Every year I look forward to Christmas all year long, and every year I am surprised at how quickly it comes and goes! I’ll keep this post short (it is Christmas, after all!), but I wanted to put out a reminder for anyone like me who forgets to think of New Year’s resolutions until New Year’s Eve, and then makes silly or hasty resolutions. So here’s the reminder: Christmas has gone, and New Year’s is almost upon us. Let’s take some time to really think about what we want for next year so our resolutions can be meaningful and realistic. We’ll talk more on Tuesday about picking relationship resolutions for the new year. Merry Christmas!
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you already know many of my faults: I’m a perfectionist, I’m defensive, I’m a know-it-all. So let’s add one more: I’m a workaholic.
We’ve talked already about how being a perfectionist and being defensive are linked, and I believe that being a perfectionist is also linked to being a workaholic. Part of my drive to be perfect is a need to do everything to the best of my ability and to make sure everyone is happy with my work. Unfortunately, that sometimes means that my work gets more of my time than it really should because I have trouble seeing something as good enough. There is always one more thing that could be done.
When I started teaching, my workaholic tendencies went into overdrive. Even though my classes ended at 3 p.m. every day, I frequently kept working until 9 p.m. with grading and lesson planning. Part of that was the demands of the job, and make no mistake: teaching is a very demanding job. Still, part of it was my own idea that everything needed to be done perfectly. The result was that I did not see my husband very often when I was teaching. I would sit next to him on the couch in the evenings, but my head was buried in my computer as I researched teaching ideas and typed up lesson plans. It made me a good teacher, but not so much a good wife.
Now that I’m at home raising our daughter instead of working as a teacher, you would think that I would have more time for my husband. However, when the problem is inside of you, you take it with you wherever you go. When I have time that I could spend with my husband, I still often find things that must be done first. “I can spend time with you, but first I need to do the dishes.” “I can spend time with you, but first I need to straighten the living room.”
The only methods I’ve found so far for resisting this urge to put my husband last are these:
- Fight against my perfectionism
- Be aware of my weakness in this area
- Put my husband on my list of priorities
That last one is key. We talk about putting our partners first, but often I am so distracted that I don’t even put my husband on the list.
As they say, actions speak louder than words, so I ask myself, “What are my actions telling my partner about his importance in my life?” I think it is a question we can all stand to ask ourselves once in a while.
When most people think of holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, they think of time with family. As the holiday season approaches, however, the reality is that we get busier and busier. A time that is meant for family ends up being a time for rushing around trying to get everything done and make sure everything is perfect. Without realizing it, we can communicate to our partners that we have time for everyone but them.
This is a tendency that isn’t restricted to the holidays, although it certainly shows up there frequently. As we’ve discussed before, Americans (and particularly American women) tend to have very full schedules and an urge towards perfectionism. Unfortunately, these things often lead us to put everything else before our partners.
As you might expect, putting our partners last is toxic for our relationships in the long run. We send the message to our partners that they are not important in our lives.
So this holiday season, let’s take some time to consider our time commitments before just jumping in. Let’s cut out some of the nonessentials to make room for our partners. Let’s make sure they know that they are a priority in our lives.
Since our challenge this week was about saying “I love you” to our spouses in the right ways (and avoiding that terrible phrase, “I love you, but…”) I was on the lookout for opportunities to say “I love you” to my husband. Unfortunately, for my husband, saying the words wouldn’t do much. I respond very strongly to words, but my husband has very little reaction to them, so I had to find another way.
Fortunately for me, an opportunity to say “I love you” came up, and I was quick to jump on the chance. For my husband’s job, he had an opportunity to go to San Francisco for a conference, and he mentioned that maybe I could come with him.
The only problem was that I found out shortly before the conference that I had an opportunity for a job that day. I am a substitute teacher, so jobs come up infrequently and on short notice. The reasons not to go started to add up. I had work for that day, I hadn’t gotten the dog vaccinated yet so she could go to a kennel, we would have to pay for a kennel, and on and on.
One of my (many) weaknesses is that I sometimes prioritize my work over my husband, but fortunately, this week I was focusing on saying “I love you,” and I knew that going on the trip would say exactly that to my husband. I turned down the subbing, got a last minute vet appointment to get the dog’s vaccinations, and made a reservation at the kennel.
While my goal in doing nice things for my husband is to make him happy, not to get benefits for myself, I am often amazed by the positive things that caring for my husband brings to my life. We had a fun trip together, and got to stay in a hotel overlooking the San Francisco bay, complete with lovely palm trees. I also got to visit the beautiful Peninsula Humane Society, which was very interesting because I regularly volunteer for animal shelters (more on this next week when we discuss the benefits of volunteering).
Most importantly, though, because I spoke to my husband in his love language (quality time) instead of mine (words of affirmation), he was able to really feel my love. And that, after all, is the goal, day after day.