Thursday, June 18, 2015

I'm not a mind reader!

This is Professor X from the X-Men.  He is a telepath,
unfortunately Jeff and I are not.

Jeff and I have worked hard to have good communication in our marriage.  I know that it's the foundation of a good marriage, and I had always felt it was one of our strong suits.  Once Ethan was born, the stress of a new baby, combined with lack of sleep, led to some major breakdowns in communication.  Whether it was the lack of sleep or the stress, all of a sudden I expected Jeff to have telepathic powers.  I'd come into the living room after nursing Ethan and putting him down and would notice that the house was a complete mess, the dishes were piled high, and Jeff was sitting on the couch watching T.V.  Barely able to control my anger I would make a loud sigh and say, "The house is such a mess and I need to do the dishes but I'm exhausted so I'm going to bed."

This is what I expected Jeff to hear:
"This parenting thing is so much harder than I ever imagined.  I have a little human connected to me non-stop and I'm more tired than I ever thought was even possible.  I should eat dinner, shower, and clean the house but honestly I think I have just enough energy to make it to our bed and collapse.  The worst part of it all is that I'm going to be up in 2 hours to nurse Ethan, how the heck am I going to do this?  I don't expect you to clean the house because I know you're working really hard and are tired too but could you at least do the dishes please?  It would also really help me out if you picked up a little while you watch T.V., nothing big just the living room.  I know you already do all of the cooking and household duties are split 50/50 between you and me, but i'm drowning and I need it to be 80/20 for a little while."

This is what Jeff actually heard:
"The house is such a mess and I need to do the dishes but I'm exhausted."

I would then go to bed and in my head I would think, tomorrow when I wake up Jeff is going to surprise me by having cleaned the house and done the dishes because the message I sent him was totally clear and easy to understand.  I'd wake up the next morning to find everything as I had left it.  This would go on for a few days, me dropping subtle hints that I needed help, Jeff looking around nodding and going back to what he was doing.  I finally couldn't take it anymore and broke down.  I yelled at him, I told him it was all too much, I asked him why he wasn't helping more.

Jeff's response was priceless, "You never asked me to."  He explained how he really wanted to help but I had never asked for help, or told him what needed to be done.  I said, "I kept telling you I was tired and that the house was dirty." His response was, "I thought you just wanted me to know that so I agreed with you."  At that moment I realized that my husband is not part of the X-Men and all of the hints I had been dropping meant nothing to him, he just thought I was venting. I asked him, "So if I want you to wash the dishes all I have to do is ask you to wash the dishes?" He said, "Yea!"  Talk about a major aha moment.  If I want my husband to help me all I need to do is ask him for help, how crazy is that?

This realization changed our whole dynamic; the bickering stopped.  More things were getting done and I didn't feel as overwhelmed.  Although I know this seems like an obvious solution while talking to a lot of my friends and family this is a problem that comes up a lot in conversation.  Sometimes when I talk to Jeff I swear he hears the Charlie Brown teacher voice and just nods his head so as not to anger the pregnant beast that he lives with.  Although nothing can ever be perfect, I do try really hard to keep in mind the fact that my husband is not a telepath. After all, some days it feels as if it's us against the 2-year-old monster that seems to be getting angrier by the minute.  How on earth can one small child be so strong? Jeff and I may not be X-Men but after diffusing a major 2-year-old meltdown, we definitely feel like we can conquer the world together, and without communication, no dynamic duo would ever last (I really wish I had a cool comic book superhero drawing of Jeff that I could insert here).
The Jenny Evolution

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