Well, I’m off to a promising start, but do I feel happier? It think it’s too soon to tell if I’m happier overall, but I’m enjoying walking on the treadmill. So much so that I’m going to speak to our personal trainer about adding strength training next month. I do feel more alert and calm and when a shipment goes wrong at work, I don’t feel as panicked, initially as I used to – I am able to handle the problem more rationally.
I did notice a decline in my order-maintaining zeal by the end of the month, but I got myself back on track again which is something I wouldn’t have done previously.
December 1st, I started the next thing I wanted to work on – Remember Love – Marriage. My resolutions for the month:
- Stop nagging
- No Yelling
- Fight Right
- No dumping
- Give proofs of love
One alarming fact jumps out from the research about happiness and marriage: when a marriage experiencing money troubles, love goes out the window. Fortunately, that didn’t happen for Mr. Lifeology and me, but our relationship has certainly been tested by it. About year after we met in 2007, I lost my job along with thousands of other people in the 2008/2009 recession. About 3 months later, Mr. Lifeology lost his job. It would be 6 months before I found another job and in between that time there were days when we didn’t know whether we would be able to put food on the table. A couple of times, a good friend left a $100 gift card to a supermarket on our dining room table. Those gift cards saved our lives and we will never forget his kindness. During 2009, we lost almost everything – my car, Mr. Lifelology’s motor bike – and we sold tools and other things of value in order to pay the rent and basic bills. Our lovely landlord was very patient and understanding when our rent was late more than a few times.
After 8 or 9 months, we both got new jobs, at considerably lower wages. But we were grateful for it. My brother sent me money to buy another car so I could get to work. The bus system didn’t operate in that area all that well. It took us another 4 years before we had paid off all our debt and were back on our feet.
By that time we had been together for 6 years and I was certain that our relationship was solid for it to have survived that financial stress. But sure enough, the incidences of low-level bickering had increased significantly during those lean years. I’d started doing too much complaining, nagging and foot-dragging. It was time to do something about that.
Our relationship isn’t in trouble. We show our affection openly and often. We handle conflict pretty well. We don’t practice stonewalling. We sometimes indulge in defensiveness and criticism, but never contempt.
But I have fallen into some bad habits that I want to change. A good marriage is one of the factors most associated with happiness. But marriage itself also brings happiness, because it provides the support and companionship that everyone needs.
Yet, although my relationship with Mr. Lifeology is the most important factor in my life, it’s also the one in which I am most likely to behave badly. Very often I focus on small gripes and a do quite a bit of blaming. If I am feeling overwhelmed by a messy house, if the garbage hasn’t been taken out or even if I’ve had a bad day at work, I blame Mr. Lifeology. I feel resentful if I feel that I’m doing all the housework while he relaxes on the couch watching TV. Yet I forget that he’s just spent a week working 14 to 16 hour days. When I get upset, I raise my voice – a very bad habit and one that I needed to break this month.
So on the days Mr. Lifeology has been home – about 5 days in the past 11, I have gone about the house work without nagging him to help, without loudly complaining and I discovered that Mr. Lifeology cooked all the suppers and cleaned up behind himself and generally did his share of the household chores. Our life became much more peaceful and we were generally much happier.
Then, last night we were discussing our trip to Edmonton for Christmas. Trying to make it all work – the Christmas presents, getting the animals looked after and the thought of driving all that way in winter conditions – has had me a little, er, stressed, to the say the least. I found myself raising my voice and the discussion was fast turning into an argument. In the middle of it all, I realised what I was doing and immediately lowered my tone. The argument almost immediately turned back into a discussion and I’m glad I didn’t resort to yelling and complaining. It turns out that my imagination was getting the better of me and things are easier than I thought.
More next week.