Friday, February 24, 2006

Reason #22: He wants to be with me, and I WANT to be with him!

(Having established in Reason #21, (please read that post first), that He wants to be with me, I shall now elaborate on how DH wants to spend his days off with me, which gives me another reason to LOVE him!)

My idea of a perfectly delightful day off is to sleep in until noon! Well, after all, it is supposed to be a day of REST, is it not? So, when DH would come bouncing boldly back into the bedroom after his morning run to carpool the kiddos, and announce with gusto that he was hungry and we should go eat breakfast at Country Kitchen, I would tend to greet his idea with something less than enthusiasm. My favorite Scripture verse is Proverbs 27: 14 "If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse."

or, as The Message Bible paraphrases,

14 If you wake your friend in the early morning

by shouting "Rise and shine!"

It will sound to him

more like a curse than a blessing.

Nevertheless, not having to cook breakfast and clean the kitchen did sound better and better the more awake I became, so I would often take him up on his offer. DH was willing to patiently wait for me to dress for the day, and soon we would be off to the restaurant. Three hours later, and thirty bucks poorer, we would finally get home again. It seemed like a long list of errands would suddenly be remembered, and I sometimes felt like a captive passenger.

Someone might be in the hospital, and DH would explain as he drove, "It would be so convenient to drop in for a quick visit on our way." Worse still, DH sometimes felt the need to sneak back into the office "just for a minute" on the pretense of retrieving a book or piece of mail, and I would have to come along for the ride, and pray that he wouldn't get side-lined by several members of the congregation who also might have just "stopped by for a minute."

By the time we would arrive home, it would only be another hour or so until the kids got home from school. There's so little time to do what needs to be done! I tend to have a different outlook on life than my husband, a sort of predisposition to play first, then work. My husband's mindset is usually ALL work and no play! So, just about the time I'm getting into a craft project or a creative writing outlet, DH has to go and mention nagging chores such as bill-paying and laundry. UUGGGHH!

I do appreciate DH's help with domestic chores, and I readily admit to being organizationally challenged. (Okay, okay--I'm lazy, there I said it! However, I prefer to think of it as being more "laid back".) ;-) My DH has a bit of compulsive-obsessive traits in his personality, and he has helped me to learn over the years that he cannot relax until his world is in order. (He's the kind of guy that makes the bed in a hotel room, go figure!) Unfortunately, DH is perfectly willing to help me with the chores, right when I am reluctant to be helped. It's not that I don't see the need to get it done, it's just the timing and priority of what needs to be done.

Another frustration is that when DH starts any home repair or home maintenance project, it automatically becomes the "family" project. This was directly learned from his dad, a truck driver/cattle farmer, who practically ruined every family holiday gathering by forcing the entire family to go out and herd cattle, or some other unpleasant task. I remember one Thanksgiving when he started to dismantle the entire refrigerator, trying to fix the ice-maker, while all the women were getting dinner. What an awful pain that was, tripping over him, reaching around him to get the items we needed in the fridge!

If DH (and his dad) had a "mantra" it would probably be something like, "the family that works together, stays together." So, when Dad shovels the snow, we all shovel snow. When Dad picks up the "poop" we all get to share the joy. (Are we having fun, yet?!)

On top of every other frustration, the pinnacle of every marriage "discussion", is the matter of finances. It is not fun to hang around the house on bill-paying days. It's never fun to pay bills. It's especially not fun when there isn't enough money to pay all the bills. No fun; 'nuff said.

Being a firm believer in the restorative power of play therapy--and just wanting to have some fun on my days off--I had to seriously ponder the pros and cons of spending my days off with DH. On the one hand, I love him, and want to be with him: on the other hand, it's kind of nice doing my own thing, which may actually involve not doing much besides sleeping!!!

Then came a Monday morning, not long ago. Totally out of the blue, DH rolled over when the alarm went off, and said, "I think I'm going to stay home today. Wanna take the day off with me?" Totally out of character, at first I thought maybe he was talking in his sleep. Then, I thought he was sick or depressed! "What's wrong?" I asked, waking more quickly than usual.
He assured me nothing was wrong; he was just tired. We had had a very busy weekend, with back-to-back commitments.

It didn't take too much persuasion to talk me into calling my boss and asking to re-schedule my day off. (Have I mentioned that I love the flexibility of my job?) We each took one kid to school (they go to private schools in opposite directions), then met in the parking lot of Country Kitchen. After enjoying a nice leisurely breakfast, we came home and went to bed. Now, that's my idea of a day off!

A couple of hours later, we rose, rested and satisfied, ready to face the daunting tasks ahead. I made coffee, and we both had our computer/devotional time. After a while, we looked at the finances together, cut up a few credit cards, paid a few bills, and then it was done! Since I've put many bills on auto-pay, and others are paid online, it actually wasn't as painful a process as it had been in the past.

Later on, we took the dog for a walk. The kids came home, did their homework, helped with the dinner dishes, and did a few other little chores. After dinner, we all watched TV together.

