shopping all while resenting the fact that her husband would rather sit around and watch Football than actually hang out with the family. Or help her take care of the family.

(Again – can you guess which wife I am?)

Sundays are the LONG RUN days. Those are the worst days. Those days have him sleeping late so he can be rested. Then, he spends an hour or so prepping for his run. His runs take him out of the house for several hours just for the run itself. Then there’s the hours of recovery afterwards. The 30 minute ice baths and hours worth of stretching. Then, there’s the general uselessness the rest of the day because he just ran some obscene distance and can’t quite do anything else.

I’ll spare you the Good Wife v/s Bitter Wife responses to the Sunday long runs and just say: I’m the Bitter Wife.

So, I’m right there with Melissa. But – here is the difference: I was the one who did The Marathon Training last year.

At first glance, you might think this would make me more understanding. Less bitter. More supportive. But you know what? It doesn’t. It makes me much less supportive and much more bitter. Do you want to know why? Because I prioritized my family and their lives before my Marathon Training. Every run I did, I only did if I felt like I could say it wouldn’t inconvenience anyone. I left for my long runs before anyone woke up so I’d have them out of the way before the day got going and no one would feel put out. I would force myself to be active after I finished so that no one would grumble about me being useless after my runs. I skipped numerous mid-week runs (which is a HUGE “no no” and probably why I walked a chunk of my marathon) because I didn’t want to miss time with my family or inconvenience MrZ. My training came after everything else in my life and in my family’s life because I didn’t want them to look at this and be annoyed by it. I didn’t want them to have any negative feelings towards my selfish desire to run this race. I knew it was a selfish task that would benefit no one but me, so why should they have to suffer because of it?

MrZ doesn’t quite look at it that way. I’m bitter. I’m not proud of it at all, but it’s there.

I guess I wanted to get all of that off my chest, because I don’t want to be bitter. I want to be supportive. I want to be proud and excited and not be thinking about how much this sucks for me. I’ve been thinking about how much it all sucks since August and MrZ has a big milestone on Saturday and I need to take a break being the Bitter Wife for a change (no matter how justified) and be The Good Wife. I want to be out in the cold on Saturday running around from checkpoint to checkpoint rooting for my husband without the resentment holding me back. I kinda needed to get it off my chest because it’s actually not fair to him. I know that. I’ve been there. I know how much he needs me cheering him on because I know how much I wanted him there for me.

I guess I wanted to get it off my chest so I can scream for him at as many points as I can on Saturday without grumbling between them. I’ve said my piece, I’ve bitched and I’ve moaned. For Saturday? I can now be The Good Wife.

But I promise you, The Bitter Wife will be going full force starting first thing Sunday morning when I have to drive to Montgomery to get LilZ while MrZ sits on the couch recovering. The Good Wife has a short lifespan, you know.

40 thoughts on “Cleansing my Bitter Soul”

  1. I’m running in and commenting, but I want to say WOW, that’s a lot on your plate and a meaner woman might have smothered Mr. Z in his sleep by now, so kudos to you for having patience and resilience and here’s a *zOoT* hug for you. Also, and I realize I don’t know your family so this might not work, but what about LilZ’s dad coming to get him for half of the visits? I haven’t been reading your blog very long, but I’ve noticed several times that you’re driving to Birmingham and just now wondering why you’re shouldering the burden. (It’s not a burden to road trip with your kid — screw it, you know what I mean. I hope. :)) Again … *zOoT* hug!

  2. @Maxine –

    Actually – luckily his paternal grandmother lives near here so his Dad does head towards our neck of the woods quite often. But even that requires an hour+ round trip drive to get him towards her house. Not that I’m complaining, 1+ hours is definitely easier than 5+

    But yeah – his Dad shoulders a lot of the extra burden many weekends. THANK GOD. Or else this entry would have been written months ago and ended with me and my head in the oven.

  3. Melissa’s entry and now yours have me worrying. I’ve been doing half marathons which already has my fiance grumbling, but next summer (after the wedding) I was hoping to start training for a full marathon. We don’t have any kids, so we don’t have that stress, but I am taking classes (1 class at a time) online. He already feels like I never hang out with him during the week since we have work and then runs and then homework. I have tried preparing him for full marathon training but I know it’s going to be hard. I’d really like to do this marathon for myself, but he’s not going to like the 5 months of training AT ALL.

