The Troubled Years

I know many of you have been waiting for this post. I've been hesitant to write it, as unlike my other posts, this one dwells on the negative. A bit of background before I get to the meat of the post.

After I left the Navy, we returned home to Rochester. We moved in with my parents temporarily until we got settled again. It took me about 6 months to find a job and a little less time for the Wife to find one. As pay rates are better here than in Virginia Beach, the Wife got a job at around her old pay, perhaps a little more. I, on the other hand, had to take a job at about 65% of my former salary. However, we found a house within our new income range, a modest ranch. Our combined income was enough to maintain our new standard of living.

Along came Maverick. We had to put him in daycare since we couldn't make it on one income (a common problem for couples). Shortly after Maverick was born, I accepted a new job at significantly more pay. Then along came Grasshopper. Again, we couldn't afford to live on one income, so 2 kids in full time daycare. Cost: $13,000 per year. Yes, you read that right.

We looked at our finances and discovered we had two choices: 1: the Wife could quit her job, saving us daycare costs, which would result in us going into debt VERY quickly. 2. She could keep her job and we'd go into debt slowly. So we really had no choice but to choose option 2. For the first time in our marriage, we carried credit card debt. That was only getting bigger as time went on.

Then, around 1999, I got laid off from my job. Talk about tough times. I decided to change careers (again) and get into IT. I finally found a job, but again, at a lower pay than my previous job in management. I also forgot to mention that the Wife had lost her job back in 1998 and found out she was pregnant with Grasshopper a few weeks later. Luckily, she found a job within a few months.

So you can see the financial background we were dealing with. Top that off with the stress of having small kids. Maverick screamed his head off the first six months of his life with gas bubbles in his tummy until we switched his formula to soy and the problem went away. Overnight. Even though our pediatrician advised us not to switch. But that's another story. Then by the time he was two he would have tantrums that would leave him on the ground screaming his head off for 30 to 45 mintues. For things like not getting the tape in the VCR fast enough. Let's not even talk about the potty training issues with Grasshopper.

So how did this affect our relationship? It was probably the closest to divorce we ever came. There were many times each of us was ready to throw the other out of the house. Any little thing would get us mad at each other, especially when it came to dealing with the kids. One of us would get all mad, which would make the other mad, and on the cycle went. And the screaming that went on!

But we never screamed at each other. You see, we seldom fight. That is, fight in the screaming at each other, wake up the neighbors, throwing things across the room at each other kind of fighting. No, when we get mad at each other, we bascially glare at each other and don't talk to each other for hours to days. Oh, yeah, we could nurse a grudge that long. So who did we take all the anger and frustration out on? You guessed it, the kids. Any little thing could turn into a huge blow out. It could get really ugly.

Now, just so you don't think that our entire household was nothing but anger and misery, there were plenty of wonderful times too. Birthday parties for the boys. We had a wonderful 80th birthday party for the Wife's dad and had her whole family at my place. Christmases were always great. We'd wake up late, open presents, then go to church. We spend Christmas Eve with my family so Christmas Day is always relaxing.

So what turned it all around you ask? I hate to say it, but it was the death of the Wife's dad. Her mom had died the same year she got pregnant with Grasshopper. Her dad died a few year later. We found out that he had quite a bit of money squirreled away. The resulting inheritance was enough to get us out of debt and buy a new house. There's more to it in the details than that, but that was basically it. By the time he passed away, I was working for my current employer and we were doing well from an income perspective. By paying off all of our debt, we were sitting fairly pretty. You have no idea how much stress goes away when you can actually pay your bills.

Since that time, we've still had our fights, and live is not 1oo% peaceful, but overall it's good. In the last few years, our relationship has reached a new sort of level. I think we're gettting to that stage in a marriage where we're more comfortable with each other. We're so busy with the kids, that we don't have too much time for each other, but we just enjoy hanging out, so to speak. At least, I find it comforting just to be around her.

I'll have to post some individual stories for you guys as I think of them, probably from various points in time. I'll finish by saying what I've always said. Through ups and downs, good times and bad, no matter how pissed off I've ever been with the Wife, I'm still crazy about her. Like, madly in love, feel like I'm still 16 when I hold her kind of crazy in love. And that's what keeps me going.


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