The More We Get Together

get together

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

In the course of our courting, there were frisbees-a-flying, beers-a-flowing, big bad barbeques, and more than a smattering of smooching and cuddles.  Being together was easy and always.

We married in 1997, healthy, happy, and excited about our lives.  All that we wanted was to be together and continue the fun and goofiness that attracted us to each other in the first place.  Simple enough, seeing that we were getting married and all, right?

Change We Could Have Done Without

Change from 1998-2007 included such delights as increased pant sizes, long work hours, more doctor visits, decreased intimacy,  a slump in the fun fund, fewer hours together, lack of peaceful sleep, lack of creative endeavors, and an increase in mindless spending, just to name a few.

What the hell happened during this nine year black hole of productivity, progress, and pleasure?  Work happened.  Two crappy teaching jobs that we allowed to suck the life right out of us.  Student teaching, years before, was a portent of what was about to transpire, but my first day of real teaching in 1998 was the proverbial ton of bricks.  I somehow managed to choke down all the apathy and discomfort and trudge on with grim determination.  Tammy was  equally as stressed, only she got some satisfaction out of teaching.

Oh, how the kiddies needed us.  Oh, how we needed them.  The principal stopped in and said what a nice lesson I was giving on the life of Mozart.  My student teacher was so appreciative and will no doubt be better off for all the time, effort, and energy I put in before and after school.  My colleagues said I worked magic with kids and they responded so well to me.

I freakin’ hated it and all of those seeming positives proved cloying in very short order.  So why stay?  We had convinced ourselves that staying was the noble thing to do.  We would continue to act selflessly, open our big hearts – even wider, express the utmost gratitude in achieving our lofty educational goals.  These annoying cliches could be part of a commencement speech, sending the future of America off to their inevitable great deeds.  Still, we were miserable and change for us was a painfully excruciating drag.  Yet, my inner-martyr berated me ceaselessly with the guilts hurling deadly brick-bat bullets that whistled past my ears.

But teachers have the opportunity to transform our youth!  They are invested in our country’s  future!  They help develop the great minds that will lead tomorrow’s world!  Teachers are role models for our children.  Teachers are heroes!  What they do is SO noble!

Whatever.

I was still wishing my days away.  

Awakening

I wished Monday through Friday away so I could be with Tammy.  Nay!  Not only be with, but flourish, prosper, have fun, fun, fun!

Fun, where ever did you go? 

Mornings were filled with sullen grunts, brooding silences, sick heads and stomachs, and occasional weeping.  Yes, even that.  The commute and the school day was mere survival.  I tore out of the parking lot seconds after the last bell rang only to sit at home steaming at how long Tammy stayed after school, letting the bureaucracy grind her down.

Evenings were a noxious mixture of prickliness and anxiety with the additional strain of trying to show love in the absence of the resources to make it so.  The night was all tossing and turning with our minds running and repeating disturbing scenarios of the following day despite total exhaustion.

How could I have ever denied this?

Finally, we admitted that we were very unhappy apart from each other, so we I quit and opened our own guitar and tutoring studio.

Stock Value Increasing

Sullen morning grunts became laughter and five mile walks.  The death defying and lonely commute became an animated discussion or business meeting on the way to the studio.  Our commute now enjoyed together.  Incompetent coworkers and principals became employees of the month – every month.  We really did hang an award on the wall of the studio too.  Work hours got slashed by 50%.  Evenings became filled with conversation, reading, and excitement over our tasty vittles.  I can feel the excitement over the changes even now as I write and relive the lifting of the immense burdens of the past!  Before we sleep, there is usually one more fit of giggles about some asinine thing we said or did.  And night time now was filled with blissful, peaceful, complete, high-quality sleep – oblivion.

We wanted and got our time together back.  And now that we have it, we clench it in our jaws like a rabid Tasmanian devil with a chip on its striped shoulder.  And fun has returned screaming with vengeance.

We are together all day long and very happy about it.  We are now excited about our lives and our future.  How can that measure up to the ideal of noble?  We put an end to wishing our days away!

Do you enjoy enough time with your partner?  Please share in comments.

Photo by jDevaun

get together

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27 thoughts on “The More We Get Together”

  1. I work with my spouse too. All day, and I love it. We each take off one day a week for ourselves. The alone time is good for me. We’ve cut back our hours to do-able. Even if it means less money. It’s more important that we have time for each other and our kids.
    Yes, there is the pay the bills deal going on. Still, I wouldn’t change it for a minute. Wait a minute, I would like to travel. Still working on that, but it’s coming. Enjoyed this post. I’m so happy things are working out beautifully for you. Inspiring.

