Resolutions

Some definitions from dictionary.com: a resolve or determination; the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.

That is some pretty strong language.  Many of us tend to shy away from making such strong statements, and even if we do make new year’s “resolutions”, it’s usually more of a broad statement rather than a specific resolve that includes a reasonable plan.  I have stopped making resolutions in favor of a different approach:

  1. When I want something to change in my life, I start on it right then and there, without waiting for Jan. 1
  2. Change is gradual and in its own time, especially when it pertains an attitude, deeply held belief, or ingrained habit
  3. A clear picture of the end goal helps me to figure out the steps to get there.  Sometimes, it’s just constantly recalibrating towards the goal, other times, it involves specific actions
  4. Forgiveness of myself when I mess up, and my husband when he fails to support me, helps keep it positive
  5. By often considering what about the change is important to me, I keep better focus and persistence for changing it for the long term.

Two months ago, I joined a gym.  Of course, joining a gym was the easy part (point 1 – why wait?).  On my fridge hangs this picture (point 5 – why is it important?).  BackpackingMy goal is to do that in the future with less pain. The way to achieve that is to work out 3-4 times a week (point 3 – end goal and actions). 

A few weeks ago I was recuperating from a cold and had not even driven by my gym in over a week.  I knew I wasn’t strong enough for a hard workout, but realized the most difficult part was to get to the actual gym itself – the longer I waited, the bigger that obstacle would become. My small step that day was to pack a gym bag, walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes, and then hang out in the whirlpool and sauna for another 15 (point 2 – small steps).  Doing that made it easier for me to head back two days later and have an actual workout.  I haven’t had to forgive myself too much yet, but when the day comes that I stop going for reasons other than a cold, I’ll work on point 4.

transactive memory

I often wonder why one person in a marriage tends to be responsible for certain things, while the other is responsible for other things.  I’ve rebelled against the idea “you do the bills, I’ll do the dishes.”  At first it was a gender thing, but when we tried to switch it, I realized that even that wasn’t enough – I wanted to know about the systems and information my husband used, and I wanted him to know about what I was doing.

Turns out that’s not how marriage works.  According to Daniel M. Wegner’s research on transactive memory, here’s how it does work:

“People in close relationships know many things about each other’s memories. One partner may not know where to find candles around the house, for instance, but may still be able to find them in a blackout by asking the other partner where the candles are. Each partner can enjoy the benefits of the pair’s memory by assuming responsibility for remembering just those items that fall clearly to him or to her and then by attending to the categories of knowledge encoded by the partner so that items within those categories can be retrieved from the partner when they are needed. Such knowledge of one another’s memory areas takes time and practice to develop, but the result is that close couples have an implicit structure for carrying out the pair’s memory tasks. With this structure in place, couples in close relationships have a transactive memory that is greater than either of their individual memories.”

Great.  Our joint memory is greater than either of our memories individually.  Here’s my challenge with that: by just relying on him to remember things in his “expertise”, I stop learning about those things and so essentially close my own world in.  I haven’t figured out how to make this work out for me instead of against, but knowing that there could be an upswing to it helps me swallow it better when MrH relies on me for technical information on the car, or when I rely on him for financials. 

In the meantime, I’ll keep reading articles like this one to keep me from getting complacent.

Fighting Fair

Apparently the two of us are so cute in how we “fight” that my best woman incorporated it into her toast at the wedding.  As we’ve gotten deeper into our own dirt, I’ve realized that having difficult, painful conversations will probably always be a part of marriage.  The rules below are actually the lessons I’m learning every time something hard comes up.  He’s got his whole own set! 

  1. Don’t expect him to read my mind
  2. If he says “I don’t know what to say”, it’s better to be quiet than to lash out at him
  3. Remember that I love him
  4. Ask God to be involved, even if I’m not sure I want Him to yet 
  5. Realize that the whole thing will be over much faster if I bring it up at 7pm, rather than waking him up at midnight
  6. We’re a team, playing together 
  7. Keep him true to addressing the root of the issue.  Tell him what the root is.
  8. Be sure we both know what we are forgiving and forgiven for 
  9. Imagine a 5-year old overhearing our conversation – how would she feel?
  10. Expect to be surprised

The Disclaimer: these are not directives for everyone else out there.  We all have our own marriages and ways of operating.  However, whenever I can remember even just a handful of the above, it helps me (and therefore us) through the most painful conversations and disputes.

