Dear Kiki: Moody is as moody does

Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area can be sent to (queries can also be sent anonymously using this form). Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.

Dear Kiki

Dear Kiki,

Do you have any tips on living with a musician? My husband is so moody and sullen when he’s working on music, storming around in his studio, and then half of his songs are about our relationship. We’ve been together forever but this part never seems to get any easier. Thoughts?
— Song Wife

Dear Song Wife,

Well, Song Wife, at least you know what he’s getting up to! But seriously, moodiness is a stereotypical trait of many creative people, in particular musicians and writers. Since you’re married to one, you probably know exactly what you signed up for, but maybe you thought it would fade or get more charming with age. Alas, your man remains the moody musician he always has been, putting every conversation you’ve ever had into a refractive echo chamber of his artsy brain and letting it bounce around in there until something cracks. You, dear Wife, are bound to live with this creature, without end.

What I’d suggest you do is this: accept a certain amount of defeat. If you’re going to live with a creative person, they are going to need time and space to create, probably forever. Your feelings on the matter aren’t going to affect that. An artist who isn’t able to work their ideas out will be even grumpier and more ornery than what you’re already dealing with.

I also suggest that you communicate clearly about any needs or boundaries you have that aren’t being respected by your partner. What about his creative moods makes you feel uncomfortable, insecure or unseen? Do you want him to consult you before performing or recording material that mentions your relationship? Do you need more attention and affection from him, generally? Do you need time and space to pursue your own creative interest or hobby? Maybe he can help facilitate some regular alone time for you to use as you wish. Try and get to the bottom of what your needs are, so that you have less riding on his activities or mood.

If you’ve made it this far, you may as well keep going. No long-term relationship is easy, and in the litany of problems you could be having, this isn’t the worst. Who knows? Maybe one of those songs about you will make him famous someday.

xoxo, Kiki

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 213.

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