Welcome to Day 23 of the 31 Days Series It Works for Me!
Shortly after LtDan and I married, we attended a marriage seminar at our church.
Honestly, I can't remember a whole lot from the seminar.
But I'm convinced that what little I do recall has significantly contributed to my own sanity
in relating to the rest of humankind, and probably a good bit to building a happy marriage.
I wish I could remember who presented the seminar, or what it was called so I could give them due credit. What I do remember is the example of the trashcan. It nicely encapsulates the gist of the whole seminar.
See, to the wife, it was important that the trash be emptied every day.
And more than that, it was important that the husband empty the trash every day.
Even if it really wasn't full.
Growing up, her father emptied the trash upon arriving home in the evening after work,
whether it was full or not,
and so she expected her husband to do the same.
But he didn't.
And it drove.
In the husband's home, whoever happened to be around
when the trash can burgeoned was the one who emptied it. No big deal.
If it needed to be emptied, someone emptied it.
He did a hilarious pantomime of how he'd gotten it down to a fine art of pushing the trash
deep down into the trash can so it didn't need to be emptied as often.
At one point, the wife refused to empty the trash.
She left the trashcan half full.
She pulled it into the middle of the kitchen.
The trash began to crowd the top of the can.
She walked around the almost full trashcan in the middle of her kitchen floor for two days.
Finally, she had an epiphany.
The trash wasn't a big deal to her husband.
"Emptying the trash is more important to me than it is to him. So if emptying the trash can is such a big deal to me, why am I spending so much emotional energy blaming my husband for not emptying it?
Why don't I just empty the trashcan myself and be happy???
If it's really a big deal to me, then I should just take responsibility for it and stop blaming him for not doing it."
I'm sure there was much more substantive material offered that day.
They had a cute and quippy slogan about:
"Don't play the blame game,
[insert catchy phrase here about taking responsibility for things, and make it rhyme]!"
I wish I could remember the positive side of the slogan, but for me, it's kind of boiled down to,
"if something is a big deal to me, I'm not going to blame someone else for not doing it,
I'm just going to take the responsibility for it and do it."
Sometimes, it's appropriate to negotiate things, to assert your feelings, or to train your children. And of course there are layers upon layers of arguments that can be made ... if they love me, they'll do it because they know it's important to me ... why do I always have to be the one to do this, they should help ... it's not my turn ... I'm working harder than anyone else, I'm doing all the work ... they know it's important to me and that's why they're not doing it, it's a power play ... on and on and on.
But in the meantime ... guess who's feeling bugged about the overflowing trashcan?
Just not worth it in my book.
I'm not saying I don't get frustrated with other people ... not by a long shot.
But I've learned that not being angry and not playing the blame game
means a lot less frustration.
It works for me!