For the most part, he agrees with just about everything I say, and we get along swimmingly. But more than that, we genuinely appreciate each other. Throughout the day, I will thank him for things that he has done => putting clean towels in the bathroom, throwing in a load of laundry before he leaves for work, making the bed. And at least once a day, he'll ask if he's told me yet today - how much he loves me.
On a daily basis, we look for - and find the good - in each other.
As we are cruising through our 12th year of marital bliss, I've credited a large portion of our success to our communication skills. We will set aside time, every day, to talk. "What did we do during the day ... what do we have going on during the week ... how are we feeling about life in general ... what can be improved?"
I really try to not hold anything back. If I'm upset about something, frustrated, or need assistance - I express myself, and I seriously encourage Charlie to do the same. Not just on the homefront, but in all aspects of my life. Over the years, I've noticed that Charlie
It also amazes me, how many people tell me that they rarely ask for help - they assume that it will just happen, and/or, they prefer to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders because no one can do it as well as they can. This approach of "doing it all" would never work for me, because if I had to do everything myself - I would be tired, resentful, and most likely a
Rather, I am a professional at delegation.
Just today, I had my toddlers retrieving diapers from the nursery, so that I could change their siblings in the family room, and was thrilled at my communication success, until I realized that they had thrown more than 50 clean Pampers in to the diaper pail. Which had been hauled outside and mixed with our other trash, tonight. We'll be working on that.
The fact is, with both Charlie and I working part-time and raising our toddler triplets together ... we must make our expectations and needs crystal clear. The only way to do that, is through open communication. If we need some time alone - to workout, take a nap, or just sit and enjoy the quiet - we express that need to each other. Quite often, one of us might recognize that the other one needs some downtime and we'll step in and say "Take Five."
Sometimes, it only takes five minutes to recharge our batteries.
Sometimes, it takes five hours.
When the days are longer, we will load the kids up in strollers and take a leisurely walk in the evening after work. But when the days are short and it is dark by 5 PM, we might throw a log on the fire, pop a bowl of popcorn, and sit down with a drink (although not wine anymore - and oh, how sadly I miss it) once the children are tucked in to bed. This is our sacred time to connect.
Even though I think our marriage is wonderful, over the past couple weeks, I've started to notice that despite the things that we do to keep our marriage strong, I've been a bit of a pill to live with. Fortunately, Charlie hasn't told me this ... it's just something that I've become aware of. It's almost as if I've been having these out-of-body experiences and I'm looking down on this ranting crazy woman who is completely off the hook.
With some of my spare time, I've been trying to understand why I am feeling so neurotic. It could be that I am expecting ... which is compounded by the fact that there are some very big changes coming up on the road of life, and it seems that there is indecisiveness at every bend.
When I return to work from my
We've looked at moving in to a larger house. We've discussed relocating. We've talked about quitting our jobs and moving to Wyoming. Or Canada. Or ... New Zealand. Or, maybe down the street. If we go AWOL from our careers, we could take up jobs working in a coffee shop, flower shop or brewery. Stability with good benefits and a dental plan is key.
I'm looking at a half-day of Montessori school for our children next fall, provided they are potty-trained. But then, I'm convinced that I will never send our kids to school and I, alone, will homeschool them on our Flathead River Ranch in Montana. If we were to move to Montana.
We have contemplated having cabinets professionally installed in our garage. But why in the world would we incur that kind of expense when we are moving out of this house in a few months?! Of course we can stay in this house for another 3 years. Yes, it's small, but it's perfect for us right now - everything on one level - and when hard pressed, I can clean the entire 1,600++ square feet in an afternoon. By myself. When I have the energy. Which I rarely have anymore. Speaking of which, why do I not have any space for our vacuum cleaner?! We must move. Why haven't we moved yet?! Tomorrow, I'll call an agent.
We need to hire help. We need a cleaning person and maybe a mother's helper. I can't do all this by myself ... for Pete's Sake ... I'm pregnant and getting bigger everyday. None of my pants fit and all of my maternity undergarments are long gone. How could we ever find a competent, capable, trustworthy stranger, with a resumé to rival Jo Frost and a strong vocal resemblance to Mary Poppins? Rice and beans - why did I get rid of every single pair of maternity underwear?!
Life is a comedy.
I can do this.
I want a burrito and salsa. And a dollop of Cool-Whip.
Life is a drama.
I can't do this.
But I might have some room for crab rangoons and egg-drop soup. And a pickle.
And thus, insanity persists. This past weekend, I was upset with Charlie. And for darn good reason.
