Lighten Up, Buttercup

One of my goals for 2018 is to relax, go with the flow more and try to steer the boat less. In that spirit, I've read and listened to a lot about the enneagram in the last few days--my type, Brad's type, my kids' types, and all my 2 friends--to understand people better, improve relationships, and cultivate a happier and more lighthearted environment in which to thrive.

This is a shift, as--shocker--I'm not always a super lighthearted person. I can be serious, dark, and moody, especially this time of the year. Brad used to tell me frequently to "Lighten up" when we were first married. I freaked the fuck out every time. He reacted in shock: "I don't see how you don't see what I see, which is that you really need to lighten up." I smashed shit. He remained baffled. Eventually, he dropped that phrase from his vocabulary, and our level of happiness skyrocketed.
I see things this way.
You see things that way.
If you saw things my way, the world would be better.

I've been guilty of that kind of thinking. If you have too, you already know it strains  relationships. For example: Yesterday, the roads were bad. Bad roads give me anxiety. When I am anxious, I can be snippy, mean, impatient...not my best self. All morning, I snipped at the kids and snapped at Brad and was miserable.

Historically, Brad responded to my ill behavior with such helpful phrases as, "What's your problem?" or "You're being nasty," but we have upped our communication game. That process looked a lot like me reading lots of Brene Brown books and screaming, "THAT'S NOT HELPFUL!" or whimpering, "The story I'm telling myself right now is that you think I'm a shitty person and a bad mom and an awful wife, and that I would be a better person if I were JUST LIKE YOU." For the record, that is really never what he was thinking or saying.

This is real life here, folks. I love when people say "folks." It sounds so homey and fun and inclusive, which is why I'm using it while swinging open the door and inviting you into the inner workings of my fairy-tale marriage.

Brad now takes a different approach. And sometimes, I behave like an actual developed human being and acknowledge the source of my anxiety instead of spewing venom.

Anyway, in the car, I said, "Baby...I'm sorry for being mean. I get anxious when the roads are bad." He said, "I know you do, baby. I'm sorry for not understanding your feelings and expecting you to see things the way I do."

I do/think/feel this.
You do/think/feel that.
No right or wrong; just different.

When you love someone, it matters less if you understand why they feel a certain way and more that you acknowledge that they feel a certain way. 

Would our life be more chill if I didn't care about messy counter tops? Most assuredly. Would my house be tidier if Brad didn't work at the kitchen table? Absolutely. My husband will never feel the way I do about a tidy house. He doesn't need to. He loves me and knows that clean counter tops make me happy, so he puts things away. Happy wife, happy life, right? 

Also a two-way street. I don't understand why Brad collects things...cigars, bottles of liquor, clothes that he never wears. It sends my inner Marie Kondo into spasms. But I don't need to understand. I love him so I simply need to stop throwing his shit away and focus my minimalism on other areas.

If we stay in our own lanes instead of trying to get other people to see things from our perspective, we--and our people--will probably feel happier. Me getting rid of everything that isn't absolutely essential, and Brad cultivating little collections.

Side note: One of the personal growth recommendations for enneagram type 1 (me) is to learn to relax. Shocker. I hear you, Universe...



2 comments:

  1. My 16th anniversary was last month, and my main thought was, "I think we're finally starting to understand each other." It takes such a long time, doesn't it?

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely!!! Sometimes I think, okay, this is our reward for struggling through all that nonsense in the first 10-15 years of marriage! Thank you, Lord!

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