It has come to my attention that I’ve become a somewhat bad wife.
Due to the struggles of my Daily Life, I have allowed the Stressors of my Daily Life seep into what once was the serene calm and peace of my Real Life. Normally this wouldn’t be so bad because the rare times these occasions have occurred, the result ends with me scolding myself in my mind. Unfortunately in this case, I started doing something really unsettling to my core: I’ve been letting the Stressors interfere with my relationship with Pilot.
Now, Precious Readers, you may not be aware-
-Or, I’m going to live in denial, acting assuming blissfully that you’re unaware of the fact-
-that I’m a bit of a hot head. Believe me, Precious Readers, Pilot and I really are one of those lovey-dovey couples, as proven by earlier posts full of smoochy-kissy-such-annoying-comments-they-make-you-want-to-puke-adorableness. However, you must realize that no matter what, together or separate, Pilot and I still have one, gargantuan problem: We’re human.
We still have egos. We still have the kaleidoscope of emotions that people have. We still have our own varying levels of tempers.
My temper is significantly bigger than his. This one measuring contest with an evil prize for having the biggest one.
Unfortunately this fact is not going to remedy itself anytime soon, but not from a lack of trying. I’ve been working on this less-than-ideal aspect to my personality my whole life, and continue to work on it on a daily (sometimes minute-by-minute) basis. Regretfully, I admit to blowing up quite a few times over the last several weeks.
This fall has been difficult as Pilot was not yet hired on by a school district.
Pilot, if you’re reading this: I have full faith in -some- of the school districts and that something will come up soon.
Times are tough so that means I’m working full-time while he’s applying for positions at home. That’s right ladies of the Precious Reader brigade: I’m the sugar mama right now.
The biggest problem: the bills are stacking up higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa and we have credit card debt. With only one of us working full-time, it’s exhausting and frustrating, making it difficult for each of us to stop ourselves from resenting the other while enduring this particular predicament.
Case in point: back to the blow ups.
While conducting my most recent tirade, a warning bell went off in my mind. A tiny stitch of a memory began pushing itself to the forefront of my brain. In the middle of a few choice words, a lightbulb went off.
I’ve lived this entire argument before.
In fact, it had been exactly one year earlier venting about the exact same topic, at the same someone with whom I should treat as my best friend and confidante. As the TV series, How I Met Your Mother would advise, I was experiencing the negative side of “Revertigo.”
Now, revertigo was a term coined by series (and I’m paraphrasing here) defined as someone who, when placed in proximity with someone from your past, reverts to their past personality traits of a previous life stage with such someone. For example: seeing a friend from high school and reverting to your teenage vocabulary and body language.
In this case, my revertigo was triggered by being placed in a very tough situation that is out of my control, and acting out. A very similar situation that presented itself in October of 2011 and October of 2010.
After recognizing the apparent anniversary of this argument, I gave myself a thorough scolding. After such scolding, I delved into the cobwebbed, dusty part of my brain to assess how I fixed this issue the last time I had to conduct an inner-attitude check. Then, a dim bulb brightened.
On of my favorite pass-times emerged reminding me I had conducted research on this very subject. I tore through the interwebs trying to gather the same articles that had helped me before.
You would be amazed at how many articles exist to assist with stress management and communicating with your partner. After re-reading (what was probably the third anniversary of reading) these articles, they all pretty much chalk up to the same basic principles, focusing on how to ask for things, how to reward good behavior (yes, Pavlov’s dog references are made, and the gender-stereotypical notation of wives to use sex as a reward), and the overarching point they drive home: Respect.
Mutual respect to be exact.
Check out an article written by Jodie Gould (JG) for Woman’s Day magazine that I find provides the best summary of great methods to use with your partner.
For me, first pinpointing my exact frustrations would help me apply her principles to create a happier home environment for Pilot and me.
Example Frustration For Sake Of Blog Posting This Topic: Cooking.
Typically, our routine is I do all of the cooking, Pilot does the dishes and takes out the garbage. Pilot did not cook until he met me. I’ve taught him about the kitchen over the years, and although he may not be a gourmet chef, he has reached a level where I no longer have concerns that the kitchen will catch fire, a burrito won’t explode in the microwave, and that he won’t starve when left to his own devices.
Now, I love to cook. I have no problem taking time in the evening to set up dinner when I know he has also put in an equal amount of time outside of our home contributing our combined income, and is as equally exhausted as I am.
Unfortunately, our dynamic has changed. Right now, I’m at work all day and Pilot is at home. I come home with the same exhaustion I face every other workday, but Pilot has, what I had considered, ample time to himself. I was irritated that at the end of the day, I come home (tacking on having been in an additional hour or 1.5 hours in grizzly Seattle traffic) to find that I’m going to now have to prepare dinner for both of us. From scratch.
We’ve established that I’m not a morning person, so the argument of morning prep work to save time in the evenings is out of the question, unless it’s a slow-cooker thing that I throw the kitchen sink in and come home to a good smelling meal.
JG’s first recommendation is easily applied to this situation. Be advised, Pilot and I have always made use of the words “please” and “thank you.” We were each raised by very traditional parents. Manners were a high expectation in our respective, childhood homes. We’ve always used our P’s and Q’s-
Like what I did there? A wee bit of rhyme, somewhat Dr. Suessian style?
-and applied the same manners with each other in our relationship. We also made a separate vow to always use them, even when we’re old. <shrug.> What can I say? I find good manners are important.
