Marriage In Recovery

I’ve been married to Robbie for 12 years this October, and for almost our entire relationship, I didn’t believe that he truly loved me.

I mean, I thought he thought he did, and if someone thinks they love me, as has been the case in 95% of my relationships, that has always been good enough. I didn’t believe that I was worthy of genuine love, but I wasn’t fully aware of that belief. It lingered in the back of my subconscious, manifesting in the nagging voice that tells me I’m not pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough, or good enough to amount to much of anything.

I built a wall.

The wall was up when I met Robbie, and as far as I know, parts of it are still there. Alcohol gave me the courage I needed to step out from behind it on occasion, and quite honestly, I miss the ease that comes with drinking. Sobriety is a lot of work. So is overcoming obstacles. I am effing exhausted.

Sometimes, I really, really think it would be easier just to keep the wall up, smear some extra concrete on it, and stay in hiding forever.

When a person goes through trauma, it literally rewires the brain. Addiction rewires it, too, which means that my brain has a lot of overdue healing to do. For a very long time, I functioned at what I considered to be a high capacity; looking back, I can see that I’ve never allowed myself or my marriage to reach its full potential. I assumed my husband thought he loved me, which was good enough because I really could not stand myself, and I drank to cope with the feelings that go along with self-loathing.

That is no way to live. I am allowing myself to get better because I want to LIVE.

It’s a weird thing to have to look in the mirror every morning and tell my reflection, “You are good enough.” This was an assignment given to me by my therapist.

“You’ll feel weird doing it,” she said. “But it’s important.”

“FINE,” I said.

But I haven’t followed through, not yet. The words sound hollow because I still don’t believe them, and I always cringe, because ew, affirmations.


Robbie + Harmony on a date.


I sit on the couch next to Robbie. There’s a dip in the spot where he always parks himself — I call it The Hole — and my body slides over next to his by sheer force of gravity.

“Hi,” I say, smushing my left shoulder into his right armpit.

“Hi.” I think he feels crowded, but like I’ve told him a thousand times before, maybe he should consider sitting in another spot on the couch, a spot that is less like a giant hole.

“You love me,” I say, not like I’m testing his reaction or fishing for something. I say it with reverence. I’m stating a fact.

“Yes, I do.”

I no longer think he thinks he loves me. I know that he knows that he does.

I’ve given him a lot of reasons to excuse himself from the relationship. The cat’s out of the bag — I’m not the perfect wife or mother — I am an alcoholic. I’m flawed, I’m aware of my flaws, and I’m working on improving them. I’m not pretending anymore. And as screwed up as I may be, he won’t leave. Not today. Not ever.

And for the first time, I actually believe that I’m safe with him.

I know that I am.

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The Day My Pride Died

Last week I made an enormous ass of myself at my husband’s place of employment.

He’s a manager at a car dealership, and I don’t know what kind of people the other managers have coming to visit them at work, but I highly doubt Robbie will ask me to stop by and visit him again anytime soon.

I could offer up a thousand reasons why I was so stressed out, but the summarized version is that I was out running errands with two of my children, trying to beat the rain. We were right across the street from where he works, and I thought, you know what, I should call Robbie and ask him to come meet us for lunch. That would be a nice thing to do. So I did.

I’m a good wife. A thoughtful wife.

He said he could not meet us, but would we like to stop by the dealership instead? He just moved to a new store, and I have not met any of his new co-workers yet or seen his fancy new office.

I looked at the sky, which was black. I looked at our two youngest children, who were both covered in cinnamon sugar. I looked at myself, and quickly looked away. This was NOT a good time to make a first impression.

“Of course,” I said. “We’ll be there in a few minutes.”

The dealership was very busy, and because I was distracted by all of the activity, I pulled in the wrong way and a mail truck was blocking my path. Robbie emerged from the building and watched as I tried and failed to maneuver our gigantic van into a parking spot as our over-excited children shrieked and screamed “DADDDDDDDY! DAAAAAAAAADDY!” from the backseat.

My 4-year-old unbuckled himself and slammed into the back of the front passenger seat as I rolled over a curb. “WHY ARE YOU UNBUCKLED?!” I screeched as I threw it into reverse. By now a crowd was gathering. Robbie visibly cringed as I tried once more to squeeze our vehicle into a too-small spot. And that is when it happened.

