When Laura Birks first published her piece, “Dear Husband: I’m Not the Person You Married” last month she had no idea her private thoughts would resonate with so many people—187,000 and counting. The stay-at-home writer, mother of twin 5-year-old boys in New Jersey who has been married for 11 years, wrote a heartfelt piece to her husband telling him (and the internet) her deepest thoughts.
I’m sorry that you’ve been neglected for the last four-and-a-half years. I’m sorry that your needs are secondary. I assure you, you are still one of my top priorities—you just aren’t on the top of the list anymore.”
She continues to enumerate how consumed she is with their boys and running their household, and feels she has to apologize if it often feels like a “business partnership.”
“I am not the person you married 11 years ago. I have changed and evolved into a wife, mother, friend and keeper of all schedules.”
I spoke to Laura about the the origins of the piece, why she thinks it went viral, and what else she wishes readers would know.
We don't have a perfect marriage. I would like to meet the couple who does.
Q: Why did you decide to write this piece?
A: I wrote this letter of sorts after an argument with my husband. My husband was working a lot of overtime and was away from us quite a bit during that time. When he would get home at night, he would get annoyed that I was tired and exhausted. He felt like I wasn't making time for him. And of course there was a lack of sex happening.
Q: Had you been feeling like this for a long time or just intermittently?
A: This has been a intermittent problem in our marriage since we had children. We have great weeks and we have bad weeks. We try to spend one-on-one time with each other but some months it just isn’t in the cards. The problem seemed to escalate when we made the decision for me to work from home instead of outside the home. The adjustment period wasn't something either one of us expected. I think that was the biggest problem. Our expectations were different. He thought I was going to be less stressed and more energetic and it turned out that working while parenting is way harder then either of us expected.
Q: Were you surprised at how quickly it took off? Why do you think it went viral?
A. YES. I was shocked. I had no idea that it would strike such a nerve with so many parents. To be honest, I think it is exactly what some spouses needed to hear. I know my husband needed to see what goes racing through my mind on any given minute. We don't have a perfect marriage. I would like to meet the couple who does. I have however, met quite a few people who pretend to have perfect marriages. We are not those people. I think that’s why it went viral. It was real talk about real problems in a mother’s life. Really any parent who is the primary caregiver in the household. It could have easily read: Dear Wife.
I spend time on social media and I am bombarded with the perfect family, the perfect husband, the perfect kids, the perfect wife. I have never been the perfect anything.
Q: How did it make you feel that others liked it so much?
A: I was relieved. I wasn’t alone with my thoughts and feelings. The fact that so many related to it made me feel better about not being able to do it all. As a writer, I read a lot. I spend time on social media and I am bombarded with the perfect family, the perfect husband, the perfect kids, the perfect wife. I have never been the perfect anything. I am tragically flawed as I suspect most of us are.
Q: What did your husband think?
A: My husband is literally the most supportive person in my life. He thought the piece was well written and gave him a new perspective. He saw from the inside out opposed to from the outside in. He felt it was enlightening. (These are actually his words.) I called him and asked him. He also mentioned that I am a dork.
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Q: Did you get any haters?
A: So many haters. I like to consider them my anti-fan club. I can’t speak for them but I got the sense that they weren’t married and didn't have kids. Most said I was whiny and a bitch, that my husband is going to divorce me and/or cheat on me‚and I will deserve it. YAY! The others subscribe to the rule, God first, spouse second and children third. If that works for them, that's wonderful. I fully believe in "You do your thing and I will do mine." As long as no one is getting hurt, it's not my issue. Am I going to suddenly change my ways because a stranger on a website damns me to hell? Nope.
Q: Is there anything you'd like to add to the story that isn't there?
A: Yes. All relationships have ebbs and flows. Life is messy. Life with kids is messier. Marriage is messy.
Photograph by: Laura Birks