Thursday, February 28, 2013

valuing what's important

Man, what a life.

Based on the rest of the content of this blog since August, you probably think I mean I'm bursting with gratitude and in a state of disbelief of just how awesome my day-to-day existence is. Well, you're right.


You see, over the last little while, I have somehow turned into this ferocious person! Overly sensitive, easily offended, often critical, teary, angry, blah blah blah blah. For weeks. Maybe months, even.

I'm sure it's a combination of factors. Getting used to marriage as a life instead of an idea. Spending so much time with Chris, who, while wonderful, just operates differently than I do. Needing to learn more communication skills. Having someone who I know loves me know matter what and trying not to let that make me lazy. Learning, very slowly, how to give up perfectionism. Wishing desperately for spring and sunshine and warmth!

Regardless of why, we had a really silly bout of conflict this morning. It wouldn't even have been a "conflict" if I would just figure out how to explain myself calmly already. Instead it's exasperated sighs and rolled eyes and raised blood pressure and "to me, that feels an awful lot like an accusation, Chris," even when it's totally not. Ugh. I want to facepalm just thinking about it.

What brought me to tears though, was realizing I'd messed up, again. Once again, I'd gotten upset about something really stupid. "I used to never get mad at anybody," I told Chris tearfully. "I never wanted to be the wife or mom whose family was like 'you'd better to what you're supposed to, or she's gonna get ticked off!' ...And somehow, that's exactly what I've become."

You'd probably be crying too, saying things like that.

"What do I do, Chris?" I asked in the end, tilting my chin up to look up at him out of tear-filled eyes. My husband, the gentle, intrepid soul that he is, just held me for a few minutes. When he began to talk, his calmness and rationality formed an anchor beneath my stormy emotions.

Somehow, no matter how often I get annoyed with him over abominably stupid things, he always reassures me, "I just want you to be happy."

I feel the same way about him, of course. I wouldn't care if he earned minimum wage so long as he was a job he loved and he could spend time with our family. (Grad school be danged!) I love him. So I want to treat him well. I cook for him, even put it in cute containers so he can bring it for lunches. I (mostly) keep our house tidy instead of being knee-deep in chaos. That's something that I want to do for him -- even if it triggers every perfectionist tendency and makes me want to snarl, apparently.

But here's the kicker: that's not what he wants. We could eat cereal in a rowboat floating on a sea of clutter, and he'd be fine, so long as he had a cheerful wife. And if I give him something that he doesn't want at the expense of something he does want, then who exactly am I showing love to? Not him, though that's my goal. Just me.

In a way, I'm really just contributing to my image, not to the actual functionality of our home. "Wow, that Sara Hagmann, she sure keeps her house nice." "Yeah, and she cooks breakfast eeeeevery day." "And she is always so happy to volunteer!" "And dresses nicely every day, too." Yeah, well, maybe that's true, but she's also kind of a brat.

I prayed recently for help in valuing the things that are actually important. So really, this is just an answer to prayer -- and so is my husband. I don't know how he manages to reason through any anger he has at what I do, instead of needing to say it so it's not building bigger and bigger in his head. I don't know how he manages to be so nice to me every time I break down in tears. Which is, you know, every day.

All I know is that I'm grateful he gets it. That being patient with each other, as we learn to be like Christ, is exactly what we signed up for. So that's exactly what we (TRY TO) do every day.


  1. Good job for being willing to take an honest look at yourself. I don't know what it is about new wifehood that inspires the perfectionist and guilt, but it sure did for me! Trust me - Chris needs a wife who is loving and supportive far more than he needs breakfasts in the morning or cute lunches. ;)

    1. Thanks! It's tricky business, that's for sure. But every now and then I think about how much we've grown, individually and as a couple, in the last 6 months...and then I figure that it's just part of a really, really effective process for making us happy. I'll take it! :)