#Write31Days Challenge – Post 30 – These Three Things

MBA

As a stay at home mom, I felt like my only job was to keep the house immaculate & tend to the kids.  It was the least I could do for the husband who worked all day to provide.  Yet, it was something I failed at all of the time.  I would spend hours organizing a closet, tidying up one space or another, all while trying to take care of my kids.  In the days when the babies would take several naps in the course of the day, it was easier.  When they became mobile it was trying to brush your teeth with oreo cookies.

And despite my best efforts, it seemed like my husband was never happy.  This created a spirit of resentment in my heart, because I felt like I couldn’t ever do enough to please him.  He would complain about simple things while totally disregarding all the work that I had accomplished.  It was absolutely infuriating to me.

One day, I was trying to figure out a more effective cleaning plan for the house.  I had written down a list of every task in the house, categorizing them into daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal chores.  For whatever reason, that day, I decided to ask my husband for his input.  I wanted to know what was most important to him in regards to the general state of the house.

I was shocked to find out that I had been wasting time working on “projects” that meant absolutely nothing to him, and I was skipping over the things that mattered most.   It wasn’t even an issue of “cleaning” either.  I was angry with my husband all this time for disregarding my work.  The truth was, we simply didn’t have clear communication about the subject. I assumed what a clean house would look like, and he had his own assumptions.

For example, something that many of us mothers will do, I would use the foyer area as a staging zone.  I would keep my purse, the diaper bag, stroller, etc  by the front door.  It was where I needed it, and it wasn’t strewn about.  As I began to volunteer at church for various things, I would often stage by the front door the things I would need to bring with me.  Neat and tidy, but yet all in the foyer area so that I would have everything ready to go.

To my husband, this was cluttered.  When coming home from a long day at work, the last thing he wanted to do was to maneuver around my staging area.

That makes total sense.  Yet, he had never expressed that to me.  The words he chose were ones that made me feel as if I wasn’t doing a good job cleaning.  Simple word choice made a huge difference.  At the same time, we had been married for many years… two children born… before I would even ask him about it.

He didn’t care if I vacuumed daily.  He liked the counter clear, so he could put his stuff away.  I was spending time organizing closets, and he would have preferred something entirely different.

Communication in marriage is HUGE and it shouldn’t be just over the big things.  I believe most of our biggest squabbles come from poor communication.

The second thing I assumed was that once I knew this about his preferences, that they wouldn’t change.  Many years passed by of my doing the same things, we moved into our current home.  It never really dawned on me that a new home might result in a change in his preferences.  It never dawned on me that as his job would change, that it would influence his perspective on what made his home comfortable.

Over time, I noticed he was complaining again, but that I had been keeping up on the things that mattered to him.  That would start breeding a familiar resentment.  This time I caught it, and we were able to communicate sooner.  It was through our conversations that I realized that his needs or priorities had changed.  What he really would have appreciated for that relaxed at home feeling had changed.

The foyer was no longer an issue for him.  Perhaps, because it is now a habit for the whole family… it’s never a mess or crowded.  It could also be that where he retreats as soon as he comes home from work has changed.   Before, he would put his stuff in the closet by the front door.  In our new home, he took it all the way to the bedroom.  Simple things like keeping the bedroom chair clear, so that he could have a place to sit and take his boots off … that was a blessing to him.   After working all day in environments he wasn’t always thrilled about, something as simple as having fresh clean towels and a clean pair of socks to change into were

One of the things I have always encouraged new wives to do, is to ask their husband what their expectations are of her (and vice versa).  In fact, it is better to do this BEFORE you get married.   Seventeen years later, I know that this is not a one time deal but an ongoing process.  I recommended revisiting it every time there is a major shift in the family (new child, quitting job to stay home, moving to a new house, etc).  If those things are staying pretty much status quo, make a point then to revisit the topic every 3-5 years.  Don’t assume things won’t change for him, or for you.

These Three Things

Begin by writing down everything that is a chore or task that must get done, starting with your daily duties.  Sit down with each other, and put a star next to the three things that are the MOST IMPORTANT (chores/tasks) to each of you.   These are the three big deal items that you like to have done daily/regularly that make you feel relaxed and comfortable in your home.  You now have a daily task list of just six things that are your MUST do items for the day, or at least on a regular basis.

Go through this list and talk about each item, do you LOVE this chore… or do you HATE it.  What about your spouse?   For example, my husband finds sweeping cathartic.   I actually like cleaning off and wiping down tables.  I hate sweeping and mopping, because as a mom… I know that it is going to be dirty with in seconds of the kids coming home.

This simple task will help you identify what is important to each other.  These six things need to become the priority in your daily to-do list, at the same time you are also identifying WHO will complete the task.  If you hate it, but your husband loves it… then let him do it!  And if you love doing it (or even don’t mind)…  then take that one for yourself.

Both hate it?  Take turns.  Both love it?  Do it together.

After you have established your daily must do list, go through the rest of your list of chores/tasks.   Skip choosing priorities, and instead identify your love or hate for the chore.  Put a heart next to what you love, and an X next to the chores you just hate doing.  If you don’t care, leave it blank.

Then begin to evenly distribute those chores between the two of you.  If you are both working, this is equitable. If one of you is staying home with kids, the load should accommodate for their schedule.  We can’t expect our spouse to accomplish a task that can only be done during their working hours.  The list may not be evenly split in the end, but it will still be a fair list.

The great news about this process?  As you have kids, you can renegotiate the distribution as they reach milestone ages where chores become age appropriate.

It is a great process to start the communication between spouses about expectations, eliminating assumptions.   When I know what is important to my spouse, that becomes my priority.  The rest can wait.

