Just…working

Again, I’m amazed anyone actually reads this.  So I’ll go ahead and continue only in a more positive direction…

 

When a body begins doing The Work, sophistication gives way to simplicity and reality exists in the here and now.  Pleasure is more likely to be found it the mundane, or at least acceptance is a touch easier.

 

For instance, a couple of things that have become more major irritants are the fact that Arwyn doesn’t cook and doesn’t even do much cleaning in the kitchen.  Her involvement with food is putting it into her mouth.  The clutter and mess around the sink was driving me mad, because there was no space to prepare food.

 

Cooking is one of those mundane things I do that actually does help center me as much as anything else.  There is nothing that can yank a body immediately into the moment like the chemical reaction that produces sulfuric acid in your eyes while chopping onions.

 

But before I could get to the onion chopping, there was this huge mess in the kitchen.  The same work I did over Arwyn’s cooking now applied to her doing dishes.  Early in our marriage we had an agreement that I would cook and Arwyn would clean.  This seemed fair to me, since she said she would rather clean than cook.  So yes, it might seem very unfair of me to grouse about her not cooking now.  But she has not held up her cleaning part of the bargain, either.

 

So, Saturday I said “Fuck it” and did the dishes.  That meant emptying the dishwasher, filling it back up, starting it, and then finishing the rest by hand in the sink.  While Arwyn played spider solitaire on the computer.  I knew my attitude was going bad, so I worked over the statement, “Arwyn should do the dishes!”  And in short order, it was apparent that if I wanted to exercise my right to live in a cleaner house, I needed to clean it. Myself.  So I did.  And then I made a few dozen cookies and some home made baked beans.  Then I cleaned up after that.  The boys wanted to go outside, so I told them they had to clean their playroom, first which they did.  Then the boys and I went for a long hike in the woods which was a lot of fun and an adventure they talked about the rest of the weekend.

 

I have a lot more work to do on my attitude.  Arwyn has disappointed me in so many ways so many times.  That is more my problem than hers, and I need to clear that away so I can move on.  Those expectations were mine, and I need to own up to them.

 

One of the more puzzling things Byron Katie says about marriage is that it only takes one person to have a good marriage.  In other words, I can have a good marriage (or not) independent of what Arwyn does.  There might be mitigating circumstances but mine is not one of them.  So once I post this, I’ll see about doing the work on one of the bigger, more persistent issues I’ve been kicking around: sex.

 

D.

 

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9 Responses to Just…working

  1. Satan says:

    You can have a positive attitude, complete contentment and a good life all on your own, but a good marriage? I was so sure that took two people . .

    I’m jealous of your self-talk. I can never seem pull myself back from that spiral down into the “Bad Attitude”.

  2. Emily says:

    Digger- I think it is really excellent, the way you talked yourself into clearing up and then having a good time with the kids.

    You make a very good point about exercising your right to live in a clean house by cleaing it!

    If this is the result, then I say yay to doing The Work!

  3. Digger Jones says:

    I would agree with you, Satan, except that perception is *everything*. Does it really take two people to have a good marriage? Is that true? In the back of my mind there is a belief (albeit false) that Arwyn must think this marriage is good because she’s getting her way. Each of us is only responsible for our own feelings. I can’t MAKE Arwyn think, feel or do anything, can I? And it is as true for her as for me. So holding her responsible for MY feelings isn’t very fair, is it?

    Any cognitive intervention depends on being self-aware enough to be able to think about your own feelings and thoughts while it’s going on. THAT is amazingly hard, especially if you are into engagement and confrontation. As an avoider, it is my best and greatest tool. Anyone who can withdraw, breathe and think can do it. But try getting kids to do it. Maturity helps alot.

    Heh! Yeah, I figured you might like that cleaning part, Emily! It is a matter of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. I still have far to go. Yes, I will clean dishes and cook, but I do not always have a glad heart about it. That’s really my goal in this; get my heart straightened out so anger, resentment and stress have less of a foothold.

    My mind is such a mess. If only it were as easy as doing the dishes!

    D.

  4. Satan says:

    Well, as a very confrontational child, I haven’t had much success, but I will keep trying. 😛

    What do you mean by “Arwyn must think this marriage is good because she’s getting her way”? *Is* she getting her way?
    I completely acknowledge that you can’t make her do/say/think/feel anything, but I just don’t see how you can call a marriage “good” if both partners don’t agree. But what is a “good” marriage anyway? What does that mean?

  5. Emily says:

    Its not that I think its fun to clean! I hate housework. But in some ways, if something is inevitable and I hate the alternative (a messy and chaotic house) more, its better just to get on with it!

