"If our ups and downs in our marriage can help young couples sort of realize that that good marriages take work... it's unfair to project a kind of perfection that doesn't exist." -- First Lady , Michelle Obama, in The New York Times, November 1st, 2009
I was so excited to read the New York Times Magazine story about the First Couple this past Sunday. I can't stop thinking about how the First Lady said their relationship is an "ongoing negotiation." That sounds just like my marriage. My husband and I may be just one of the approximately 56 million couples in the United States, but we have so much in common.
The first couple has tried to preserve their "date night tradition." We have too -- maybe we can double? Just last week "they slipped into a Georgetown restaurant, he was tie-less and she wore a backless sheath." OK, on our most recent date night, we couldn't actually afford to leave our bedroom. So we gave our kid free reign of the internet for the night, opened a bottle of six month old California wine while I slipped into my eight year old sweat pants, and we plopped down on our twelve year old couch to watch our favorite new show on our eighteen year old TV. But our TV died, so if anyone knows if Ted Danson got the charges removed when he was busted for smoking pot in Fort Greene, we'd love to know.
The Obamas are lamenting their "lack of privacy" in their marriage. OK, theirs is due to all the press surrounding the President's every move and all of the important functions he attends that dictate their schedule, but I can relate. Our entire family schedule revolves around my husband's obsession with a particular bodily function which makes it impossible to calculate the timing of everyone else's use of that room. So we're constantly waiting on my husband's activities, just like the Obamas. Inevitably, I might amble into said room at the same time that Jeff has headed in armed with the entire newspaper and several magazines. He doesn't get security briefings like POTUS so he has to spend a lot of time gathering his own information, after which we stage a daily reenactment of the scene from Marathon Man: "Is it safe?" which is kinda like FLOTUS reading the daily briefings, right?
"The pair recently began playing tennis" and Barack is beating Michelle, "for now" she says. OK, we were playing. I signed us up for weekly tennis lessons. Over at our court, every time Jeff missed a shot, he'd curse at himself and throw his racket down in disgust. His game was accompanied by loud growling through clenched teeth, sprinkled with expletives. His claim that "lessons were ruining his game" was a novel one and my guy quit while Barack is still playing, but at least I'll always have the memory of how when Jeff played it sounded like he was on the receiving end of a Civil War era amputation.
Seeing her husband in the Oval Office cracks Michelle up. "What are you doing here, get up from there!" she'll say. I'm so there, lady. I walk into our renovated garage office and I can't believe my husband is at his desk trolling through Internet porn and chatting up old girlfriends on Facebook. Ok, I might not be cracking up when I yell, "What the fuck are you doing, you're setting a bad example for our kid!!" But it is always shocking just how much time he can spend looking at that crap.
Michelle says its hard work and that's one thing we really do have in common which is why I've declared a personal fatwah against the phrase, "happily ever after." Wouldn't just "ever after" make more sense - and "they lived ever after"? Much more realistic. But who knows, maybe the Obamas will have more "happily" in their ever after than most of us, and I can only hope that right wing commentators will stop leveling criticism at the President for taking the time to devote to his marriage with his weekly date nights- at least we know that unlike Bush, who was asleep by 9pm every night, our new President is actually awake.