Monday, 21 March 2016

The Wife Strike

Periodically in my marriage, I go on strike. This could be for a variety of causes—housework, bedtime duty, the running of our social calendar—in short, anything that I suddenly feel like I’m doing more than my fair share of. To give you an example, and this is by far the most common at our house, every so often I initiate what I call the ‘conversation strike.’ It begins in my head where I’m like, ‘I am sick of being the one to start conversations in this house. For fifteen years, I have been the one starting the conversations. Where would this marriage be without my conversation-starting?’ and progresses almost immediately to strike-action, ‘I'm going wait. I am just going sit here and wait. I am going to wait for him start a conversation, and we'll just see how long it takes.' Well, I won't bore you with the specifics, but it inevitably goes down something like this...

Thursday 8 pm. I commence conversation strike. He is oblivious. 15 minutes pass. I silently get irritated. He is oblivious. 15 more minutes pass. I get angrier. He is oblivious and maybe even a little happy for the unexpected peace. 15 more minutes of silence. Steam shoots out my ears and my face turns a little purple. He is oblivious. Thursday 8:45 pm. I explode.
Me: How can you just SIT there?
Him: Sit where?
Me: Just sit silently and NOT SAY A WORD?
Him: Uh, I thought we were watching a show.?
Me: So you would just happily sit there watching a show and not care if we don't have a conversation?
Him: Well, yea..??
Me: So if we never had a conversation again, you'd be okay with that? Because that's what would happen if we left it up to you...

And so it goes.

Now, I should probably clarify that I am married to a wonderful man—a wonderful man of remarkably few words-- and even though I will own my own bit of crazy in this situation, I am actually probably right about one thing...If it were up to him, we would have virtually no (or certainly significantly less) conversation. I won't go as far as to claim that conversation in itself is a virtue, and god knows it wouldn't hurt for me to shut up occasionally, but you do need some for a marriage to be successful, hence my frustration.

I should also tell you that my husband rarely initiates these types of strikes in our relationship. There could be a number of reasons for this. One might be that I am a totally perfect wife who always pulls her weight in our relationship. Possible?.  Another might be that the one time he went on a 'cleaning the van strike'--well, it wasn't pretty. We're talking a year's worth of kiddy crumbs, wrappers, rotting fruits, diapers, sippy cups with milk in the hot sun—actually let's not go there. You'll just have to take my word for it that what he was able to gain through strike action was not worth the price tag. Or maybe, just maybe, the wonderful man I share my life with just gets it. Perhaps he gets that marriage is not 50/50, a notion that I occasionally get myself hung up on. It is more than that. It 100/100. That is to say, what you bring to the table of your marriage--your gifts--you bring them 100%. And your partner should do the same. So where I bring my gift to carry conversation, he might bring his gift to listen, or where I may use my culinary gifts to feed the members of this household, he might use his gifts as a financial wizard to keep things going in that department (God help us if he ever goes on finance strike!) And the fact we both bring different things to the table actually serves our marriage well, far better than what would result if my strike action were to ever actually succeed in equalizing everything in a 50/50 orientation. Case in point…imagine if my husband brought 'conversation' to our marriage table in quantities similar to those I bring. Well, there wouldn't be enough hours in the day nor ears to listen. Or if I were to try to match his flair for organization and filing tit for tat, well that would just be overkill, and our systems would probably just end up clashing anyways. Now, no doubt, there’s a place for sharing or rearranging the lode if one of us becomes dissatisfied with the going arrangement, but perhaps the 100/100 model is something I will try to keep mind as we navigate this partnership forward.


I’d love to finish this off by telling you that this little insight will translate into a permanent cessation of strike action on my part, but I would probably be lying. Marriage can be frustrating, wonderful, and crazy but, above-all else, it is a never-ending work in progress. He has not annoyed me for the last time, nor I him. I have not acted crazy (I assure you it always entirely justifiable) for the last time, and he will not be the perfect husband tomorrow or next year, but, if I’m truthful, I would have to say that I think we are both bringing everything we have every single day. 100%. And I’m mostly good with that, and days when I’m not? Well, I’m pretty sure there’s enough love to see us through.♥♥♥