He walked in the door about 9:15 pm.
“How was it, babe?” I asked.
“Dinner was so good!” he responded enthusiastically. “It was family style, and I had three desserts! I also got to sit next to the guy I was hoping to.”
Well, at least the business dinner I found out about at lunch time today was a success…I smile and say, “I’m glad it went so well.” Sounds like it was worth taking on the stress of juggling diapering, tutoring, dinner, and the bedtime routine without him.
Thirty minutes later I realize that I’m doing the dishes and he’s sitting on the couch watching TV and playing on his phone. WHAT?! Here again begins the never ending debate of equity…who is doing more? Is it fair? Who is more tired? Who needs down time? Who works harder? Who cares??? ME!
A debate ensues. It actually wasn’t all that heated, but I was constantly trying to talk myself down to keep it that way. “So are you saying that you think your social business dinner was as strenuous and taxing as spending 5-8 pm alone with the kids?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
Wow! That stopped me in my tracks. There wasn’t really any more to discuss at that point, so I went upstairs to go to bed. (We try to settle arguments before going to bed, but this is kind of an ongoing thing and it wasn’t like we were in the middle of a fight. I was fired up, but trying to stay calm. Besides, I needed some time to think about what he just said.)
So, I thought about it instead of sleeping. I was sick of this fight. I always feel bad about myself because it always sounds like, “me me me,” but it just doesn’t seem like he hears me or sees all I do for our family. However, I was floored that he actually thought what he did tonight was just as tough as what I undertook. It hurt. He doesn’t value what I do.
But then, I switched my perspective. Maybe I don’t value what he does. What if it really is equally hard for him to go to a social business dinner and drink good drinks and eat good food? After all, he is an introvert. What if he wants to be with his family so much that time away from us, no matter what he’s doing, is just complete torture? Wow! Maybe I don’t appreciate what he does enough.
I went back downstairs and asked him to explain his day to me and how he feels throughout it. I didn’t worry about how I was feeling…I needed to focus on how he was feeling to understand better.
“You know when your alarm goes off and you have to drag yourself out of bed far earlier than you want to?” he responded. “You know how hard that is to do? It’s like that all day long.”
Wow. He does that for us.
We went to bed for the night…not completely reconciled. I was still kind of ticked that he wasn’t thinking about things from my perspective, but I decided to try an experiment. The focus is on him right now. The next morning I was ticked again because I realized that he left the house without doing his normal routine, leaving me to take care of the dog and make the coffee. However, I remembered my experiment and texted him, “Thanks for getting up and going in early to impress your boss today.” His response made me laugh out loud: “You’re welcome. I meant to get coffee going but got distracted by how good I look today.”
I married a man with a great sense of humor and a sneaky way of complimenting me for dressing him well! He then proceeded to thank me for taking care of the dog. And that night I walked upstairs to find a candlelit bubble bath set up for me. Man, did I ever feel appreciated!
So what were the results of my experiment? Basically, the solution to all my problems is to get over myself and see the needs of those around me first. I wasn’t feeling appreciated, but guess what, neither was my husband. I was too concerned about how I was feeling to notice. I’m sure the “it’s not fair” monster will creep back into our conversations again because I still need to get better at looking past working and playing exactly equally. It’s a journey for me. I’m just thankful that I learned this lesson four years into marriage, rather than forty.