**The fifth in my little series on learning to live with M together. I will write these as the thoughts cross my mind**
I started reading “The Happiness Project” around the time that M and I were readying for our move in together and one of the biggest things I took away from reading it, was not to allow chores and favors and such become a rift in your relationship or marriage. I knew I wanted to go into this with clear ‘roles’ for each of us, but not to the extent of a list of chores on the fridge or something like that. So, we decided on things we’d both ‘own’ (luckily, he doesn’t mind the stuff I hate, like cleaning the cat litter, taking out the trash and cleaning the bathtub!) and we’d both just do our best to create a happy medium, where he wasn’t feeling as though I was going to eye every time he left his shoes by the door (okay, I am working on this!) and he wasn’t going to just aimlessly throw stuff whereever and just assume I’d clean it up.
And to be honest, it’s been a heck of a lot smoother than I thought it would. Our place is clean and uncluttered for the most part.
Today, I started to feel myself wavering between wondering if what I do around the house is taken for granted, or if M doesn’t say much about what I do because a) he feels bad because I do ‘more’ than he does (again, this is my choice!) or b) he is really getting used to it and it’s not as ‘noticed.’ And then I started to wonder if it matters if it’s noticed each and every time. (it doesn’t, honestly. and it shouldn’t!). Which led to this post.
And then I went back to the Happiness Project and read through this list and realized two things. I am starting to nag. And I am, in a way, doing some of these things in hopes of some sort of praise. But why? I don’t need it. I did all of these things when I lived alone, what’s the difference now? I guess it’s natural for everyone to want to feel appreciated, right?
(and wow, re-reading this post so far, hellloooo overthinker!! in full effect over here!!)
But, to my fault, I was starting to get passive-aggressive with it, and making comments like ‘boy, you’re getting a little too used to this, huh?” when that is SO not me. I LOVE doing these things. I LOVE doing laundry. I LOVE making him oatmeal. (no really…I do!) He is always appreciative, whether it is verbal or not. So then, I started feeling like a jerk. And here we are now, blogging it out
But I think it’s just one of those things that again, will come in time. We’ve only been at this for about two months. We’re still finding our pace, or balance, our ‘happy medium’ with everything. And if that means doing a little more here and there which frees up some time in the evenings to spend together, then so be it. And I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. These have been two of the best months of my life…and so much more to come
As a related aside, check out this list on tips on avoiding nagging. I particularly like the one about re-framing, settling for a partial victory and – the biggest for me – not expecting it to be done on MY schedule:
1. It’s annoying to hear a hectoring voice, so suggest tasks without words. When the Big Man needs a prescription filled, he puts his empty medicine bottle on the bathroom counter. Then I know to get it re-filled.
2. If you need to voice a reminder, limit yourself to one word. Instead of barking out, “Now remember, I’ve told you a dozen times, stop off at the grocery store, we need milk, if you forget, you’re going right back out!” Instead, call out, “Grocery store!” or “Milk!”
3. Don’t insist that a task be done on your schedule. “You’ve got to trim those hedges today!” Says who? Try, “When are you planning to trim the hedges?” If possible, show why something needs to be done by a certain time. “Will you be able to trim the hedges before our party next week?”
4. Remind your partner that it’s better to decline a task than to break a promise. The Big Man told me that he’d emailed some friends to tell them we had to miss their dinner party to go to a family dinner—but he hadn’t. Then I had to cancel at the last minute. Now I tell him, “You don’t have to do it. But tell me, so I can it.”
5. Have clear assignments. I always call repairmen; the Big Man alwaysempties the Diaper Genie.
6. Every once in a while, do your sweetheart’s task, for a treat. This kind of pitching-in wins enormous goodwill.
7. Assign chores based on personal priorities. I hate a messy bedroom more than the Big Man, but he hates a messy kitchen more than I. So I do more tidying in the bedroom, and he does more in the kitchen.
8. Do it yourself. I used to be annoyed with the Big Man because we never had cash in the house. Then I realized: why did I get to assign that job? Now I do it, and we always have cash, and I’m not annoyed.
9. Settle for a partial victory. Maybe your partner won’t put dishes in the dishwasher, but getting them from the family room into the sink is a big improvement.
10. Re-frame: decide that you don’t mind doing a chore — like putting clothes in the hamper or hanging up wet towels. Suprisingly, this is easier than you’d think.
11. Don’t push for the impossible. The Big Man knows that there’s no way I’ll do anything relating to our car, so he doesn’t even ask.
12. No carping from the sidelines. If your partner got the kids dressed, don’t mock the outfits. If you want something done your way, do it yourself.
13. Think about how money might be able to buy some happiness. Could you find a teenager to mow the lawn? Could you hire a weekly cleaning service? Could you buy prepared foods? Eliminating conflict in a relationship is a high happiness priority, so this is a place to spend money if it can help.
14. Remember that messy areas tend to stay messy, and tidy areas tend to stay tidy. If you want your partner to be neat, be neat yourself!
I admit that these tips are practically useless, however, in a situation where one person is absolutely oblivious for the need for chores to be done. I have it easy, because if anything, the Big Man is more chore-oriented than I am. If a person simply does not care, it’s practically impossible to get him or her to participate.