Saturday, May 21, 2005


Warning! This post contains very introspective noodling about me and things I care about. There are no funny jokes or cool links. (There's always spamusement if you're after that sort of thing...)

Early morning silence got me thinking about becoming fully engaged. About actively embracing the things that are important to my family - as opposed to being passive and dismissive about them.

If you're like me, your wife runs your household. Sure, you like to play with the kids now and again, and you expect that your wife will have time for you when it suits you, but other than that - you're a pretty busy guy. You've got people to meet with and places to go and lots of really important complex work issues to manage. And things like school permission notes, or lunches, or after school play-dates with neighborhood kids, bills and housework are just a nuisance. You have the minimum possible interaction required in order to keep things smoothly running. (i.e. no complaining) You're not fully engaged - you're just along for the ride.

In the beginning, your wife might've said that she thought your behaviour was unfair. But after a while, she stopped mentioning it - probably because it just led to arguments. Gradually, the current model of behaviour evolved. You chuck your socks on the floor, not because you want her to pick them up, but because you're lazy. She picks them up, and assumes it's because you think she deserves to. Silence. Repeat.

I kind of fell into this model of behaviour for two reasons: one, because I'm lazy, and two because the society I live in tells me that this is perfectly normal. This is the way life has been since the fifties, and isn't it all dandy and fine. (Fetch me my slippers and my pipe, dear)

So my insomniac dischordance comes from the realisation that in order to behave in such a fashion, I have to take advantage of the one person that I love the most in the world. She loves me, so she'll put up wth the fact that she works twice as hard for the family as I do. Aristotle wrote that "the noblest use of power is restraint". It seems to me that if you're going to be in the habit of burdening people, they really shouldn't be the ones who will just take it.

I'd always justify my position by saying: "Oh, that domestic stuff bores me - it's better for you to take care of it" Or worse:"You need to care less about this stuff - your standards are too high - take more time for yourself" What I really need to do is realise that the amount of work involved in running a household like mine is considerable, and that in a realationship, you should share the responsibility, and the benefit. So, I guess i'm resolving to become more engaged, on an emotional and physical level.

No, I haven't been fighting with Alison or sleeping on the sofa. It's just a place I've come to lately. Having four children involves a lot of responsibility, and I need to ensure that I don't get distracted by easier things, like work. My kids will be grown up soon, and I don't really want to miss out on any of this stuff - even the boring bits.

I think it's time for me to grow up now.

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