Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reflections of you...in me

A few months ago I came across a quote that changed my life.  Sadly, the original quote as disappeared, but it said something like "a soul mate serves a mirror to reflect both your good and bad attributes back to you" I think it said something about then using that information to improve. I got the bit that made the most impact though--that your soul mate reflects your good and bad back.

It made me suddenly realize that all those (usually petty) things that I get mad at my husband for, annoyed with him for doing, frustrated at are because I haven't done them in my life.

Here are some examples:

I get mad about his diet, probably more than anything else.  I see him buying loads of candy and 'treats' for me that contain foods that I shouldn't eat, and I see him spending way too much money doing it.  What I don't see is the thought that he put into the purchases.  That he bought this baklava at Trader Joe's because I once bought it for him years ago, and he really enjoyed it and remembered those feelings associated with it.  That he knows that I love goldfish and talked about how yummy I thought the canoli's at an Italian restaurant we went to were.  I see him trying to bust my diet, and never bother to realize how much thought and effort he put into these purchases and I am so sorry.  I'm not immune from bad eating.  I go out to eat, or to other people's houses and eat far too many chips, and drink soda that I'd never allow in my house.  If it's here, I'll eat it especially if it's convenient.  I suffer from the same bad habits so how can I judge his?

I have gotten mad about how he does laundry. In the past, while he was in charge of washing the laundry, it would smell weird and I'd have to rewash it using vinegar and borax. Once we moved to the new house it seemed to go away, until he was put in charge of laundry again. It was then that I discovered that he didn't know how much water/soap to put in and had been guessing. Why? Because no one ever taught him how to do laundry correctly.  I judged him before realizing that it was a teaching moment. I judged him on MY experiences, not his. Instead of getting annoyed, I should have been relieved to figure out the problem.

I get frustrated over him wasting his time playing video games and lamenting how he needs to be working on his projects more.  I complain about not knowing what he does with his time, but then realize that I have very little to show for mine. As long as I'm sleeping in until 10:30, and not getting any work done on MY projects, I've got no room to complain.

This post has been a long time coming as my understanding of it has evolved.  I think this topic has been the most difficult one that I have faced in my marriage and I still struggle to understand how to express my duel frustration of my own failings while attempting to not judge but help someone else improve. I need to stop getting caught up in myself, and instead understand what empathy really means.  The saying "don't judge a man until you've walked three moons in his moccasin's" rings true in my ears.  My husband has issues and struggles, but so do I. So do ALL of us.  If I want change--I have to BE that change. I have to show him healthy eating through buying, preparing, serving and teaching him how to eat and enjoy healthy food.  He ultimately is in charge of the food that he eats though, and I have to be at peace knowing that I have done everything in my power to provide him with healthy options and the knowledge to seek them out.

I need to be my own motivation in the knowledge that I am helping to shape and form our lives into something better.  Instead of wasting my time watching crappy television, I've gotten better about getting off of Facebook and reading books and listening to audio books.  I love working and cleaning while listening to audio books but television puts me into a stupor that is hard to break out of.  I need to start taking nightly walks on my own, not waiting for him to mention it.  I need to set up my Etsy shop and seek out opportunities and stop waiting for them to fall into my lap.

My husband is my biggest cheerleader. He will support me in any way that he can and wants nothing in his life but to make me happy.  This is the most amazing blessing that I could ask for but instead I've taken that for granted and have become lazy.  I ask him to get me things that I can get myself, to prepare food that I could prepare myself, taking for granted that he rarely tells me no.  This has to stop.  He deserves an equal partnership and sometimes I think that I feel such a strong desire to have things MY way that I get lose sight of this.

My husband has goals and lots of projects. So many projects in fact that he feels like he is drowning and may never be able to catch up.  Maybe if one of us will stop treading water and make some forward momentum, then the other can follow.  If that happens, maybe we won't feel bogged down by never realized dreams and hopes. The last thing I want is for either of us to look back in 30 years and regret anything about our lives.  If anything had been different, we wouldn't have met and I can't imagine my life without the best man I've ever met.


