#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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I FEEL LIKE I HAVE FAILED YOU

cpiece

It’s been just one week since my nephew got married.  I’ve attended quite a few weddings in my life, but to be honest, this was probably one of the most God centered.  It was as if Jesus himself was sitting in the first row, smiling upon this holy union, a covenant made in His authority and for the glory of God.

It was a simple wedding, with delicate touches.  And, as I reflect upon it, I think that simplicity helped not detract our attention from who this marriage was really about.  It was about God.  In the beginning God created man, and felt man should not be alone.  From man’s rib he created woman.  He breathed life into them.  Joining them in the first marriage, a holy covenant not just between man and woman… but GOD, man and woman.

His importance in their lives and in this wedding was evident from the vows (which included biblical submission, the correct full version)… to the couple’s decision to celebrate holy communion together…. and even into the reception as they bound a cord of three threads.  It was felt in the very air around them, God was present.  He wasn’t just on the guest list… he was the guest of honor.  In fact, God had planned this wedding before a ring was on her finger, before they first time they spoke the words “hello”, even before bride and groom were taking their first steps holding onto their parents hands.

When they were engaged, my sister had shared with me that she has always prayed for her children’s future spouses.  Since they were babies, this was part of my sisters prayer life.  Little did she know the plans God had in store for her son, joining our family to one that not only amazing…. but as I have said numerous time, a family that feels like they have been here all along.  We just couldn’t see them yet.  Like distant relatives, you have been waiting your whole life in anticipation to meet.

When the hustle and bustle of wedding day was over, when the family had recuperated from the festivities… I began to feel pretty down.  Not about the wedding or this fantastic couple, but instead it was a conviction in my heart about my own family.  I sat in awe of this beautiful godly woman.  I knew in my heart that a large part of who she is was rooted in the parents who raised her.  As I looked to my own children, I felt like a failure.

I wondered, would God be such an important part of my own daughter’s wedding?  Had I dropped the ball on stressing the importance of that.  Then I felt conviction over every Sunday that I allowed her to stay home from church because she was tired, or I was tired of fighting to get everyone out of the house on time.  I felt conviction that I hadn’t stressed more the importance of finding not just a man who believes in God, but a strong believer who would lead the family.  My sister had definitely accomplished that with her son.

One evening, several days after the wedding, I was having a conversation with my eldest daughter.  First, I want to acknowledge that I am very grateful for the relationship I have with my daughter.  We speak about things that can, at times, be uncomfortable.  However, her candidness and honesty speaks volumes to the amount of trust she has in me.  You see, there is a very special guy in her life.  They speak of their future together.  His grandmother already refers to her as her granddaughter.   They are making plans, having conversations about marriage.  When to get engaged.  When to get married.  When to start having kids.  What they want to do between those steps.

Since my husband was unable to attend the wedding with us, her boyfriend came in his stead.  Which of course, brought wedding thoughts to her head.  So, we began talking.  I was asking her questions about the wedding,  specifically about what details she really liked.  I replied with a few things that caught my attention.  Then, I got quiet.  I turned away from her, I quietly said “I feel like I have failed you”.

This of course caught her off guard, and she asked me to repeat myself.  I turned back toward her, and said it again.  “I feel like I have failed you.”  She looked puzzled.  I explained all of my thoughts.  My conviction about letting her skip out on church.  My conviction that I hadn’t infused God into her life more.  I told her that I knew as a mom, my job was to shape my daughters to love God and make him central in their lives…. just like this beautiful bride.

She looked me in the face, with a big smile beaming and said … “Mom, I”m only fifteen.”

Yes, you dear sweet child, you are only fifteen.

My life mantra is that each day is a new chance to be better, to do better, to get it right.

In such few words, she expressed a lot.  There was wisdom and hope in those words.  There was no lack of rebellion or disinterest.  There was love and compassion.

There is hope for me yet.

TGC Women’s Conference – Part 2 (Pre-Conference, Male & Female- He Created Them)

gc2014

Last post was about The Gospel Coalition’s Women’s Conference, Pre-Conference “Make & Female, He Created Them”.

This first portion recaps some of the highlights of the two speaker panels.  The Pre-Conference concluded with Don Carson and was focused on the Book of Genesis, Chapters 1 & 2.

