Last weekend was rough (I was in an awful mood), but this past week has been considerably better.
I’ve picked up some more books about happiness in marriage (John Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work), raising happy kids (Christine Carter’s Raising Happiness), and just living a better life in general (Pema Chodron’s No Time to Lose). I doubt I’ll make it through all of these books without skimming some, but what I’ve read so far has helped encourage me to be gentle with myself and give being nice another try.
Not that I would have scrapped it and just decided to be mean for good, but this has helped me remember why I want to be nice and have fun with my family: they’re my family, I love them, and I want our relationship to be as strong as possible.
A couple of things that stand out to me from my recent reading:
- In Raising Happiness, Carter comments about the importance of conveying our love for our children through our body language and tone of voice, even when we’re telling them something they don’t want to hear (like for us, “No, honey, you may not spend another hour playing games on pbskids.org,” or “I know you’re frustrated. Let’s take a deep breath and then try that part of the song again.”). This is also something Gottman recommends for spousal interactions. For some reason, I get stuck in the idea that in order to get my point across, I need to be gruff, yell, and stomp around. It’s a simple idea, conveying displeasure with a loving manner, but it’s one that’s opened up a whole new slew of possibilities for me.
- I don’t hate John Gottman. I was surprised to discover this, because I was certain, based on what other authors said about his views, that I really disliked him. That’s why I picked up one of his books. I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t just getting a skewed version of him. Which was good because when I read his book, I get a very different impression than the one I get from reading about him in others’ books. He doesn’t recommend a rigid set of actions that you must follow or your marriage is doomed, at least not in The Seven Principles for Making Your Marriage Work. Perhaps that’s his angle in other books. He says that fighting with one’s spouse can actually be healthier than not fighting, depending on how you do it. That’s a great comfort to me because I tend towards despair when I contemplate never arguing with my husband again (not because I like fighting with him, but because it seems so impossible to stop cold-turkey). I do find some of Gottman’s stuff corny, but it’s opened up discussion between my husband and myself and helped us see just how much we’re doing well already. We didn’t think there were any huge problems with our marriage in the first place, but this book has helped us see what we’re doing well and what we could be doing better. I’m sure to write about this in more detail as I work my way through the book.
Basically, like usual for week three of a new month, I’m feeling calm and hopeful. I’m enjoying that feeling. And the fact that I have it despite spending the President’s Day holiday supervising a plumber as he cleans out a massive clog between the cleanout in our driveway and the city sewer line at the street rather than spending quality time with my husband, as we’d planned. We get to play a family game of Popomatic Trouble, though. That’s some consolation.
One Reply to “Week 29 Review: Feel the Love”
I started “For Better: The science of a Good Marriage” but it’s pretty dense, so I didn’t finish it yet. My husband was interested too, so we do intend to get through it. Eventually. lol