  1. Really great post! It's so easy to get caught up in the world of the self. Much harder to put ourselves in someone else's place, even when that person (sometimes especially when that person) is someone we spend time with every day. But despite what you've said here, I think you two are better at that than a lot of other people. Keep pressing on in your relationship--you've got a really good thing going.

  2. I think this is an awesome realization I need myself, not of a husband, but with my friends. Since we used to live closer I've gotten a lot better about realizing my shortcomings not only in skill or judgment but also emotionally. I'm finding it a VERY slow but important road.
    I always found you pretty supportive about things but I'm proud of you in taking steps to further these notions. Way to be awesome :)

  3. I am so very VERY proud of you! This blog marks a HUGE step in your understanding of yourself, your marriage and life in general. Many people never come to this realization at all. Congratulations! Onward and upward!


  4. Eileen, I think this is a brave reflection and I want to applaud you for that. This is a valuable lesson that can also be applied to anyone you have a relationship with. It's hard to blame anyone else for something you haven't done either. What I find most valuable is when my boyfriend and best friends exhibit flaws that I also possess, because it makes hem much more aware to me. My friend MJ is always late like me. The two of us planning something together is terrible because it starts about 1 hour and 1/2 later....lol David also talks alot like i do and it makes me more aware of it. Leading by example is always the way to go - and correctly so, knowing that you've done everything you can do to influence the situation, but at the end of the day it is the other person's choice. I do find myself critiquing some of the things that David does, like spend money on roses from a guy down the street whose flowers die quickly. But it IS the thought that counts and it is good to recognize that. I think real love is also a person who lets you makes mistakes and take as much time as you need to fix them. The fact that you can talk about this stuff together is a great testament to your relationship. And remember A works all day and I think should get to do what he wants to when he's home. And he's super great to you, I agree :) I can tell from spending 2 minutes with the two of you.

    I am wondering today, about my ability to keep my life while being with David. Usually, I get lost in my boyfriend's life and lose mine. But as it is turning out, the things that were "mine" are now "ours", hiking, rock climbing, ice skating... Instead of me adopting his hobbies or him adopting mine. We seem to truly share these interests. But I am taking time to make sure that there are still other things, my volunteer work, my school work, spending time with my little sister. And I still have "big projects" that I could lead him to doing his....

  5. That is beautiful! Something I certainly need to read about once a month to remind me so I am smarter with our 14 year marriage and cherish my husband :)
    Keri Romano

  6. I was told yesterday that I have made great strides in self improvement. I didn't notice that I have been getting out more and making a big effort to be around people. I have agoraphobia and leaving the house can be very traumatic but I'm doing it. AND I haven't had to take an extra Xanax to do it.
    I have been keeping the other end of the love seat cleaned off so someone can sit next to me. I have been turning off the TV and reading more on my Nook and hard bound books. I have gotten out of the house not only for appointments but to exercise. That I'm real proud of. I am trying to "Walk away the pounds" with the other women from church. We meet on Monday evenings at church and work out to a video. On Thursday evenings there is now a Zumba class here at the complex I live at so I've been going up for that. I may not be able to move as well as I like but I'm at least trying. Last night I should have stayed and done more but someone was videoing us and I felt uncomfortable. In the morning yesterday I did 2 laps around the courtyard then walked a circuit around the complex which involved doing some up hill walking. I did raise my heart rate some and it was a good walk. I'm starting to look for new ways to get out of the house and today I am getting out. I'm going grocery shopping and instead of using one of the motorized carts I'm going to take a regular cart and walk. I know when I get home I'll be real tired but I need to burn more calories. Walking isn't easy with my back feeling the way it does but I'm trying. I still need the cane but at least I'm trying. Now if I could only get TJ to leave the house with me I'd be all set.
    I know I can always count on Andrew to walk with me.

  7. Margaret--It makes me so happy to see you in a good relationship. The same thing happened with me and A. Things that were once my hobbies became ours but I still have things I enjoy doing on my own--like blogging, and making jewelry.
    Ricki--I'm so proud of you:) I really am. Just drag TJ with you. The kid spends too much time in front of a screen.


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