17 Jul Why I don’t nag and other marriage stuff
As a mom, it’s easy to feel unappreciated. Toddlers don’t typically thank you for teaching them to pee in the potty or for cutting their waffles into bite-sized pieces.
Preschoolers don’t seem to notice you are the genius who purchased their 3,000 Legos and their Batman undies.
I have rarely been thanked by my school-age kids for the cereal that is always in the cabinet (they must think it’s pumped in from Honeynut Lake) or for pulling long hairs (think small rodent) out of the bathroom sink drain. Most things moms do get overlooked.
A lot of wifely responsibilities can be overlooked too. Whatever people say about the division of housework for couples, it’s always going to be unbalanced. However evenly things are divided, it’s going to end up not fair! Because life is like that. Whichever partner cares more about clean toilets is going to be the one that is cleaning the toilets or is mad that the other person isn’t cleaning the toilets.
I do a lot of our housework, because I’m the only person who really cares (notices) if things are clean. I’ve gotten messier over the years – the other four people in the family have slowly worn me down. Lee makes the coffee. Lee is the computer guru. Lee fills the water softener with salt. I grocery shop. I do the laundry. I pay the bills. He does the taxes. I make the bed. He cleans up my nightly snacks. I sweep out the garage.
When I’m cranky (rarely of course…), I COULD be annoyed that I’m the one noticing that there are dirty clothes Every Day (how does this happen?). But Lee could just as easily be cursing me for never having the energy to fill the coffee maker with water. He could and has had every right to roll his eyes and mock me for asking stupid technology questions. I could slam doors and huff and puff when I’m cleaning.
The thing is – we don’t fight or bicker about stuff. We just move forward, each carrying part of the load of Team Family. I have tried to figure out why we get along so well. Here is what I have come up with. If you’re married or in a relationship, you can take my life lessons and learn from them. Or you can laugh and tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.
1. No nagging.
There is no way I am going to nag him, because I don’t want him to nag me. For example, we have different ideas of what constitutes a clean desk. Let’s say I rip into him and tell him to clean up his desk and point out that he is a slob.
He can turn things around remind me that I am high strung and spend more time worrying about my tidy desk than actually DOING anything at my desk. I don’t want to be criticized so I don’t criticize him. This goes for clothes, hairstyle, cooking skills, choice of reading material, how free time is spent, etc.
Something I started doing years ago was sending him emails with a list of things I am thankful for. I don’t overthink it or make it mushy. Here’s a recent example:
Thank you for:
-not being a jerky husband that I have to complain about to coworkers.
-the facial hair (because it’s interesting).
-getting Alex in the orchestra.
-making kids play music.
-reading my book.
I do not do this for anything in return. I simply want him to know he is appreciated. However, he will also write to me from time to time. Here are some of his recent items:
Thank you for:
-doing things with the kids over the summer.
-being good at your job.
-making sure that the laundry fairy doesn’t slack off.
-writing a book.
-putting up with me.
-pretending like I’m interesting.
When I read his lists, I know he sees me and appreciates me. In the busyness of raising kids and working and running to and fro in our middle-class, suburban, two mini-van lifestyle, we could easily lose focus in our marriage. These thank you lists mean more to me than date nights (of course that could be because we rarely go on dates, but still).
3. Go Team Family.
When we were first married and heading out to be working missionaries in Hong Kong, someone gave us the advice to: “Remember, you’re on the same team.” That little nugget has gotten us through a lot. Our family unit is the most important thing to both of us and we live like that.
I’d rather be home with these people than anywhere else.
Sometimes I have to keep my mouth shut or do work I don’t want to do or discipline the kids or stick up for my husband at times when I’d rather not – all for the good of our Team.
So, it’s not all happy happy romance. It’s not easy to bite my tongue and eat my criticism. It’s hard sometimes to tell someone thank you when all I want is for him to thank me. Some days I know he’s wishing he would have married a cook. I know it’s painful for him to not point out the 48 ways I ruin dinner every night. I suspect he wishes I would spend more time making money and less time pretending like I’m a writer. But he has NEVER said such.
Take my words for what they are. Words from a tired mom. A weary woman. Just some things I have been thinking about. This is not a “look at how good I am at life” post or a “you should be like me” post or a “if you are not in a happy marriage, you are doing something wrong” post. It’s just my life-loving heart.