However, as far as task completion of any “honey do” lists are concerned, I’ve found that the use of P’s and Q’s aren’t always enough.
In 2010, I tried this method a few times and it produced about a 50% improvement. “Hmm… 50% isn’t bad. Worth pursuing,” I thought to myself.
The real key to making this method work? Touching.
No, not THAT. We’ll, at least not yet. But we’ll get to that later.
JG’s additional point of using a slight touch to your partner’s arm registered a much more comprehensive response from Pilot that my mere vocal request. When I first experimented with this, after receiving the 50% improvement results, I pushed this method even further, and it worked.
“Time to bring in the big guns, again,” I thought yesterday.
Just this morning, re-tested this method (sorry, I must have Dr. Seuss on the brain), phrasing my request from a mere “Would you mind prepping dinner a little before I get home? I’m so tired at the end of the day.” to “Would you mind prepping the vegetables for our salads tonight before I get home? It saves me time putting together dinner. That way I can come home, throw them together in a few minutes and we can spend more time enjoy dinner together.”
Not only did I receive a nod of response, I also received a watt-burning smile and an, “Of course, sweetie. That makes sense. No problem.” And what did I come home to?
Chopped and rinsed vegetables so dinner only took 10 minutes to prepare instead of 40!
VICTORY! It works! It really works! I can’t believe I stopped doing this! Must. Keep. Using. Touching. Method.
The reason for this amazing victory? I created an opportunity for him to be my hero. It may sound clichéd, but there are typically 2 different personality types in a relationship:
Partner 1: The Do-er/The Problem Solver. Recognizable by the fact that they’re the ones who struggle when you say, “I just want you to listen” and have to practically rip their own tongues out to not provide a “Well have you tried…” statement after listening to your problem. That [insert favorite annoying mechanical device here] is making a weird noise, and they leap off of their seat and go fix it and say, “Ta Da! I fixed it!”
Then there’s Partner 2: The Listener/The Nurturer. This is the partner who is good at listening, will hold your hand or give you a supportive hug while they help you figure out what you want to do, and talk it out as much as you are willing to talk it out. They will not make suggestions to resolve your problem unless truly asked for it. When stressed, Partner 2 is the one who just likes to vent and feels better after sharing their feelings, ready to move on with the day. No resolution may have been suggested during this venting.
I am nowhere near going to make a statement that this is based on gender roles, because that in itself is sexist. Don’t even get me started on how much I hate gender roles.
In this case, Pilot happens to be the Problem Solver, and I’m the Nurturer. I’m mostly all bark and no bite (unless I’m scared, then I’m the “punch attacker, then run” person). If I say, “Sweetie, not right now, but the next time you get up, would you get me a glass of water?” And I truly mean, just the next time he happens to get up. I may not even be craving water at the time, but I know I might down the road.
What can I say? I’m Type A and a planner. Those types of thoughts of needing water within the next hour come to me. Don’t judge me.
Now, one thing you should definitely know about me, if you haven’t already picked up on this, is I don’t sugarcoat things. I don’t play games. I say exactly what I mean.
Again, I don’t always mean to say things out loud, but that’s bound to happen when you’re a babbler.
Even if it’s inconvenient for him, Pilot immediately springs into action and gets me a glass of water. He didn’t have to, he could have waited. But that’s him being The Problem Solver. Over the last ten or so years of being with Pilot, I’ve learned this. And he’s learned my quirks as well.
While recalling the nuances to each of our personalities, I recognize I need to keep working on keeping my temper in check. Re-learning how to ask Pilot for things and continually reminding myself that the ‘touching’ method works for us will help prevent tirade-inducing situations, negating the need for keeping my temper in check in the first place.
Now back to the…<cough.> other subject: Rewarding good behavior.
Now, one thing that all of the articles I’ve read boiled down to, was similar to parenting methods and pet training: You need to reinforce the good behavior and reward it.
Personally, I find the comparison of my husband to a child or a puppy degrading, but hey, I didn’t write those articles.
All of the articles’ suggestions of the type of reward was a polar opposite to child rearing and pet training. You guessed it. Reward your partner with sex.
Really. That’s it. Sex.
All of the articles basically had one form or another of physical intimacy rewards, such as:
- Quantity = Quantity. Such as, however many minutes were spent on dusting is directly equal to the same number of minutes spent making out
- Certain tasks = Certain acts. Laundry folding = 10 minutes of touching, each dish washed = 1 kiss, extra bonus points (think french kissing) if the person took the time to pre-soak the dishes or did it without being asked
- Big Project = Big Bonus. Did he finally get to that garage and clean it out? Well holy smokes, you get to fulfill a certain fantasy that person has specified as a reward.
The list goes on an on of examples, but… basically they all boil down to sex.
<shrug.> I figure, whatever. The articles are what they are.
To clarify, the point of these articles are not to use sex as weapon, and I do not condone this behavior. What I mean is, I don’t believe in withholding sex as a method to get someone to do something. Creating a ” ‘No soup for you,’ until [insert task that hasn’t been completed here]!” environment is bad for any relationship. That is not the point of these suggestions.
Now I’m not going to share whether I use this method or not, because this still is the internet, and there are some things best left kept private about my relationship with Pilot.
I will, however make the statement: The suggested reward ismutually beneficial… So, what’s the harm in invoking this method into your home.
And that’s all I’m going say about that.
So what do you think: are these good suggestions? Are the experts right? These methods have worked for Pilot and me, but do they work for you? And how about you: are you the partner who is The Problem Solver or The Nurturer, or another type entirely?