What Having a 'Balanced' Life Really Looks Like
When I think about balance, I think about time, especially as a mom. How to find enough time for my relationships and my responsibilities. The time alone that goes into managing a household is mind-blowing: cleaning, daily chores, long-term maintenance, meal planning, paying bills, etc. How do you feel about the way you and your husband share these responsibilities? Is there a balance? Or do you feel like you do more?
In our family, I take on a lot more responsibility even though I don't always want to. The main reason? I get stressed by unfinished housework more than my husband does. Last week a rack of clean clothes was hanging to dry for three days untouched and unnoticed – except by me. I saw it, but since it was a busy week, I thought “That's an easy straight-forward chore my husband could do.” But he didn't. On the third day, I couldn't stand it anymore and commented “Did it cross your mind to fold or put away the laundry? It's been hanging for three days - Do I have to do everything around here?!”
Ok, that last line was unnecessary, and not true, but at that moment, that's how I felt. Recently, I've become more aware of how 'unreal' some of the expectations I place on my husband are. I know he didn't intentionally forget the laundry. It's just not on his radar in the same way that it is for me. Still, it's hard, inside I want to scream 'It's not fair!!' We're both working, we both need clean laundry and dishes, so why is it so hard to divide responsibilities equally down the middle?
I'll you tell why It's because we're so different. My husband and I have different personalities, tastes, race, nationalities but perhaps the most significant difference is merely a difference between the sexes.
When I'm in comparison mode, calculating if my husband and have done an 'equal' amount of work, the problems are only worse. Usually, this means I'm focusing on my husband's not-so-great qualities and expecting him to think and act more like me. When I stopped striving for 'balance' in our relationship, I found more peace and contentment. It's very trendy to talk about 'work/life balance' but in we're using the WRONG WORD. Balance is about comparing weight. Put in a little on this side and a little on the other until they equal each other. Typically that doesn't last long, because life is always changing, and the scale will tip in favor of one side.
Instead, focus on HARMONY. A visual symbol for harmony is the Ying-yang circle - two opposites united together, turning in a circle. The value of harmony is that it's about complementing rather than comparing. Isn't that the beauty and challenge of marriage itself? Learning to work together to bring out the BEST in each other. After reflecting on my laundry outburst last week, I got the idea to write down a list of things my husband is good at that I'm not.
Here are two points from that list:
1) He's good at being able to relax when he says he's going to rest, zone out entirely and take a break.
2) He's also great at consistent routine. He can easily do the same thing every day. I'm very spontaneous and work better at intensive projects. I get an idea, and I work until I finish it. For example, how I clean, is not a set in stone routine. I start going on cleaning sprees, and I expect my husband to join and feel the same sense of urgency. It makes much more sense for him to create a cleaning routine especially since that's his strong point and my weak point.
Now instead of comparing, I'm focused on highlighting my husbands' strengths. By taking the time to reflect on my husband's strengths, I was able to remember why I love him and why we're so right for each other. I highly suggest that you do the same! Jot down a few of your husband's amazing qualities, the things you admire about him - that he can do well that are hard for you to do. Then a bonus step would be to think of how you can divide household responsibilities in a way that complements each other's strengths.
Have fun and feel free to share some of your husband's qualities in the comments!