Sometimes when we are looking at old photos or watching our wedding video like we did a few weeks ago, David and I are almost embarrassed by how in love we were. Our faces were always radiant with tenderness as we shared glances and stole kisses, and there was that time at the park when we were guilty of exessive PDA and a passerby told us to get a room.
But the truth is, I love David now more than ever. When he’s gone it feels like I’m missing part of myself, because I’ve come to think of him as almost an extension of myself. We can finish each other’s thoughts before we even say anything. We share the same hopes, the same dreams, the same family.
So why then, five years into marriage, have we found ourselves getting angrier in our tones and more volatile in our arguments?
I never wanted to argue in front of our kids. I never wanted to argue with David period. But there are too many times when I lose my temper, and so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to change that, and asking around for advice.
When I was talking with a very wise priest about my outbursts, he told me something that has dramatically reduced the number of arguments David and I have had in the past month.
“This might sound strange,” he told me. “But I’m going to recommend time management.” I was expecting that I needed anger management, but time management?
The more I thought about it, though, the more it made perfect sense. David and my arguments were over things like meeting deadlines at work, the babies, the piles of laundry spilling out of their baskets and onto the floor, the dishes (why am I always talking about the dishes?), and being late to everything because I’m generally just not organized enough to get the diaper bag packed until the last minute.
Fellow iBiL contributor Matt has talked before about money management and the need for a budget. I’ve come to realize that I also need a “budget” for my time—some kind of schedule or routine. With kids, the schedule needs to be flexible and adaptable, but having some kind of structure in place has made all the difference in my stress level (and therefore our arguments).
So what did we do?
First, I read a book called A Mother’s Rule of Life, which gave me a good model to follow.
Then, David and I sat down over lunch at a local bar and made a master schedule that outlines a minute-by-minute breakdown of our morning, afternoon, and evening routines. We also determined which days and when we would do laundry, and we made a rule that everyone clears their places after meals and rinses their dishes. We also incorporated a Friday Family Fun Night (an idea from my friend and fellow iBiL contributor Carrie) and we have a family meeting then, too.
Now, we have our schedule taped up on the fridge, which doesn’t mean that we follow it perfectly. But that’s not the point. The point is that it serves as a basic guide and helps me to have realistic expectations—and fewer arguments—each day.