My wife and I have been married for a little over ten years now. This is a pretty cool thing for me as the longest relationship I had ever been in prior to this was a year and a half long. Personally, I never really believed that I was tolerable enough for someone to want to stick it out that long with me but Elisa has proven me wrong.
I look at how well matched we are and it amazes me. I don’t know if that was always the plan for me or if I just found someone to make it work with. Regardless, here we are ten years and two children into this thing and I feel like we’ve got it down pretty solid.
However, about once a year (never more), we get into an argument about something that ends up turning into a huge fight. Typically, it takes us anywhere from two to five days to truly get over it and work through whatever it is that set us off and then we move on. More often than not, this involves me realizing that I did or said something stupid and then we’re fine. Note: I am not stating this in a sarcastic way. I truly believe that my wife is the most perfect woman I have ever met and 99.999% of the time is 100% on the right side of our arguments.
I think everyone can probably relate though. It’s like these arguments (we are not currently in one by the way, this thought is prompted by something I read) start out as petty issues and end up being lasting much longer than either person cares for them to.
So, I was reading this article by Gretchen Rubin about the mistakes she continues to make in her marriage. Something that she said struck a chord with me and I wanted to touch on that tonight as I am suspicious that I might not be the only person out there who struggles with it.
Number four on her list is to stop being a score-keeper.
I am so bad about this. Rubin has this to say about score keeping:
I’m a score-keeper, always calculating who has done what. “I cleaned up the kitchen, so you have to run to the store” — that sort of thing. I’ve found two ways to try to deal with this tendency.
First, I remind myself of the phenomenon of unconscious over-claiming; i.e., we unconsciously overestimate our contributions or skills relative to other people’s. This makes sense, because of course we’re far more aware of what we do than what other people do. According to Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis, “when husbands and wives estimate the percentage of housework each does, their estimates total more than 120 percent.” I complain about the time I spend paying bills, but I overlook the time my husband spends dealing with our our car. It’s easy to see that over-claiming leads to resentment and an inflated sense of entitlement. So now when I find myself thinking, “I’m the only one around here who bothers to…” or “Why do I always have to be the one who…?” I remind myself of all the tasks I don’t do.
Second, I remind myself of the words of my spiritual master, St. Therese of Lisieux: “When one loves, one does not calculate.” That precept is the basis for my 11th Personal Commandment: No calculation.
I don’t think I do it intentionally but every time that we get into it about something (my wife and I, not Gretchen Rubin and I. I don’t even know her.) my gut reaction is to start defending all of the “things” that I do in our marriage and in our job. I do this as if there is some way that pointing all of this stuff out will get her to see that she is wrong.
I think sometimes this even takes place before the argument and might even cause some of them. As Rubin points out, we are always aware of what we have done but maybe not so aware of the work that our spouse puts in when we are not looking.
What really got me thinking here was the last part of Rubin’s quote above.
WHEN ONE LOVES, ONE DOES NOT CALCULATE.
So, this gets me to thinking. How much do I actually love my wife if I am keeping this mental record? Do any of you struggle with this as well or is it just me?
I love my wife. She’s the most amazing, compassionate and beautiful woman I have ever known. If there were a contest to judge who does more work in this marriage or in this job, it’s definitely her. Not even close.
I don’t think I keep this record because I don’t think she is pulling her weight. As a matter of fact, I think it’s the opposite. I just want her to know that I am pulling mine too.
Alright, it’s 10:30 in the PM and I am heading to bed. Hope you all have a blessed night.
Life is Strange. Live it Well.