Bruce and I have been married almost two years. We were best friends who got married and, while we do have our hard days, we have a blast together! Like any married couple, we have had to make adjustments on the way. We thought we were great at communication because we were good friends for years and even dated long distance. But after we got married, we started noticing a pattern of frustration when it came to weeknights & weekends.
At the end of a long week I was ready to wake up early to go to the farmers market. Maybe even get all dressed up and eat at a cute new eatery and have a photo shoot downtown. We would grab the rest of the groceries together and then hit the park with all our friends for a BBQ & sand volleyball. Coffee dates, shopping, theater, Church, Community group, and frozen yogurt. I wanted to pack everything into my days off.
At the end of a long week Bruce was ready for a slower pace. He wanted to sleep in, make breakfast at home, play video games, read a book on the back porch, grill out, play a game, and watch Netflix. Work on house projects, nap, build, hike, and rest. He wanted to do less to rest up for the new week.
It is pretty obvious to see where our differences lie, but each weekend we would just wing it and end up doing it all or doing nothing. We both wanted to love each other well, so we just went along with whoever was more vocal. No matter what happened, we would both end up feeling frustrated and defeated and not even know why.
I am not sure when this vocab worked its way into our conversations, but Bruce started asking me what my hopes were for the weekend. I am sure it was in a moment of desperation where he blurted out “What are your hopes & desires for the weekend?!” and I answered and asked him the same question. It was a question that came from his youth when his mother would always ask what his hopes were for break and she would share her hopes. It helped their family learn to express their expectations and be able to work together as a family. That weekend was better and we noticed it.
So we started making it part of our normal communication and before we knew it, we were asking it all the time. I would get home from work and Bruce would ask me my hopes for the night OR we would be laying in bed and I would ask Bruce what his hopes were for tomorrow OR during dinner Thursday night we would ask each other about hopes for the weekend.
THIS WAS HUGE. and as silly as it sounds, that little question helped our communication so much. You see, the problem was that we would make all these plans in our heads and then get to the weekend and expect them to happen. We would get frustrated that the other one didn’t have the same plans or wasn’t reacting the way we had planned. We would brush it off as the never ending introvert/ extrovert battle and try to do things our own way. We were hurt but unable to vocalize why and we realized it was because we both did not have the same excitement & energy in our weekend plans.
When we took the time to answer this question before anything began, we had time to really think about what we wanted and hear what the other person wanted. It gave us enough time in advance that we wouldn’t get defensive at the thought of our plans being so different. And together right there we would work out a compromise.
We would sleep in but go out for brunch. Then come home and Bruce would work on house projects and I would meet a girl friend for coffee. We would have a couple over for dessert and games. The next day we would go to church, come home and have computer time that afternoon ( I blog, he video games). Make dinner, go on an after dinner hike, and then watch a movie together.
It sounds so simple and really it is but it took us months (like years) to learn how to do best! Here are some quick tips that I have learned on the way:
1. ASK: Make sure to ask this question soon enough to plan according to the answers you hear. That time frame changes depending on what you are looking forward to – date night, lunch, evenings off, weekends, vacations, etc.
2. PLAN: Together come to a decision that includes hope from both of you. It might not be every hope every time but make sure that you both are doing something you had hoped for.
3. STICK TO IT: When you make a plan together you start looking toward the night off or the weekend with the same mind. You know the plan is sleeping in on Saturday so you don’t have to be surprised or frustrated when he does. You use the time as extra rest or to catch up on sending letters to friends. And he can sleep in knowing that when he wakes you won’t be in his face about how you had been waiting for him to wake up to go to the farmers market.
I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed knowing that I married my opposite and frustrated that we have different minds. But I also know how wonderful it is to marry my opposite and have someone who shows me a whole new side of things. When you work together and ask the right questions, those overwhelming moments can be less and those fun moments can be more!