That night, as I lay in bed, reflecting on our perfectly delightful day off, I was amazed at how much things have changed for the better in my relationship with DH. He actually wants to spend time with me--and I actually want to be with him! In my Valentine's Day card from DH, he thanked me for my intense love for him over the past few months. It struck me that my love has grown more intense, almost without realizing it, over a time period that correlates with the creation of this blog!

I'm a witness to the "power of positive thinking" and loving!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Reason #21: He wants to BE with me!

Throughout our marital relationship saga, the dilemma of "Pastor's Day Off" has been a sore topic. Everyone knows that Sundays are not a leisure day for a minister (and his family), but they forget that Saturday is most likely filled with administrative/housekeeping tasks for the pastor in preparation for a busy day of services, not to mention the myriad of church activities that fall to weekends on the calendar, such as weddings. So, if the pastor works all weekend, when does he take a day off?

It was years before DH ever consistently took a regular day off from work. He worked seven days a week! If and when my Dear Hubby ever decided to stay home from the office, it was usually due to extreme physical fatigue or near emotional breakdown, and the mood of the whole day was predictable. Picture the shades drawn, the house quiet, and the poor pastor in bed all day, nursing a monster headache. Fun for the whole family? I think not!

Mondays are the usual choice for busy pastors to be away from the office. Our staff used to take Mondays off together, so they could have more days to stay connected through the week. But I grew to despise Mondays, and finally banished him back to the office. I decided that if he was going to be sick, miserable, and depressed every Monday, he could just as well take it out on those who dished it to him at church, and not punish his family.

Oh, the arguments that surrounded the awful subject of "A Day OFF"--the hurts that were embedded into my heart from his rejection of me! What devastating patterns developed through the years of forming a codependent relationship with a "workaholic" husband!

Unobtrusively, an amazing change transpired, so slowly it was almost inperceptible. DH began to consistently take Thursdays off. It offered a nice mid-week break, far enough away from last Sunday for him to be in a better mood, yet not too close to next Sunday for him to be stressed out.

Without actually intending it, DH began to develop a "day off" routine. Thursdays just happened to be "trash pick-up day" in our neighborhood, so every Thursday morning DH obediently gathered all the garbage, enlisting the help of the kids, and set it out by the curb, on his way to take one or both of the kids to school. (Some mornings, he would give me a break, and drive them both; other days, I took them both, so he could sleep in.)

If I had the day off from work, he would take me out for breakfast, and we would stop by Sam's Club for groceries or run other errands after breakfast. If I worked, he would do the Sam's run himself, and maybe dawdle a bit longer in the books section or the electronics department. Then it was home to make coffee and read the Word. The rest of the day was generally divided into home maintenance projects, bill-paying, web-surfing, and naps.

I was so proud of him: it took a long time, but he finally figured out how to take a day off, and what that looked like to normal people. We even did family things together at night, like walk the dog, ride bikes, or (most often) watch TV together.

Trouble is: it took so long, it almost ruined my desire to be with him on his day off! I actually came to that sad realization very recently.

After a few Thursdays off without me, DH asked out of curiosity, why I had been taking Wednesdays off instead of Thursdays. I told him truthfully that I hadn't even thought about it; it was just how the schedule had been made up, and coincidentally had fallen into that pattern. I told him I would look into getting it changed.

Secretly, I had to spend some serious consideration on whether or not I wanted to make the change to spend my day off from work with him! Reading between the lines of the blissful "day off routine" described above, I realized there were many "slip-ups" on his road to recovery, and my DH quite frankly was not always "fun" to be with!

...To Be Continued...

(Would it be considered "cheating" if I carried over this topic into Reason #22?)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Reason #20: He's a "Great Grandpa"!

No, he's not THAT old! But, he played a "grandpa" in our church play on Valentine's day, and he was GREAT!

I was "Grandma," and I must say I didn't do too bad myself. It was my third time playing a grandma in a church play, so I must be doing something right. (Or, do I just have that "matronly figure"?!)

DH bought a pair of denim overalls and a plaid flannel shirt, and he wore his gray fleece slippers. I dyed his hair and whiskers gray, and poured baby powder over his head to cover the bald spot. He put his glasses down on the edge of his nose, and pretended to be hard of hearing.

I wore a granny dress, and an embroidered apron, with my blue fuzzy slippers, and a cuddly cardigan sweater. I had my hair in a bun (I added a hair piece, since my hair is so short) and poured powder all over it, and I had a pair of "granny" glasses around my neck. (I made the glasses holder myself, from an old pearl necklace.) For the finishing touch, I pulled out a real lace hankerchief, for the dramatic tear-jerker scene.

We really "hammed it up" since we were the only adults participating in the play. The teens did a good job, but they didn't know how to project their voices very well. Thankfully, they were able to use microphones. DH and I had the main character parts, and we had to use "cheat sheets" to keep our lines flowing. We sat at a table for almost the whole play, so we could hide our lines under our napkins.

Everyone commented afterward at how well we both did. I think they loved the juxtaposition of his character, from a preacher to a farmer, from his usual suit and tie, to flannel shirt and overalls. I know they were surprised that I could "act" and put my whole self into the part of a doting granny.

I was so proud of DH. It was fun, and it was strangely "bonding" to be in a play like that together. It was almost like pretending to be ourselves in forty years!