There’s The Stuff That Never Happened and Then There’s Reality

When I first read the description of Maddie Dawson’s The Stuff That Never Happened, I thought I was in for a fluffy, bedtime read.

Annabelle McKay knows she shouldn’t have any complaints. She’s been in a stable marriage that’s lasted almost three decades and has provided her with two wonderful children, thousands of family dinners around a sturdy oak table, and a husband so devoted that he schedules lovemaking into his calendar every Wednesday morning. Other wives envy the fact that Grant is not the type of man who would ever cheat on her or leave her for a younger woman.

The trouble is Annabelle isn’t sure she wants to be married to Grant anymore. The trouble is she’s still in love with someone else.

Dum-dum -DUM! One woman. Two great loves. So deliciously scandalous. What’s not to like, right?

So I started reading about Annabelle and Grant’s cozy little life. Their companionable suppers and quiet ease with one another, Grant’s passion for his work, Annabelle’s weepy episodes in public places…

A few chapters in, I couldn’t take it anymore and had to put the book away. It was hitting too close to home.

No, silly, I am not yearning for a long lost love. It’s the other thing… the being married to the  sweet, wonderful guy. I have a nice, NORMAL, devoted husband who loves our family and his work. Yes, I am a very lucky girl!

I have no complaints about our marriage except that I often wonder where it’s gone…

Six years ago, I was a newlywed. We had no sooner bought a cabinet for our wedding china and a house to put it in than my husband and I thought, “Hey wouldn’t it be GREAT to start a family!”

Two kids, four houses, and six jobs later, I wonder what was so wrong with just “being in love” for a little bit longer… HA!

Ah, but so goes the great romance of my life. Still, I have no regrets. Truly.

I once read an article about how marriage brings about children, but children bring about the end of marriage. I don’t entirely agree with that statement, but I completely understand. OH. MY. HELLS. Do I understand!

In an earlier post, I detailed the amount of stress we’ve been going through lately with balancing home and work. More specifically, balancing our life at home and my husband’s life at work, which, by the way, supports this whole gig.

Until one of us comes into hoards and hoards of money (not likely), we’re always going to have to work.  Furthermore, we’re always going to take care of our home and kids. Right now, the division is somewhat rigid. My husband goes to the office. I stay home with the kids. Both jobs are demanding, but not mutually exclusive. My husband still needs to part of the family. I still need to be part of the world.

At the moment, our children are very young. At ages four and one, each of them require a LOT of attention. I’m told that this too shall pass.  “It’ll get better once they get older.” Except that I was a kid once and I know for a fact that it only gets more complicated… and more angsty and misunderstood.

Fortunately, my husband has a job doing what he loves and at a great company too, but it’s still very long hours. In what little time that remains, there’s fitting in all of the chores and other responsibilities of running a home. There’s devoting time with the kids- with each of them as individuals, as a family, and as an extended family. Then there’s spending time alone, pursuing our passions and hobbies, or just vegging out.

Unfortunately, on the very bottom of that list has been spending time as a couple– date nights, uninterrupted conversations…. Sitters aren’t cheap, which brings us to the very thing that divides us. His work to support our life.

It’s hard not to feel like we’re growing apart, because by necessity, we are. I just wonder how I’ll look back at all this two or three decades from now. Or worse, what two or three decades of living this way will do to “us”.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore my husband. I love our children and I’m grateful for our charmed life. However, these days I’ve been asking myself, is this marriage or is this just my marriage?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson as member of the From Left to Write Book Club, which was created as a continuation of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog Book Club. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own.

You can visit Maddie Dawson’s website or follow her on Twitter.

To read other posts inspired by this book, visit the From Left to Write Book Club Blog.


  1. It sounds like we have a lot in common and got the same things out of the book. Thanks for sharing your story.

    BTW, I’m also in Silicon Valley and will be going to bloggy boot camp SF. Found you from the BBC blog hop but we’re both doing From Left To Write too. Looking forward to meeting you there!

  2. Thank you, Formerly Gracie, for your very honest comment about the book. I can see why you might think this was going to be a fluffy book and then be blindsided by the truth of it. But one thing I do want to say–in case you should ever pick up the book and want to read the rest of it–it’s NOT a dark story. In fact, I think that what Annabelle realizes is that each phase of life has its own benefits and regrets, and that the years of raising kids (while heaven to her) were also hard, and now that she and Grant are alone again, they need to find their footing. Not to spoil the story, but the answer does not end up being running back to the past and wallowing there, but in finding each other again. I know you’re in a tough time of life (I remember when my own kids were 4 and 1), but it does get easier in some ways and harder in others. When you’re not having to do all the physical care and they can be on their own and get dressed themselves and fix their own cereal, though, things let up a little bit! Good luck to you! And thank you so much!

  3. Four houses in six years? I would still be unpacking. Pat yourself on the back for being so amazing.

  4. I get it. I do.

    And how cool is that comment from the author herself? Very. :)

  5. Amodernmother says:

    You forget to mention a transatlantic move! And that is sooo cool the author commented.

  6. Thanks for the visit to my place! Great review here – makes me want to read the book, actually (which I suppose is what reviews are meant to do). And yes, maybe we’ll meet someday!

  7. I just may have to check out that book!

    I’m stopping by to thank you for joining my Bloggy Boot Camp Hop! I love your blog (would you consider adding Google Friend Connect to make it easy to follow?) and I really look forward to meeting you this weekend! Whew! I can’t believe Boot Camp is THIS weekend!!

  8. bravo! what true words! i can definitely relate, i’m sure many people can. often times when we get married, we are young, dumb & in love. no matter how much in love you are, or continue to be, you are going to continue to grow & change. i’m definitely not a marital expert & my hubby & i have had our own ups & downs. i wish i had some brilliant words of wisdom for you, but i don’t think you need any. in the short time that i’ve been married (9 years, 3 kids, 1 dog & only 2 moves), the only thing i’ve learned is that marriage & love is constantly changing & you have to work at constantly re-falling in love.


  1. […] Grace from Formerly Gracie thinks about the stuff of reality […]

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