(my husband is referred to as papa
in these blog articles ) and I are best of friends. We have been a couple, and best friends, for over 14 years. We have few points of friction in our relationship. But one that we had for a while, I identified very early on. Our earliest fights used to be about him playing video games. Yup, silly as it sounds, it was what made me really mad.
Long before we had kids, papa would play video-games. He played these strategy and role playing games where you construct a whole society and interact with the characters and whatnot. The games lasted for a few days and papa would play with full concentration, little aware of the world around him, quite incommunicado.
This drove me crazy. It's a game. How can you forget your life while playing a game? How can you give a game so much importance? You see I was brought up to consider video games a frivolous waste of time.
But that was not how papa saw it. To him, anything you do, you do well. You give it your all. He saw these games as an exercise in structured thinking and finding optimal solutions. He found them engaging as they challenged him to think logically, laterally, efficiently and constructively. Besides he said "Most importantly, they are fun."
The problem was that he did not understand why I got annoyed, and to me it was obvious. One day we finally talked about it. I explained myself. We both spoke frankly and listened with open minds. I came to understand his perspective and he mine. He came to realize how it could be annoying to deal with someone so disconnected and I came to realize that, his unwavering concentration and passionate approach to everything he did is what I loved about him. You see papa has the same approach to fun and serious work. His work is fun for him, and that is why he is so good at it.
We compromised. He would play video games for at most 3 times a year, 1 week each time and he would let me know before he started and would not play when there was anything stressful going on otherwise. I learned to give him his space. The thing is when other people give you space, you take it for granted and don't notice it. When papa pointed out the many ways in which he gave me my space this compromise became simple.
I learned two valuable lessons that day:
One was, how important it is to give each other space. Respect for each others space goes a long way towards eliminating friction in relationships.
The other was that no matter how impossible it may seem, there can always be a different perspective to any situation. And when such a perspective is presented, it should be received with an open mind and an honest effort to understand. Especially when someone you trust and have regard for acts in an incomprehensible way, it is better to give them a chance to explain before you jump to conclusions.
These two tenets have smoothed the way through many a hurdle for me.
Before kids it is fairly easy to divide up the household responsibilities, and as long as you trust each other there is little need to step on each others toes. But kids cause an strong overlap of interests, concerns and responsibilities. Can you really stay out of each others way when it comes to raising kids?
The answer again is, as I have found out over the years, 'Yes you can. But it is harder.' In this case, we needed to discuss what responsibilities falls under whose purview. We split the responsibilities based on our strengths and talents
. Then with the trust and immense respect we had developed over the years for each other, we proceeded to carry out our responsibilities without`getting in each others space.
Giving each other space does not mean keeping out of each others lives. Not at all. My husband and I spend hours chatting and love spending time together. We do recognize each others stress-markers and step in for each other. But we also know each others trigger points and stay clear of them.
About the issue of common concerns and responsibilities: Both parents often have strong but different opinions about how the kids should be raised. So an open mind and constructive discussion helps arrive at balanced approaches, that also turn out to be in the best interest of the kids .
Finally, humor and laughter do wonders to diffuse a frustrating and tense situation. Sometimes when everything is going to hell in a hand basket, a little private joke or infectious laughter can lighten the mood bring back much needed perspective.
We have found that space, open and honest communication, an open mind and a sense of humor helps us cross most hurdles and succeed in #ParentingFromTheSamePage.
What is your approach?