My 28-Item Wish List

During my extended life as a single woman, I created a list of attributes I wished my future mate would have.  I had huge hopes:  I had 28 items on my list.  And, because I had close friends with workaholic husbands who refused to take vacations, my list culminated with “Willing to Take Time Off/Vacation.”

My husband easily meets 27 of my 28 hoped-for personality traits and lifestyle choices.  But, he is a workaholic who wakes by 3:30 a.m. seven days a week; who Monday through Friday takes the 4:50 a.m. train to downtown Chicago; who works for 12 hours or even longer, if he has evening social commitments; and who only then returns home.

My husband is so conscientious that the prospect of taking time off, other than when everyone is taking holidays at the same time, is painful.  He envisions looming deadlines and responsibilities that would multiply during his absence.  He can’t imagine being “off the grid,” being disconnected from his iPhone, Blackberry and laptop, only to be overwhelmed upon his return from vacationing.

So, when we were dating and I proposed taking a four-day weekend, our only opportunity to get away before my donor-conceived son was born, forever changing our relationship dynamic, he couldn’t bring himself to agree. 

However, the following Thanksgiving, he was happy to take me to Florida for the long weekend, for no one else was working either—and he could relax completely during the vacation in which he was going to ask me to marry him.

Every other Thanksgiving, we have my stepsons for the holiday weekend, and we travel to Florida to visit my husband’s parents.  During these trips, my husband is peaceful and joyful, for he can focus on his family, for he isn’t missing out on any work-related activity.

Every other Spring Break, we also travel with my stepsons to Florida, but, during these trips, my husband is always checking his e-mail and voicemail, always available to his work colleagues in a pinch—and even when it’s not a crisis.  He can never fully relax; he is always “on.”  So, these are not real vacations, not trips in which he can escape the day-to-day and rejuvenate.

When we got married, we didn’t take a honeymoon, for we got married on December 16, and he has deadlines the first of every month.

When I turned 40 last summer, he agreed to go away for one week, on a driving trip through Michigan, as long as he could always have Internet and cell-phone access.  He spent many hours in our hotel rooms, while my son and I lounged poolside.

I understand, because I was a workaholic too.  I remember taking cell-phone calls on Isla Mujeres, an island outside of Cancun, while traveling with three girlfriends.  I remember the stress of work travel.  I remember feeling overwhelmed day and night.  I eventually made the decision to work only from home, eliminating useless meetings, time-consuming office politics, and business lunches, because, if I could dedicate myself solely to the actual work, I had a more balanced life. 

We’re perfectionists, my husband and me.  And, this has served us well, at least professionally.  But perfectionism has taken its toll on our bodies and our brains. 

For the past few months, we’ve undergone two cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF), the first unsuccessful and the second resulting in pregnancy with twins, one of whom we lost two weeks ago.  The past few months have included my husband’s evaluation of his career path and the biggest professional decision of his life.  The past few months have included our 15-year-old son, my stepson, going away for high school, to a school with a special Language Program that will help him overcome his dyslexia.  The past few months have included unbearable amounts of disappointment in circumstances and people, stress, heartbreak, loss. 

And, these past few months have just about broken my husband.  They have pushed him to the point in which last night, calling from New York, he told me to book a vacation—an immediate vacation.  He said that we need a break.  We decided on Disney World because we’ll be taking our 4-year-old, and Disney World includes relaxing environments, pools and beaches and spas, and fun-for-kids activities galore.  

We leave Sunday for a full week, a full week’s vacation proposed by my husband, the man who now meets all 28 criteria on “My List.” 

I only wish he hadn ‘t had to be pushed to the brink to get here.

  1. Abbykarma
    October 1st, 2009 at 09:22
    Reply | Quote | #1

    It is so amazing to read because I couldn’t have written it better myself. Just substitute my husband’s name with your husband’s name and welcome to my world! Nick said just this morning that the difference between when I worked my ass off at Radio City and him working his off now, is that the technology makes it impossible to shut off from work. We never see him.

    This weekend is the open House at St. Peter’s Prep where Ben wants to go to high school and the only good news is we know we get to spend two hours as a family on Sunday afternoon. Wahoo.

    Have fun in Florida! Love always. xo

  2. mk
    October 1st, 2009 at 22:52
    Reply | Quote | #2

    I’d rather be married to a good man who works too much than a bad one who is available all the time. At least, I’m always happy to see my husband. And, I’m looking forward to his retirement, of course…

  3. Abbykarma
    October 2nd, 2009 at 07:10
    Reply | Quote | #3

    Ditto! xo

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