In many ways, we found our rhythm fairly easily. Deferring to one another’s strong opinions on this or that, recognizing our clear gifts in one area or another, came naturally to us. We didn’t have turf wars. You aren’t a numbers guy and don’t claim to be, so it doesn’t make sense for you to mess with the daily budget-and-bills grind. I’m only interested in cars that run, so it doesn’t make sense for me to be in charge of maintaining or cleaning or repairing them (though I’m happy to drop things off at the mechanic if you tell me where and when).
Where the sparks fly are areas where pride gets in the way. More specifically, my pride. I only remember one time early on when you expressed unhappiness at being asked to help around the house. But it only took one reminder from me that we were in a very unique situation and must be willing to do things differently. You rolled up your sleeves and tackled the dishes. You always seem to appreciate when I help you.
Then there’s me, a walking ball of contradictions. On the one hand, I don’t believe there are many men-only or women-only jobs. I think a guy ought to be able and willing to wash dishes, cook suppers, and bottle-feed a baby, and a gal ought to be able and willing to change tires, mow the lawn, and unclog drains. (Let’s not talk about how pissed I got learning how to change a tire. Those lug nuts were on tight.)
On the other hand, I feel guilty when you help me out at home, like I’ve failed or dropped the ball somehow. You work outside the home full-time, and while I work, I’m at home most of the time, and I’m at it part-time. Since I’m here more, I’ve decided that I should do more of the household tasks (even though that isn’t my strength). If you do something, I take it as a sign that I’m a failure.
It’s pride, plain and simple. I hate to ask for help and I hate to accept help. You’ve witnessed the strain on me during those chapters in our lives where I was forced to accept help, when Elli was newborn and I was sleeping in 2-hour chunks for months at a time, to name just one. My pride is rooted in my control-freak nature. I want things done my way. No-one else can do it my way, which is the right way, by the way. It irks me to find hand washables in machines, dishes in the wrong cabinet, and leftovers thrown out instead of saved. (I know, I’m a little crazy.)
I know that it doesn’t really matter how something is done (except when something is ruined, but it is still just a thing). What matters is that you’re the kind of guy who actually notices when I need help, and you’re the kind of guy who does something about it. I know women whowould kill to have a guy like you. It’s ludicrous for me to get mad at you for helping me wrong.
Like I said, I am a walking ball of contradictions. I’m working on it, I promise. Like I’ve always said, I’m the lucky one. You’re stuck with me.
On Mondays, Scott (don’t miss his letter this week) and I join Seth and Amber as they fight the good fight for their marriage where we can all see. They call this weekly series “Marriage Letters” and pray that it encourages each of us in our own hard work of marriage. This week our topic is “His job, her job.”. You can join us any time with your own letter to your spouse, whether you both write or blog or not. Amber hosts a link-up on her blog, so we hope you’ll share your letter there!