He lost a shoelace.
Did you catch that? He lost a shoelace.
I had washed the kids shoes, their little white Keds, in the washing machine. I wanted to throw the itty bitty shoelaces in with the shoes, but Charlie convinced me to soak them in a bowl with bleach because, otherwise, they would surely get wrapped around all the clothes and cause a mess. Two days later, the dirty brown shoelaces were still soaking in a bowl of bleach in the bathroom and the mere sight of them frustrated me. If we'd done it my way, they'd be clean by now and re-threaded in to the shoes so I wouldn't have to keep putting the kids in sandles or patten leather shoes every time we went for a walk.
Despite Charlie's prior protest, I made the decision that the itty bitty shoelaces were going in with the very next load of laundry. Tangled clothing be damned.
Saturday morning, when I removed only five sparkly white itty bitty shoelaces from the dryer, I asked Charlie if he'd seen the sixth shoelace, which, is a very important component for the sixth little white Ked.
Much to my surprise, Charlie said that he had seen the shoelace. It was wrapped tightly around William's blanket and he removed it from the wash en route to the dryer. Much to my displeasure, he couldn't recall what had come of the little shoelace. He thought for sure, he'd put it back in the dryer, but alas, it was not there.
This one event, caused a whirlwind of emotion. While I stammered "What do you MEAN you don't know where the shoelace went?!" Charlie laughed and said "Jen. It's a shoelace. We can buy another one." To which I replied "No, we canNOT. I can't even manage to buy a can of Comet for the bathroom, which has been on our shopping list for two months ... what makes you think that I have the time to go search for a little itty bitty shoelace?!! And by the time I find an itty bitty shoelace, chances are, the kids will have outgrown the shoes and I'll need to buy a whole new pair."
This was a big deal. This was a huge deal.
I WAS NOT OVERREACTING.
Even though the kids are probably at a point where they need new shoes anyway, the principle of the matter was that my husband lost a shoelace and didn't seem to understand the importance of keeping tabs on little itty bitty clothing items.
Pure and simple, he wasn't paying attention. Now, he didn't understand why it was so important that we conduct an all out search ... at that very moment in time ... for the itty bitty shoelace.
He wanted to drink his coffee and make breakfast. I wanted to fume. He drank his coffee and cooked.
I boycotted breakfast because surely my absence would get the important point across. Charlie meanwhile, was seemingly oblivious to my frustration and deep exasperated sighs, and was happily listening to the new Yusuf Islam CD while cooking homemade waffles and apple-chicken sausage on a sunny Saturday morn. The aroma emanating from the kitchen smelled so delicious, I was in physical pain.
Fifteen minutes in to my martyrdom, I held my head high and was led uncontrollably by my stomach to the table. Unfortunately, I am at that point in my pregnancy where I will eat anything and everything in sight - which is a terrible inconvenience when I am upset with my husband and trying to make a point.
I took my seat and gracefully inhaled everything that was on, or beside, the plate Charlie had set for me, including the mint garnish and paper napkin. A moment later, he removed the sixth shoelace from his pocket and handed it to me. Apparently, it was in the dryer, all along.
I had missed it.
Charlie didn't dwell on the situation. Infact, he didn't even mention it. At no point did he tell me that I need to grow up, take a chill pill, or relax ... he didn't even wrap the string around my neck and threaten to hang me from the ceiling fan.
These are things I most likely would have said - or done - had the roles been reversed.
Charlie didn't challenge if I was seriously willing to ruin an entire day over something as insignificant as a piece of string for a $15.00 toddler's shoe. Nor did he ask if my irrational behavior was due to pregnancy hormones - which quite likely would have sent me in to a tailspin of ranting and sobbing. Rather, Charlie talked to me about what we had on the agenda for the weekend. And then, he asked if he'd told me yet, today, how much he loved me.
This got me to thinking.
A successful marriage isn't just about open communication. Sometimes, it's about knowing when to bite your tongue. It's about seeing the good, through the bad. It's about kindness, patience and respect. It's about being the right person, but equally important ... finding the right person. It's about telling each other, how much you love them - even when they are
I'm lucky that my husband is my best friend. I deeply admire him - and in many ways - strive to be more like him. And even though he could have shown me the shoelace and ended my sulk 15-minutes earlier (hence, giving me a headstart on devouring breakfast), I love him with all of my heart and
Now, if only he can put up with me for the next few months ... surely he could fly to Oslo and walk away with the 2007 Peace Prize.