“My husband Tim and I are fantastic teammates in both our relationship and in parenting our five young children. We have always communicated very well and we usually work out our disputes within a few hours. We are both very much homebodies and truly do enjoy each other’s company. But with any kind of relationship, it’s important to have an outside outlet for fun. It’s important for him to have some ‘guy time’ just like it’s important for me to have some ‘girl time.’
Whenever someone asks me to do something with them outside of my own home, I usually respond with something like, ‘I would love to! Just let me ask Tim first.’ *GASP* I ask my husband for permission? It’s not because I NEED his permission, I do it because I believe it’s respectful. I also want to make sure he doesn’t have anything else planned that I haven’t heard about yet.
We have married friends who march to the beat of, ‘I have my own life and he has his,’ sort of approach to their relationship. It’s almost as if they want half of our lives to be as a team and the other half as their own. How is a marriage supposed to work when you’re only half-way invested? I think that we can get really caught up in the ‘I can do as I please’ mindset, forgetting that we’ve built a life with someone whose opinion should matter at least a bit. It’s really easy to want to be selfish and have days of, ‘well, you do your thing and I’ll do mine.’ But again, we’re teammates here.
There’s been many times that Tim has called me on his way home from work asking if he can go grab a beer with some buddies. Nine times out of 10 I say yes. But there’s been a handful of times I tell him no. I tell him no simply because I’m worn out (stay at home mom with our 5 kids) and want him to grab a Red Box movie on his way home so we can lay in bed together and snuggle the night away.
If he had never called to ask me, he would have walked into a house with a frustrated and raving lunatic of a wife. Mostly because I would have wanted the chance to explain my emotions and needs at the time, which would have inevitably been his warm embrace and help with the kids. If he would have just stated that he was going to grab a beer, my pleads for him to come home instead would have landed us in a petty fight. He would have felt like I didn’t want him to hang out with his friends and I would have felt like he didn’t care. The mutual feeling of animosity on each other’s part would have been silly and dumb.
But by asking, he avoids all of that resentment. By asking, he gives me the chance to explain why I am saying no this time. By asking, he gets to have a decent conversation with me that is surrounded by respect of each other’s needs in the moment. Most of the time it is totally fine to go do those things with our friends on a whim. But those handful of times it’s not, it’s nice knowing that we both honor each other’s viewpoint enough to understand things come up, whether totally warranted or not.
Some things we ask each other are smaller, like ‘can I go grocery shopping?’ or ‘do you mind if I go for a run?’ We could just announce that we’re running to the store or that we’re going for a run, but we want to make sure that the other is not busy working on other things. Tim works a lot from home and sometimes I’m completely clueless to him being in the middle of a work project. I blog here and there about our family and sometimes I’m in a huge writing mood where I just need that hour to finish spewing my thoughts all over a word document. Asking gives each other the right to say things like, ‘that sounds great, can you just do it in about 30 minutes after I’m done doing _______.’ Even with these requests being smaller than nights out on the town, it still holds merit in our everyday lives.
We also put a lot of work into budgeting for our household. Tim is the bread winner; he’s the one who brings home the bacon. We both work very hard at different jobs and because my title of Mom doesn’t bring home a paycheck, we rely on his 9-5. The money is most definitely shared between us, but he’s the one physically putting it into our bank account. I feel like his opinion matters on different things we buy. This goes for really big purchases like cars as well as small purchases like the kids’ holiday outfits. He never cares what clothes I pick out for them, but I still ask to pull out some cash for it. I used to be the queen of, ‘oh that $250 Target purchase? Yeah, just a few random things we needed.’ When in reality I was dropping a pretty penny on crap we actually didn’t *need.* This, as you can imagine, ended in many fights.
By having him a part of the conversation in purchases, it definitely holds me more accountable to our finances. Sometimes we come to the conclusion that we don’t need to spend money on XYZ for a few months. Sometimes we pull out the extra cash for him to buy brand new boots or for me to buy a new outfit. There’s a lot of give and take to this aspect of our marriage. But by asking each other for permission to buy these things, we don’t blow our budget. It keeps us both in the loop of what is going on.
It doesn’t hurt to ask. No, Tim is not my parent. That’s not the point of asking. The point of asking is to make sure that we both acknowledge the feelings each has about certain purchases or plans. It has nothing to do with the physical ability of actually being able to do something. It has everything to do with the subjective and personal viewpoint.
Marriage cannot work out if decisions and plans are being made without the input of each other. Staying open with each other only causes us to become closer. It keeps us engaged in each other’s lives. We are so much closer because we have no secrets. We don’t live separate lives in the least. Sure I have absolutely no idea what was said at his boy’s night and he doesn’t know all of the things I vented about to my friend on the phone earlier. But in the big picture of things, we are constantly talking and engaging with each other. This mutual respect only empowers us to be better people, better spouses, and better parents.
As partners in this game of life, we have to work together. We have children. But maybe some of you don’t have children. But you have an entire life built around people you care for day in and day out. Stay the course together and things have a hard time going wrong.”
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