Life is About Priorities, and Ours Clash Every Day
A few cups, one or two plates, some silverware, and a knife — that is what the fight was about.
I’ve been working more hours than I can count. I’ve somehow ended up with two startups that need to be run, and the amount of work that needs to be done is staggering. I’ve been working overnight, and after small naps, work all day too.
I actually don’t mind because I know after years of struggle, I’m finally going to pull myself and my family out of a hole. My mental health has never been better, and I finally feel I can work hard without breaking down every few days. I can finally realize my dream of 20 years and be free of Social Security Disability. I can finally support my family without help from the government.
So all this extra work does not bother me at all. I revel in it. I love writing blogs and copy, I love building websites, and I love collaborating with my friend and business partner. I love trying to find funding, and brainstorming for business plans. I love crushing numbers and building networks.
All the while, I try to spend the off-hours with my family and not obsess over details. I play with my son, and talk to my daughter about art. I try to help my wife through her anxiety and anger by massaging her back, even if I am so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open.
I’ve been living on a few hours of sleep trying to balance the life I have when the office door is closed, and the life I live when I am with my family.
And it’s been stressful. Last week, we were exposed to COVID-19 and are now locked in quarantine. When can’t even walk out the front door. I am stuck 24 hours a day with my wife’s worsening anxiety, and my own anxiety’s response to it.
I sleep when I can, but I know I don’t get enough.
Earlier this morning, my wife asked me to do the dishes before I took a bath and a nap, and being that I have so much to do, and so much on my mind, I forgot. I’d worked all morning and was staring at the screen of my laptop dozing off like I had a bad case of narcolepsy.
My wife was trying to put the baby down for a nap so I laid with them too and quickly fell asleep.
I forgot about the dishes and the bath.
Be my wife didn’t. When she saw I hadn’t done the few dishes in the sink she started screaming. This mistake by me had triggered her anger and she was going to do her damnedest to make sure every knew she was upset.
I jumped up and apologized and tried to start to do the dishes half-asleep, but she was blocking me and cussing me up and down. She does this so she can say later that I never do anything around the house, even though I was standing there saying sorry and willing to whip the dishes into shape.
But she wanted to rant, and scream. Once her anger is up, she can’t control it, I know it’s because of her anxiety, but it still hurts to be nagged and yelled at like an idiot. She calls me hurtful names and I am sensitive, and every bit of rudeness is an arrow in my heart.
We fight and argue, while the kids try to stay out of the way, and eventually I am able to get the little bit of dishes done. I am upset, not because I had to do the dishes, but because she made such a big deal about it slipping my mind.
You see, to her and her anxiety, a few dirty dishes is an emergency. She has to keep her house like a museum, even with the kids running rampant or her anxiety eats at her until she is mean and angry for the rest of the night.
To me, it’s just a few dishes and they can be easily done at a better time, like after a few hours of sleep when I am not dozing off standing in front of the sink. But, to her, its a priority and it doesn’t matter that I have a lot on my mind and days of days of work backing up.
The dishes and the laundry are a non-issue for me, but not her. She works a few hours a day teaching as well, and I have suggested after the quarantine that we get someone to come in and help us with the chores so we can focus on work, but she doesn’t want to hire anyone.
She either has to do it herself or get angry when I never do it right myself.
I do my part around here, but I admit my focus is on the businesses, and my writing. I engage on social media when I should be playing with my toddler. I spend hours writing when I really should be helping my wife so her anxiety doesn’t get out of control.
I know what I am describing makes my wife and I look bad. I look bad because I don’t pull my weight with the cleanliness out the house. I chose to focus on family and work, and if there is time left over I will straighten up or do some laundry.
I know I make my wife sound like a controlling maniac, but that is the furthest from the truth. Her anxiety causes her to be a perfectionist, and unlike me who takes everything out on myself, she takes it out on me. She has anger issues, but it’s not her fault. She needs to see the doctor because her unpredictable cycles make me think she has some serious hormone issues exacerbating her mental illness.
It’s not her fault and I except it. I love her with all my heart and I know she loves me, and that more than makes up for any amount of yelling and anger she does. After I calm my sensitive feelings, we make up. We talk, we flirt, we cuddle. I massage her with essential oils to ease both of our anxieties.
We know our marriage isn’t perfect, and there is a lot of work to be done. We have clashing priorities and different ways we get through our day. I have a different idea about what is important. We don’t have the same dreams.
But, I love her, and she loves me, and as much as naysayers say that love can’t conquer all, it sure makes it easier to deal with a little bit of anxiety and anger.
She puts up with my bullshit as well because I am not an easy person to deal with either. My own mental issues cause me to sometimes be cold and distant, and I am never as romantic as I should be. At times I am an emotional robot and at others I am so sensitive that anything she says sends me into a spiral.
We are completely wrong for each other, but also the perfect couple.
Mostly, our disagreements are about priorities, and as long as she needs a perfectly6clean house and I need 20 hours a day of uninterrupted work, we are going to clash and fight.
But we always make up and realize how important we are to each other and to the kids, and all the anxiety and hurt feelings mean very little at the end of the day.
Life is about priorities, but it’s also about love, and love is what makes life worth living.