The past few weeks have been quite a doozy. The Mr’s parents (age 90 & 93) live with us; one with Alzheimer the other with vascular dementia. Most days I enjoy being with them, but some weeks are just tough and try my patience. Thank goodness we have some great caregivers who help us throughout the workday. Several times I have sat down to write a post and I just feel too exhausted to pull my thoughts together. Right now, I have several blog posts in my head (including the one I referenced last time on love languages) and will take time this weekend to get them flowing onto the screen.
For now, I’ll just share a learning moment from my marriage. One particular tough day of helping out with the parents, I cooked supper. It took me longer than I expected because I could hardly think straight. I actually would have preferred going to sleep than eating. So, when my dear Mr abandoned me with all the clean up, I wanted to cry. See normally the cook cleans most of the cooking mess before supper, and then we clean the after-supper mess together. I couldn’t figure out why he just left and curled up on the sofa with a book. I said, “um, dear, are you finished in the kitchen for the night?” His reply, “yeah, I think so.” Seriously??!!!!
Yeah, I should have said, “I am so tired, would you mind hanging in with me a few more minutes?” Instead, I turned around to the sink, grumbled under my breath, and… cleaned the kitchen. I just couldn’t muster a nice, productive request at that moment. Honestly, I was angry because he clearly knew what my day had been like. Because this was so counter to the Mr’s typical actions, I decided that I was missing something and would ask about it after some rest.
Later in the evening, my Mr offered to tell me why he didn’t help me with the kitchen. He shared that the kitchen was just too chaotic and he couldn’t figure out where to start. Evidently he had his own filters going on because (at least how I recall it) the “chaos” consisted of a waffle maker on one counter, some sprinkles of flour on another, and a large mixing bowl in the sink. I sat dumbfounded. He felt resentful that he had to clean up any of my mess and it was all too much for him to handle in that moment. As I listened, I was choosing external calm, but internally I was quickly feeling angry once again. I wanted to hear him and respect his needs, but at the same I felt like saying all kinds of defensive and mean things because now I felt doubly abandoned. I could only think of how many times I do things to help make life a little easier for him. I felt incredibly alone and realized that he evidently had no idea how many times I had his back. So, a little voice in my head said, “Fine. I’ll just show him! I’ll stop doing all those nice things.”
And there, my dear readers, is the crux… I continued with that attitude for the next day or so, but I cringed at that little vengeful voice. I was suddenly prompted with the thought, “MrsRLL, do you treat him with honor and respect in order to get something in return?” “No, I treat him nice and seek to do good to/for him because, well… ugh!…because it’s the right thing to do… because it’s what Love does.” Don’t you hate it when the Truth slaps you in the face? It seriously annoyed me. After a while of arguing with the Truth, I grudgingly gave in.
Again, I’m learning the same lesson – over and over and over:
Lesson 1 (and the toughest for me): I am responsible for me: what I do, say, think, and hold onto. I’m not saying whether or not he was wrong… or right, but I am responsible for myself no matter what he chooses to do.
Lesson 2: Expectations, communication, and emotions are especially whacked out when two people are exhausted. In the end, we both expressed how the whole thing impacted us and came up with a plan for handling similar events in the future.
Ironically, all this fuss over a kitchen that was clean in under 15 minutes.
How do you and your spouse work out the cooking & cleaning responsibilities? What marriage lessons have you had recently?