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November 10, 2006

Sandbagging

Kelly's column about Sandbagging originally appeared in The Hills Newspapers and is represented here with their permission.

I’m married to a good man who works hard, between between tracking his fantasy football players and picking wines online and finding the occasional sportcoat deal on jcrew.com… and I’m a good woman , an at-home mom who works hard, between writing columns and coffeeing with friends and catching a spin on the elliptical trainer down at the Y). Between us, we’ve got nothing to hide.

Still, I’ve noticed this trend in our daily check in calls. He seems to want me to go first so he gets right out there with "how's your day?" and that’s when it happens. That’s the moment I feel myself hedging, wishing I knew which way his day was going before I rattle off a list of small but mission-critical achievements, like picking up dry cleaning and getting his prescription filled OR focus instead on the hour that the girls played quietly while I flipped through old Pottery Barn catalogs and yakked on the phone to my friend down the street. I mean, it's unwise (right?) to let your husband think it's too cruisy back at home. Stories of heroism always involve great obstacles and unforeseen challenges, right? What credit will I get at the end if I make motherhood out to be one long afternoon of crayons, cupcakes, and Curious George? Best to report the tantrums and timeouts. Best to cast the corporate world as a haven, predictable, logic- based, preferable on all counts.

Guilt seeps in.

But then I notice that he sandbags me too. Calling from a first-class trip to Tokyo, he hesitates to describe his hotel room, or his dinner, or his schedule the next day. He plays the hold-back game. Which means that somewhere along the line, I've communicated that I don’t want to hear about the $100 bottle of wine he had with his brainy, interesting boss while exquisite women scurried to and fro in silk kimonos bringing course after course of award-winning food.

More guilt. I mean what kind of bitter killjoy doesn’t want her hard working husband to enjoy the occasional boondoggle?

So I say to him one night, after a particularly effective glass of red wine, when he is wearing a shirt I like and the girls have gone to bed in that charming way that kids do sometimes, I say, "Edward, sometimes I kinda lie to you, or just kinda omit things." I go on to explain that if I sat in a hot tub after working out on a Monday morning while he was in that weekly staff meeting that he just hates, I usually don't mention the hot tub. And he says, in this weirdly convincing way, that he wants me to be happy. And I, of course, recall a similar desire for him. And so we agree, after chewing on it for a while, that sandbagging is more silly than sensitive and that we should, from now on, revel openly in a good day.

This column served as fodder for a a recent Today Show segment. To see it, go to: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12065856/ and scroll down to THURSDAY's VIDEOS and select TRUTH IN MARRIAGE: Stop Sandbagging. And if you want to see more columns like this on Today, please email today@nbc.com and let them know.