Here are the highlights I took away from this session:

There were two creation accounts in Gen 1 & 2.

1st – God Created Earth

2nd – God Created People

The first creation story establishes that God existed before the creation of the Earth, he self-exists.  He created everything in this story by speaking it into existence.

The second creation story establishes a more intimate creation.  God didn’t speak man into existence, but formed him & formed woman from him.  This was a process, interactive, involved.

Scripture indicates that God is different than his creation.  Gen 1 is like the “google earth view”, global scale view.  Gen 2 is the “google street view”, an intimate perspective.

Scripture tells us that God was detailed oriented, he cared so much about us that each of us is known by name, down to the number of hairs on our head.

Gen 1 establishes that God made man in his image, but they are not diety.   “Male and female, God made them”.  Not us.  Them.

Gen 2 gets into the specifics that man was made first, but needed woman and thus woman was made from man.

Additionally a hierarchy was established of man naming and ruling over the animals in creation.  Man is not diety, but it is more than just an animal.  There is a difference.

Made in God’s image = look, capacity of thought, creative, authority, interactive.  The human being has value outside of marriage.  But we are also relational, relational to God, to our spouse, to our family, to our church family.

Man & Woman has a purpose from God, within their family and within their church.  We all have a role to play, gifts and abilities to use.

In the order of the 2nd creation account… we have:

Man 1st created in garden -> rules were established -> man alone was not good -> animals were separate from man/he had dominion over them -> woman made from part of man (not the same as man, a compliment to man).

Before the fall the relationship with God, with spouse was ideal.  Candid.  Open.  No shame.  No anger.  Not hate.  No malice.  No grief.  No pain.  No hurt.

Man and woman were created differently, this was not the union of two identical people, rather 2 complimentary people, 2 halves that complete each other.

The role of man and woman carries from Gen into the New Testament. Eph 5:21 – 33, 1 Cor 11, 1 Tim 2, 1 Cor 14

Husbands are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking, thanking and submitting to God.  leading their home in accordance to God’s direction, standing in authority out of love, self sacrificing for her good so that she is presented increasingly holy.  Husbands should be leading their home with spiritual authority not attitudinal authority or dictatorship.

Submission in marriage is submission to God.  He submits to God, she submits to God through her submission to her husband.

Our relationship with God is mirrored through our earthly marriage.  Both sides much be fully committed to these principles.  If they were it would put an ending to all marriage problems.

Biblical submission is not being a door mat, because our husbands are called to love us as Christ loved the Church, in which ultimately he sacrificed his very life for the church.  So should a husband die to himself for the good of his wife, to present her holy.

Wives are to submit to their husbands in all domains, there is nothing closed off.  You can call yourself a submissive wife if you are holding any area back from your husband’s authority.  If you are making decisions outside of his counsel, or doing things differently when he is not home vs. when he is.  We are submissive even when he is not perfect, when he is not being loveable.  Remember, HE is bearing the burdens for the decisions of the family due to this authority.

People want options whenever possible, and open as long as possible & tend to be not very tolerant of anything or anyone who threatens to end those options.  This is evident in business, travel, culture, etc.  But more options doesn’t always equal freedom, in fact sometimes we can become a slave to those options.  Never able to move forward because we can’t commit.

This is one of the biggest issues men face, always looking for better.  It’s why they can’t commit to marriage.  Or why they volley back and forth on big financial decisions, or wait until the last minute to decide.  In the end, if you get caught in the slavery of options, you will end up with nothing and no one.

One of the greatest issues women have faced is that through feminism they were given more options, and it is harder and harder as times passes for women to give back that control.  They want to have say and they want to have imput.   However, complementarianism in marriage is NOT about tearing down feminism but building up family.  Finding balance and complementary roles for both husband and wife.  No two houses will look the same, because the needs, calling, gifts/talents of each house will vary.   And because your husband loves you, as Christ loved the church, he will see you of the same value… worth dying for.  You will still have a voice, an opinion, be wise counsel to him.  In the end, he simply carries the accountability for the family through his decisions.

The next installment, will be the main conference, breaking down the book of Nehemiah.