  4. I can relate, sort of. I’ve trained for marathons, but don’t run, so I was taking long walks once a week. My kids are older, so it really didn’t matter that I was out for 6+ hours on a Saturday or Sunday, but still, I’d try to get out of the house before everyone else was up, and would still be doing stuff after I got back from a long hike, once I got the obligatory foot soak in epsom salts and maybe a half hour rest on the couch while slurping a protein shake. Mom first, athlete second.

    But at least you had your husband there when you crossed the finish line. Mine could care less. Husbands can be so self-centered sometimes. I would have loved to have him there, but for him it would have been a bother, seeing that it was an hour’s drive away. Even when I did a half marathon in town a few weeks ago, he couldn’t be bothered to watch me cross, or even to come pick me up; fortunately a girlfriend’s husband was able to. But I shouldn’t be surprised. It was like pulling teeth to get him to go to his own sons’ in-town varsity wrestling matches. And if he did come, he wanted to leave as soon as his kid’s match was over–which I think is rude. Everyone else stays till the end and cheers for the whole team.

    Half marathons are so much more manageable, at least for me. The one I did a couple months ago, I didn’t really even train for (since I walk 3-4 miles several times a week anyway). If it hadn’t been for the fact that my shoes weren’t adequately broken in, I probably could have finished without blisters. At least they were on the side of the foot so they didn’t hurt to walk.

    After I finished my first marathon, my husband actually expected me to drive him to a friend’s house for dinner. He had no clue what walking a marathon (at altitude, we live at 5500 feet, but the base for the marathon was 7500 feet, and that makes a big difference) takes out of you. NO WAY was I going to be braking and clutching with those feet.

    I’d like to walk another marathon, but this time of year, between the cold, and the football I like to watch, and oh yeah, all the holiday shopping and stuff I don’t know where I’m gonna find time for, it just doesn’t make sense. I’ll probably start training in February or March, but I won’t think about it till then.

  5. Amen, sister! I spend quite a bit of my time being the “Bitter Wife” and no one in my family is training for a marathon.

  6. Your post made me realize what my poor boyfriend must have gone through. He used to call me night after night asking if I wanted to have dinner only to have me say, “Can’t. Have to run.” That’s probably why he finally just started running with me (which obviously you can’t do right now.)

    Don’t feel bad about your…well feelings. I am positive I would be going through the same thing (even having run a marathon myself).

  7. Sometimes you need to acknowledge Bitter Wife. Sometimes you just gotta let those feelings out, otherwise they fester and you become Bitter Wife 24/7. And lo, you have a shiny blog, all ready for your occasional Bursts of Bitter.

  8. Everyone has some “Bitter Wife” in them. You have to vent sometimes or she will getcha!

  9. I can kind of relate to this. My husband coaches a middle school football team. Practice starts in July and the season ends, Thank God, this week. Practice is 5 nights a week. 5! For 12 year olds! He leaves for practice after being home for usually just a few minutes and doesn’t get home until 9 or so. I leave for my second job at 9:45. I end up having to do everything. Baths, dinner, errands, cleaning, homework, etc. I feel like at any moment I am going to just lose it!

  10. I don’t think that makes you Bitter Wife at all. It makes you Wife Who is Shouldering Too Many Responsibilities While Hubby Does What He Pleases. Marriage and parenting are partnerships, and he is getting off WAY too easy IMHO. If you could prioritize while training for your marathon, why can’t he? When do you get to do what YOU want?

  11. @AmberC – Hee. That’s the eternal dilemma in our marriage, I really don’t have any “hobbies” or anything so when I get free time, I just hang out with the kids. Which is kinda silly because I find myself bitch for “me” time, but then I use it watching a movie with the kids, or something I could just as easily do with MrZ gone as if he was at home. He’ll say, “Here! Take these next few hours all to yourself!” And I’ll say, “Um. But I want to hang out with the kids…” which kinda makes me look like a martyr but in reality I’m just boring.

  12. I’m with you. I don’t have kids, and I really enjoy my “me” time, but when I’m having “me” time, I want Andy there, and sometimes when Andy is there, I wish I could have more “me” time. I can’t imagine how I would behave with children in the mix!