  2. Hi Virginia! So many people want more time with their spouse and their kids, but stumble on the money issue. We are getting by on a lot less than we thought was possible without sacrificing our quality of life. Travel, travel, travel. Us too, Virginia. We are finally in a position to take more trips and are super excited about it!

    I am happy for you and your family too and hope that you, your husband, and children can continue to enjoy the unique life you’ve built and the travels to come. Thank you for your comment;)

  3. One must have a partner first. I have a new relationship and we live 100 miles away from each other. That is actually working okay for now. It allows us space and we have a weekend or two a month together.

    1. Hello Dan!!! Always happy to see you around the internet! You add value everywhere you go. So happy that the long-distance relationship is working for now. We realize that the way we conduct our marriage is not for everyone. Some couples would be suffocated for sure. We are super lucky to have the chemistry we do and the commonalities in our backgrounds that we share, very lucky.

      Much can be done in a weekend or two a month and you are a man with much to say and a delightful way of saying it!

  4. Thanks for the post, C.J.

    I worked as in a low-paying but rewarding job for a while and loved it. Then I changed to a more lucrative career and it ground me down to dust. I was one of the very best in the world, but every success felt like it belonged to someone else, because I felt like I was living someone else’s dream. It wasn’t mine. It took me years, but in the end I quit.

    The lesson I so painfully learned: When you’re banging your head against a wall, it won’t get better by banging it harder. Stopping and finding a new path is the solution.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mark. Did you go back to a career that is rewarding and one that you love? Perhaps a silly question, but it would be cool to know what and how and if.

      You state so well the way you learned your lesson. Wish I had made it up myself. Cutting our losses is a very difficult lesson, but a very rewarding one. It has become a habit for us and pervades every area of our lives including work.

      I sincerely hope that you found something once again that you are passionate about and that it is as rewarding as your job before.

      1. Thanks, CJ. I like your site, by the way. I bought your book. :)

        I wish I could say that everything resolved fantastically, but I’m still trudging towards the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I had significant health issues, which nearly killed me, and I had other stuff on top of that. So I’ve been doing what I can and hoping for more for the future.

        I somewhat envy your married situation. My wife and I are poles apart in certain things. For instance, when I am under stress I look for ways to change my circumstances. When my wife is under stress, she clings to the familiar to anchor her. So when we’re both under stress we have totally opposite responses.

        1. Hi Mark. Thanks for the kind words about the site and I hope the book can at least provide a few chuckles.

          You’ve had quite a list of formidable obstacles. I am unsure how I’d fare under the same circumstances. You seem to be doing at least as well as I may and probably far better.

          My wife and I actually deal with problems very differently too, but we’ve been very fortunate to have figured out how to always arrive at a united front on the matter. It usually takes a whole lot of talking, thinking and off the wall zaniness, but in the end we attack the problem together as awkward and unconventional as we may seem.

  5. CJ:

    Thank you for your inspiring story. I’m so glad that you and your wife were able to leave an unsatisfying career and embark on a fulfilling one. It’s great that you and your wife found your marital bliss together. The lesson for me in this is whether or not you’re married or single, it’s important to follow your inner joy. Life can be so fun and enriching if we learn to let go of everyone’s “you shoulds” on our lives and our own insecurities about our futures and tap into our inner magic to find that joy. It’s great that the both of you came to that realization together.

    1. Hi Ho Happy! And thank you for such a remarkable comment. Shedding the shoulds is a hallmark of growth and can be massively difficult, but well worth the trouble.

      Together was a huge advantage for us. I got out, threw Tammy a line, and once out, she rallied the troops to seek new and loftier endeavors. One of us is always in a position to assist and when both of us are juiced, we get in a lot of trouble together which results in, as you say, fun and enrichment;)

  6. Oh CJ, no matter how many times I read about your past, I always garner some new piece of wisdom. Even having read your wonderful book, I am still learning more about you two as a couple and about us, Jess and I, as a couple.

    More time together. That shall become our goal ever forth.

  7. Mark!!! Your words are eternally kind. How do you do it? Some couples may not do well with so much time together, but it was perfect for us. You and Jess and an all-star couple from whom we have much to learn. So we keep reading your wonderful individual and team posts, not mention Jess’s groovy photos!

    Thank so much for your thoughtful words!

    1. I know it is true that some couples wouldn’t do well spending more time together, but I do find that rather odd, because ever since I met Jess I have been working tirelessly to spend more and more time with her, and every day I let go from my ‘work for someone else’ schedule is cause for great celebration.

      1. Indeed it is cause for celebration, Mark! Working for ourselves is what ultimately gave us the time we so badly wanted together. The payoff has been beyond our wildest imaginings. A blog and a book and beyond would have been nothing more than pie-in-the-sky hogwash just a few years back. May you and Jess get all the time together you desire and relish every moment!!!

