Okay, so I’ve had a couple of people ask me how I ‘get’ lance to do everything he does. The simple answer (and probably the only answer) is: I married well. Lance is soooo good to me. He comes from a family that serves each other. His Mom’s life revolved around doing what was (and is) best for her kids. She and her husband (if he wasn’t coaching the games) drove all over Utah and much of the west going to basketball games. There was rarely an excuse for missing a game. She’s amazing. His dad is much the same way. He’s very quiet about his services, but it’s what he does. They brought all the siblings to the games as well. Now the siblings go to all the games they can even though every one is in a very different stage of their life. Lance is mellow. He won’t fight with me. That cuts a lot of the pettiness right out because he doesn’t put up with it. I don’t know what it’s like to live with a husband that is demanding, mean, absent, or cold. So I can’t talk about that part of a relationship or how to deal with it. What I can talk about is what works with ME in My relationship with MY husband. Your relationship is very different. I’m not pretending to know what will work for it.
Okay, just kidding. I totally am.
The rest of this is probably crap. But here goes.
I was fortunate to take a psychology class right after we got married about families. We talked a lot about husband/wife relationship related to behavioral psychology. Here’s basically how it goes: Say your husband cleans the kitchen. But he doesn’t clean the sink. You focus on the sink, he’s never going to clean the kitchen again. He does the laundry, you redo it, he’s not doing the laundry again. People don’t repeat many things that they aren’t in some way rewarded for (with the clear exception of wives and moms who do clean all day every day and never have a clean house- that leads to a cycle termed “learned helplessness,” of which I’m quite fond) . So here’s what I do:
If Lance cleans anything I immediately thank him. BIG. I never, ever, say “you didn’t do the pots and pans (he never does) or clean out the sink”. I never re-do anything he’s done where he’ll notice it. Yes, it means going to bed with a yucky sink or quietly doing the pans, but it’s okay.
You’ve got to act like you expect nothing. Really. So anytime he does anything, you make a big deal. He’ll do more. I guarantee it. I think as wives, we don’t really think that our husbands need the same encouragement and flattery that we so much want for ourselves. I NEVER thought that Lance needed anything like that because the guy is so confident and so…well…lance. But then we read that love languages book together and much to my surprise, Lance’s love language wasn’t physical touch (though it came in a close second) it was words of affirmation. Really? Lance? But it WORKS. Try it this week. Don’t criticize ANYTHING. Nothing. Only thank them for what they DO do- even if he doesn’t do anything more than go to work every day- it’s something. Build on that. Say, “Thank you for working so hard every day so that I (fill in the blank or…) can stay at home with the kids” NOT “I wish I could get out of this damn house and do something I CHOOSE to do instead of all the grossness that comes with raising three bad aimed little boys”.
Along with that, be complimentary. We expect our husbands to tell us we look nice and ‘no that dress doesn’t make your ankles look humungous’ but I know I don’t do a lot of it back. It’s not something that comes naturally for me- the whole complimenting thing (that’s how you know if I say something nice to you I actually mean it). Tell your husband that he looks hot in the brand new Aggies hat that his dad sent (have you seen Lance in that hat? Mmmmmm boy). Tell him how much you love it when he tells the kids stories or wrestles with them on the trampoline. Don’t yell at him for breaking your son’s arm just days into summer break.
Let him watch/play sports, video games read or whatever it is that he does to decompress. Men need this every bit as much as we do, believe it or not. Don’t do it begrudgingly. It’s kind of like fasting, if you fast and hate every minute of it, it doesn’t really do what it’s intended. Last night there were two football games he was watching. I wanted to be with him, but I could care less about football so I got my book, curled up next to him on the couch and read while he yelled at the TV. I’m not saying that your husband should spend hours and hours doing those things- he shouldn’t. There’s got to be moderation, too.
Don’t say ‘no’ if you mean ‘yes’ or visa versa. I did this so much and it’s SO wrong. “Fine, go with your friends, I don’t care” so he goes and you get really pissed “But you said I could go” “you knew that I didn’t want you to” “huh?” With my husband at least, I say what I mean and mean what I say. Don’t go digging around for reasons to get mad. It’s destructive. You know how I know about that phenomenon? I invented it. I used to look for reasons to get mad (I would like to believe it was all subconsciously) so that I could use the leverage to go shopping or something. It’s no good. It doesn’t get you anywhere but angry and, in my case, debt. Just stop it. Right now. Along those same lines, don’t expect your husband to read your mind. If you want him to clean a little while you’re gone, ask him. Be specific. Ask nicely. “Lance, would you mind taking out the garbage while I’m gone? Thank you so much!” If he doesn’t do it while you’re gone, you do it. In front of him. Don’t say anything. He’ll get the point. Anger is a lot easier for a guy to deal with than hurt. You yell at him, he can be mad at you. You do it yourself, he can be mad at himself. Or just leave it until it runneth over. That one works for me, too. I guarantee you that your husband will respond to praise way more than he will to anger. Being mad at him for not doing something will not work.
Choose your battles. Is it worth the fight? Is it worth marital discord? Really? So many things aren’t. I’ve sat in the room and watched a husband and wife bicker over the dumbest things. Learn to hold your tongue. Does this mean get walked over? No. People who know me and Lance will definitely tell you I am not a doormat (though it would be nice to be thin like one…). There’s a good amount of give and take. There should be. Don’t let things fester either. If your upset about something REAL (and there are a lot of good times to be upset about things…) TALK about it. Don’t accuse. Don’t attack. Say how YOU feel and why. Not how he should feel or do and doesn’t. “Lance I haven’t slept in days, I’m bottoming out, would you please take the kids for a little while so I can get some rest” not “I’ve been the one to get up with Casey EVERY DAY at 3 am on top of not sleeping well because I have yet to put a hit out on the bullet bike riders and you just sit here and let them scream and yell while I TRY to get some sleep. You just don’t care!” see the difference? Also, I have ordered the hit, I’m glad this reminded me.
Have fun with your husband. So many people tell me that the first year is the hardest, and maybe it was because I was so young, but the first year was one of the best. They’ve kept on getting better. We have fun with each other. We leave the dishes in the sink, clear a spot in the toys to sit down and play games with each other. We laugh. We talk politics. I hate politics. But Lance loves it, so I try to keep up. We hold hands when we walk and we always sit next to each other when we watch tv or movies. We make out. We gross the kids out.
Okay, so go ahead and read the part again before I said the rest of this is crap. I mean it. I lucked out. I have a good husband who is so laid back that it doesn’t bother him that I’m lazy and a terrible homemaker. I hate preaching. I don’t know why I’ve gone so far as to do it. Meh. All I know is that the person I can control in my relationship is me. So I nap.
Now any one of you out there can write an essay on how I can be a better mom, really, or better at organizing my time, my house etc. You could write an essay on being a really great friend and putting up with your quirky (let’s call me quirky, okay?) friend who’s just a hop skip and jump away from being completely nuts.
Please, for the love, make fun of me for this. I deserve it.