For Better or for Worse... But Never for Lunch!

by Holly Palance
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weddingrings.jpgAn age-old motto employed by wise women everywhere when their 60-something husbands return from the work wars to create projects from their home office.

My best friend's grandmother used that ironclad rule for the whole of her fifty-year marriage. Most especially after her adored husband retired from the illustrious law firm that bore his name, took to writing legal thrillers in the den and padding around her kitchen five times a day.

"My darling, let me miss you," she'd purr, as he asked yet again what they were having for lunch." I want to see you at the beginning and end of my day and all weekend long. To renew our otherness and share the excitement of two separate lives made one."

"But I'm hungry, " he said, yanking last night's tuna casserole out of the fridge, "And I don't want to eat alone."

"Then my darling," she implored lovingly, " go out to your club or a cafe or a friends home -- ANYWHERE but here, so that we can keep our love alive!"

YEP, I get it now. Having married for the second time just last September and technically a newly wed, I am having a hard time getting used to a man working in the man cave. A husband I love and hugely admire, with a dazzling resume and forty years of award winning journalism to his credit, he recently decided, at 60, to move out of New York's changed media world and get proactive, reinventing himself... at home.

keepcalm.jpgWithin one year of moving to LA to marry me, he has managed to put two reality shows into development, become VP in charge of Creative Affairs at a production startup, and come up with an app that shows promise and may already have investors. The man is a closer.

The problem for me is that he is in the house. All day. Working at the computer, strategizing loudly on his Blackberry and cruising the kitchen for endless cups of coffee. SO, you say? You don't believe in taking five? Give the guy a break.

I am a writer and former magazine editor who works at home too! My office is upstairs above the kitchen and without wanting to... I hear everything!

I have turned up the noisy air conditioning -- even if I get so cold that I am wearing a black turtle neck when its 80 degrees outside. I have started to use earplugs even though they distract me by popping out of my ears and onto my keyboard. I have turned on classical radio -- which is distracting, but does drown out the 'ambient' noise downstairs.

Having longed to find another mate, you may say, "How churlish" to complain and I agree with you! I feel awful about it. My husband is the kindest, most adorable guy you could ever meet. Smart, funny and a great conversationalist! All of which I want to enjoy at the end of the day, not all day long.

You might ask, but how is he bothering you? I can hardly say the offensive words without cringing. " By asking how I am, did I see today's New York Times op-ed page, or do I need a bottle of water?" See? I have been catapulted in the role of bitch wife.

Ladies, here's the rub. I just turned sixty-one. So did he. For many of us, work lives are changing, shortening, becoming more entrepreneurial... and that means toiling in the house! Or does it?

Desperate, I finally took action and to save our days (and nights) I rented an office outside the house. NOW, I make sure he has a refrigerator full of lunchtime goodies, which he can save or toss, if his week turns into a marathon of downtown meetings or location shoots.

The other day I drove home from the citadel of calm and silence I now labor in at noon to pick up a file I'd forgotten and went into the fridge to grab a piece of string cheese on the run. Sure enough my husband greeted me, but this time I was hoist on my own petard as he crowed, "for better or worse, but never for lunch!"


- Originally published on The Huffington Post


#3 Melanie Holmes 2014-03-17 12:27
I'm fascinated that you have put into words what must have been hard to say. Needing uninterrupted time to write is the quintessential ingredient to creative success for me. I, too, have 1 of the best husbands in the world, but when I'm writing, I want to be alone..lone...l one. I have a sound machine that I blast if necessary, but when I emerge from behind my closed door (for food or water), I find that my brain has to shift to "non-alone-ness ," and it's distracting. I'm glad to know I'm not "alone" in feeling a need for separation while working (hah! pun intended)
#2 Santiagogo 2011-10-05 23:44
John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion were a Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn couple who offset each other in the best possible ways; they took turns deflating each other's grandiosities and argued Socratically as they worked out their thoughts. In the moments before he collapsed in their New York apartment, they had been discussing "why the first world war was the critical event from which the entire rest of the 20th century flowed." Neither could imagine living without the other. Whether collaborating on screenplays, or simply writing side by side day after day for forty years, they were rarely out of range of the sound of the other's voice.
#1 LAdins 2011-10-03 03:20
Funny, yet totally true. Feel the same way when my husband shows up early from work. It just throws off the rhythm of my day. I want to hang with him, but can't so his presence is distracting. Don't mind being together 24/7 when on vacation, but having some separate time does help keep the flame alive. You are not alone.:-)

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