Pick four

Balance beam scale © cjansuebsri | freedigitalphotos.net

Years ago, when we were struggling a great deal, I was looking over my journal. As I read the entries for almost a year, I saw a clear pattern. Lori would “start to fail” doing what I wanted in some area, I would make noise about it, she would focus on it, and it would get better. However, about the same time, she would “fail” in another area. There were half a dozen or so things I wanted her to do, and she managed to do those I was making noise about, but once I stopped pushing in an area, it would slip. When I saw the pattern I realised I was asking too much of her. She had the emotional energy to do four or five of the things I wanted, but not all of them at the same time. When one slipped to a certain point, I made noise about it, which meant it got done, but she had to back off on something else. It was tempting think she needed to find a way to do everything I wanted, but I realised she could not. The only sane choice for me was to pick the things that were most important to me, and let go of less important things.

We all have limits, be it time, physical energy, mental energy, emotional energy, or whatever. We can and should work towards expanding our limits, but there will always be limits. Everything we do costs us, even things we enjoy. The more difficult something is for us, the more it cost us.

Imagine the following example, where the energy cost for certain activities is as shown. These activities could be anything – have dinner by 5:30, be ready for bed by 9 pm, have sex three times a week, spend Saturday with my folks, go to a Sci-Fi movie …

A = 1
B = 1
C = 1
D = 1
Q = 2
X = 3
Y = 3

So if your spouse has 4 points of energy, she can do A, B, C and D, OR any one of those plus X or Y, or Q plus two of A-D. She cannot do X and Y, or Q with X or Y. Decide what you really want, let her know, and figure out how to live without the rest.

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3 Comments on “Pick four

  1. I have tried to tell people this before and they treat me like a loser. They say, “what are you having troubles with,” like it’s easy for every wife to do everything. It’s impossible and it will kill us and make us bitter if that is the expectation level. Yes, choose the important things and let others go. Right now, communication, sex and healthy eating are important for us. The house only needs to be really clean about once a week, and I don’t have to wear heels on a daily basis for him, just not look too sloppy.

  2. I, personally enjoy the challenge of doing as much as I can, but I need the loving freedom of being able to step down, say no, or even fail without fear. At the same time, I really only tackle things I know I can do. Hubby asked me once why I don’t really try new things and go out of my comfort zone. It was because growing up, we were pushed to do things but punished if we happened to fail. So I started avoiding the greater challenges and covering them up with faux challenges of things that came easier for me.

    Now that I have the freedom to try and fail because I know hubby won’t punish or insult me, I want to try new things, push my limits, and check off that list!

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