I had a marriage epiphany a couple weeks ago. As I was presenting to my husband my quarterly list of grievances about him, and argued about what qualifies as “effort,” it occurred to me that I could put more “effort” in myself. Last month I heard myself refer to a previous version of myself as “when I was a full time wife” in conversation. Even though my husband never complains, I figured I could try to be the girl I know he would like. As I do, I made a list of goals for the week:
- Keep the house clean.
- Consume and discuss politics.
- Have meals ready when Spencer is home from work.
- Spend quality time…on the couch.
- Look decent when Spencer comes home.
- Text throughout the day.
I started the week with ambition and initiative, but I will go on and tell you I failed at all 7 objectives even though there were only 6. Oh, I can find a way to fail. There was a moment that week that made me consider my actual value as a wife.
- Keeping the house clean.
I like a clean house and I work from home. That means I am impacted by the cleanliness and have more time to clean. My husband is actually very neat and methodical so I know he likes the house clean and everything in its place. Despite those facts, the house did not get cleaned until I was off Friday and that was just the kitchen. I had cleaned throughout the week, but I guess it made new messes at the same speed.
- Listening to Politics
I downloaded NPR Politics and NPR’s UpFirst in an effort to stay abreast of current events. As a clueless, married woman, I usually depend on my husband to brief me on politics and global events. I didn’t grow up around people discussing or caring about politics. I have certainly tried to seek knowledge, but find it to be a literal effort to retain any information. Not to mention that I don’t really watch television or read news. Spencer on the other hand, is very interested and has opinions. I know it would be stimulating for him to be able to discuss news with me and have an intelligent conversation. Despite having identified what and how, I didn’t even listen to the podcast.
- Have meals ready
The goal is to have dinner ready by 7:30 and make sure he has a meal for lunch. Things I used to do, even after I started working. Not only did I fail to cook this week, Spencer actually ended up cooking one day. He grilled bratwursts and hotdogs, with no bread, because I forgot to unthaw the ground beef. Then we had leftovers for the next few days. It’s fine for Spencer to cook, but not fine for me to be lazy.
- Hang out in the evenings
Quality time with my husband is watching TV with my husband. I would prefer he do what I’m doing sometimes since I don’t want to watch television all the time, but since this was about me meeting him where he was, I wanted to do what I know he would like. Keeping with the theme, there wasn’t a single evening that I sat down after dinner to do more than watch an episode of Veep. Instead I baked or cleaned.
- Look decent
Many people think I am attractive, but I just don’t know what you would think if you saw me at 1 pm on a weekday. If I have managed to put on a complete outfit, meaning not a robe or pajamas, then my hair is likely in the same ponytail I wore to the gym with a headband barely hanging on there. I know my husband would at least like me to look groomed, forget the makeup, but I didn’t even manage that. My edges were kinky and my eyebrows were faint, knees ashy…and dinner wasn’t ready.
- Text throughout the day
We don’t text regularly because Spencer comes home for lunch, but I am usually working the whole time or he’s napping so we don’t really get to check in. I thought texting throughout the day would be a good way to connect and let Spencer know I was thinking about him. Apparently I wasn’t thinking about him because I didn’t manage a single text that wasn’t logistics related.
- Don’t break my husband’s things
A goal not to destroy the other person’s property should be a given for most partners, which is why it was not listed. Even though I didn’t list it, the moment I broke my husband’s iPad case was the lowest point of my week. I am clumsy and I am careless and short-sighted. I did not foresee the iPad falling backward off the ledge and into the empty bathtub, but that’s what happened. I did my best to duct tape the hinge of the case, but it was no use. I sat it on the coffee table and waited for my demise
I really did fail at being a better wife. I tried and I failed. I was discouraged that I couldn’t even achieve what used to be my standard performance. I used to take pride in the package I provided as I anticipated my husband’s needs and stayed on top of my self-given responsibilities. I used to do things like make sure his water bottle was sanitized every week. Now I feel like I am going through the motions and sometimes not even that. I complain a lot about not being able to do both as a full time employee, but the reality is that I am going to be an employee for the foreseeable future. I can’t allow it to take away from my relationship. As I lamented to a friend about my failure, she pointed out took on a lot and should just focus on one thing at a time. I was kind of setting myself up to fail. But most importantly Spencer didn’t seem to notice one way or another. Even though he stayed on top of his chores, he never complained about the clothes crammed under my side of the bed or eating dinner at 9 pm. He didn’t even get mad about the iPad case. He only made a joke about getting a better model that isn’t clumsy. And that, my friends, is unconditional love.