Lately, there has been a lot of stress in my husband's life. He is working full time with a 45 minute commute, working on his Master's Thesis, training for a half-marathon, committed to weightlifting workouts, and he wants to cook amazing healthful meals every night. Thus, he feels like he never has time. As one might imagine, this stress is hard on our relationship. I am working really hard on being responsible for my mood, on letting things go, on not having to be right - and it's tough stuff! I do not always succeed.
I've evaluated what I can do to help him. The commute isn't going to change at this time. He is committed to his training and exercise routines. He won't let me cook, because he has visions of perfect meals (and he can execute them!), and cooking is relaxing and satisfying to him.
But I can help by cleaning the kitchen after he cooks, and that has become something I really love and look forward to. I feel like that sounds absolutely insane, who loves to clean the kitchen!? It's a part of my night time routine, it is methodical and it is a task that can be followed through to completion in one session. Plus I get to take out the food waste and see what the evening weather is like. Being in the kitchen at night, listening to the radio, cleaning up, is my sacred time.
And I can help with his thesis by giving him quiet time and space. For several weeks at the beginning of the year, I spent one night a weekend at my folks' or my BFF's house, so he could really get into the work. The other day he mentioned that he can't work with my "annoying chatter" (he didn't mean it to be as rude as it sounds!). I brought that back to the concepts in the post mentioned above. Maybe I don't need to tell him every fleeting thought that interests me. Later, I was telling him a story about my mom comparing drastically different prices for the same item at different stores. It was really interesting to me! But he let me know that it didn't interest him in the least. I began to explore whether repeating that story is worthwhile. Am I just wasting my time making a negative judgment about a Big Box store?
Now, we are trying something new at our house. Quiet Time! For an hour every evening, on the nights I don't have a class, we are having quiet reading time, where we don't speak. When I was reading Foucault: A Short Introduction on the weekend, I realized just how hard it is to focus on serious reading when someone is targeting you with "annoying chatter." We tried out Quiet Time for the first time last night, and it was actually sort of intimate, being together without the weight of contemplating outside stories or information. We went all the way from work, through the evening and to bed, without an argument. SCORE! This might be a huge part of the solution to our stress problems. I'm really thrilled.
* Although it is a little off-topic from the rest of my post, I wanted to share my response to the If Less is Good... post:
The Gossip Less and Judge Less points are extremely valuable to me right now. I finally made the connection last night between the all the gossiping and judging that my husband and I do together towards others, and how we frequently inaccurately perceive judgments from one another. Does that make sense? I always feel like he is negatively judging me, though he tells me he isn’t – and I’m sure it’s a result of how often we are judging and gossiping about others together. It’s a bad habit that for a long time I assumed was just “a part of who I am.” Usually there isn’t any real anger or disgust there, and I often justify it by claiming I am only making observations. I want to cut it out of my thoughts and actions and replace it with love & compassion. I have used gossip and judgment to get positive feedback from others who I desire approval from – usually a laugh, or admiration/shock that *I’m* the one who’ll say what others won’t. Not the best way to get attention.