You both grab a Jell-O shot from the same tray. Your eyes meet. This is the man you're going to marry.
Your wedding is perfect, your apartment is adorable and this is how married life is supposed to be. You're both working, but surely your man will start skyrocketing to the top and that apartment will be a cute little memory. But fast forward a few years -- or decades -- and your husband's career seems to be not far from where it was when you took that Jell-O shot. You may have had a few babies and bought a house, but things just aren't moving forward like you thought. Why hasn't he made regional manager, vice-president, or seven figures?
It seems that all your friends' husbands are killing it and tennis has become their wifely vocation. Why hasn't your husband made it? You may not be sure what "made it" means, but you know what you've got surely can't be it. Why hasn't he become the man you thought he'd be? Or the man you wanted him to be. And there's the kicker -- assuming he's not a jobless, worthless mass of cells with a penis, then guess what? It's you that has the problem. Here's where you went wrong (but can definitely fix):
1). You married the man you hoped he'd be. The only man you can guarantee he'll be is the one you married right then at that glorious affair. And that includes his checkbook. He may not make one red cent more than he did the day you pledged your undying love to him, and you have to be ok with that. If you married him with the thought that he'd surely fly up the proverbial ladder -- and hopefully he does -- you might be sadly disappointed. So, I hope you married him for his character, his trustworthiness and sense of humor -- and if that also comes with a fat wallet -- bonus.
2). You think quitting means you've made it. You may have just returned from holiday in Lake Como, built your brick manse in the toniest of neighborhoods, but you're still disappointed in your man because he's failed to keep up with you in the income department. Apparently, the prize to which all women are supposed to aspire is to be able to "retire early." It could be one of the greatest WTF's of the modern day relationship. Hubby must make enough so that you don't have to work, even if you love what you do. It's like some status symbol, even though that means you must secretly start shopping at the discount grocery store or run up so much debt the collectors are calling. So, forgive me if I'm a little confused, but that sounds like a really sh*tty retirement. Embrace the opportunity that you can have the best of all worlds. Putting some years in at the grunt level can afford wonderful flexibility later on, and yes, you can still go to Lake Como. Pretty sure the 25-year-old "retired" flight attendant is lucky to go to Daytona Beach.
3). You don't want to pitch in. Yep, if you want your man to make more money, you may actually have to come out of retirement, Darling. If you really feel he isn't living up to your standards, and you want to keep up your lifestyle -- which I'm not knocking because life sure is better with money -- then you gotta help a fella out. That's how marriages last, and that's how they can be really wonderful too. If it's important to you to be home with your kids, then that may mean you don't get that new Bentley. You probably won't even be able to get that new minivan, but that's helping your family too. You don't have to work to contribute, you just have to realize that you can't always have it both ways.
4). You don't count all the other good stuff. My husband and I played this game while we were dating -- he probably read it somewhere in Playboy -- we asked each other, "what are your dreams"? Not only does the question get you excited about the future, but the answers may surprise you. If your lover is gainfully employed and still wants to rub your feet, take your kids on fab adventures and jaunts to Waffle House on Sunday mornings just so you can watch reality TV, well, that can make up for a few less zeros on his tax returns. If he's a quality guy -- and thus, the exact reason you married him -- then there's a chance that some of his dreams may have nothing to do with money. Yes, he wants to be a good provider, but he also wants to be so much more for his family, and that can make him the best husband in the world. If his dream is to be stupid rich and drive a Maserati, well then congrats! But you may get stuck doing everything else.
5). You need to slow it down. Relax, ladies. Focus on the life right in front of you that is begging for some attention. I think most men actually do work their way up as time goes on, but shocker alert, we can't control when, where or how. So enjoy these years where you can still take Jell-O shots and function the next morning, or your babies don't talk back and are still sweet and yummy. Take the pressure off your ball and chain -- it will come -- and sometimes in such beautiful ways that you'll wonder how you could've been such a bitch while waiting.
If you're not married and reading this, yes, I'm telling you not to marry him for what you hope he'll be -- it almost never works out that way. If you're in it, and your man is a good, loving husband, then try to ignore all your friends' Facebook posts about their third beach trip that month, you have no clue what's going on behind the scenes, and I give good odds that it ain't all it's cracked up to be. Love your man, love your life and the rest will come.
Heather Sample Spires is a practicing attorney, wife and mother living in Atlanta who formerly only valued success, hard work and Louboutins. She is currently working on a humorous memoir recounting her rocky yet irreverently funny journey to find balance, love and purpose in her life. @heatherspires
See previous HuffPost Blog: Why Skinny Jeans Keep You From Being Happy