The Cactus Cast 002 – You’re Getting on my Nerves

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You will never meet two people needier than MisterE and me!

Oh sure, we act independent. We drive separately to events because we can never agree on how long to stay. We watch TV in separate rooms because MisterE has no taste in quality entertainment. War movies and period dramas? Yuck! Give me wizards, aliens and Sharknados any day! We even eat different meals for dinner because he’s not about to let my poultry allergy interfere with his love of chicken wings.

But deep down we absolutely crave each other’s company. We stay within arms reach at social events, we don’t sleep well when one of us has traveled for work, and we are in our best form during long road trips.

A few hours after giving birth to Chief I couldn’t sleep, so MisterE got in the hospital bed to nap with me. Fell asleep right away.

We both feel love through Quality Time and Acts of Service, so a romantic evening might look like washing dishes together while we watch Disney’s Tangled with Hurricane for the 44th time. It really doesn’t take much for us to get the warm and fuzzies around here. 

All of this sounds hopelessly romantic, right? Nah!

The problem with quality time as a love language is that it can very easily become one of the first things to disappear when you have two kids under the age of three! And those acts of service like getting to the dishes before your spouse does? Well, those just become chores… by which I mean they begin to feel like Promethian torture. 

MisterE and I respond to separation in much the same way; we become incredibly irritable. I know we’re in bad shape when even the way he breathes becomes an annoyance. 

In the early days of our marriage when we got this annoyed by each other, we would waste time pretending we were fine and skirting around potential arguments, only to end up having a huge, blow-up fight a week down the line. 

After years of growth we can just say, “You’re getting on my nerves,” and be done with it. It’s such a wonderful place to be in a relationship. We both know what triggers our feelings, and we both know how to solve the problem: spend time together! It’s that simple!

A sleepy session recorded at 5:45 in the morning. You can hear how unmoved MisterE is that he’s getting on my nerves. Par for the course at this point.

Except sometimes it’s not that simple.  

The problem with all this togetherness is that I am extremely introverted! I NEED to be alone in order to feel recharged. If I don’t get serious me-time on a regular basis, I feel absolutely drained, and when I’m drained, well… you can read about my alter ego in my post Fail and Fury

For a long time it was, understandably, hard for MisterE to reconcile my need to be with him and my need to be alone. He certainly didn’t marry me because I’m predictable. He used to feel put-out by my desire to be away from him without really understanding why. I would emerge from my quiet time refreshed and ready to reconnect, and he would be withdrawn and moody until, you guessed it, we had a huge fight one week down the line! 

He’s getting better at naming his feelings, which is a huge plus for us as we can spend less time walking on eggshells and more time getting on with things. 

As for recognizing when I need alone time, he’s a pro these days. For example, if I head into the closet with a pillow, blanket and headphones, it’s a pretty solid sign I don’t want to be disturbed. 

If only the kids would take the hint…

What do you do when you need to recharge? Do you isolate yourself, or engage with people? And how do the people around you respond? 

Have fun!

Hey there! I am...

Chioma Ikoku sitting on a velvet green couch, gazing out of an unpictured window.
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A homebody with wanderlust striving to balance the thrill of travel with the comfort of home. On the road, I am a photographer and storyteller. At home, I am an interior designer and personal servant to my two kids. In all cases, I seek out good food and belly laughs.

If you're looking for ways to tap into your spirit of adventure - with or without a suitcase - you've come to the right place!


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  1. FeeFi on September 14, 2020 at 10:49 am

    I am at a very strange place of being an extrovert but also a homebody. So recharging for me is being with people who know and love me but…in a home while actually doing nothing. I tend to want to get away from the people I am with and engage with close friends and family and they are not necessarily physically nearby. It is a very interesting combo sometimes. I want to text others but not talk on the phone. The funniest instance I can think of is when I called a friend and asked them to stay on the phone until I slept. I wanted to recharge physically and mentally (might I mention I love naps) but I didn’t want to engage with anyone yet I didn’t want to be alone.
    Naps tend to recharge me. It helps to not have my brain on and getting off and away from my phone and social media etc helps a lot too. Whether or not I admit to it.

  2. Chichi on September 14, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Sharknado hehehehe best movie everrrr . Yes, I said it.

  3. Chichi on September 15, 2020 at 1:48 am

    And that time flies joke was good, too. Mr E.

  4. SylO on September 15, 2020 at 3:19 am

    Introvert here! After the kids go to bed, I sometimes fold laundry while watching a show on Netflix or Hulu. Being alone (& productive) help(s) buuuttt then I get on my phone/ Facebook and tend to waste some time instead of going to sleep! I’d be more recharged if I went sleep 30mins-an hour earlier. I do make up for reduced sleep by taking naps if/when needed the next day.

  5. Koko on September 18, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    This week I came to the realization that I am solar powered. I need time alone outside to recharge. Doesn’t have to be long. A good 15 mins will do the job. A good nap will also get me right!

  6. Koko on September 18, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Can we talk about the fact that MisterE was ready with a dad joke at before 6am? Love it!

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