Friday, February 27

Remember Love / The Happiness Project

For those of you who do not know, I have decided to read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and follow along on her journey to find Happiness right where we are in life. I will be posting every month in response to the chapters topic that are set up in her book. You can follow along in my journey here. 
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February: Remember Love

February. The month of love. It seemed obvious that the focus this month would be on love - on my relationship with my significant other. Good thing that I am a sucker for all things romance and heart felt. I enjoy having conversations with my Husband on our relationship: what can we improve, what didn't work, where we are going to be in the next five years. There have been a lot of questions about the future this month so it seemed so appropriate that I had these challenges to focus on. I really like how the first thing that Gretchen brought up was how her "marriage wasn't in trouble" but that she had just "fallen into some bad habits."

1. Quit nagging.
"...I think that an adult should be able to decide whether or not to wear a sweater without interference from others." 

I hate nagging and I hate being nagged. I cringe when I hear other people nag to their spouses and I try so hard to avoid doing it. At the end of January I was having a coffee with a friend when she stated, "I am not his mother, I am his wife." DING. DING. DING. Such a simple, obvious statement resinated with me and I reflect on its entire meaning. "I am not his mother." As a mother, I really don't like the idea that I am being a nag to my daughter - but I do feel like it is my responsibility to remind, teach, and guide her as best that I can. "Drink more water" or "pick it up (the food she dropped) and put it in the bowl" are just some of the every day things that I say to her. As a mother, it is my job that she takes care of herself and that she starts to build healthy habits - even at fourteen months. She knows and understands exactly what I am asking of her. Now. I am not my husband's mother. Even though it may seem that I am trying to help him build healthy habits, if I say things like "don't eat that - it will make you sick," "maybe you should go to the gym," and "why can't you just clean up after yourself" I am just a voice that seems to scream that he is unable to take care of himself or our home. I am his wife. I am his life partner. His friend. We can have mature, adult conversations about how I can sometimes be frustrated at the fact that he leaves pop cans around the house. It is not my job to nag and it is especially not my job to belittle him. My husband is important to me and I am so thankful for everything that he does for our family. We are partners, I am not his mother. I really enjoyed this challenge and I especially liked how it was already something that I was thinking about before this chapter even started.

Personal goals.
- Don't nag, gently remind.
- Have conversations, not lectures.

2. Don't expect praise or appreciation.
"...if you do it for yourself, you don't expect other people to react in a particular way." 

This was a much more challenging thing to do and I still struggle with it. I am hard on myself and often times I wonder how I am doing in this little thing called life. How am I as a mother? A house wife? A blogger? An artist? I work hard, and don't get me wrong, I LOVE what I do, but it worries and frustrates me when nobody comments on the things that I do. Every day, when my husband comes home, I proudly say "look how clean the house is!" or after a meal I ask "how was supper?" It may seem like I am just curious of what he thinks about what he is eating or that I really am proud of how I scrubbed the bathroom floor - but really I am looking for what Gretchen calls her little "gold star." To know that I did good. To know that I am appreciated. Of course, to endless frustration, I can never get enough gold stars. My husband does comment on the hard work I do, but I always push it: "I washed the dishes...!" "I gave Bug a bath" "I blogged" "I did the laundry" I keep wanting to point at all the things that I do in a day so that I could get a gold star for every single thing. I need to learn to let it go and only do it for myself and for the Glory of God. If I do anything for other people I will be in the trap of constantly seeking their approval. Its a horrible mind game and I need to snap out of it. I never knew how often I sought approval until after I read this chapter - I am not much more aware of it and I am trying so hard to just enjoy what I am doing when I am doing it, and know that I am cleaning the house because I like it when its clean.