I snapped.

Maybe it was all the errand-running. Maybe my nerves were shot, and my blood sugar was low and I was over caffeinated. Maybe I should have declined his offer to come visit and maybe I should have worn a more flattering outfit and MAYBE I HAVE NO BUSINESS DRIVING THIS MOTHER FUCKER OF A VAN.

Muttering unrepeatable phrases under my breath, I squealed off, again in the wrong direction, trying to turn around. By now everyone was definitely staring, and I was furious — with myself, with my husband, with the screeching children, and with life in general.

I drove directly into a dead end portion of the Hyundai lot and screamed. Then I realized that my window was rolled down.


This is the actual dealership where my pride passed away.

Two salesmen were watching me, and I imagined the following conversation taking place:

Salesman #1: Hey man, do you see the new finance guy’s batshit crazy wife attempting a 3-point turn in that tiny area surrounded by brand new cars?

Salesman #2: DUDE.

Salesman #1: I hope she hits one. That would be AMAZING.

Salesman #2: It’s looking like she might.

Salesman #1: Damn, she made it out.

I finally made it back around to the appropriate parking space. My husband unloaded our stunned children and I sat in the car, too mortified to exit the vehicle. “We can sneak in through the courtyard,” Robbie said. “There’s a back door. No one will see you.”

I got a baseball cap out of my bag and pulled it low over my face. I avoided eye contact as we sneaked in through the back door. Because that’s what my life has become.

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The Female’s Guide To Living With A Hairy Man

I’m married to a very hairy man.

When we first met, the first thing I noticed was his impressive height.


Next, I took note of his ass.


The third thing I noticed was that it looked like he was a hairy guy, which I find endearing, but his arms were strangely devoid of hair.


As I continued to study him, it became apparent that he was shaving his forearm hair—but not every day—so there was always perma-stubble. Apparently before we met, some stupid girl told him that his hairy arms were gross and that he should shave them, and he actually listened to her. My first act as his girlfriend was to put a stop to that.

I don’t mind hairiness; I think it’s masculine. I particularly enjoy the Neanderthal-like experience of being picked up and hauled down the hall by a hairy beast who is grunting under the strain of carrying me. I like how he’s always warm, and grazing his fur relaxes me. Shut up. It does.

However, living with a hairy man also involves dealing with the care and maintenance of his allover fur. I’ve learned that belly button lint really is a thing. My husband tends to collect large amounts of lint in his belly button, which he eventually pulls out and…tosses to the floor. The balls of hair and lint roll around the house like tumbleweeds.

Our children shriek “WHAT IS THAT THING?!” and cling to me as I calmly stroke their heads and murmur, “Shhh, it’s okay. It’s just another wad of Daddy’s belly button lint.”

I find chest and arm hair stuck to babies who have been sleeping on Daddy’s chest. I silently pick it from their faces as these thoughts race through my head: It’s not his fault that he’s hairy. He doesn’t mean to shed on the children. Maybe it was a full moon last night. I shed all over the house, too—long, blonde hairs. Maybe I leave hair stuck to the baby, and I just don’t realize it. Does anyone else have this problem?! *&%$#%^&&^%!!!!!

Sometimes I find hair stuck to me after snuggling with him. There is always a lot of lint in the lint trap, and hair all over the bathroom sink and in the bathtub. These things are to be expected.

What I did not expect were the periodic manscaping mishaps. They’ve been rare, thankfully—but when they happen…they happen.

Recently, I was in our home office writing. I looked up to see him leaning around the doorway. I noticed he was shirtless, but didn’t give it any thought.



We chatted for awhile before he sort of coughed and stepped all the way into view. “I need your help with something,” he said. I looked up and gave him my full attention.

“I was shaving my head, you know, like I normally do, and I was shaving my neck like this,” I watched as he mimicked the act, “and then, the razor got away from me, and well…this happened.” He turned around to show me his back.

I gasped.

It looked like he was wearing an off-the-shoulder shirt made of hair.

“The razor slipped, so I tried to even it out. Can you fix it?”

