I was told I should change the title and give an example. This is the revised post with example. I am glad to see more than one person follows my blog.
There is an advantage to listening to hundreds of conversations; you learn. In Appalachia, where this Koala lives, they say “I’ll learn you.” And that is exactly what happens, after twenty years, my patients have learn me as much as I have learned them. This week was just one of those times.
Sitting in my office listening to a couple with three children talking about their twelve year marriage, the wife said something that hit me. That’s another thing, even after twenty years of listening, you can still hear things that hit you. This particular statement echoed in my head all week until it formulated itself into a blog post (this post). It wasn’t the words as much as the matter-of-fact delivery that caught me.
“Maybe when the kids are grown and leave the house, we can [emotionally] support one another.” Wow! I witnessed the female species dance around these words for the sake of the male species feelings but never a direct hit rendered with as much emotion as, “Today is trash day.” The male was stunned as he pondered the meaning. When I say male, remember, there were two of us in the room.
I first approached the statement from a gender role perspective. Women, in general, are maternal: pertaining to, having the qualities of, or befitting a mother. Men, in general, are paternal. You guessed it, pertaining to or having the qualities of a father. I know you, already know this, but consider that when the male and female human species are attracted, it is not for the means of reproduction. Meaning when boyfriend and girlfriend are together, behavior and emotional support is reciprocated, you scratch my back I scratch yours. They are the only two with no thought to more. Even when boy an girl become husband and wife, the bond is self indulgent. This is not bad, just the opposite, it is very good. It strengthens the love (bond) of the mates. My children hate it when I use the word mate, which is why I do it.
Remember the rhythm, “Bob & Sally sittin in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then come baby in a baby carriage.” When baby comes, that self indulgent bond shifts to maternal and paternal roles. It should shift. let me rephrase that, it NEEDS to shift. My wife obviously was the best girlfriend ever, that’s why I fell in love. The thing is, with the birth of my children, I experience a love that trumps all other love on earth. So what’s the problem? The problem is with mom and dad.
Look up the antonym of maternal and you get paternal. This once self indulgent love of emotional support is now directed towards the baby and the gender roles are not synonymous. In other words, dads role is different then moms role and the two split in their focus. Typically, dad takes on more work to cover mom staying home to care for baby. This split is the initial tear of the boy and girl. The tears continue until one day, in the therapists office the words, “Maybe when the kids are grown and leave the house, we can [emotionally] support one another” comes out.
My conclusion, after twenty years of listening and twenty-one years of marriage; DO NOT WAIT. You have a 100% effort to give. The mother / father part takes 75%. Give the marriage 10% effort.
Do the math. If there is 7 days in a week and 24 hours in a day, then there is 168 hours a week That means 168 hours equals 100%. Lets start with the biggies, sleep, job, and the time preparing for both.
Sleep takes 56 hours or 36%. Work takes 40 hours or 24% The time to and from bed and work takes 20 hours or 11%. These numbers are only for demonstration, I am sure your life is not this orderly. My point is 72 to 75 percent of your effort is spent maintaining your (family) life. In my scenario you have children, they get 17 hours or 10%. That is a little over two hours a day of personal attention for them. Starts this early and it will save you great effort the older they get. Mom and dad also get 10%. Again about two hours a day, the same rule applies for the kids. Start early and will save your marriage a great effort the older you get. If you do the math; 56+40+20+17+17= 150, that leaves 18 hours to do the rest.
Do not rob from the relationship because there are not enough hours in the day. Doing so will cost more effort in the end.That means the part that should wait is the part that is robbing the marriage.