My Marriage and the Septic Tank

Update: March 26, 2012. Today, I am linking up withBlog Bash Link Up! This opportunity given to us bloggers by Ado and Alison is in honor of their 1yr Blogoversary. The requirement is simply to share your favorite post, along with a brief introduction explaining why the post is your favorite.

My favorite post is this one: My Marriage and the Septic Tank. I started blogging in January 2010, because I was at a crossroads with my life. Depression and divorce was heavily on my mind. A year later, thanks to writing, counseling and medication, I found myself in a better place. This post reminds me that crap exists but maintenance can keep the pipes of life clean.


Septic Tank Man arrived this week, and he is a super hero. Armed with an excavator, an empty tank and a long hose, Septic Tank Man was here to pump out our tank. Septic Tank Man was here to clean up our crap.

When I started this blog over a year ago, I wrote to save myself and my marriage. I was battling depression and pushing back advice to take medication, and I was ready to leave my husband. (How very logical of me to decide to leave my husband while depressed, don’t you think?) Writing gave me a place of my own, where I could freely express my thoughts in a way that allowed me to deliberate and navigate my way through the maze. Today, I have my depression under control and my marriage is solid.

Septic Tank Man to the rescue!

Of course, even solid marriages get clogged sometimes. After all, the pipes in life are long and winding, if you do not address the weighty matter, backups and spills may occur.

Rob and I had not had our septic tank pumped since we bought the house, nearly 10yrs ago. Prior to buying the house, the inspector required the tank be pumped. According to the previous homeowner, the tank was pumped as required. However, preventive maintenance is highly recommended for proper septic tank management. Same is true for marriages. Preventive maintenance is highly recommended for proper marriage management. Septic Tank Man found our tank had not been properly maintained (or pumped) 10yrs ago. Interestingly enough, our marriage had not been properly maintained either.

As Septic Tank Man pumped our tank, he told us we needed a new baffle (which prevents solids from entering the pipes to the field lines). He also suggested we have the drain field lines jetted out. (Jetting out is when pressurized water is pumped through the lines, clearing away any solids.) If we agreed with everything the super hero suggested, we would be out around $2,500. (I’d make a septic joke here, but honestly – I’ve made enough already.)

Generally speaking, if a hired hand suggests something needs to be done, I will push to get it done. Ignorance may be blissful, but once I know a problem exists and/or a potential problem exists, I worry until the problem is solved or averted. My spouse? He is the exact opposite. He deals with life as it happens, remaining calm, cool and collected the entire time. So, when we were advised to have the lines jetted, I said, “Let’s do it!” And Rob? Rob said, “Let’s hold off.” Folks. Please step back, our marital pipes may backup at any moment.

After Septic Man flew off into the sunset, Rob and I sat down to discuss the options. $2,500 is not a small bill for anyone I know, especially us. Still, fearing an apocalypse if we didn’t take our super hero’s advice, I was ready to take out a loan, sell a kidney or do whatever was needed to get the money for the job. Seeing the alarm and panic in my eyes, Rob decided it would be best for him to share his opinion before me. I listened, as he took his typical stance with his calm, cool and collected nature. When he was done expressing his opinion, he asked for my opinion.

Suddenly, a peace came over me. I looked at Rob, and I could tell he genuinely wanted my opinion. No doubt he knew what I was going to say, but his facial expression showed me he was open to what I had to say. I was going to be heard. Wow. This was big. I’m not saying Rob never hears me, I am merely saying we’ve done this dance countless times. I know when he takes two steps to the right, I pull him two steps to the left; he pulls me back two steps, I pull him back, etc. But this time, I didn’t have to pull him. He stepped with me.

Realizing Rob was really listening, I started off by repeating what he said. I wanted to let him know that I had heard him. When I began expressing my thoughts, I surprised myself. Yes, I was leaning toward the ‘do it all as suggested’ decision, but I was not certain that was the right decision. I was questioning my typical response, and I didn’t feel anxious! Knowing Rob was listening (again, really listening), I felt safe. Amazing what having a real two-way conversation can do for decision making (let alone a marriage), eh? A final decision was not made, but a productive dialogue took place.

Later that day, Rob joined me outside. He said, “Do me a favor. Ask your friends and family about getting the lines jetted. Check with anyone you want, and get an opinion outside of me. Then we’ll talk about it again.”

My heart races with joy now, as I relive that moment. I heard him. He heard me. Neither one of us ‘freaked’ or acted disrespectfully (as we have in the past). And, to ice the cake, he asked me to get feedback from friends and family. Again I say, “Wow.”

Rob and I will call Septic Tank Man early next week to schedule a second visit. However, we will not get the drain field lines jetted out. Rob heard me. I heard him. Rob gave me the space I needed, and I gave him the practicality he needed. Septic Tank Man will return to replace the baffle – only.

