Monday, August 16, 2010

Respectfully yours

It's Saturday morning, although by the time this posts it will be Monday.

I am sitting in my pajamas at the dining room table with a mug of hot coffee and a belly full of banana pancakes. My husband is vacuuming the first floor while Little G follows the canister around and tries to beat it to submission.

These are Saturdays in my house.

A long time ago, before we were married, my husband and I discovered something about each other. It turns out he is hyper-motivated to get things done in the mornings so that he can relax in the afternoons. While I, on the other hand, have a much better day if I can ease my way into it with some coffee, breakfast and a magazine. Usually sometime around lunch we switch roles and I can be found puttering about the house while he surfs the tube for any type of sporting event to watch.

It took us some time to figure this out and for a period of time, I would feel very, very guilty in the mornings about not being the slightest bit motivated to help as my husband flitted about the house vacuuming, ironing, dusting, doing laundry, you name it. And he sometimes felt frustrated with me because he felt like he was doing everything. But I never asked him to do everything. When we finally figured out that it would be perfectly acceptable for him to leave some things for me to get done in the afternoon, our lives became much more agreeable.

Of course, then we threw a baby in the mix and things really got undefined...but we've managed to make it work for 13 months, so something must be right.

The key for us was being able to identify and respect the needs of the other person. However the answer isn't static. Every weekend, every day, every hour our lives change from what they were before, so we need to continuously react to the situations in our lives while also keeping in mind how we work best and how we want to provide the best home life for each other. This is how we functioned as a couple and this is how we are succeeding as a family.

I was given a book not too long ago that was written with the premise that all men need respect and all women need love. Needless to say, the book didn't stay in our house too long as I am not a fan of blanket generalizations. But it did make me think about love and respect in the context of working relationships. Can you have one without the other? Possibly. But can you have a continuously growing relatioship that reacts with the ebbs and flows of life without both love and respect?

Respectfully, I don't think so.


  1. We're in the middle of that morning versus evening struggle. Yes, still. He gets all fired up and wants to attack the day. Me? I need some coffee, some web surfing, a more gentle introduction to it all. Unfortunately, when one of you is doing stuff and the other is in her pj's, you might get all worked up that you're the only one who does anything around here (and then have to be reminded that you just don't notice all that gets done when you're... not noticing!). We're a work in progress.

    The challenge with "love" and "respect" is that they mean different things to different people. To me, respect means being heard. To him, it means agreeing with him. Uh, oh.

    But yea, ebb and flow of life - totally.

  2. I SO needed this post! My bf and I are the exact same way, but thankfully we are good about acknowledging (and appreciating) what the other has done.

  3. Funny you post this now. We had a similar revelation last week. He's ready to leave his job, while I keep telling him if he can wait it out 10 months he'll be a stay at home dad. If he stays, I tell him, he'll get FMLA, et al when the baby comes. He'd rather get a temp job and take the time off. Ugh... Then it hit me: we're built differently. And that's okay. So we talked about what that means. And for us, it means that when we ask each other advice, we may not always agree or like what the person says, and we don't have to expect the other person to agree to do it. Again, that's okay. Felt like a pretty big breakthrough, especially after nearly 6 years of marriage.

  4. Oh this hits a chord. I've noticed it even more when B and I go visit my family - we'll get up in the morning and my mom has already had her quiet time, my dad has been up since 5, B also gets up early, and there I am just wanting my coffee and a computer and no one to talk to me for a few minutes. It's tough being in a family of morning go-getters! Luckily my brother is on my side and will happily sleep til 2 in the afternoon when he's at my parents house if people will let him.

  5. I love this peek into your routines. I can almost smell the banana pancakes.

  6. See, now I have to laugh as I realize what a very small glimpse this is into our routines. The reality is that we haven't had a 'normal' weekend day like this since Little G was born...perhaps that's why I felt so compelled to write about it. Even with the baby the banana pancakes are definitely not a weekly occurrence...although they should be considering how easy they are. Tossing some cereal in Little G's direction is a more accurate description of our mornings.