Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The State of Our Union: Year Three

Unlike our first two anniversaries, this year’s is a little more…well, ordinary.  We went to work, came home, Jason ate dinner, I did dishes, Jason is at class, and I’m now blogging.  In between coming home and eating dinner we managed to squeeze in a sort of “State of the Union” discussion.  We both agree, we’ve been more stressed recently, and we would both like to be less stressed.

Between having Jason in school, more commitments at work, and unexpected demands around the house (Jason mowing twice a week in March?! Who would have thought!), and this just being a generally busier time of year, I think everything has just been building up…including the clutter around the house.  We both agree that the clutter has got to go, and hopefully some stress will leave along with it!

The solution is not as easy as just cleaning.  This is an ongoing thing as I’m sure you all understand.  We’re very capable of cleaning our house; it is the maintenance that we have problems with.  And this my friends, boils down to bad habits.  My goal tonight is to rethink my “To Do List” and create a new list that focuses more on the things that affect us every day and impact our everyday happiness.  Can you tell I like lists?

So after some research on different blogs and books  I’ve come up with a plan of attack, some commandments or guiding principles if you will…

A Fair Division of Labor  

This comes from Spousonomics by  Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson. “Exposing the fallacy of the 50/50 marriage split. Some people are better at, say, making school lunches, while others panic at the sight of a vacuum cleaner. Here’s a tip: Do what you’re “relatively” good at and “trade” the rest.”  I feel like at the beginning of our marriage we tried hard not to fall into doing the “gender specific” tasks.  Together we helped out with yard work, cooked, cleaned, did laundry, etc.  And we tried to divide it 50/50, which did not work.  It can create other problems which lead to the next commandment…Don’t keep score (see below).
 Over the past four years, my fear of snakes has grown so much that I nearly have a panic attack every time I’m in our back yard…this has left Jason with the yard work.  I completely switched my diet last year, so it makes more sense now for me to do the meal planning and cooking.  Between evolving schedules and finding what we are truly “good” at, we need to have a new division of labor.  I’m okay with doing the “woman’s work” as long as the work gets done and we both feel like we’re contributing to our household.  It’s a team effort!

Don’t Keep Score  

           From Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. “One thing I did was to decide always to do certain tasks myself -- like changing a dirty diaper -- rather than to see myself keeping score. And I try to bite back the words as I find myself starting to start to bargain or trade or make claims. I keep reminding myself of what St. Therese wrote: "When one loves, one does not calculate."
            It’s hard not to keep score.  One thing that I have noticed with Jason and I is that we are rarely on the same schedule when it comes to cleaning and chores.  It never fails that I am in cleaning mode when Jason just needs some time to relax, or Jason desperately wants to get the dining room cleaned while I just want to veg out on the couch after work.  This easily leads to resentment.  I think if we both remember that we are a team and in it for the same goal, it’s easier to allow the other person that freedom to relax without thinking “I can’t believe he’s playing computer games while I’m doing all of the cooking” or “I can’t believe she’s working on another craft project when she could be helping with the laundry”. 

Do it Now  

            This is another commandment borrowed from Gretchin Rubin.  Here she offers Six tips for tackling a dreaded task.  Generally, whatever task it is will take little time to complete, and doing it now saves us time from worrying about it later on.  I love the idea of a daily chore list.  I’ve seen a lot of variations of this on Pinterest and want to create one to fit our needs.

We agree that spending a few minutes cleaning every day will be worth it when we come home to a less cluttered environment.  Here’s a tentative plan I have (still need to run it by the hubby):

Daily Chores/Habits:  
Do all dishes in sink before making a new meal.
Clean up all dirty dishes after eating.
Load any dirty bowls glasses directly into dishwasher.
Throw dirty clothes down laundry shoot as soon as you remove them.
Sort the mail into junk (recycle bin), need to attend to soon (on top of file cabinet) or save (file it appropriately).  No mail on the table! 
Empty lunch bag so dishes can be done.
Make the bed (Still questioning the importance of this one?)
Wipe off bathroom sink.
Wipe down kitchen counters.
Pick up and put away any clutter.
Open any new packages immediately and dispose of box/packaging right away.  Find place for new item
Hug each other when we get home from work (we already do this).
 Weekly Chores:
Clean main bathroom.
Wash sheets in master bedroom.
Vacuum all floors.
Throw out old food in refrigerator.
Plan meals for the week.
Grocery shopping.
Clean kitchen. 
Mow lawn.
 Monthly Chores:
Mop wood floors.
Wash duvet cover.
Wipe out shelves/drawers in refrigerator.
Wash guest bedroom sheets as needed.

PRN or As needed Chores:
Wash comforters (every 3 months).
Donate items to Goodwill or food pantry.

I know there will be more items added and moved around.  I even found this handy template to customize your own chore chart here.  I think a visual will be good, and we love charts around here!

I think if we keep those three commandments in mind…a fair division of labor, don’t keep score, and do it now, it will helps us achieve our ultimate goal, which is a happier more peaceful home that we can share together.

I thought the card from Jason's parents was very fitting for this blog post...

What is Marriage?
It's vacuuming carpet and hammering nails
It's saving a dollar by shopping at sales
It's balancing checkbooks and paying off bills
It's cleaning the windows and mopping up spills
It's doing the laundry and matching up socks
It's a washer that dies when the car needs new shocks
It's two busy schedules, but one happy life
With each moment you share as husband and wife!

Although it may seem slightly depressing  that we spent our few minutes together on our anniversary talking about what we want to change in our lives, I think it’s an appropriate topic.  Anniversaries give us a chance to look back on all of the good moments from the past years, but they also give us a chance to think about what we can do to improve our future happiness and further strengthen our marriage.  And don’t worry!  We did celebrate our anniversary last weekend by going out to breakfast, one of our favorite things to do.   

Here are a few of my favorite pictures (in no particular order) from that wonderful day three years ago.
 Katrina McKeagney Photography

 Katrina McKeagney Photography

 Katrina McKeagney Photography

 Katrina McKeagney Photography

Katrina McKeagney Photography

 Shelby Orians Photography

 Shelby Orians Photography

 Shelby Orians Photography

 Shelby Orians Photography

 Shelby Orians Photography

Happy Anniversary, Jason!  I feel so lucky and honored to be married to such a wonderful man.  Three years down, 72 to go!

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