Thank you Septic Tank Man! You’ve pumped our tank and cleaned the pipes within our marriage..|.

Be kind, take care of yourself and each other, and keep your pipes clean!

20 thoughts on “My Marriage and the Septic Tank

  1. You two amaze me!! Having met you and Rob, I feel like you are the luckiest married couple I know. Seeing and meeting Rob’s Fther, I asked you if he was like his Dad. You of course said, yes. Rob’s Father and Mother are so down to earth and so kind, it was an honor to meet them. They care and listen to you as you talk with them. No wonder Rob listens! Your precious boys will no doubt be like that. They hear and see your enter actions with one another. God Bless.. I loved this story. Libby Bean

    1. Thank you, Libby. Here’s hoping the boys have the patience of their Dad. (His temperament, too. šŸ™‚ ) I hope you and Melody are doing well. James E is in my thoughts, as we near his birthday at the end of the month. Hugs to you both! And, thank you again.

  2. Okay. So you have no autistic kid, and thus you can not be me, but wow! Read this and my heart leapt–“WOW!! HER marriage gets sucky too!!!” And then “WOW! She battles depression too!!” (I take the meds, but um…well, that’s not rocket science). I guess misery, even deferred, loves company. Especially when it is not a constant–am glad you are in a better place these days. Oh, and while we had our septic tank pumped last year, not this year, the similarities are rather eery. I suppose another way in which we are different is that I am married to a man whose mother insisted on having the tank done every other year…yeah, that says quite a bit about her, don’t you think? I am constantly battling echoes of my crazy MIL…I should stop here b/c it could get nasty and I am against removing comments in principle. Hate to leave that stuff lying about…(insert evil glee here) Love the pics. –L

    1. Now I know why I am drawn to your posts! Nothing like having depressed friends with rocky marriages. Hilarious. You make me laugh, L. Your comments, your posts. All of it. Thank you.

    1. Hahahaha – yes, our pipes are open. Oh, it is so hard for me to show restraint on the many jokes I could insert. Alas, I am trying to be an adult. Thank you for visiting, Angel. If you have questions regarding septic tanks, send ’em my way. Rob asked me tonight, “So, would you consider having me replace the baffle?” UGH. Here’s hoping I don’t learn any more about septic tanks. šŸ™‚

  3. Listening, really listening to each other is key! I love it!! Septic tanks and marriage, they really are more closely related than I thought. Must maintain both or the $%# hits the fan.

  4. What an interesting analogy, Lenore!

    About 20 years ago, I taught myself to make bread, because it allowed me to take my frustrations out on the dough rather than my (now ex) husband…very therapeutic!

    Jim and I are coming up on three years together (not married yet), but we still haven’t really learned the art of effective communication (we’re too much alike!).

    Thanks for the thoughtful post!


    1. You’re welcome, Wendy. I am glad you found my analogy interesting. You know the part of the vow ‘as long as you both shall live’? I think the art of communication is something couples have to work on – ‘as long as you both shall live’. Based on the conversation I had with Rob this morning, we forgot the art of communication. (smile)

      I love the idea of kneading dough for therapy. When I worked in the art gallery, we would throw broken pieces in the dumpster. I loved the shattering of glass. That, to me, is very therapeutic. (Writing is safer, though.)

      Thank you for visiting!

  5. Very interesting how we neglect the essentials. And then blame the inconsequential things for it.

    So good to see that the pipes in your marriage allow a free-flow, Lenore. We, my husband and I, have much to learn about how to make the unclogged status reasonably permanent.

    “Preventive maintenance is highly recommended for proper marriage management.” That is the key!

    1. Priya, thank you for visiting and commenting. It is lovely to see you in the neighborhood. (smile) When the septic tank was emptied, I was genuinely amazed at how it tied in with our marriage. Who knew it was so simple? Still, clogs happen – to the best of us. Thanks again for visiting. ~ Lenore

  6. I love the analogy!!

    It’s so true, marriage is like a plant (or whatever needs maintenance, like, er, a septic tank? Heh). It needs to be looked after. I’m so glad you and your husband worked things out and I hope you’re still talking and talking and talking!

    Thanks for linking this up with Blog Bash.

    1. Thanks for the opportunity, Alison! I appreciate the opportunity to ‘rerun’ a post that means a great deal to me. I am glad you enjoyed the post and analogy. Thanks again for providing the link-up.

  7. “This post reminds me that crap exists but maintenance can keep the pipes of life clean.” Wow. This is true and funny and true. And I’m not just saying that because my husband is a plumber.
    I think this may be one of the best blogs I have read this year! LOVE IT!

    1. Thank you very much, Kerstin. Is your husband really a plumber?! If that is true, you are my target audience, as you can relate – literally and figuratively. (smile) I genuinely appreciate your very kind words. Thank you, thank you.

That was my thought on the matter. Your comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s