    I know what you mean about the mind being a mess, though. Sometimes mine is like a bad neighbourhood, too – I just don’t want to go there! Mine was particularly bad last night.

    I sort of understand the possibility that Arwyn could think you have a good marriage. Because I’m not sure there is any one definition. Some people want the whole modern package of emotional and sexual intimacy, total honesty, etc. Some basically want a much more traditional model of respective roles fulfilled and completion of practical tasks, focused mainly on child-rearing without too much discussion.

    If what Arwyn principally wants is a provider and a help around the house, then she has that. She might not see it as an ideal marriage, but her major needs are being met, under this scenario.

    Unfortunately, yours are not.

    I know we only see what you put in your blogs, but it has always seemed to me that Arwyn must be largely disengaged from you emotionally for things to have got to this point. I don’t know whether its just that she is completely preoccupied by the kids (which can easily happen, anyway, and especially when they have issues like autism), or has disengaged because of past hurts and disappointments, or some other alternative.

    But I do get the sense that she doesn’t have much motivation for fixing the marriage, either because her needs are largely being met, or because she is so checked out that she just doesn’t care, or because she just doesn’t believe it can be fixed and is biding her time until the kids are older or have left home.

    And I pretty much suspect it can’t be fixed just by you. You can try to adjust your attitudes and needs so you can live with it better (as you are doing), but it seems to me you have gone as far as you can go in addressing the issues between you by yourself and a third party is needed. If you can’t afford counselling, have you ever tried your pastor or some other kind of family support group?

    I think that all you are doing with your mind is really excellent, but it doesn’t seem to me like you are the kind of guy who could ultimately go without emotional and sexual intimacy year after year without becoming quite bitter and warped. I know I couldn’t.

    Is all this way too lecturing/irrelevant?

  6. cah1470 says:

    As usual I have to agree with Emily. I am all for doing the work to have the life you want for yourself. But it seems to me if you do all the work and your wife doesn’t do any you will just wind up bitter and tired. Not to mention the loneliness that comes from taking responsibility for everything. If your wife is not responsible for anything the only thing she will provide is more work. How can that leave you with anything but bitterness?

    I won’t even ask if this is too lecturing and irrelevant. But you read my other blog so hopefully you will forgive me, I do it to myself all the time after all.

  7. So Gone says:

    I agree with alot of what Emily says. I do believe that for Arwyn, this is probably a “good” marriage, although not her ideal marriage. (I mean, for My Ex, it was a good relationship – he had a hard time seeing any problems, but yet, I was suffering every single day.) I think she is just looking for someone to support her and her shopping habits, and a co-parent for the kids. Now that you are doing both the cooking AND the cleaning, well, things have probably only gotten better for her. What exactly is her responsiblity around the house? As I recall, she works part-time at best, and you BOTH are active in your kids’ lives. I mean, she’s succeeding at avoiding any intimacy or physical relations with you… so what more could she ask for that she wants or needs?

    The fact is that although this can be viewed as a “good marriage” to Arwyn, it’s not for you and something needs to be done about that. If it’s only you working on things, even if they improve, you’ll eventually be resentful that YOU are the one who did all the heavy lifting to get there, when really, both of you should be contributing to bettering the relationship.

  8. fadetonumb says:

    Now some of THIS is being proactive, Digger. I’m impressed. Sure, it still kind of sucks, and it’s doubtful you’ll magically see results right away, but you are obviously trying to do something positive. Plus, you’ve really got this “The Work” mindset going, which fits with your overly-analytical personality!

    I know that for me, I’m much more bitter about something like cleaning or doing dishes BEFORE I do them. If they are sitting there, I might wonder in my mind what Autumn has been doing all day, but once I just dig in and start doing them, my mind has a much easier time. Because I’m working, and it’ll be clean soon. Once I get going, the little bit of bitterness quickly dissipates.

  9. Tom Allen says:

    You can have a positive attitude, complete contentment and a good life all on your own, but a good marriage? I was so sure that took two people . .

    I think that Satan has nailed it. Yes, you can change your own attitude – in fact, that’s really the only thing that one has control over – but having a good attitude is not the only thing making a good marriage. Marriage implies some kind of partnership, in which people share and compromise on the work involved.

    Look, it’s okay if one does 90% of the cooking and cleaning if that’s what the both of the agreed to do. It doesn’t, though, sound like this is the case with Digger.

    Digger, I’m curious – Do you actually discuss this with her, or do you just complain? That is, do you explain that you need help from her, and that you would like her to be more intimate, and explain why? What, specifically, do you get in response?

    I’m just being nosey.

    The Edge of Vanilla

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