If we're doing this and it's what I want, how come I'm not happier?
Let's deconstruct that statement....
Are we doing this?
Is it what I want?
Am I happy?
Are we doing this? More deconstruction are we doing this? Pretty much, sorta. The comma is important. The major parameters are in place: I've committed to picking up much more of the work around the house, and I have been. There are a tiny, countable number of things that I can do for my beloved (as opposed to for the general running of the household), which are the thins I find most satisfying.
Is the "she" part of "we" doing this? Well, she's not not doing it - that is, she's willing to put up with me doing it, and she knows it's happening. I'm trying to be very conscious of those "We could do ..." or "We should ..." household-type things, and make sure they happen. She's not making it easy, being very subtle and non-directive about these things, but I'm trying.
We've done three evening check-ins, with me kneeling beside her after she gets in to bed, this being the gating item that has to happen before I can get in to bed. We have some logistical details to work out about that, but right now that part is working well enough.
The check-ins themselves are terrific, both in the satisfaction-for-me sense, and in the working-on-getting-this-right sense. I get to thank her for doing this, in a heartfelt and true way. I get to talk about what I've done for her, and we end up sharing our reactions about how this is feeling for both of us. If we're going to figure out if this can work for us, we're going to have to do that, so the fact that we're doing it every night is really constructive.
[Aside - 15 or so years ago when we tried something similar, the high point was a weekly ritual we did assessing how we were doing. Helped make that unsucessful attempt at least in to a positive learning experience rather than a resentful dud.]
The down-side of this is that I perceive of her body language and facial expression last night and to a lesser extent the night before, as being moderately put-out by the whole exercise. Sometimes I read her spectacularly wrongly, so I guess I have to ask about it tonight. Which is the great part about having these checkins.
I also said last night how much more I prefer doing stuff for her rather than stuff for the household (though I gladly do both). But in her way, she turned it around and said "That makes me feel like an uncreative lump since I have nothing that I want you to do for me." I actually think we both have issues there that we'll have to work on.
My fantasy is that we're in the "First we try, and then we trust" phase (to steal a quote from one of our favorite movies...), and that some time she'll start requesting/expecting more. But that could just be a fantasy.
She is concerned that I not take on more than is realistic. And, having paid a couple of bills last night (supposed to be my responsibility), she expressed some disappointment at my not having done it. It was clearly an effort for her, and I didn't say the right thing (dammit!) - which would have been "I'll try to be on top of that in the future," but rather something mealy-mouthed about how I wasn't sure how those worked. Oh well, learning experience for both of us, I guess.
Is it what I want?
I think so. Or rather, nothing in the experience so far makes me think it's not. I know I was hoping that it would decrease the distance between us that has grown up in 15 years of raising kids and being civicly active and having two lives. I'm not sure it's done that, or what the prospects are that it will, but there's nothing to indicate that it won't. Certainly it has at certain moments.
Do I regret the loss of control or autonomy? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Actually, that part seems like a mindfulness exercise in letting go of petty ego and trying to focus on what's really important. (Which is what I failed at doing when I responded to her comment on the bills - more room for improvement [grin]).
Am I happy?
Sometimes. I exercised my right to ask for permission to relieve myself sexually last night, and after an intimate several moments of consideration, she said "Yes." I realized that what I cherished was that intimacy, not the act it self. Which I didn't pass up anyway, but it was the first time I contemplated what I really wanted there.
I honestly also realized that for a number of reasons I've been reading way to much of this FLR blog/discusson board stuff during the workday. I think I've pretty much gone cold-turkey on that (except for posting during my lunch hour), and that feels good. Hard. Don't know whether I'll succeed over the long term (though being on vacation for a couple of weeks starting tomorrow should help - no blog updates then either, by the way). The web reading part has many of the hallmarks of addiction, which I don't like.
Hmmm... I was feeling pretty negative when I started this post, but reflecting on all this stuff, by now I'm feeling rather more positive. I'm still concerned that this is all just a vexatious hassle for my beloved. And I'm seriously considering letting her know about this blog, frankly so that I can let her know about SheMakesTheRules.com. If she chose to read it and engage with some of the women there, at least I think it might be helpful for her. But none of that till after vacation.
Or maybe it’s laced backwards?
18 hours ago