November 23, 2009

on great expectations...


so.  you think being married 12 years we should have some stuff figured out.
but remember... we started VERY different.
the professor is VERY logical and calm and focused...
and i am very emotional and passionate and concerned.
i began sweet and volitile.  he began nice and structured.
after our first passionate fight over the fact that i always had to make the bed just because i got up later than him... the professor sat on the bed, put his head in his hands and said, "what have i gotten myself into." 

since then, we've come a long way.  we're a great pair.  he centers me and i strengthen him.
i remember reading a quote by someone who said that he could not remember ever fighting with his wife and wondering if we would EVER stop arguing.  about little things and big things...
we don't fight much anymore- i can see progress.
but, i do get cranky with him.  and, he does get snippy with me when he doesn't think i'm spending my time wisely.

my wise friend taneil gave me this advice.
REMOVE THE EXPECTATIONS.
it has changed my life.
along with REMOVE THE EXPECTATIONS comes the idea that i need to understand that IT'S MY JOB (i'm accepting it as my job not being the martyr to the mundane). 
i TRUST HIM to choose for himself and he trusts me to do my best.

the truth is... when i have GREAT EXPECTATIONS it has nothing to do with how much the professor helps or what he does.  it will never be enough.  because it's not him.  it's me.
it's just that we both have EXPECTATIONS that make us BLIND to what we each DO DO :) each day.
When we are both doing our best, why do we need to be critical of each others efforts? 

ok, so here is the example.  i'm at home with the kids.  i'm cooking dinner and caring for my 6... we've done chores, and homework, and music practice, and i've dealt with the babies, and the 6 PTA calls, and the laundry, and the spilled milk, etc., etc..  The professor walks in the door and I relax a bit.  I now EXPECT that he is going to do everything that is hard for me to do and, no matter what he does, IT IS NEVER ENOUGH.  honestly, it's not even a conscious thing, i'm just a bit upset with him.  he comes in and checks his email.  I start to boil a bit.  He may try to help with dinner by suggesting we add beans to the meat i'm cooking (helpful- NOT, just offensive).  He might try to play with the boys by turning on the Wii.  He might give leah some cheese.  He might set the table.  It really doesn't matter if somehow I have an internal idea of what i think he should be doing.  if i tell him what i want him to do, then i'm a bit upset that i had to tell him.

the same thing happens with our saturdays.  i have expectations- sometimes we talk about them and sometimes i bury them... usually i'm dissappointed.  sundays... i expect a nap, he expects a nap, we have 6 kids who expect breakfast, lunch, dinner and entertainment.  there is a bit of a strain.

This past week... i told myself after-school is my job.  Dinner is my job.  Dishes are the professor's job (he would agree so no undefined expectations here).  And, bedtime is my job.  I didn't specifically tell him that dinner and bed were my job, because really i do enjoy help, but i did tell MYSELF that it was my job.

so, here is the example.  i'm at home with the kids.  i'm cooking dinner and caring for my 6... we've done chores, and homework, and music practice, and i've dealt with the babies, and the 6 PTA calls, and the laundry, and the spilled milk, etc., etc..  The professor walks in the door and I'm happy to see him.  I  EXPECT that I am going to finish making dinner and holding together the fort, i TRUST that he will choose wisely how to spend his time and that whatever he does IT IS ENOUGH.  IT IS A CONSCIOUS DECISION I REPEAT TO MYSELF... DINNER IS MY JOB.  he comes in and checks his email.  I'm glad that he can relax a bit.  He may try to help with dinner by suggesting we add beans to the meat i'm cooking i thank him for his advice and shoo him out of MY kitchen.  He might try to play with the boys by turning on the Wii.  He might give leah some cheese.  He might set the table.  I am GRATEFUL that he is home, that he is connecting and that he is different from me.  because, differences are good.  if i really need his help, i ask him as a favor, not an expectation.

sometimes i am pleasantly surprised at how helpful he is.
sometimes i am totally confused at the things he chooses to do (on Saturday he spent and hour doing something to the back door because he said it didn't close well...  hmm... it closed well enough for me, but... i'm glad he's different.)
sometimes i feel embarrassed that i'm just learning this lesson now.   
sometimes i'm SO GRATEFUL that i am learning this lesson now.
and i hope i keep learning it.

when the professor is out of town, my life is EASIER.  (in some ways)
my kids are in bed sooner, my house is cleaner, i feel very lonely, but i'm free and happy.
when he's home, i really like him, i'm always glad to have him with me, but i feel frustrated and stuck.
i've sometimes wondered why we're not better on the days we're together.

i think this is the answer

and, i actually feel really good about myself.
on Saturday, i took my kids swimming by myself while the professor mowed the lawn.
it was good.
different from a normal saturday, but good and empowering.
really, it's not about what you do... it's about DOING what you think needs to be done.  taking responsibility instead of blaming someone else.

i believe that as i raise my expectations for myself and remove my expectations for other people, the Lord will strengthen my ability.  i will be ok when i fall short, and i won't need anyone else to blame.

Alexander Pope said,   
 'Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed' was the ninth beatitude.

Alice Walker said, 
"Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise"
Someone said,
"Truly loving another means letting go of all expectations.  It means full acceptance, even celebration of another's personhood."
we are still trying to help each other improve... as cheerleaders not judges... as partners not police officers.  i don't think you need to accept everything about your spouse, but i do think you need to accept that we are both imperfect beings working towards perfection.  i need to trust him on his journey and he needs to trust me.  we're on the same team.  and, we are both spirit children of a loving Father in Heaven who are TRYING to be the best we can.  it's a process that works best when we expect great things of ourselves and TRUST that other people are doing the best that they can.

ps.  this is HARD.  i have LOTS of expectations.  and... truly removing the expectations means you CAN'T just do everything as the quiet martyr.  you really have to replace great expectations with trust and acceptance.  uggghhhh!  it's HARD.  but, i can do hard things.  and, i'm getting better.  12 years from now... i'll be great!
pps.  so, every time the professor wants to take a kissing picture i cringe because i hate how puckered he gets.  i've fixed the problem.  i pucker too and it's a joke.  really, i love this guy. 
 

7 comments:

beckyjune said...

This is beautiful, jen, and so very, very true. I think we're all striving for the same things, struggle with a lot of the same things but you just know how to so eloquently put it into words. I hope you have a wonderful night.

Taneil said...

Wow! Jen you made sense of all my rambling. If I ramble to you all my crazy thoughts will you please write a book so people can understand what I am trying to say? It's perfect!! You are so good with words!

PS I am still here...we leave on WED. I just had a crazy day! I will call you tomorrow!!!

Heather said...

ah-ha... so this is an interesting way of thinking. I'm laughing in so many ways because this is sooooo us! I married an engineer who thinks much like the Professor (who also fiddles with fix-it jobs forever long). I think like you... emotional, etc. Anyhoo... great examples of how changing our thoughts can can our world (someone else famous said that- not me!). Thanks for sharing.

The Davis Family Three said...

Love it! I don't think I could have articulated this struggle as well as you have!

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Rachel Ure said...

so HE wanted the kissing picture. love it. and LOVE your insightful posts. sometimes i just want to change a few details and claim them as my own- you say what i am feeling. thanks

corrie said...

good one. things run better when they are out of town because we don't expect anyone else to help with anything and we just do our jobs. So I just pretend he's always out of town.
I just got the "it's my job" concept too. Makes things so much better.

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