    Even if it’s hard, it sounds like you are being the good wife by letting him do “his thing”. Even if you grumble about it. Just by “letting him” you’re doing more than some wives would. Give yourself a break, and then tell HIM to give you a break and help out a little!

  13. Zoot, I’m feeling your pain on this one (and my hubbie doesn’t run marathons). My husband picked up DD at daycare yesterday for, like, the second time, ever. She’s almost two! I left work in the morning and had a fever and slept most of the day. Today, (with ibprofen propping me up) I dragged myself to work. He asked that if I had to leave work early again if I could pick her up on my way home. Um, hello? Fever, feel like crap, and need to sleep vs. he goes several miles out of his way. You wouldn’t know that I got this from him and he got to sleep through the weekend!

    And, who watches football (baseball, auto/motorcycle racing) from one end of the weekend to the other while the other runs errands, does laundry, cooks, and parents two kids. It’s like being a single mom!

  14. Man, running is such a time suck. My goal of late has been to run 4.5 miles every day and it’s kicking my ass to get it done – everything else is falling by the way side.
    The thing I think is actually more interesting though… I see so many moms doing this, and I know I do it too – we sacrifice more than anyone else for our kids, the family, for our husbands, and then when other people aren’t willing to go to that level – we get bitter. I do this ALL THE TIME. I want to know how to become that person like my husband, your husband, Melissa’s husband, who is ok with putting themselves first some of the time. I’m really bad at that and it makes me bitter towards my husband – when really, I should be figuring out how to get some me time, maybe. I don’t know, this is just something that hit a chord with me because I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

  15. @Elizabeth – I know. The bad part is that if I take “me” time away from my family, I feel REALLY guilty. Especially if they are making sacrifices for my “ME” time. Then I take it out on my husband who NEVER even tries to make me feel guilty. I do that myself. So, he’s screwed either way. hehe.

  16. I feel your pain, my friend. Although my husband isn’t training for the marathon, he works insane hours and somedays it makes me want to kill him. I’m often wearing the bitter pants these days.

  17. I tend to agree with you. For some reason, women try to fit their outside activities around their families and men just don’t. Where we live? Hunting. Hunting usurps (can’t believe I just used that and it surely isn’t spelled right, but…) everything else. Seriously. Men are gone EVERY weekend and head out to S. Dakota for weeks. Women plan their Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners around when the men will be back from hunting. Ugh. It drives me crazy. Lucky for me, my husband only hunts here on our land and isn’t a nut-job about it, but if he were? I would SO be the bitter wife. There has to be a balance and even though Mr. Z is, from what you always say, the best husband and father, maybe you two could agree on a better balance. But, I do also have to say, having small children makes a big difference too. Once your kids get older, it’s a lot less work and you don’t feel as resentful. Just my .02, from an ‘older’ mom….but it is true. You guys are great, you have a great marriage, compromise and work it out in a way that doesn’t make you resentful. Resentment is NO fun. I’m still in awe of the fact that you two can find time to run marathons…..jesus, when my kids were NikkiZ’s age? I was lucky to get a shower in! Hope this helps.

  18. Can I just say that I’m fairly certain my husband will mumble the following after reading this entry, “I’ve not seen any action since the day I knocked you up. Do you want to talk bitter?”

  19. It is perfectly reasonable for you to feel that way. And good that you vented. You need to! Or you will explode.

    I think this is just a perfect example of how men and women are different and how we are just wired differently.

  20. HA! Tell him if he wants action you need more energy at the end of the day! Expending every ounce of energy (and then some) on kids, husbands, friends, community, etc. leaves very little for action at the end of the day!

  21. @ladybug – and that sounds MUCH better than, “I feel like a fat greasy sloth. Don’t touch me.”

  22. No wonder you are stressed. That’s a lot of effort that you have to put out on your part. I’m sure it doesn’t make things any easier because you are pregnant and probably a lot more tired than normal. It’s great that you can vent. Sometimes, for me, being able to do that on my blog really helps me put things into perspective. Just getting it all out there helps me cope much better.

  23. I’m cracking up here imagining you at check points…

    “Run, you S.O.B! You’d better make the inconvenience worth it!”

