Swift Kick in the Rear

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I can’t remember a time when my life has been this orderly.  For the past two weeks, I get to work early like always, ready to tackle my to-do list, but I end up sitting there trying to come up with a to-do list.  When I come home, I get dinner going and then begin to look around for the chores that always need to be done, and I find there’s just not that much to do.  It’s the first time I can ever remember being this caught up both at work and at home.  It is really freeing up some of my time.  Now at school, instead of busying myself with paperwork, I am able to pay more direct attention to my students and I’m enjoying them more than ever.  At home, instead of doing endless tasks, I’m sitting on the floor more playing with the kids.  Life’s been pretty good lately.

While I’ve been going through this time of less stress and more free time, Chris has been going through a period of more stress and less free time.  Work has been stressful for him these past couple months, and I think he’s bringing that stress home.  He’s been picking at things here, complaining about things here, and stressing about things here that just aren’t that important in the grand scheme.  I think when real stress hits, it infects all other areas of your life and that is definitely what’s happening with him.

Quite frankly, I’m getting kind of tired of it.

I feel bad saying that because I know how patient Chris always is with me when I’m the one with a stressful load.  But the thing is, I HAVE been patient.  This has been going on for about a month or more and I’ve been so supportive about it.  SO SUPPORTIVE.  Everything that he has said stresses him out, I’ve worked to relieve if I can.  But nothing has changed.  He comes home from work every day barely talking to anyone, and brooding everywhere he goes, no matter how much I try to help make things better.

The other night, he came home from work in that mood again and the minute he walked in the door I wanted to scrape my nails down a chalkboard and scream.  I couldn’t handle it anymore.  So, I sat on the couch as he moped around and I thought to myself, “I need a new approach.”  He continued to complain and mope and pout and point out the chores that weren’t done and the things that we needed to do, blah, blah, blah, and finally I interrupted him.

“IF YOU DON’T LIKE THINGS THE WAY THEY ARE, THEN CHANGE THEM OR SHUT UP!”

And that pretty much began the strangest fight/tense discussion we’ve ever had.  Everything I said to Chris was brutally honest, to the point of being harsh, and every argument he shot back at me was piercing, and yet we never raised our voices.  We got frustrated and one of us would walk out of the room for a few minutes to cool down and think things over, but then we’d come back and keep on talking.

The thing is, I wasn’t being mean.  I was just being honest and leaving the fluffy love stuff out of it.  I basically told Chris he had to suck it up.  I told him that this was our life right now – laundry piles and dishes and sick babies.  It was just the way things were.  And, you know, that wasn’t the worst thing in the world.  Our life was pretty darn great, and I thought that the stress he was feeling at work was making it hard for him to see that.  I told him that I was tired of hearing about how hard his days were because, quite frankly, so are mine, but I come home to escape those stresses, not to rehash them or live in them.  I said that happiness was not something that came and went randomly, it was a choice we had to make every day and there wasn’t anything that was going to change in our lives to make him any happier.  If he wanted to be happy, he was going to have to decide to be happy.

When it was over, we sat next to each other on the couch and watched TV, occasionally talking or point out random things, just like nothing had happened.  But the next morning, Chris woke up in a much better mood.  And that afternoon, I came home to find him fixing the pool pump (the bane of his homeowner existence).  This past weekend when Chris was home with the kids while I was in Atlanta, he spent some good, quality time with the kids.  They ran errands together, played together, and did chores together.  When I came home, the house was cleaned, the laundry was done, dinner was on the stove, and Chris looked happier than I had seen him in weeks.

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I don’t know what sort of nugget of marital insight this has provided me.  Maybe that honesty is the best policy?  Or that your spouse is your mirror of truth?  Or maybe even happiness is a choice?  Could I even tie it into my favorite, “Bloom where you are planted” saying?  I’m not really sure.  Maybe I’ll think about it some more and find some kind of philosophical meaning to this.

But more than likely, I think this is just part of being married.  Sometimes in my marriage, Chris and I are soft places to land in the midst of really hard times, and sometimes we’re the very honest pep talk that we need to get up and make a change.  Chris has been the one to tell me before that there’s nothing to do but buck up and move forward, and now I’ve had to tell him the same.  I think that’s the side of marriage where friendship really becomes crucial because good friends can guide without judging, and a good spouse can, too. Like a good friend, a good spouse can give you a warm, supportive place for you to hide for a while, and they can also be the one to push you a little bit, even when you don’t want to hear it. I’m glad that Chris has been both those things to me in my life, and I’m glad that I can be that for him, too.

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17 thoughts on “Swift Kick in the Rear

  1. I needed to hear this this morning…with the new baby, T and I find ourselves in this situation more than we’d like. It’s nice to know we’re not alone in this!

  2. Angie

    Thank You! I think this probably describes half of what all married couples feel like they go through every day and it hit home today with me. I have copied this and sent it to my husband. Truth hurts but makes you a better person in the end.

  3. Hmm…maybe my Chris needs a swift kick. Too much work-stress bleed over here, too.

  4. I wish my fights worked that way. I get told we will talk about things later but later never comes. And I don’t know if he needs it per se, but I sure wouldn’t mind kicking my hubs in the pants lately.

  5. Sarah H.

    Great post! Very honest post about marriage and the ups and downs.

  6. Alyssa

    Thanks for once again keepin it real- laundry piles, dishes and sick babies! That about covers it for our house too! Sometimes ya gotta wallow in it, be upset and unhappy but then ya gotta pull yourself up and deal. Otherwise life can become endless months of stress and unhappiness. We try and find happiness where we can find it- even if that means just a smile on our son’s face or an hour to ourselves to watch a show that we like together.

  7. Nikki

    This happened to us, but I was acting like Chris. Luckily my Hubs is pretty good at articulating his needs, so while I was offended a bit, I knew that what he was saying was completely true! It really helped me out of my rut, and I reflected on what I had been doing and knew that I wanted to be a better wife/partner/best friend to my wonderful man!

  8. I think that’s a part of marriage and relationships in general. Sometimes you are the listener while your partner vents and sometimes you have to be the one to snap them out of their funk. The tricky part is knowing which one to be, it’s not an exact science. Sounds like that’s what Chris needed so great job.

  9. Brooke

    Great post with awesome insight! I just went through something similar with my fiance, sometimes you just have to be honest.

  10. I love this! I just wrote a post about how we often only put our highlight reels on our blogs. But, it’s not that way with you. You put it all out there. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I love that about your blog. It is so honest!

  11. once again, I absolutely love your honesty on this blog. Thanks for always being transparent.

  12. Great post. And actually, I think this applies to other relationships, too not just between partners. I have a friend who complains SO MUCH about HOW HARD IT IS to have a small child. I really want to tell her to buck up and get over it, that this is just a season, like you said. Maybe the next time she whines, I’ll tell her that because it’s kind of makes not want to hang out with her.

  13. So good, so true. A marriage is a relationship that is always changing, but the right foundations mean it’s always growing too–even when it seems like things are standing still. Glad to hear Chris is happier!

  14. You are so right. This is great, sometimes we need to be kicked out of our funk. It’s great that you are both receptive to hearing that from each other. You guys make a great team!

  15. Christina Madison

    We’ve had this same conversation several times over the past few years. I’m so glad we’re not the only ones!

  16. Thanks so much for your honesty. Sometimes we have to be that voice of honesty and reason for our partner, and sometimes our partner is that for us! I’m glad Chris has started to feel better and that the two of you got to really talk things over. A lot of people seem to think that fighting is a bad thing, but fighting fair is a great thing. That’s what you two have done. 🙂

    And Becky, is this really the place to promote a dating site like that?

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