*So this year, I resolved to increase the happiness in my home. I’m using Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier at Home” book as a loose guide. February was all about marriage…*
My love for family law is completely at odds with my love of being married to A. I spend my days studying the breakdown of families, reading various family law statutes and regulations, and thinking about creative ways to help people emerge from broken relationships relatively unscathed and financially stable. It’s not that I take joy in people separating, but I do take great joy in helping them navigate the law that underlies the terms of their separation.
I spend my nights happily married to A, or at least I try to. Law school, jobs, kids, the mundane tasks of home ownership, all work together to ensure that A. and I hardly see each other anymore. Most days, I see A. for an hour in the morning (during which time I’m making lunches, breakfast, and dinner, convincing Pixie to eat, answering twenty questions from Budsie, dodging Zoe, and making myself look presentable), and two or three hours at night (during which time I read, write, and occasionally pass out watching The Office). All told, A. and I probably spend an average of 25 waking hours each week with each other, and almost all of it is consumed by other activities.
Yes, law school is some serious relationship kryptonite.
So this month’s challenge: be married. Like, actual married. More importantly, I wanted to let A. know that I was happy to be married to him, despite the fact that I never see him, and despite the fact that I spend my waking hours talking about divorce, and despite the fact that I could easily be mistaken for an unhappily married person, given my complete lack of engagement in his life.
How did I do: Not bad.
1) I made sure to ask A. about work every day, and I actually listened to the answer. I noticed that I had begun to ask about work more as a habit, forgetting that I actually find A.’s job interesting. This month, I focused on genuinely listening to what A. had to say, committing the story to memory, and remembering to ask follow up questions later.
2) I tried not to intervene when A. was parenting. Ok, I’m not sure I was entirely successful with this. IT’S HARD. I was home for years, and as the most visible parent, I was just always in charge. But intervening undermines A.’s awesome parenting, and that’s a shitty marriage thing to do. So I’m trying. Super hard. Not to do that.
3) I worked less. This was particularly hard. I wanted to leave early, stay late, and work every waking hour. But I reasoned that one extra hour with A. in the morning or evening would help secure a relationship without which I cannot succeed. Also I just really miss A. We sat up one night, drinking beer and eating naan until 2am. It was the closest to pre-kid, pre-law school life we’ve ever been and it felt amazing. More of that is needed.
1) I still give directions as though I am CEO of the house. Again, this is because for years I was CEO of the house. I organized everything from food to bill payments to family outings, and I had everyone’s schedules memorized, and I knew who was outgrowing pants, and who needed new rain boots, and who had a birthday party to go to, and blah. And of course I was happy to do all of it because I have serious control issues. Letting go and trusting that A., as a full grown man with a brain and opposable thumbs, can manage the task of feeding two children and caring for a home, continues to elude me. I will get better.
What did I learn:
1) Quality over quantity. While I would prefer to spend more hours with A. than I currently do, it’s really the quality of the time we do spend together that is important.
2) Modelling a healthy and balanced marriage is good for my kids. I already knew this, but this was confirmed to me when Pixie called out for A. instead of me in the night, when I noticed how much the kids love it when A. and I joke around with each other, and when Budsie determined that A. and I are best friends who got married.