    Will he actually be able to hear you? Although, the other people on the sidelines might think you’re psycho…

    I agree with your general feeling though – why is it so difficult for guys to consider the ‘big picture’?

  24. I did the St. George marathon last year and it kicked my booty. I never missed my mid-week runs, but I did skimp a bit on the long weekend runs. I paid for that on race day. :-[ I ran in the dead of night and at all kinds of crazy hours so it didn’t inconvenience my family too much. But I was completely possessed and obsessed with the whole process, which made certain members of my family (yeah, my wife :-]) a bit crazy. I think the only reason she didn’t freak out was because I promised I wouldn’t do another one for a long time.

  25. Haha, Zoot – they always pull the sex card, don’t they? It all boils down to the last time they got some lovin’…….Ahhh, men and women, how can two creatures that are so different end up trying to figure it out together??

    But what would we do without them? Not to mention they make really cute babies!!

  26. Hi Zoot, long-time fan delurking because you struck such a chord with this entry. Not that my husband or I would ever make it as marathon runners, but the whole Bitter Wife thing is way too familiar! Sounds to me like you deserve a sainthood – put in the same position, I think I’d be doing hard time on a chain gang about now.
    So you’re definitely down as a Good Wife – with or without the lovin’, MrZ is a lucky man to have you!

  27. This is all sounding terribly familiar. My husband doesn’t run marathons but he never feels guilty about taking time for what he wants to do and I always feel guilty or, more often, just don’t take the time. The really really pathetic thing is that this all bothers me a lot less if he just acknowledges it. The verbal equivalent of a pat on the head and “you work so hard, I don’t know how you do it” pacifies me. I think this says more about me than it does about him.

  28. oooohhhhh, I feel your pain!!! and remember, it doubly sucks because you are working triple time incubating at the same time!! I am ashamed to say (well, not really) that when I found out I was preggers with #3 (a surprise) I had a three day hissy fit about hubbies inability to empty trash cans, change diapers, clean dishes, remember to take meat out of the freezer, get up on Saturdays, etc. let alone the fact that HE STILL managed to go to the gym EVERY DAY, join friends for Happy Hour every Friday because I could stay with the kids since I wasn’t drinking anyway, and suddenly couldn’t find the time to cook his 1 night a week… Not saying things changed, but it felt better to get it out! Good Luck!

  29. Zoot, you are handling this situation with more grace than I have in similar situations with the husband. Glad you got this off your chest, I am sure it was a relief. It’s tough running the household and taking care of the kids solo when the husband has hobbies or outside commitments.

  30. People don’t realize what a time commitment training for a marathon is…and not just for the marathoner..life is on hold all around them. And I think as women, we totally prioritize everyone else first….I still had to get up with the kids the night before my long runs because I was breastfeeding. Scott would sleep at his parents house the night before runs so that he would get enough sleep…there are some things that just aren’t options for women…..I’m not sure why….I think bioligically we are just built different. LIke how we can’t bear to hear the kids cry and cry and the guys can tune it out.

    being bitter, doesn’t mean you are unsupportive…it means your cranky, and pregnant, and in this society not able to take what you want he way men do. Because women are bitchy and crappy moms if they put themselves first and men are healthy and well balanced if they do….

    nothing against you or MrZ or my man or me…i think it’s just the way we arecondtioned….

    oh and also the catholic guilt…that helps.

  31. there are some things u cant change. i know u wudnt want to change anything in uf life. grumbling helps, thats all 🙂

  32. Dude. I get bitter that my husband spends so much time working on our house on the weekends. Not only is that totally wrong, but it is totally illogical too. I mean, the man laid beautiful bamboo floors in the living room this weekend, and I found myself grumbling that I didn’t get to spend any time with him because I’m “too pregnant” to help now.

    I need a boot to the butt.

  33. My bf and I have a similar thing…I’m a student, but he works 6 days a week. Plus band practise 2-4 nights a week, not to mention MY band practise, so the only day we really see each other longer than an hour is Sundays. However the nights he does have free, and Sundays, he doesn’t want to do anything besides watch TV and go on the computer to work on drum tracks, simply ’cause he doesn’t get any other time to do it. And if he can be in my company AND be on the computer, he says doesn’t that count?

    well, no, it doesn’t count. It drives me mad.

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