Some other things to consider, outside of household chores include:

  • Repair/ Maintenance Appointments for the Car (If you hate dealing with the mechanics, sales people, etc. this could be a great one to hand off to your spouse.)
  • Attendance to Family Events (You could find that Easter is more important to his family, and Christmas is more important to yours.  This info eliminates trying to fit everyone in on a single day.)
  • Planning Vacations (Perhaps you are limited to one vacation per year, list your three bucket list destinations, and your spouse does the same. Alternate year to year on the destination from that list.)
  • Major Purchases/Decisions (When buying a home, selecting a school, etc. you can each list the three things that are most important to you.  Use that list as your buying guide or litmus for making the decision against.)

These are just a few other ways the “Three Things” process can help you communicate better with your spouse. Clear communication of clear expectations puts everyone on the same page, dissolves assumptions, and sets any couple up for success.

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#Write31Days – Post 8 – Unacknowledged Hurt

brokenangel

Have you ever had someone hurt your feelings, and no matter how you try to address it with the person… they just won’t own it.    They may try to blame you for the issue, or even shift blame by giving you the “if you didn’t ___, then I wouldn’t have ___” excuse.  You may have even apologized for the things you did in the situation that were wrong, and yet the other person is incapable of even acknowledging their part in the problem.

Unacknowledged hurt, hurts.  It really does.  And, I have found, the longer that it goes unacknowledged the more it hurts.   Whether you have been quietly waiting for the apology or out right demanded one is totally moot, because you are not going to get one either way.  Some people are totally incapable of admitting to their wrongdoing.

In my opinion, it boils down to one of three options:

1. Victim Mentalityvictimmentality

The victim won’t admit to being wrong, because they are incapable of doing so.   They have a skewed perception of reality, and will even project guilt onto you that is actually rooted in someone who previously abused, mistreated, or took advantage of them.  You end up paying the price because of harm that someone else had done long before this situation.  The more people who mistreated them, the more victimized they become.  The more victimized they become, the more they will see everyone out in the world is out to get them.  They are unable to see anyone through an objective lens, unwilling to give the benefit of the doubt  or accept that they may have hurt you. 

2.  Martyr Complexmartyrcomplex

Martyr’s are a bit different than victims because they WANT to be a victim, or at least appear like one.  It’s not that they are incapable of knowing that they hurt you, they just don’t want to bear the responsibility of owning it.  So, they PLAY the victim in order to garner sympathy from others outside of the situation.  They also want you to feel bad, like it is your fault, and bear not only the brunt of the blame … but to do all the work to repair things with them.  Which usually means that you will go above and beyond to try and make things right.  The martyr knows that they were wrong, in whole or part, but you will never hear an admission or acknowledgment from them.

3.  Haughty or Prideful Heart haughtyhaughty

The prideful person actually believes that they are totally innocent of any wrong doing, but not like a victim.  On the contrary, the prideful person is always right and everyone else is always wrong.  This has nothing to do with past experiences or victimization, but instead is a heart issue.  If you are hurt, that is YOUR issue… they did nothing wrong.  You are either too sensitive, have no right to be hurt, were the one who was wrong, etc.  And, the thing is, they totally believe this.  It’s different than the person who knows they are at fault (or at least partially at fault) and tries to pass the blame.  The prideful person truly believes they are totally innocent of any wrong doing what so ever.

The victim will usually make you feel horrible for hurting their feelings, so that you will bend more toward their sensitivities.  The martyr wants everyone else to see how they suffered and how terrible you treated them.  The haughty person would rather walk way from you in their “rightness” than admit to being wrong and try to do the right thing.  But, what is really interesting to me is that there are some people who are mixture of all three.  I didn’t realize it until I wrote this piece, so I suppose there is a fourth category.

There are those who are so certain they are right, that they will put all the blame on you. (Pride)

They will also make sure you feel absolutely terrible about hurting them, even if you are the one who was hurt.  (Victim)

And, they will make sure the whole world knows what you did to them and how you treated them so poorly.  (Martyr)

So what do you do, when you have been hurt…

… and the other person in never going to acknowledge that hurt?

  1.  Pray for clarity over the situation.  Is this a relationship that is otherwise healthy and this is just a particular situation, or is this a toxic relationship and this behavior is repetitive?  Is it time to let this relationship go, or is there restoration possible now or in the future?
  2.  Pray for forgiveness.  Pray for God to forgive you in the areas you failed in the relationship, and then ask God to help you forgive the other person.  Forgiving the other person will be freeing for you, as you will no longer be captive to their dysfunction or the situation any longer.
  3. Pray for discernment.  We usually can not just entirely remove a person from our life.   It may be a family member, a coworker, someone we attend church with, or part of a circle of friends.  Pray that God will help you determine what kind of boundaries you can put in place to protect yourself.  This may mean removing yourself from that person entirely, but it may be a few key decisions that help keep the person at a safe distance.
  4. Pray for healing.  You can cry out to God about your hurt and pain, and ask for Him to heal you.  His healing is not dependent on their acknowledgement of wrong.  His healing can help you move on, more forward, despite their inability to be accountable and reconcile the relationship.

Regardless of their ability to acknowledge the hurt they caused has no bearing on your right to call it what it is.  You can be frank with them, making sure they understand in no uncertain terms that they have hurt you (and perhaps even identifying the level of hurt).  You can choose to draw a line in the sand that can not be crossed until they are willing to acknowledge the hurt they caused.  It’s totally appropriate to do so in a manner that is straightforward without being catty, disrespectful, or mean. 

You can acknowledge the hurt.

God will acknowledge your hurt.

Together, God will help you move beyond it to greater things.

Stop thinking and caring so much about a person, who was able to not only hurt you so deeply… but who didn’t care enough to try and make it right.