I sat in my chair, frozen with amazement and horror. I couldn’t laugh, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t look away. There was absolutely no fixing this, unless he was willing to shave his entire body and just start over. I stared at the hair puffing from his upper arms like furry shoulder pads.

If I were to write a book titled The Female’s Guide to Living With A Hairy Man, it would be the shortest book known to man, comprising exactly one paragraph, which would state as follows:

Do not negotiate. Shave him down immediately. The end.


© 2015 Harmony Hobbs, as first published on Scary Mommy.

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That’s Marriage.

 …. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Almost 10 years ago, Robbie and I said those words to each other. I don’t remember any of it.

We had no idea what we were doing. I was 25, the last of my friends to get married (except for my friend who was in medical school — she married at 30). We said the words. We started our journey.

Ten years later …

Husband: “Where are my white dress shirt and suit pants?”

Me: “I have no idea.”


Me: “When did you last see or wear them?”

Husband: “Last year.”

Flabbergasted, I proceeded to ridicule him like the proper wife that I am.

I am not the Keeper of All The Things, I am only one person! YOU should know where your pants are! How is it that you haven’t worn your nice pants in 10 whole months? OMG, we need to find a church and start attending, it’s good for the kids. It doesn’t matter which church, let’s just pick one. They need to learn Bible stories because I keep forgetting to teach them because I’m too busy keeping everyone alive and the only ones I can remember accurately are about Adam and Eve and the Christmas Story. WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING?!

My husband is a very patient man, and he listened to my entire tirade before asking me to check the dry cleaner’s to make sure I hadn’t forgotten to pick them up nearly a year ago.

“Well … okay,” I said. “But I am usually really good about keeping up with that stuff.”

Karma is a bitch, friends. After spending 3 days searching for Robbie’s suit pants and dress shirt, I swung through our old dry cleaner’s — the one I don’t use anymore because it’s so far away — on a whim.

The guy started laughing as soon as he saw me pull in. My face started to redden and I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I can only describe as bewildered mortification.

“Hi, Mrs. Hobbs. I knew you’d come back! I kept telling my boss not to give your stuff away!” This is what he said as I picked up everything the entire family — yes, all 5 of us — wore for Christmas pictures nearly a year ago.

Apparently I didn’t notice that I’ve been missing clothes, either.

That’s marriage.


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Everything That Is Right.

They say men are simple and have simple needs, and I agree with this most of the time.

Robbie needs very few things to be happy, but he’s also strangely multifaceted. He can do things like accompany me to a photo shoot and seamlessly alternate between playing with our toddler and making really inappropriate hand gestures behind the photographer to illicit a “natural-looking smile” from me.

If you know me in real life, you know that I’m not very good at producing natural-looking smiles on command. Being put on the spot makes me anxious. This is also why I’m terrible in interviews.

When I was 12, I had a bad habit of closing my eyes at the precise moment a photo was snapped.


Thankfully, I outgrew that.

Also thankfully, modern technology allows for horrible photos to be deleted and re-taken over and over again until a semi-decent one is created. It makes me a little sad that the youth of today won’t have as many awkward and cringe-worthy photos to dig through when they are in their mid-thirties. It brings me a sense of satisfaction to see how far I’ve come since the days of that Laura Ashley dress.

Last weekend, I met my friend Rachel who is an amazing photographer (you can view her site here) so she could get some head shots, because I am trying to be a professional with professional-type paraphernalia like business cards. I have a book to sell, you know. It’s time to get my shit together.

Rachel snapped this unplanned picture of us, and when I saw it for the first time tonight, tears came to my eyes.

Photo credit: Rachel Ezzo Portraits, LLC

Photo credit: Rachel Ezzo Portraits, LLC

This. This is what happens when the background noise fades away, and it’s just us.

We do not live a charmed life. Some days, it feels like everything is stacked against us and nothing is easy or simple and we’re always going to be behind in every possible way. I try not to focus on the hard stuff, but sometimes it’s hard not to.

Whenever I get mad at him or feel like everything is all wrong, I’m going to look at this picture to be reminded me of everything that is right and easy.

My Best Half.

My marriage is not perfect.

As much as I would love to think of myself as the perfect wife, I’m not. At all. I have high standards. I’m demanding. My expectations are lofty — not just of my husband, but also of my children.