  8. I 100% percent agree with the idea of striving to set up our lives in a way that is agreeable to us. (In fact, it’s my job to help people do this.) However, I would caution that everyone is different in terms of what works for them. I’ve seen people leave teaching and love it. I’ve seen people go to teaching and love it. It’s not teaching that is inherently bad. It’s whether or not it is a good fit for the individual.

    1. Hello Allison!! Thank you for your insightful comment. Teaching may very well be a good fit for a few and we need energetic, talented teachers out there. On the other hand, knowing what I do, I could never recommend the profession in good conscience – not in a classroom/school setting. There are certainly some happy teachers out there doing a swell job, but a happy teacher is the exception and not the rule.

  9. CJ, Congratulations to you and your spouse for making the move and doing what you love. Many are unhappy with what they do but never do anything about it. I also work with my spouse and I love the fact that we are working together on the same goals. People often ask how we do it and I say it takes effort, commitment and respect.

    1. Veronica!!!!Thank you for your comment. I was scared to death that we’d end up old and bitter, full of the regrets harvested from a life of duty and obligation. Finally, we got angry enough to act and I do mean angry. Anger is not always such a bad thing.

      Congrats to you and the Hubs too! I am curious as to what kind of work you do together, but I hate to seem intrusive. Working on common goals exploded our marriage, in a fine way. We are doing things I would have scoffed at a mere 5 years ago.

      The alternatives to all that time, effort, and respect are lack of time, misplaced effort, and loss of respect for each other and ourselves. How worth the trouble it is, no?

  10. Work can be something that sucks the very life out of those things most important to us. Sometimes we believe that there’s no other way and we trap ourselves. Some peple take a big step others edge away slowly. Whatever, own up to the situation and do something!

    1. Peter! How very well stated! Thank you. I’ve seen people close to me work miserable jobs and turn into bitter husks of their former selves. There was no way, though we began down that long slide, we were going to end up like that.

      The big step can be dangerous, but with potential for a huge pay off. Edging away is a bit safer, but can cost you precious time. But I totally agree that we must face reality and do SOMETHING!

  11. Reading this was like looking into a mirror, without the marriage part. I work as a high school guidance counselor and feel the same way you felt.
    People ask me when I started burn out on the job and I tell them, around day 4. That was 10 years ago.

    I’ve kept going in to the job, telling myself that I need to give back to the world in some way. People say the same cliche stuff to me that they said to you, “you’re changing lives,” “you’re shaping the future leaders,” “you make a difference,” “it’s noble.”

    I don’t feel like I do any of that. Sure, I might make a difference in a few lives but not many. I’d rather help people in a way that excites me and that energizes my mind. I’m getting there now. And it feels pretty amazing.

    Congrats on your big life turn around. Happy for ya!

  12. Ernest! Thank you for your poignant comment. This bit was staggering to me: “I’d rather help people in a way that excites me and that energizes my mind.” Indeed!!!! Why the hell not enjoy making a difference rather than being luke warm or even dreadfully bored by it? We live in a society where quality of life can be questioned and improved. Why not go for it and put ourselves in a position to truly help others with enthusiasm and exuberance?

    I look forward to your site http://www.alivebyforty.com being complete so we can read your posts and join in the fun and excitement. So please let me know when it is up and ready to go!

    1. Thanks for the compliment.
      You’re exactly right.

      I’m not sure what alivebyforty is. I’m a fiction author and run a blog on my site ernestdempsey.net that discusses personal growth and development. :)

  13. Ernest, thank you for correcting me on this! Now, I will go check out ernestdempsey.net!! And I don’t even have to wait the 9 days it told me I would. How very embarrassing.

  14. You and Tammy are such an inspiration CJ! The way you two simply took charge and reclaimed your lives together is just freakin’ awesome. Dare I say I’m a little jealous?

    And on another note, I love your brutal honesty about your miserable lives as school teachers. All you ever hear is “noble this” and “noble that”. I love how you just say “Whatever.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against teachers, but your words smash right through that aura of self-righteousness that tends to go with the industry. Purely badass my friend.

    Cheers!

  15. Trevor Wilson, of the completely and insanely good, A Call to Action! Thanks for leaving a comment. Thanks also for such kind words, but no, do not dare say you’re jealous! We could easily say the same every time we visit your site and see the vibrant parties going on over there.

    I feel the same way about teachers. I empathize because I know how tough the work is and I know the elements that are against reform and how powerful they are. It is truly a losing battle in our schools. But for those who want a life outside of work or if they’d like to feel as if they are making a difference in the world, I’d recommend steering clear of the profession.

    To see purely badass associated with our names makes my night. Hell, it makes the whole weekend!!! Thanks man.

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