Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why my husband is so much more than a "partner"

I've had the privilege of being off work the past couple of weeks for Christmas and vacation time and getting to spend a big chunk of that time with Trevor. His new calling means he's going to be quite a bit busier and I'm conscious that once I go back to work next week, our time together will become a lot more precious. We had our 27th wedding anniversary just over a week ago and it made me reflect a lot.

Our world is very fond of the word partner in politically correct circles. Lately I've been conscious that the term is a little too dispassionate and clinical for what's really going on in our relationship. One of my favourite definitions of the term is probably the most archaic - a prudent and thrifty manager. Because ultimately, that's what he does for me. He moderates my excesses, helps me remember that caution can be a good thing, does the practical thing when I don't feel like it. I may be decisive and get things done, but he more often does them right. I need that. He is my balance. He completes me. There are times I worry that he is too good, too perfect. He doesn't seem to struggle with some of the weaknesses that plague me - like eating the wrong things, being a little self-indulgent, needing more sleep than most people. And every so often something happens that reminds me that he needs my balance as badly as I need his, but that I need to make sure I'm doing it in the right way.

More than a month ago there was a mishap in the kitchen involving his favourite spatula. He'd laid it down on the stove to grab something and it slid into the lit gas burner. He was very upset. We have other spatulas, so it wasn't the end of the world. It came from IKEA and cost less than $2. But he really liked that one. He liked the size and dimension of it. It felt comfortable in his hand and so he usually wanted that particular utensil when he was cooking. I would ordinarily just commiserate and then toss the item into the recycling bin and make a note to replace it the next time we were in that neck of the woods. I figured we'd move on. But not my husband. He carefully cut away the damage and persisted in trying to use it anyway. A couple of weeks later I bought him a replacement exactly the same from IKEA. Well, not exactly the same. The new version was green. I should have known at that moment it might be an issue. We took it home and I assumed the old spatula could finally be put to rest. Nope. It miraculously reappeared a few days ago, symmetrically trimmed now. He was so proud of that ridiculous spatula that was somehow still usable. The irritated part of my brain wanted to steal the spatula and make sure it ended up at the bottom of the recycling bin never to return again, but the other part of my brain said wait a minute. What is really going on here? 

Trevor forms attachments that are long-lasting. It's why he doesn't part with things he appreciates until they are well and truly past usefulness. I don't have that mind set. He will persist with something damaged or broken, forcing/willing it to keep going. And when I look at that stupid spatula, I can see that he is willing to do that with the people in his life too. When he decides you are important to him, he will do whatever it takes to keep you in his life in whatever capacity you can manage. For years I have thought it was part of my responsibility to wean him from the broken things he clings to, and perhaps that's true in some part, but I also see that the very characteristic that makes him perfect for imperfect me is also the thing I have to be careful not to destroy. Because I know with absolute certainty that he would never do that to me. There will never come a time when he will toss me to the curb because he wants a new one. 

I see now after 27 years that I need his stability and acceptance more than ever. A partner is someone you choose to work with toward a common objective. A partner tosses out a dysfunctional utensil. Trevor chose me to be in his life forever, and his core deep loyalty and commitment will make him do whatever it takes to keep me there. He is unfailingly patient with me. My challenge is going to be learning to be consistently a wife instead of a partner. Instead of making snap decisions about the things that he's hanging onto, perhaps I should make sure I'm paying attention to what he's really saying in wanting to hang onto something. Because every HUSBAND deserves a WIFE.  

Decluttering the Hard Way

For a while now I've been finding myself trapped wading through digital information I really don't want to see, read or be bothered with. As social media evolves, it seems like they're shifting from the passive provision of a forum to nudging us towards products based on what we've expressed an interest in. Lately it's been really getting on my nerves. Facebook used to be about networking for friends and family but is becoming more about ads and sharing endless links, quizzes, and shifting your interest to what they think you should see. I don't really like that.

My life just keeps getting busier. I'm not needing less sleep. If I'm spending increasing time just scrolling through my "news feed" to get to what I actually care about, that means less time for things that matter. I don't like that. And the underlying issues of social media are still there as well - the pretense of anonimity we all fall prey to, the content that we really don't want to see that comes from people we care about, the endless notifications about nothing which you then have to find and turn off, and the videos that play automatically when you could really care less. It just feels like I've got piles of digital paper accumulating in my head, and clutter is depressing.

So after catching myself failing to self-edit and using my outside voice in a comment last week I realized something had to change. I decided I needed a time out from facebook. I chose a week to see how it would go. It was much harder than I thought it would be. To make sure I wouldn't lapse, I took facebook off my phone and ipad. I didn't log in on my computer. If anything important happened, I relied on my husband to let me know. It was sobering to realize how conditioned I had become to checking my feed several times a day. And I know that 80% of it is just rubbish. But the little ding that tells me something has happened in that world has me trained. I have realized that I am wasting my time, and time is a very valuable commodity. I have been feeling like I never have time for the things that bring me lasting joy and fulfillment. I just didn't realize I'd been tossing that time away so foolishly.

I've been getting discouraged about not always having time to work out as much as I need to, or steal time for creative outlets that help to keep me sane. There are so many good things that I want to do, and I need to find the time somewhere. I honestly didn't see how much my connectedness was disconnecting me from real life. It was a sobering wake up call.

I'm not putting facebook back on my phone for the foreseeable future. I have messenger so I can contact friends and family that way. I did reinstall it on my ipad so I can try to wean myself from the habit of checking all the time. And I'm going to try and keep my posts to a minimum. I know it's going to be hard, but I need to be the one in control of what takes my time. I need my mental space. I need to learn how to make sure every time I enter that realm I do so in a positive, constructive way. So I'm going to try to avoid falling for the leading bylines like, "You won't believe what happens when...," or "secret food that stumps weight loss experts." We've all seen them, and we've all fallen victim to their sensationalist hook only to discover it's just more junk mail to wade through.

It's not easy. I've loved being able to check in with family and friends and experience what they're experiencing without having to wait for a phone call, email, or letter. But I don't think I can deal with all the padding it's acquired. I don't shop on facebook. There are thousands of other sites out there when I want to research something or go shopping for something specific. Finding it myself is part of the process. Initially I wanted to consider cutting out facebook completely and relying on messaging/blogging/email for my tie to the people I care about. I've always told myself it was about being able to connect with people quickly, and I want to keep it for that. Leaving completely would mean making it much harder for the people I care about to connect with me if they wanted to and that seems a little egotistical. But I'm going to work on it. I can't promise I won't decide at some point in this coming year that I'm done with facebook. I will try to blog more regularly when I have something to say or comment about at length. That way no one has to look at my brain vomit if they don't want to. Because honestly, that's sometimes what facebook can get like. People puking their feelings/opinions all over innocent bystanders. Kind of harsh, I know, but it's true. I want to make a positive change and share the things that make life such an amazing journey. Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.