The Love of An Ideal (and resulting frustration)

One more time, my wife left a dirty bowl out and I arrived from work to find the dog enjoying day old almond milk. For years, all I have asked is to please just pick up your dishes and get them to the sink. It has happened off and on for all this time. Walking into the bedroom, I noticed the clothes I had washed for her still in a pile, sitting next to the bed where they had been for a week. I got angry.

Yesterday, while at church holding her hand, I got really in touch with how much I love this woman. I really do. She is a brilliant, dynamic, fun adventurous spirit. We are polar opposites in many ways. I tend to be more of a planner, a little more controlled, have a desire to avoid chaos at all costs. Whereas my wife is a free spirit. She spends most of her time engrossed in her career of helping people…a deep calling for her. And she is really good at it. She would rather takes things as they come, and I want a print out showing what is next.

In that moment of love for her in church I realized something. All of these frustrations I feel around our household are not about her. As that would make me the victim of her being herself. So what am I the victim of then?

An idea.

When we got together she was exactly how she is now. Actually she is more mature and refined now then when we met. When we met, she was not in school or career, she was working a part time job that gave her the time to be free of responsibilities. Her life was pretty tame, so she could stay up all night. She was wild with energy. These days, after grad school, getting married and us settling into career life – she got quieter, more focuses and really driven into her passions. But she was always a tad messy. Early on, I bought a dresser just for our apartment so she could have a place to put her clothes. It was a Nice Guy covert contract — “If I get her a place to put her things, they won’t be all over the house”. Because back then, as she does now, she lived in piles.

You see, I live in this fantasy that my wife will one day wake up and feel the same things I thing are important are also important to her. It’s an ideal. It’s not reality. Certainly, I can express “This is really important to my well being” and she would respond in kind. But at some point, there has to be a place where we just let things go out of love. Because if the person we love is still the person we fell in love with – then I suppose a dirty dish cannot break that scared feeling.

So consider, next time your partner disappoints you… are you disappointed in them… truly in who they are or what they have done to you? or are you merely holding them up to an ideal that you have in your mind about how they SHOULD be.

For a nice guy, this is the classic covert contract in action. If I am this way.. then you SHOULD respond in kind.

For me, I am going to take my own advice– love my wife for who she is, and do what’s important for me and my well being… most days.. that’s laundry!

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