I made good on my promise to avoid blogger until at least October, meaning no posting as well as no reading (really the source of my troubles, it doesn't take too long to post, generally). While at first it felt tough, after a while I appreciated the extra time and tried to make good use of it elsewhere, which really paid off. So for a quick recap of my month...
After leaving off on the most sour note I can imagine, Joe and I had a few days of intense discussion about housework, jobs, child-rearing, etc, and after much gnashing of teeth we came to a remarkably simple solution: after we put the kids to bed we should clean together for 20 minutes. I will continue to do my best during the day to keep the house from burning down or being overrun with garbage, but since we both know that wasn't cutting the mustard, we will combine forces. 20 minutes is quick, so we don't feel like we're losing our evening to cleaning, and with 2 people doing it it's really equivalent to 40 minutes of MY time, so a lot gets done. And what doesn't get done probably wasn't that important anyway. This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, either - if the house is good enough for us and we're just not feelin' it, forget the 20 minutes. Like I said, it seems pretty simplistic after all that I wrote, but it seems to solve the problem of me feeling overwhelmed and him feeling like it's still not good enough.
Enter problem #2, where barely 2 weeks later Joe thought it was another *really good idea* to drop bombs on a pregnant lady and tell her "I don't feel like we're in love anymore." THAAAAAANKS. Because you telling me I wasn't good enough TOTALLY made me feel in love with you, too. Fortunately, I suppose, we lost that loving feeling (whoa-ah, whoa-ah, whoa) at the same time, so we were both ready and willing to work on it. Also fortunately I happened to be reading a relationship book at the time that gave me some insights and ideas. So while the bomb should have been pretty big, it was more like a dud, and within the hour we'd made a pact to start ACTING like we were in love. We weren't missing anything huge in our marriage, but we were missing the little things that add up to something that feel huge, so we each need to work on adding back the little things, like giving REAL kisses when the other gets home, hugging more often, calling during the day to check in, leaving little notes, bringing each other surprises from whatever we were doing that day, etc. Everything that's natural when you're dating and wooing but becomes a bit of a chore when you've already got your plate loaded with kids and home responsibilities. We even went on our first date in a long time, and it was a huge success! I was only in charge of picking the babysitter instead of the date, time, place, etc. BIG step in the right direction!
September was an eye-opener for me, I suppose, that marriage is work. When you're so in love at first it seems like it could NEVER be work, and *obviously* people who have to work at it are doing something wrong or weren't really in love in the first place... but that's ridiculous. From the first week we were dating I KNEW that Joe and I were meant to be together, always. Perhaps somewhat thanks to that knowledge, and thanks to growing up a bit, I know it's still true, but I also know things take work. Time. Effort. 110% from both sides. And if I ever considered starting again, it would be just that - starting this saga ALL OVER AGAIN. And NO THANK YOU. Marriage is difficult, but dating? Life decisions? Blending families? Falling "out of love" and into habit again? It seems roughly 1,000,000x easier and more fulfilling to keep working at it and get it right THIS time. So Joe and I will keep plugging away at reconnecting and I will keep plugging away at being my own personal best. No, not the World's Best Housekeeper, but simply my personal best. And let's anticipate doing this again in a few months because 2-3 nuclear-scale meltdowns a year seems pretty standard for me. Sound good? Good.
I'll update on the boys soon, they're a whole different story!