Partners In Crime
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
I read a lot of books. I love to read and wish there was more time in the day for it. I love history/biographies, historical fiction, self-help, non-fiction and of course just some good old fiction. Diane Chamberlain, Jodi Picolt, and Wally Lamb just to name a few of my favorite authors. Reading is FUNdamental as I tell my kids all the time (and they roll their eyes at me.) Reading inspires me and keeps me thinking and searching for answers. I am currently (finally) reading “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. I am blazing through it and loving it. The Chapter, “Make Your Partner a Real Partner” really struck me. Why? I'll tell you.... and that is WHY I LOVE THIS BLOG!!!
Starting out a decade ago as a young married couple with our first child, let’s just say it was stressful for myself and Joe…. like it is for all new parents. It’s all the unknowns? NO book can tell you how to do this, trust me, I tried. We had recently moved to NC from NY and had no family and few friends to speak of locally. We, at the time, had what I considered a strong relationship and we figured it out. My son came along and now there were two of these little things roaming around. EEK. Despite eight painful weeks of colic, which I thank my son for all the time, we figured it out. There was a period of time when the kids were about 1 and 3, we so eloquently refer to as “hell," in which we struggled. My daughter was getting more independent and finding her voice and my son was getting mobile. We were in lock down but we figured it out.
Looking back on this time I was clearly struggling with anxiety and did not know it. Joe had some of his own challenges he was dealing with. It was overwhelming. What I realize now about my anxiety was when it ramped up…. I grasped for control and I hung on to it for dear life. This resulted in me doing EVERYTHING which further resulted in resentment towards Joe and some not so pleasant days. I was certainly not finding the joy and living in the moment. This passage in “Lean In” really hit home for me:
“As women must be more empowered at work, men must be more empowered at home. I have seen so many women inadvertently discourage their husbands from doing their share by being too controlling or too critical. Social scientists call this “maternal gatekeeping,” which is a fancy term for “Ohmigod, that’s not the way you do it! Just move aside and let me.”
THIS. WAS. ME. (I now welcome the cold hard slap of reality to my face.)
What I have learned over time is you can’t force anyone to do anything and particularly not when you’re forcing them to do it “your way.” Joe checked out. Why bother? She’ll do it right and I won’t get yelled at. Sure, she stomps around for a bit, but whatever…. I can literally hear this in his head.
I have learned to surrender. Yes, there is a learning curve. He got better at offering to help. I let him help and let him do it "his way" even when in my head I was watching him and saying, “sweet lord, why the heck is he doing it that way?” In the end if I “tap out” and leave him alone he gets where we needed to get to. Maybe not my way, but who the heck cares?
Example…. We both travel for work. I used to KILL myself stressing about “setting them up for success” when I was gone. Prepping meals, laying out clothes, leaving long notes. Exhausting. Now – I just leave. Ahhhh the freedom. And guess what? No one loses an arm or dies when I am gone. The horror!
I have also noticed that things slowly started to fall into a rhythm. We have dinner down to a science. I do all the cooking because I enjoy it. We all put our dirty dishes on the counter and Joe cleans up. Boom. It’s magical. I don’t have to ask, it just happens.
Reality check…. We are still a work in progress. I still irritate him and he's still a procrastinator! But, oh my word, is life so much easier when we do our best to be equal partners. It’s probably still a 60/40 balance (sorry Joe) but I’m good with that for now. I have more flexibility with work so I can do laundry during the day and pick up groceries. It makes sense. I don’t resent him because "I do it all" and he doesn’t have to. If roles were reversed I believe he would do the same.
When it comes to my professional career I have lived by a mantra… "work smarter not harder." I believe the same applies here. I treat Joe as equal partner and he takes equal responsibility. It is really that simple. I just had to let go and TRUST. Every now and then I am pleasantly surprised when he does something better than how I would have. Imagine that!
I leave you with my new favorite photo of Joe, courtesy of Rose Trail Images. The man of the house does not wear the pants most days, but boy can he wear a robe.