Happy Independence Day America! Here’s a little holiday, mid-morning Make-Up-Monday episode, volunteered by another sweet couple who are dear friends of ours. Lee and Aaron (yes, Aaron is the girl) have been married for 7 years. Rather than a recent incident, they submitted what was an ongoing conflict that caused issues during the first four years of their marriage.
INTRODUCING LEE & AARON
In many ways, Lee and I are exact opposites. I like to run; he likes to walk. I like to talk A LOT, and he’s a man of few words. He’s also a night owl, and of course, I’m an early bird. Early in our marriage, this specific difference was the source of many fights and hurt feelings.
Lee wanted late nights as time to himself, without work or home responsibilities. He looked forward to reading books, brushing up on current affairs and exploring new gadgets.
I wanted the experience I’d dreamed of in marriage, being able to lay down each night with my husband and wake up to my best friend each morning.
I quickly grew tired of going to bed alone and being woken up in the middle of the night, and I was frustrated when he woke up tired and grumpy after a late night. I would express these feelings with anger and frustration, and as a result he felt controlled. So after many nights (years of nights) going nowhere in the struggle, we decided to try something new. We set a joint bedtime and decided that if he wanted to stay up late, he would go to bed in the other room. Right away, we began to see how much intimacy we were losing by not sharing our late evenings and early mornings. Neither of us liked it.
THEN WHAT HAPPENED?
We were both finally ready to listen and understand the hurt that was beneath our behavior towards one another. We talked about why time to disconnect was important to him, and I finally understood his need to recharge for the must-dos of life. He understood that I feel most safe when I can begin and end the day knowing he’s in my corner. Now when he needs time, I recognize that and don’t take it personally. Conversely, he’s willing to put bookends around each day with me.
FINDING JOY IN THE STRUGGLE
We came up with pet names for our differences which re-frame them as positive instead of negative. I am The Hummingbird, and he is The Bear. There are great qualities about both creatures. Lee loves that I get up early, make the coffee and sometimes breakfast and do chores. He thinks it’s cute and flitty, like a bird. And I love that at night, when I’m falling asleep with my toothbrush in my mouth, I can count on him to charge my phone, shut down the house, let the dog out and lock the doors. And the next morning over coffee, I can be sure that I will learn more about politics and technology than I thought I’d ever want to know! When I need time with him, I give a sweet and simple “tweet” and he knows what that means. Conversely, I have accepted that a “grunt” at night is a perfectly good way for a bear to communicate that he needs to hibernate for a while. It sounds childish, and simple, and it is. But we’ve found that it works, and it celebrates our differences and the reasons why we were so fascinated with one another in the first place.
Thanks Aaron & Lee! I have loved watching and learning about marriage through you two!