A Picture Matters

I had my annual check-up today.  As I lay back, my doctor said “oh, and I taped a picture up there so you can pretend to be somewhere else.”  I looked up, and lo and behold, there was a small postcard image of the Virgin Islands taped up with scotch tape: pristine beach, blue ocean, blue sky.  It’s such a simple act, but signals so much more.  To me, it said: “I care about you,”  “I understand how uncomfortable/awkward this is,” “I have a life outside this office too, and am willing to share it with you,” “I don’t expect you to pay attention to every prod and poke.” 

I’m wondering whether we shouldn’t take this one picture concept a little further and tape up an entire collection of pictures.  Something like these:

Wild Turtles

Montana MountainsIndian Paintbrush - FlowerMy FishWaterFall FoliageThese images create a nice variety of landscapes and situations.  For those of us with the ADHD brains, we can actually pick a place or situation to be in, and transport ourselves there.  For those of us more analytical, can count the little glitters on the water, or try to figure out where each picture was taken (these are all my personal photos actually, so please give me some credit if you use them!).   

How easy would it be for a doctor to go that extra step and provide us with an even stronger message of caring and nurturing?  In fact, why don’t I bring in a collage of pictures and suggest she hang it up?  What would happen if we all did that?  A revolution!  Ok, that’s for another post 🙂 

And that makes 12…

Our Christmas TreeWe began this Christmas season with exactly 9 ornaments on our Christmas tree. They were the ramshackle bunch that you’d expect from a pair of newlyweds who’ve never had a tree of their own before: a homemade cookie monster; the three ornaments hastily bought at CVS one year; the ornament from Blackfeet Indian friends; a few handmade attempts at ornaments that made the cut simply because there were so few to put on; the ornaments that were rejected by our parents. (Can you find them all in the picture?) Somehow we’ve already acquired three more. At this rate, we’ll have a tree filled with ornaments in just 10 years!

We decided we want to be patient, to let our Christmas celebrations naturally evolve into whatever they are meant to be for us. This meant creating some space on Christmas day for just the two of us – later to include any new arrival types of family members (if you catch my drift). It meant not traveling this holiday. It meant agreeing with the sister-in-law about the impossibility of celebrating five Christmas in the span of three days. For MrH, it meant buying me an ornament for Christmas – the first ornament ever bought just for me.

It’s green and painted from the inside by a Chinese artist. There’s a Santa Claus Li Bien Ornamentconducting. There’s a gingerbread man, a candycane, a wrapped gift, various stars and snoflakes, a stocking, and a turtle dove. On a pink banner it says “Merry Christmas 2006” He bought me this ornament, picked it out from amongst possibly dozens of others, and chose this one for me. It’s beautiful.

Back to Blogging

I lost someone’s blog.  I vaguely remember her writing a post about switching to a new site – that was months ago.  Somehow it must have automatically redirected me, and now that feature is turned off and she has disappeared somewhere into the depths of cyberworld.  I’ve googled her and blogspot-searched her but my skills are no match for her disappearance.  If you happen to know “The Adventures of Superwife”, drop me a line!

It’s not even that I know this woman.  She posted interesting tidbit-like thoughts about her marriage and her latest recipe and other house-keeping trials.  She was “cool” in her wifeliness, and I enjoyed that.  Being “cool” as a wife, and having a place to express my own thoughts, independent from my husband, is alluring once again.  Over the past few weeks, our thoughts keep lingering around one another, they are becoming ever more entwined, to the point where I’m not even sure where mine start and his end.  I suppose marriage is insidious in that way – without careful attention your own personality and independence will be sucked out of you and morph into this new “we” thing.  Not that “we” is a bad thing, but in order to be a good teammate to my husband, I need to be solidly rooted in my own self-ness first. 

Back to blogging!