On Friday, I found out I had walking pneumonia and boy did that stir some stuff up on the home front. Ken’s been going through his own chronic illness stuff recently, so I’d been trying to give him some extra downtime so he can feel better.
But on Friday night, I realized just how resentful I’ve been feeling about all this sickness stuff. Sure, I’ve been dancing around the issue by joking about Ken’s various maladies in my last few posts, but underneath it all, I’ve been pissed.
So I finally sat him down and told him just how resentful I was feeling about the fact that he always got to be sick (and lie around and do nothing) while no matter how sick I was, I was always on duty.
I’d told him this before, but I think it took the fact that I had walking pneumonia for him to finally hear me. Plus, it took this serious-sounding illness for me to realize how much I’d stuffed down for so long–how absolutely and utterly furious I became each and every time he got sick and got to spend the day “chilling.” Meanwhile, I never even got any are-you-feeling-OK?-Let-me-do-that-for-yous.
Talking about it helped. Ken finally got where I was coming from, and with my illness finally trumping his, I got to spend a lot of this weekend sleeping. (Plus, my family came to our aid.) And yet, I couldn’t shake my yuckiness at how much hostility I’d been carrying around toward my hubby. So I went hunting through my married-with-kids books looking for some help.
And I landed on the “What’s the Score?” chapter from Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better As Your Family Grows, by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, and Julia Stone. I like this book because it’s truthful, funny and right-on, especially if you’re a woman looking for some validation. (If you’re reading it from the hubby’s perspective, it might leave a bit to be desired. Much like this blog.)
Anyway, here’s what I gathered:
1.) Stop being a martyr. For me, this meant accepting help and not feeling guilty that I got to sleep away an entire afternoon even if Ken wasn’t feeling so great himself.
2.) Show appreciation/validate. Very true. For some time now, I’ve been meaning to write a post focusing on all the good stuff Ken does around here, a sort of exercise in gratitude. But I’ve gotten too bogged down in all the illnesses we’ve been battling this past month and, yes, I admit it, have become way too bitter along the way.
3.) Set expectations and plan. As the authors say,
You have to have a set division of labor. Specific areas of responsibility. This does away with scorekeeping. Or at least it takes the sting out of it….
To do this right, you have to make a list and divide it up. Yeah, we know. We didn’t want to do it either because it’s boring and time consuming. But it has several benefits, the most important of which being that you can actually stop arguing about who is responsible for what. If that’s not enough reason for you, here are some more:
* It forces us to prioritze.
* It forces us to own up to our own scorekeeping behavior.
* It helps us to see that men are not useless and that women are not control-freak, life-dominating lunatics.
* It helps us eliminate unnecessary stress on our marriages by illustrating the sheer physical volume of work we are both facing, together. (Cockrell et all, 97)
Now, Ken and I have tried this divide-and-conquer approach before with varying degrees of success. Talking about it again last night made us realize that, at this current moment in time, we’re in over our heads and we need some help. So we decided to suck it up and do a little outsourcing around here, at least until we can both get over the hump. Pick up some ready-made meals and hire someone to do a one-time overhaul of our house, a.k.a. clean this dump. And maybe even ask our trusty sitter to put in a few extra hours.
So that’s what I’ve got for today. And now that my sitter has just taken Nico to school and Gabriel has gone down for a nap, I’m going back to sleep, too.