Personal goals.
-do it for me

3. Fight right.
"... research shows that HOW a couple fights matters more than HOW MUCH they fight." 

I have to be honest with you, this goes hand in hand with my little gold star dependancy. When I don't get the star that I think I deserve I am easy to offend and my walls go up so quick I am always shocked by it. It could even be the sweetest of statements and I will automatically assume that I am under attack, so I snap and I defend. "Do you know where Bug's hair brush is" turned into "why haven't you found it yet" in my mind. This is just a simple example, but it is what the happened just the other day. My husband had to look at me and say, "I am not attacking you, I was merely wondering if you had seen it." Another example: I asked my husband to be my accountability partner when it comes to sweets, and when he gently reminded me that I probably shouldn't have the coke zero, I snapped and became moody. I don't know why I do it, but there are times that I bite my husband's head off simply because he asked me a question that I took as a personal attack on my ability to be a mom. Most of the time I defend myself and fight wrong when I already feel bad for my actions. I am hard on myself and even in the sweetest of all moments I had to bite my tongue and remember that my husband IS MY friend, he is not my mother, and that he REALLY IS looking out for me, or just asking simple questions, or helping me become healthier. It isn't an attack. He IS NOT out to get me. I am far too sensitive and I become so guilty after the fact. "...fighting right eliminated that guilt and so it made me happier." That is what I am striving for, eliminating the guilt that I am a hormonal mother with crazy fast defence mechanisms. Another item for the "Let it Go" theme I seem to have going on. I should write another blog post about this.

Personal goals.
-stop thinking everyone is out to get me
-stop being so hard on myself

4. No dumping.
"Happiness has a particular strong influence in marriage, because spouses pick up each other's moods so easily."

This quote is so true. Often times I talk to my husband about the frustrations and insecurities I have with certain things or talk about how bad my day is going. I should rephrase that. I don't talk to him about it in a healthy manner. I am pretty mopey. Or I don't talk at all. I go to him with the best intentions. It is my hope that he will encourage me, lift me up, or give me that gold star that I need to make myself feel better. My husband is a very good encourager and there are days that I am reassured right away that I am okay or doing a good job. However, there are days that I am not open to receive his love and I stay in my negative place. I choose to dump all of my worries, frustration, stress, issues on him without letting him help me. And then when he needs to dump, it just stresses me out more. One day, my husband asked me if I really was happy with our life and that was the biggest eye opener for me. What I thought was a normal way of communicating and talking about problems and stresses turned into a question of my happiness. That was not okay and I realized that there is a much better way of communicating my issues to him. I can become such a negative force in our house. Negativity is contagious just as happiness is. My husband picks up on my negative moods and he then becomes negative just as I become grumpy when he is having a bad day. I get ridiculously happy when my husband is in a great mood and he gets happy when I sing or dance in our house. I really like what Gretchen says and I am going to quote her now. "'If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.' At first I'd thought that sounded great - yippee, it's all about pleasing me! - but if (this) saying is true, it's a tremendous responsibility." I need to watch how I ask for help and I need to make sure that I am not dumping all of my stuff onto my husband lap. His plate is already full. He is not my savior. He is my partner. I can address my stuff, but I cannot throw it all onto him expecting him to come up with all of the answers.

Personal goals.
-act the way I want to feel.
-ask for help in a healthy manner.

5. Give proofs of love.
"Hugging relieves stress, boosts feelings of closeness, and even squelches pain."

This was by far my favourite challenge of the month. I am a romantic and I love doing little gestures of love. It was my goal to pretend as if we were dating again - you know how lovey dovey everyone usually is when they are dating. Lots of hugs, unexpected kisses, sweet texts of I love you's! I did that this month I found that this was a great happiness booster and it made me fall even more in love with my husband.

Personal goals.
-hug more
-send positive texts

Thoughts

Wow. This month was filled with so many 'aha' moments and a lot of "I cannot believe I do this" realizations. Many of these challenges were crazy eyeopeners while others just helped me to focus on our relationship in a healthy, positive manner. I really enjoyed this month's chapter. I feel as if I could just go on and on and on about everything that I learned, but I will stop now. This month was so good. I am loving this book and I highly recommend reading it
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I would love to hear from you, readers comments and discussions are always welcome. Have you read this book before? What are some of the things that you found challenging or easy? What was your favourite thing to learn? Without even reading the book, have you discovered these challenges in your own life? 

It is never too late to start a happiness project. If you would like to join in on it with me, I would love to hear about your journey. xoxo 

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