Sometimes Robbie will tell me that he feels like nothing is ever good enough for me, and he’s right. Nothing is. I always want more, because I am a goal-oriented person. I’m a Capricorn, a mountain goat who wants to climb because I enjoy it and I don’t have time for your whining or lollygagging so either get on board or get out of my way.

Yeah. That.

I expect my sons to open doors and say “yes ma’am” and carry their Fiestaware dishes to the sink. Yes, my kids eat on real dishes. I expect them to follow directions and behave in public and say “thank you” and “please” because manners get you farther in life than just being smart. I expect them to follow directions and I expect to be respected because I am their mother and I deserve it.

I expect my husband to be able to fix things and keep up with the yard and be emotionally present and provide for our family. I expect him to listen and communicate and deal with the kids at the end of the day when I just can’t anymore. I expect him to be serious and funny and my partner in all things.

I expect a lot.

My expectations can be difficult to live with, but I give a lot in return and I am more demanding of myself than I am of anyone else. It will be a lifelong process for me to inch slowly toward Robbie’s end of the spectrum, where nothing is a big deal, as he inches slowly towards my side, where everything is urgent. We are truly yin and yang, which on a good day means we bring out the best in each other … and on a bad day, I want to claw his eyes out.

He does things like buy me stress-relieving water. Want to know why I was stressed? Because he was taking too long in the store. I could see him in there, wandering around. What the hell is taking him so long?! We need to GO!

He was hunting for the perfect beverage for his wife, that’s what he was doing.

10801931_10155098744040508_622468002666916761_nSidenote: the water didn’t relieve my stress.

The thing about our relationship is the love that overarches all of the differences between us. I could have married someone else and been happy. Maybe. But I have never and will never love anyone like I love Robbie Hobbs, and that is the thing that grounds me in our marriage. That is the thing that makes everything else make sense.

And then, from time to time, Robbie does something startling that reminds me just how lucky I am.


In the blogging world, there are conferences that writers attend to learn how to be a success — whether that means learning how to make money through blogging, or how to go from blogging to authoring an actual book. I kept hearing about one conference in particular, BlogU, that I really wanted to attend. It’s supposed to be the best, and I think we all know how I feel about things that are the best. Why waste time doing something that is only marginally passable, when I can aim for THE BEST?

So back to the conference, Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy will be there. Jen Mann of People I Want To Punch In The Throat will be there. A ton of writers I am obsessed with will be there. I wanted to go so badly, tears would well up every time I thought about it.

I talked about it for months. Robbie wanted me to go, but we just don’t have the money for a trip like that. The airfare alone was ridiculous, and we are a one-income family of five. I felt guilty for wanting to go, but I’m a mountain goat. I can’t help myself. I WANT TO CLIMB.

I began looking into corporate sponsorships and devised a plan of action. When I sat Robbie down and presented it to him, he was on board … but quiet. Finally he said, “I think this is a solid plan, but you don’t have enough time to make it happen. I just don’t want to see you stressing out over anything extra. I’m going to figure something out.”

Then he stood up, and he took action. He set up a Go Fund Me. (You can view it here, it’s really cute.)

I cringed — hard — when he showed me his plan. I loathe crowd funding, and I dislike feeling like a charity case, but it was a huge success. People genuinely wanted to help. I feel really humbled by it (mostly because, if I’m honest, it really bothers me that I couldn’t afford to go on my own, without asking for help), and grateful to him because he knew I would miss out otherwise.

We had all of the money within one week.

So yes, I have high standards.

And that is why I married Robbie Hobbs.

Before we had children.

Before we had children.

Happy Birthday, Robbie.

My husband turned 33 today.

When I fell in love with him, he wore navy blue Pumas. Today, he bought a pair of cowboy boots.

This is just one example of how love conquers all.

Those are cowboy boots.

Those are cowboy boots.

Almost Home.


You know you’re with the right man when you have a text message exchange like this one, and the next morning you have this conversation:

Me: Oh my goodness … I just found the text I sent you last night. What does this even say?!

Robbie: It says “Almost home.”

Me: How do you know?

Robbie: (Gives me a look like that was a stupid question.)

Me: Oh.