Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"the weather for my whole life"

After attending a meeting formerly known as Enrichment, I picked up the book The Happiness Project up from the library. I am a self-help book junkie. Hence all my FB article reading-- self-help articles, I'm not sure why, I've read so much, very rarely does anything stand out. Honestly I'm not sure why I'm reading the book, I'm an obsessive goal setter, and work on my goal until I feel like I've accomplished it. For years I've been looking back at my actions and deciding when I'm being a jerk and how to fix that. For example, yelling as a mom. Getting ready in the morning. Simple fix wake up earlier. For a while I didn't think I needed to get out of bed if my husband was sleeping, but guess what he doesn't care if the kids are late for school, he doesn't care if I shower before I go grocery shopping. But I do, so I have to get up when I need to get up. During dinner I get angry. This is a much harder on to fix. Some many things go into this one, but I'm systematically fixing them over the years. Step one, not being starving before my husband is. Simple fix eat a snack at 4 pm with my children. I'm grumpy when I don't know what to cook. Simple fix plan out my menu at the beginning of the week. I get angry when I cook food wrong (burn/undercook), not a simple fix. But admitting it makes me angry, makes it less awkward for me, so I can move on. Listening to my daughter cry for 2 hours about not liking dinner makes me very angry. So I've gone back to bribing her. I recently read bribing is ineffective. Well by all means someone else give me a way to convince my daughter to eat. It is by far the only way we have figured it out, because guess what she is ok with going to bed hungry, but then she wakes up the baby who shares a room with her at 6 am for her to go eat an early breakfast/late dinner since she then eats breakfast with everyone again at 8 am. 

Back to the book, in chapter two, Gretchen Rubin says, "For me, as for most married people, my marriage was the foundation of all the other important choices in my life: where I lived, having kids, my friends, my work, my leisure. The atmosphere of my marriage set the weather for my whole life."  About six months ago Brent and I were having a fairly serious conversation about a serious topic, it really bothered me so finally I said to him. I've always gotten the impression you wanted to get married, have a yard, have kids, do the whole thing. Just remember I never wanted any of this, emphasis on any of this until I met you, and no offense but I feel like as a stay at home mom who has birthed the four kids these decisions have made a great impact on my life than yours, he agreed with me and said don't worry about what I was worried about. (Now mind you he has done plenty to make my life turn out the way I'm happy with these four kids. The first two kids were his idea, the last two kids were mine. We live in a suburban neighborhood for me. I'm the one who wanted a planned community, with sidewalks and parks. He wouldn't mind a second paycheck. I'm always the one that says taking care of the kids is stress level enough for me.) Anyway, I think I always thought I was the only who felt like they gave up everything in their life to be with their spouse, so I was quite relieved to be reading a book by a published author who has a law degree state this very thing. (By the way logically I know the author and I are not the only ones who feel this way. But society is very effective in making a stay at home spouse feel very marginalized.) 

On the following page she says, "I thought hard about my particular marriage, and the changes I could make to restore the tenderness and patience of our newlywed prebaby days." Honestly other than the first quote the chapter said nothing new to me. Unofficially at some point in the last year or two my husband and I made an unspoken pack to put all our effort into our marriage. I never really remember discussing, it we just started doing it. Who cares if the house was clean, or the cars smelled like burning, who cared if the children's homework was done all that matter was whether we put our all into our marriage. It has had fabulous results. I would recommend it to anyone. When one of us interrupts the other we aren't annoyed instead we think of as a sign of "I love you so much, I just want your attention."  When I'm angry and my husband comes up and hugs me it often takes self-control not to yell at him, but guess what he is right as long as he hugs me long enough I stop being angry no matter how messy life is or how late we are or how hungry I am or how loud the three youngest are crying.  In church we often slide our children down the row. We've decided its more important for us to sit next to each other than for our children not to pout that they aren't sitting with whatever parent is their favorite. Actually I have an empty nester friend that often mentions how much she enjoys watching us in church. (We sit in the front, she sits in the back.) She says she laughs how we just keep pushing our kids down the row so we can sit next to each other. The best part about putting your spouse first is you magically have more patience for your children when they aren't the center of the house. 

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