Love in Marriage: 365 Reasons I Love My Husband
There is little that can ramp up my anxiety or my frustration levels like traffic, especially when I am trying to get to an appointment on time. Ever since I was young, my dad always talked about how showing up to an appointment on time demonstrates a level of respect for the person with whom you are meeting. Because of this, my dad almost always left in plenty of time to get where he needed to go, allowing for unknowns, including traffic.
This has pretty much been my way of doing life, too, until I had kids.
If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about here. And, if you’re not, I strongly suggest you take 20 minutes to watch this Michael McIntyre clip about being a parent (you will not regret it). His description about trying to leave the house is absolutely spot-on and every parent can see themselves in his words.
Anyway, since having kids, my dad’s long-standing rule about getting places early or on time has become a distant memory. There are days when I celebrate sitting in the parking lot of a therapy place or the charter school my 6th grader attends by listening to one or two more favorite songs from one of their Spotify playlists. But those moments, they are few and far between these days.
Today was the kind of day that involved a race against the clock. Of course, even if I had left “with plenty of time to spare,” not even my dad’s suggested driving method could have survived the traffic backup I drove into this morning. Fortunately, with mapping and navigation apps, it’s possible to see a bit of what’s happening by way of the solid red line that stretched all the way from where I was approaching to where my girl and I needed to be.
Texting also allows me to demonstrate my respect for the person we’re going to see by letting them know we will be 10 minutes late. Even so, my anxiety does not travel well. While I managed to get us there only 5 minutes late, the next leg of my day ramped my anxiety even higher. I had to navigate our way home, drop off one girl and pick up the other and head back in the exact same direction from which I’d come – the one where the traffic was backed up even farther than it was on my first trip up the road.
Once more to my cell phone. This time to call David and ask him if he could please start making me a salad so I could eat before having to race out the door again with girl #2. On a day without traffic, I don’t cut it this close. But with the constant road construction and utility work and lane closures, traffic is slow-going in some areas.
Now, while it may sound like this post is about my cell phone, I promise you, the cell phone served only as the means to food and avoiding any traces of hangriness before heading back out into traffic navigation and its associated anxiety. Because David works every day, there are few opportunities for him to make me a salad like he used to do long before we had children.
We were living in Cincinnati and David was finishing up his doctoral dissertation and working part time and I was doing full-time contract work as a paralegal for a Cincinnati-based construction company (it was one of the best jobs and best bosses I’ve ever had). Because it was a construction project, I was going to work for 7:00 and getting done around 3:00. We only had one car, so David would drive me to work and pick me up.
He was also the master salad maker every day. Yes, I know, not everybody is a salad fan, but I definitely am. And if you ask David, he’ll tell you my salads tend to be a production and involve several ingredient layers: different greens, tomatoes, onion, sugar snap peas, broccoli, feta cheese or other sliced cheese(s), shredded cheese, and homemade dressing. Oh, and a tortilla or pita pocket on the side, cut into triangles.
Today was a throwback to those days for me. A reminder that we are a team that works well together much of the time. And today was the day I needed both the salad and the reminder. It set the rest of the day on a whole new trajectory: the food helped my brain stay calm and regulated in the face of traffic anxiety, and the salad helped dissolve some of the underlying frustration regarding a not-quite-resolved issue in our marriage (that is one of the influencing factors behind this Love in Marriage project in order to focus on the positive things, not the frustrations).
Because here’s the thing about marriage, you create more of what you focus on. Just like in parenting and in setting goals, if you focus on what you don’t want, that becomes the thing that happens more often than not. For example, when our girls were toddlers, we realized it was better to tell them things they could do rather than what we didn’t want them to do.
Our thoughts are powerful, and that truth applies just as well to our marriage relationships. How we think about ourselves, our spouse, and our relationship will influence our behaviors and actions toward our partner. If we want to create change in our relationship, we need to be part of the change. We can’t demand change from our partner and then continue doing the same old, same old on our part.
So, what can you do to strengthen your relationship today?