Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Working Hard/Hardly Working

My husband used this Memorial Day weekend to get a bunch of work done around the house. His primary task, though, was painting the trim on our house. My father-in-law came over to help, and they got a lot done. Despite the heat, which was—well, hot. As you would imagine. Then, after eight hours of painting, the man mowed the lawn.

He clearly has a problem.

What did I do while he was painting and mowing and sweating and working? I tended to my son. Set out things for sandwiches. Went shopping (with my son). Watched a movie while my son napped. Got, like, one thing ready for dinner.

It seems that no matter what I do, my husband is always doing more. I can't compete!

And then it occurs to me: Rachel, marriage isn't a competition.

My husband is a busy bee. And, as indicated by the title of this blog, I am most definitely not. My husband and I bring different things to our marriage. Different skill sets, as it were.

Can I paint the house? I suppose. I probably wouldn't do a great job. So I probably shouldn't paint the house. And I definitely can't mow the lawn. It might actually kill me, what with me being deathly allergic to grass and all.

Can my husband play "vacation" with our toddler? Sit in a tent for half an hour looking at insect flashcards with a flashlight, hike up the "mountains" in our house, spend another half an hour in the tent looking at dinosaur flashcards with a flashlight (and see a Baryonyx go by our tent), and fix three imaginary meals out of wooden vegetables? Probably. But he seems to have a low tolerance for imagination games, as he will admit.

So, even when it looks like I'm "only" having fun with my son, I have to remind myself that I'm helping him learn and grow. What I'm doing is important—important in a different way from what my husband does for our family. We don't compete with each other; we complement each other.

Because after watching him work ridiculously hard all day long, I feel like I needed to remind myself of that.

Do you sometimes see your relationships as competitions, purposely or not?


  1. Hi Rachel. I don't think I thought of it as competition but I did feel that as I was not bringing in an income I couldn't enjoy the fruits. How can I relax when he's out working all day?, etc. But it is as you say, we bring different things into the marriage. Both my parents worked when I was growing up and I feel that my being at home has made a huge difference to my kids. I may not earn an income but I do all his paperwork etc. So, I think I eventually figured out my worth is in Christ not in what or how I do the marriage thing. Make sense?
    God bless

  2. You are TOTALLY right! What you are doing (even though it isn't physical labor) is VERY important! Raising a child takes a lot more emotional energy than physical energy. It's easier to SEE the results with physical work, though. :)

    I don't think my husband and I compete, but I do sometimes feel guilty if I'm not "doing" something all of the time. But I've learned that as Mom, I'm "working" ALL of the time. So, taking a break to say, watch a movie during naptime, is no reason to feel guilty! :)

  3. You guys are so the opposite of us. While my hubs does his fair share of helping out around the house and with the kids, I see things like playing video games (in his down time) as unproductive time wasters. He is notorious for getting all gung ho about a project, then never making it happen. WHich is why I get terrified when he has a new project on his mind.

    I, on the other hand, do my fair share of playing with the kids and taking care of them, but when he's home, I try to make the best use of my time to get things done that I can't do during the week. And also try balancing that with spending time together as a family. It's HARD!

  4. @Leigh Ann If I told you about the division of labor at our house, you'd scream. lol I feel bad that I don't get more of his chores done during the day so I could spend more time with my husband in the evenings!

  5. I am an awful at play person. I take my hat off to you for the imaginary downtime. I am happy to do an art project or bake with them, host friends over for them .. but the get down on the floor and play, like play play - useless.
    So pat yourself on the back!

  6. I'm trying to become the play person. I haven't mastered it yet.

    I tend to be more competitive with friends (not meaning to be but if they are doing something I tend to think that I should be a better; wife, mother, teacher...and follow suit) and look at my husband as the one who is meant to compliment (or perhaps compensate) my MANY flaws.

  7. My husband works WAY harder than I do. I spend a lot of time on the computer even though my chores are screaming to be done. I have to say, though, that my husband LIKES to keep busy doing the stuff on THE LIST. If the list gets too short, he becomes mopey. So really, I'm making him happy by leaving things for him to do ;)

  8. Yes, we have them...and it's usally on my shoulders that I start them and continue them. Jack has absolutely no reason to play "reindeer games" (as he calls them) with me. Usually he will have to snap me back into myself to help me realize that this isn't a competition. Yes, we can have competitive fun...but there should never be a competitive side in marriage where there is a sincere streak of seriousness. My mom is huge on the whole "if a man can do it, I can do it better." I learned it from her...and I am learning to unlearn it.

    You nailed it...we each bring different aspects of life to one another's lives and into the marriage. This is what makes it unique and honestly Christ-like. Where I am weak, Jack is strong...and vice versa. It has been that way for 14 years, and it will continue to be like that until whenever.

    This is a great post...as usual! I hope the house...and lawn...looks great!

  9. I love this post! I will try to remember this the next time I'm playing Dinosaur Train with my two-year old and walking around on hands and knees "eating" grass.

    I'm sort of the Busy Bee in my marriage, so taking the time to just play with my son is challenging. I want to keep getting "important stuff" done. This post reminds me how important it is to just play with him and have fun.


I wrote the thing. You read the thing. Don't be too lazy to comment!