Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Garbage

While in marriage counseling a while back the subject of garbage became a stumbling block. I complained that he knew it was his job and that he never did it. This was my complaint in general. I was begging for my husband to do his part.

Imagine my surprise when LG answered the counselor's question of why he didn't take the garbage out if he knew it was his job. "She always does it first. She never gives me a chance." What?? I felt betrayed. How many times had I run out to the meet the garbage man in my underwear, like my newest favorite blogger? Yes, there were many times that I just went ahead and did it after school the day before so that I wouldn't forget, but there were also many more that I didn't do it all because I hoped he would, and he didn't. In fact, he may have done it once without my reminder. Once in 12 years.

So, marriage counseling became our tool to reveal the truth. The truth was somewhere in the middle. I took the garbage out too much and he didn't enough. Wow. What a revelation.

The real work came when we had to decide what to do about it. For my husband it meant getting in touch with his ADD and making a reminder and system that would help him out.

For me it was a little more difficult. It was called some serious character changing. When the marriage counselor told me to let the garbage pile up if needed I about died. Seriously, it was like he told me to give up my first born.

Looking back it made perfect sense. How was the guy ever gonna learn unless I was willing to let him take full responsibility? I had to be willing to let him succeed or fail with the garbage. The only way he would be forced to admit to not doing the job was when he had to go out after three weeks and physically handle the maggot infested bags. To which afterwards while jumping in the shower he proclaimed, "O.k. the problem just became greater than the solution."

The next time that reminder came up on his phone's screen, it became a whole lot more relevant.

It is hard for self proclaimed perfect people like me to give grace to others' weaknesses. It is even harder to give that grace to myself. I had to get in touch with the fact that I am OK and of worth with imperfections. I can let myself and my family members have imperfections too. Just because we aren't perfect it doesn't mean that I am worthless. This may sound like selfworth 101 for some of you, but trust me when I say that this concept was a huge deal to me.

So the moral of the story. Let the garbage pile up. Let your spouse take full responsibility. Let people fail because it's only in the failing that people learn to succeed. It's also only in the accepting the failure that we truly learn to love ourselves and others.

Oh, and if I am gonna be fair, I would like to make a public apology to my husband for being mad at him for 11 years over the garbage. I admit that I wasn't really fair that I was resentful at him for not doing a job that I was all too willing to do for him.

I would also like to make an announcement. I think it has been a whole two months since the last time he forgot, and that is really really impressive. And I think I am equally impressive as the one time I watched it piling up tall and almost to the fence-line, I believed myself that the garbage really had nothing to do with my selfworth.

1 comment:

ShEiLa said...

Too funny! WE are so alike. With Tony's work schedule taking the trash can (on wheels) the 100 yards to where the garbage truck gets it (bad rural road... but we are having it fixed and maybe we won't have to haul it up the road anymore). I usually will take 'the can' up the road the night before garbage pick up. However, on occassion I have forgotten. One such time I was asleep and heard the truck (I thought to myself maybe Tony took it up on his way out) I quickly threw on clothes and ran outside to discover he didn't... and it was sooooo full. I had my cell with me and in my rage called him at work and yelled... DON'T YOU EVER THINK ABOUT THE GARBAGE????? It wasn't really his fault he gets in work mode and thinks of nothing else. (tunnel vision) So that is our ongoing joke now... it will be that time and Tony will look at me and say... Don't you ever think about the garbage.

Another tidbit...
I learned in a marriage class that you should never say can you take out the gargage. Men take that as an insult like they are not capable... so you should say... 'Will you please'. The problem comes when your spouse says... yeah in a minute and its already overflowing and its much easier to grab it and go.

Hugs to YOU Alice!