Team Stubborn Asshole.

I have a point of discussion I’d like to start up. It seems in most households, there’s some sort of give/take/balance that is not how one person wants it. Maybe the division of domestic chores is to heavy on one person. Maybe someone wants more sex. Maybe someone wants a break from the kids. Maybe someone wants more personal time to pursue hobbies. There’s usually some sort of balance of something that one person needs and the other person doesn’t offer without nagging or pushing. I’m talking about issues that come up time and time again.

At what point in time do you decide, “I’ve made my feelings aware and the balance is not changing so now I’m just going to work on being okay with the way things are so I don’t become angry and bitter?”

Because I’ve done a really good job with that with some of our balance issues in our house. (And there are things he’s settled into accepting about me, too.) I’ve decided I can’t control Donnie’s schedule or priorities or decisions. But I can control my feelings about them. Years ago, when he first started triathlon training and I hadn’t started anything like that, I was angry and bitter with him every time he went on a run/ride/swim. But then I said, “Screw that. I’m doing my own thing.” And I started boot camp and it helped me let go of the bitterness towards him because I got mine own time. I’ve been doing the same in regard to balance of domestic chores. I hated being bitter he wasn’t helping enough so I started just being okay with it and it took away a lot of the general resentment I felt.

So part of me is like: I HAVE FOUND THE SECRET TO A PERFECT LIFETIME PARTNERSHIP! It’s learning to be okay with the things that you can’t change.

But the other part of me is like: UM. Is that fair?

Because, let’s be honest. There are plenty of things I haven’t really budged on either and he’s become okay with it. So, are we just the perfect example of how to be happy forever? Or are we just figuring out how to justify being stubborn assholes?

4 thoughts on “Team Stubborn Asshole.”

  1. I think it is true longterm partnership will work better if we learn we can’t really change our partners… on the other hand the “is that fair” question is really important… and I think as long as you think it is not fair then part of you will never accept. Which is understandable! I am curious what he has accepted about you, do you think?

  2. This is a really good point, Kim.

    (By the way, absolutely look forward to reading your blog every morning! – I live in Eastern Canada so it’s the first blog that’s updated when the sun comes up here and I’m taking care of my little babe)

    In my relationship, there isn’t much of an answer. We have gone back and forth on things like this for years, in cycles of each going along, seemingly ok with how things are being managed, until one of us says something like “well, you could do the dishes more!” or “why do you have to play soccer 3 times a week when I want time for myself too?”

    I really think that the fact that you’re aware of the issue, and can reduce resentment (even if not 100% of the time), is the mark of a good relationship. Really!
    There are so many people that don’t know where the resentment comes from, or, just refuse to try to help the situation from their side (like times of acceptance) and it just drives a wedge between them. Working on how you can make things easier on yourself can make things so much easier, as you mentioned.

    Your comment from a couple weeks ago about the vacation – how you handle packing/getting ready is exactly how it works here. I do everything except pack his clothes, BUT, I will say that a lot of that is because of me. He would help but I’ve just been doing things a certain way so long (we never talked about it), that he knows he can’t do my ‘jobs’ to get ready, because then I’ll blame him if something didn’t get packed, or whatever, haha. So, accepting that I do more in situations like has helped me not dwell on the fact that he gets off so easy.

    I think if you can clearly see the give and take (as you mentioned, he accepts things about you too), that’s a good thing.
    If you feel something is a make-or-break issue, then, hell yeah I would bring it up more and say something needs to change, because if someone is doing more than their share of work (taking care of kids, cleaning, less leisure time, whatever), to the point that is causing resentment then the partnership isn’t as balanced as it could (should) be!

    Being a stubborn asshole can be a good thing!

    (sorrynotsorry for all the parentheses!)

  3. There is a great leadership/management book called “first break all the rules”. It’s FANTASTIC because they used actual data to determine what great leaders have in common, not “common sense” or heresay.

    Anyway, they make the point that great leaders realize that people don’t change. (Not that people can’t change, they can with a great deal of self motivation and effort, but that we should not go in expecting them to change). So when you recognize this, instead of always trying to get everyone to be average by shoring up their weak areas, you instead try to build a team where you use everyone’s strengths and let those strengths cover for other’s weaknesses. This let’s everyone on the team be a rock star contributor in their areas which improves morale. It also let’s people rely on their teammates and so fosters goodwill, etc.

    Point being: that same idea applies to relationships. I am a terrible housekeeper. If my marital happiness was based on how clean the house was, we would be divorced. Thankfully I married a guy who (a) doesn’t think the house is automatically my job and (b) is okay with a less than clean house. So we both pitch in when we think of it and just ignore it the rest of the time.

    But there are a few things that used to drive me nuts. I hate wrinkly clothes. Haaaaaaaate them. I want my clothes folded/hung the instant they are ready because screw ironing. My husband, on the other hand, will toss dried clothes into a basket/pile on the floor and let them sit for months, pulling things out as he wants to wear them, and ironing as needed. So. For the most part, we do our own laundry. And the things of mine that get washed with his (because he does laundry more frequently) I have just come to accept that I will have wrinkly pyjama shirts and underwear and it will be okay.

    And generally we tend to balance that way, whoever cares the most, does it. If it’s something you are willing to nag about, just accept that this is NOT a strength of the other person and do it.

    Now, that doesn’t work if you find that your partner never does ANYTHING or if they deliberately don’t do things/do a poor job just so you will do them. There is a difference between playing to individual strengths and being a doormat. I find it can be helpful to once in awhile think about all the things your partner does which you don’t have to do/don’t want to do/can’t do. As long as you aren’t coming up blank, then you’ve probably just found what works for you two. (I generally do that and then get busy with doing stuff, because I feel like my husband does SO much more. Hopefully he feels the same and I’m not just a free loading bum. 😉

  4. Yes. “I can control my feelings about them.” Definitely agree. And agree with the comments above too.

    As far as the part of you that thinks, ‘is that fair,’ I think the answer is that life is never constant and the balance is always changing. Sometimes you’ll decide to let things go and that will last for a while, but then life will get busy (ex: you get a new job & the house goes on the market), and you have to ask for a change. Then, when life calms down again, you naturally let more things slide by without the bitterness and the cycle resumes.

    I’ve had 4 years of letting go (I couldn’t do it in the early years of our marriage & kids…plus, Zoloft helped), and while the bitterness does rear it’s head when I get stressed, I’m now much better at talking myself down from that place & moving on.

    Also, I think understanding each others’ love languages really helped me. While I value ‘acts of service’ & show my love that way, he doesn’t think of doing chores as loving. That caused problems because I was interpreting his lack of household chores as not caring about me.

    Oh, and last thought, I work from home, and we’ve had a lot of arguments about household chores that result from me being physically at home during the day. Drives me crazy, but it has gotten better through the years.

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