Monday, October 7, 2013

Step Six: Choose Your Battles

As you may have read before, I am wholly imperfect, striving for normalcy in a world that fakes and cushions it's way to the top. I get angry easily. I have trouble accepting blame. And still my husband jumps out of bed in the morning to make the bed when I'm gone. Well...maybe he doesn't jump. And maybe it doesn't get made until five minutes before I'm home, but details, people. 

Sometimes getting your husband (or anyone, for that matter) to listen to you can be quite the battle. After all, he's imperfect too! You have to fight to be heard over the din of the first-person-shooter or the conference call or the kids. Sometimes you're fighting exhaustion or a bad day or a financial set back- and then for hubs to be reminded to do something one more time- it can be overwhelming! Just as wives have a lot on their plate (being mothers, daughters, sisters, coworkers, bosses, friends, etc) so do husbands! I know an awful lot of women who belittle what their husbands do as "less" than what they themselves do- something I see as an unfair assumption no matter how the cards stack up.

Choosing which requests or expectations are and aren't met is a critical step in marriage. We all had our starry-eyed expectations of marriage (wait, just me?) but once his and hers towels are on the rack, the movie collection tallied and the honeymoon knick-knacks start gathering dust, reality rears it's ugly head and can easily wreck all of your pretty marital dreams if you're not careful. 
You expected to cook dinner together every night? Now he just got four night shifts and 3 night classes. 
You're so frazzled from the commute to work and back it's all you can do to scarf down a PB and J sandwich. 
You thought weekends would be spent cuddling in each other's arms in newly wedded bliss? Eye appointments, birthday parties, famliy reunions and shopping trips are crammed on top of cleaning the house, trying to make the last show of your sister's play and fighting over what movie to watch.

I like to plan almost everything: happiness is crossing off my to-do list. Mr. E is a little more by the seat of his pants. Between us we get an awful lot done personally and together for the house or our relationship, but I think the majority of that is because I choose my battles carefully. Instead of loading Mr. E up on lists and steps and rules (something I would thrive on), I have to choose the things that are important to me when asking him to do something. 

I would love to come home to dishes done, bed made, laundry put away and all of his freaking shoes in the bedroom for once. On a coffee-induced binge this would be a fulfilling morning. But that's not how Mr. E works and I respect that we have different approaches to things. I know that Mr. E would get nothing done in the face of an overwhelming mound of "to-do's", so instead we communicate our priorities.

Personally, that's having the bed made (I KNOW, Mom!). I don't like sleeping in messy sheets and I love the way it looks when I drag myself through the door and kick off my shoes to find a flat, clean bed just asking to be laid down on. Having a clean counter is an added bonus, but that bed makes it for me. That bed symbolizes Mr. E crossing something off his to-do list. It symbolizes his desire to please, that he wants to make me happy in all the little ways too. It's gone as far as Mr. E realizing that he, too, has always craved a tidy bed before sleeping. 

I think this was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn in interacting with someone else- not everyone operates the same way you do. Because we may have different methods to our madness, it's easy to see something done differently is wrong, but this isn't always the case. Just because Mr. E has papers all over his desk doesn't mean he doesn't know where everything is- we're getting to the same end but with different routes.
My battle shouldn't be getting my husband to do things my way- it's choosing what's really important to me. Do I want the house clean when I come home? Sure, but that's sort of an unattainable goal, even for myself. So I'll settle for a made bed and dinner out to thaw instead of high expectations and then we'll both be pleased with the results.

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Mrs. E