[From Noel] Today we get to hear from the guys. Mark Jolin is the vice principal of Oakville Christian School. (He’s good cop to Jeff Kennedy’s bad cop for those of you who know him). Mark has been married to his wife (and my favourite cousin) Mari Alice for sixteen years and they have three kids together. When he and Mari were engaged we were all in love with Mark. We told her, “If this thing doesn’t work out we’re keeping Mark; you might be looking for a new family…” (he he he Just kidding)
We asked Mark, “What changes in your spouse have surprised you the most since you first got married?” Here’s what he said:
I think the biggest surprise I’ve had with marriage is how little time you get to spend together.
I should have had low expectations. My parents don’t spend their days together. They fall in the opposites attract category. They have different hobbies and interests, and those differences have led them to having different circles of friends. Still, it seemed to me they had time for each other.
My wife and I are birds of a feather and share many interests. One of the songs played at our wedding was the Beach Boys, “Wouldn’t it be Nice,” “…after having spent the day together, hold each other close the whole night through.” Not that I’m a romantic, but I pictured us enjoying our free time doing activities like hiking, biking, canoeing between meals prepared together and evenings holding each other close.
The first year of our marriage was all that and more. We started Teacher’s College together, sharing all but one class. We were the “cutesy newlyweds” spending 22 hours a day together.
After that year life settled into more what I expected. Jobs pulled us apart for 9 hours a day, but we had our evenings and weekends.
But things changed when all that holding each other close stuff resulted in kids – 3 kids that all gave up their naps before the age of two, and two kids that continue to show they don’t need as much sleep as the book-writing experts suggest.
So occasionally my wife and I still prepare a meal together (when the TV is allowed to lure the kids from demanding our attention). Meaningful mealtime conversation though is disjointed at best, interrupted by, “Pass the …”, “Yuck, I don’t like this – do I have to eat it?” and spilt milk (the cumulative effect can lead this last event to trigger tears).
After dinner clean-up is an easier time to get to ourselves (kids tend to drift away at that time), but it is still interrupted for calls for mom from the bathroom, calls for justice from the one in tears, and calls for help for the one slumped over homework.
Usually we are forced to divide and conquer. One (usually me) gets to distract the 5 year old by getting at his level and playing. My wife cleans while assisting with homework. So “us time” is confined between 10:00 and the time I fall asleep (around 10:10).
Weekends can be like this too, one going out to do the groceries, one taking the kids to the park or library (again, usually me) so the other can ready the house for guests.
Added to the time demands have been increases in work responsibilities – both my wife and I have been at our same jobs for over 17 years. Promotions have provided more money (when you are young and in love, who cares about money; when your feeding three kids and carrying a mortgage – money helps), but have led to more work following us home.
So the supposed solution – babysitting. We probably don’t use it enough. With the kids being in daycare 3 days a week, we feel the guilt of not having spent enough time with them, and we do enjoy spending time with our kids.
Now, some of our favourite times are driving longer distances. The kids tune in to the CD playing or keep themselves occupied and my wife and I can have a conversation, hold hands, and pretend we are alone together. I wonder if the Beach Boys have a follow up hit, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older and the kids had all moved from home…”?
This post is continued here.