In honor of today being my 9th wedding anniversary, I thought I’d write a little about how my husband and I have worked out our own particular division of marital labor in order to ensure a smooth, well-running relationship. Because there are certain things they just don’t cover in premarital counseling, such as how to adjust to the fact that each of you deals with stress differently.
When it comes to handling stressful situations, my husband is in charge of Being Calm, which is best illustrated through the following story.
After we’d been married for three years we bought our first house, and after we’d lived in our house for six months we had a really bad ice storm. We thought the worst that happened was that we lost power, but we soon discovered just how wrong we were when I walked into our bedroom and saw a GI-NORMOUS tree sticking through the roof.
Naturally I called for my husband, and he responded by saying, “What?” Now I’m sure you can picture this situation, so you know the tone I was using. It was not, “Could you please come in here when you get a minute, hon?” It was, “COME! NOW! BAD!” Fortunately he decided to amble in and see what was going on. That was good because I only had the one yell in me, and then I lost all ability to speak and was reduced to quiet whimpering.
So he came into the room while talking on the cell phone to his dad, saw the giant hole in our roof, and… started describing it in precise, rational, scientific terms to his father. Like, “Hm, the hole is about the size of a dinner plate, and the tree is protruding approximately eighteen inches down from the ceiling.”
And I’m standing there looking at him, the love of my life, the man I waited seven years to marry, and I’m thinking, “Who are you, and what is the MATTER with you?! Why are you not freaking out when CLEARLY that is the response called for in this situation?!”
But this is where the whole division of labor thing came in handy, because he calmly organized some roof triage, and I got to come up with a funny story to tell people.
However there are some times when being calm can backfire on you, and that is where I come in. So in addition to Getting To Do All Of The Freaking Out, in stressful situations I am also in charge of Reasonable Expectations. And I have a story for that too.
About a month after moving into our house, things were going well. I was enjoying unpacking and decorating, and I had just gotten a new job working at a bookstore, which is something I always wanted to try.
One day my husband came home from work and announced that there was a position open at his job for someone to go to Denmark for a year. And he thought we should go. And…he was serious. He honestly believed that this was absolutely the best, most rational, most logical next step for the direction of our lives. And he was upset when I responded by bursting into tears and crying for like, an entire day. He said, “I don’t understand why we can’t discuss this rationally.”
So here we are six years later (still living in America), and we’ve gotten our routine down pretty well. He is in charge of Things That Sting, Time, Calling People On The Phone, and Knowing How To Get Around In Any Given Location, and I am in charge of Funny Smells, Sneaking In Decluttering So He Doesn’t Notice It, Knowing Things About People, and Holding His Drink When We Go Out Somewhere.
It works for us.