Monday, January 12, 2015

New Year's Resolutions 2015

The title of the post is somewhat misleading, as neither Joe nor I make any formal resolutions, and we especially avoid the cliche of making such resolutions at the new year. The new year, however, was precluded by a decently large fight - heated discussion, lengthy disagreement, whatever you might call it - between Joe and I. Marriage is full of highs and lows, and while this was certainly no picnic I doubt it will register on the grand scale when we hit our Golden Anniversary (only 42 years to go!). Good things come out of communication challenges, though, and as we overcame our "bump in the road" we came up with a few resolutions for ourselves.

For me:
1. Wait until Joe gets home to serve dinner. 
Should not be a big deal, especially since he gets home between 5:30 and 6, but for those 2 1/2 years he worked graveyards we ate before he left - at 4:00. We got very used to dinner at 4:00. So when it's 4 and you're waiting for another 90 minutes, time draaaaags; when you've got 4 hungry kids and the food pretty much prepared and you still have 90 minutes, well... you just go ahead and serve dinner. So I would feed the kids and then serve Joe when he got home, which was not perfect but suited me just fine. A large part of our discussion was that I just go about our daily life as if Joe weren't around, including eating a family meal without him, so I resolved to have snacks prepared for 4:00 so we could eat dinner together as a family every night. So far, so good! Joe has been very happy and there is a lovely side effect of ravenous kids who are more willing to try everything on their plate.
2. Do "mundane" as a family.
We had a discussion a year or more ago that the kids were much easier to manage when we employed the "divide and conquer" method. I would take two kids to the grocery store, Joe would take 2 kids to Lowe's, we'd meet home for lunch. Or one of us would run the errands while the other stayed home with kids; often the errands were run by Joe, who feels cooped up if he's home more than one entire day (which he was with his old schedule). We kept this approach even as the kids got older and Joe's schedule changed, so he felt that rather than being a good thing it had become Joe the Errand Boy. The kids are (slightly) better shoppers now, so we decided we needed to start doing those mundane things (like running errands) together on Joe's days off.
3. Work on having the kids take a larger share in cleaning.
This one killed me. For years I have felt very frustrated that upon marriage Joe and I were 50/50 - we cooked dinner together, then cleaned the house (okay, tiny apartment) together, and then got to chill out together. When kids came my role at home got more serious, and about that time Joe's work life was getting more serious so that home balance tipped like a teeter-totter and the housekeeping was up to me. I was unprepared! And not only was I unprepared, I then had very small children, was pregnant, and upgraded to a much larger living space complete with huge amounts of yard work. Only when I would fail for an extended period of time would Joe step in to clean, and then it was only out of frustration, not love. So for those years since we've had kids it has been a battle for myself to be as good at keeping the house as Joe WANTS me to be. So now that I have really felt in control of housework, Joe threw it out that I need to be hounding the kids to do the cleaning. UGH. If it's not cleaning, it's parenting about cleaning.... so I sighed a big sigh and resolved to be better, and you know what? I have been better, and it has been good. The kids seem, if not happy, at least resigned to cleaning for 30 minutes each night before Joe gets home. They pick up, vacuum, put away clothes, etc, while I can clean the kitchen and get dinner ready for the table. Now the whole house gets cleaner while the kids are kept busy and dad's arrival home signals delicious food... I have to admit, it all worked out perfectly, and I have Joe to thank!

For Joe:
1. Initiate kid time (specifically reading)
I understand it is important for meals to be made and housework to be done, but I recognize that our kids will not recall a happy childhood because our floor were always mopped; no, a happy childhood is built on memories made together. For me, a special way to spend time together is reading - you get physical touch from snuggling, quiet time with no distractions,  AND they get the benefit of literacy! What could be better?  Cleaning is never REALLY done, and you can't read together and clean at the same time, so at some point you have to decided that reading together is more important than the mopping you could be doing. You just have to sit down in a dirty house as read to those lovely children. Joe, bless his heart, had no idea I felt this way, he just thought I used reading as a way to get a break from the mess (okay, it's partly true, especially if I'm reading for myself). I explained as plainly as I could how important reading to your kids is, and how awesome it would be if HE suggested that HE read to them instead. I would just die of happiness! So he agreed to work on it, he HAS worked on it, and I HAVE noticed and appreciated the extra books getting read while relationships are bonded and memories are made.
2. Appreciate what he has.
While we were coming up with all these *wonderful* ideas that this *wonderful* wife needed to work on, I began feeling overwhelmed with all the things I needed to change, yet it wasn't me who started the argument... so why was it me who needed to repent? I realized that while all of his complaints may be valid, he has many blessings that he was conveniently ignoring. Ignoring blessings leads to feelings of dissatisfaction; while I will never be perfect (there will ALWAYS be something to nit-pick), there will always be things to be thankful for. When he starts focusing on the things that are great (great meal, healthy kids, happy wife) the stuff that's not so perfect can fade into the background.
3. Shower Kirsta with compliments.
Yep, I came up with this one. I came up with it 17 years ago, though, and wrote it in my journal; it was in a list of qualities I wanted in a husband. I re-discovered this list while transferring my journals to electronic format and laughed about it for a minute, but then thought seriously - this is important! Getting compliments really makes me feel loved, and someone who feels loved is more likely to act in a positive way than someone who is nagged. Nag me all you want about the house and I'll become resentful (I AM trying my hardest, you jerk), but compliment me that you noticed I vacuumed? I'll make it a point to do it TWICE as much so I can get twice the compliments. We both get what we want! And not just housekeeping - it ties back to appreciating what he has. I work hard to keep myself in good shape, to dress nicely and look pretty, and it's something I do for myself but which directly benefits him, so if he compliments me I am more likely to keep it up! Frequently he talks about his coworker's blues about his wife who isn't trying in those ways anymore.... well if you feel appreciative that I am not that way, then tell me! Expressing gratitude increases feelings of gratitude, and the uplift in attitude is REALLY a win-win. Give your wife a compliment (or 100) and make your day better in numerous ways!

So those are our personal resolutions for 2015. In more run-of-the-mill resolutions, we also resolve to seriously finish up those 99% done projects we have in every room of the house...

1 comment:

Rachel said...

This seems like it would be a great lunch bunch topic of conversation. Let's meet for lunch! Oh, wait...