Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wow...change really IS possible in marriage!

If you're married, you've probably heard it over and over: "Don't try to change your spouse. It won't work."

But really, if it's just something small, isn't it realistic for me to encourage The Engineer to change? Just a little bit?

We have been married 9 1/2 years. In that time, The Engineer has learned how to swim really well, how to change diapers, and how to buy me beautiful flowers that won't break our budget.

So it seems he'd also be able to learn one more thing--how to take a piece of clothing off a hanger and put the hanger on the row below, with the other empty hangers. But he's always had the habit of leaving the hanger where it was, empty and half-hidden between pieces of hung-up clothing.

When I became a stay-at-home mom a few years ago, I started doing most of the laundry. And this little habit, which had grated on me before, really started to annoy me, every time I hung up laundry. I brought it up to him, multiple times. I tried being nice; I tried snapping at him. He'd assure me he'd try to change, and the next week, I'd go to gather hangers...and I'd seethe as I grabbed a handful of my hangers from the DHS (Designated Hanger Spot) and then hand-picked hangers from his side of the closet, one by one.

But a few weeks ago, I made an astonishing discovery--after all these years, change is possible!

Only he's not the one who changed. I did.

You're going to have to bear with me here, because my way of changing is really Pollyanna-ish. It's cheesy and annoyingly optimistic. But it's working.

When I gather hangers, I no longer angrily muse, "Really, how hard could it be? If he really wanted to change, he would! Obviously he just doesn't want to!" Instead, I use that hanger-grabbing time as a time to think of something I appreciate about The Engineer. I admire how dedicated he is at work. Or I thank God about how amazing he is, training diligently for triathlons. It's crazy how quickly that puts me in a happy mood instead of an angry one.

Yep, change is possible. He may never change his hanger habit. But I've changed the way I think about that habit, and that's very satisfying.

***

Quick shout-out: I've posted about this outfit, and this one, from Chigger Hill Cottage. Check out the CHC dress giveaway over at the blog, Chigger Bytes!

21 comments:

Strange Mamma said...

I know. It always galls me just a little that the best way to make things better is to change my attitude about it. But then I do it and things really are better. I still wish he'd learn not to squeeze the toothpaste in the middle. I have given up though. I went out and bought toothpaste in pumps.

addhumorandfaith said...

When Hubby and I went to marriage encounter in the 70's one of the things I learned was that you can change how you feel about someething with self-talk. That little lesson really changed my life. There are certainly changes Hubby has made, but there are also times when the change was in me, as you've demonstrated.

A great post.

Call Me Cate said...

We have the same hanger issue in our home. I'll try your technique next time. Maybe I'll start by being grateful he doesn't leave for work naked.

Buffie said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that this hanger issue. What really drives me nuts though is when I find hangers in strange places like on the dining room table.

Eva Gallant said...

In this economy, we need to be grateful he has a job!

Great way to deal with the problem!

just dropping by from SITS to say hi; hope you'll do the same.

Snarky A. said...

I love this, like LOVE LOVE this.
Great post!

Joyce said...

Well, I guess you never get too old to learn. I didn't know there was any thing wrong in leaving the hanger where you took the garment from.:) Of course I'm not the organized one in our family. I am very careful to always hang PaPa's shirts the same direction. He is particular about that.
Mam-ma

Andi said...

I think this is a great post and totally true. We drive our own feelings and emotions, our reactions to others - it is hard, but if we really try, "almost" nothing will bother you and you can find the good in a lot of situations!

Cathy said...

Our similar issue is with sock sorters. (Remember those? I don't even know if you can still buy them, but he has an unlimited supply of them!)I hate the things and your dad religiously uses them on his socks. Since he's the one who folds the clothes, he's tried numerous times to get me to use them to make his job easier. He uses humor to try to get me to do it, but I know it would mean a lot to him if I would. I actually decided I'd try it - and I would forget again and again. Weeks later I realized that I'd failed again! I don't think it really bothers him that I don't so when I just couldn't remember to do it, I finally gave up! I guess he'll just have to take me like I am - sans sock sorters! It's one of the few areas that I'm not anal and maybe I need a little of that since I can "tend" to me too organized in most areas, huh?

gotlib said...

This was lovely. I have a feeling that he does the same thing when he finds the caps aren't screwed on the jars or bottles as tightly as he would like.

My husband loves the quote "God makes 'em and they find each other"

gotlib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faith said...

My husband has a very logical explanation for leaving hangers in the middle. The shirt that came off of it goes on it again & into the same spot - if I just leave them there, I'll always have the perfect number of hangers in the correct sections (jeans, polos, whatever). Brilliant.

Our Scoop said...

NICE! I love that change of heart. Very good - you will be blessed for that. And the Engineer might bless you with some of those budget friendly flowers when he reads this nice post :)

caryn said...

I love this post! One thing that use to really bug me was when Pat would leave his dishes in the sink instead of putting them in the dishwasher. I could understand if the dish washer was running or full but when it was empty it would really drive me nuts when I would go into the kitchen find his bowl/dishes in the sink, I would think "what is wrong with him it would take two seconds for him to put them in the dishwasher blah blah blah" and then one day it hit me ~ it was taking me more time and energy complaining about it than just taking the two seconds myself and put them in the dishwasher.

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

excellent perspective! Maybe someday he will change, but this way it won't bother you anymore, and the time spent being positive sounds like it improves your mood! :)

Hugs,
Steph

Our Scoop said...

Ok, just saw that you changed your comment box! Awesome. You really are so super cool CB.

Rachel Cotterill said...

That's fab. And proves that change has to be self motivated :)

Eternal Lizdom said...

I do believe that's called "choosing love."

Dani said...

I love this post! Things like this really make me want to be a better wife. It drives me nuts because whenever my husband does the laundry, he never puts anything away, so he does like five loads and then leaves them all in a big humongous pile in the hallway. I almost would rather he didn't even do the laundry because it makes me have this big huge chore to do instead of just putting the clean clothes away one load at a time. Grr... maybe I'll try that whenever he does this.

I'm also reminded by your post of a nice little story. Maybe I'll just share it on my blog instead of giving you a humongous comment- you'll have to swing by and see. :) Thanks for the prompt for a great post! :)

Rebecca said...

I love it Beth! I do the same thing when Dan leaves the toilet seat up. great encouragement to me today, thanks!

LEstes65 said...

I'm late to this post but I LOVE it. Good for YOU, Pollyanna!!!