By: Davida Grant Brown
If your marriage is anything like mine, you and your spouse have divvied the household and parenting responsibilities. And on most days, this allocation works. In fact, not only does it work, it keeps your household and marriage on track. But on those every once in a while days, it doesn’t. Despite your commitment to your assigned tasks, you don’t feel like doing it or perhaps even worse, you don’t think you should have to. You want your spouse to handle it for once. FOR ONCE! Recently, I had one of “those” days.
In our house, I am responsible for meal preparation and cooking, washing dishes, clearing the table, packing leftovers, making/packing the kids’ lunch, washing/folding the kids’ clothes, bathing the kids, reviewing homework for accuracy and completion, and reading bedtime stories. On top of that, as a wife, I tend to my husband’s emotional and physical needs. And on top of that, I have coaching sessions in the evening, and/or have to finish up business-related commitments before I call it a night. Now, I don’t expect a lick of sympathy. I enjoy being busy and willingly took on these responsibilities. Admittedly, I often pat myself on the back, because I can generally handle these responsibilities with relative ease, except when I can’t.
A few weeks ago, I nearly “lost” it. I’d had an extremely difficult, labor-intensive day at the office. I was running late to what I’ve affectionately dubbed “my second job”, so I was feeling a bit anxious. When I walked in the house, I knew I only had about 90 minutes to get dinner ready, review homework, read to the kids and get them ready for bed. There was no time to spare. Then I saw it. Dishes everywhere. On the stove, the counter and the sink. I hate, Hate, HATE dirty dishes and seeing them sent me over the edge. The kids were immediately at my feet asking every question under the sun. “What’s for dinner?” “Did you miss me today, mommy?” “Mommy, can we play together?” “Guess what the teacher said today?” I tried to muster a smile. Didn’t happen. Dishes Were Everywhere.
I walked into the living room and who did I see sitting on the couch in his pajamas watching television with a bowl of nearly depleted ice cream (yes, another DISH) in his lap. My wonderful husband. His first words were, “What’s for dinner, babe?”
I literally thought I was going to explode. I didn’t say a word and went up the stairs to my room. I locked the door, because I knew my little ducklings would be right behind me. Sure enough, 30-seconds later they were at my bedroom door banging away. “Give me 5 minutes,” I finally uttered, knowing I needed at least 15, but 5 would have to do. I buried my head in my pillow and literally kicked and screamed for a minute. A million thoughts about my husband and situation ran through my head. How dare he ask me for dinner. How long had he been sitting in front of that television? Had he given any thought to what he could do to help me? He needs to shoulder some of my responsibilities. How could he leave all those dishes in the sink, knowing I’d have to wash them before dinner? Why didn’t he warm up leftovers, since he knew I was running late? How could he even utter, “What’s for dinner?”
I took several deep breaths to calm myself and then did an assessment of the situation. I noted my feelings and took a minute to figure out why I was feeling so frustrated. Today was just one of those days, but it was my “hectic” day, not his. I looked at things from his perspective. He too worked a full day. He too had household responsibilities to care for, like sweeping/vacuuming the floor, feeding and walking the dog, and picking up the kids from school. Did he do those things today? He had. Do I shoulder more of the household and parenting tasks? I do, but that’s what I agreed to because of my skill set. So, was it right for me to be upset with him because I’d had a rough day and didn’t feeeeeeeeel like doing my allocated responsibilities?
I put my pajamas on, gave myself a big hug, unlocked the door and got to work. It was time to play my position in this marriage and family, because that’s what I agreed to do. And that’s what I did.
By: Davida Brown
A Nothing Box? Are you serious? That can’t be real, right? Wives, for many of our husbands it is.
A few weeks ago my husband and I were headed to one of the marriage retreats we attend annually. At one point during the drive, my husband began starring out of the window. After about 15 minutes of silence, I asked him what he was thinking about. He responded, “absolutely nothing.”
Now full disclosure here, I didn’t believe him. How could he possibly stare out of the window for 15 minutes and think about nothing. Impossible. I didn’t push though. Clearly something was on his mind and he wasn’t ready to share. I actually started to get a bit ticked because we were on our way to a marriage retreat, so this was the perfect opportunity for him to share and communicate with me. I mean that’s what we as coaches often share with our clients. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. I knew something was on his mind and the fact that he didn’t want to share it with me was upsetting. But, I let it go. This however would be on my list of topics for us to discuss in the future.
Fast forward, we’re attending a seminar at the retreat and the presenter, Mark Gungor, starts talking about the “Nothing Box.” Now I’ve heard and I know that many men have the ability to checkout at times. But a “Nothing Box”, that seemed a bit extreme. Well the presenter starts explaining how men and women’s brains are wired differently. He likened the female brain to the internet. He explained that women like to consider everything at once, go everywhere at once mentally, explore everything at once and make lots and lots of connections. We love to see how one thing can possibly relate to or be influenced by another. And we are always thinking. Well, that was 100% accurate for me. There’s not a minute in the day that I’m not thinking about something.
He then explained that men think in a very linear way and compartmentalize things. According to Gungor, everything has its own box. There’s a work box, a family box, a friend box, a chore box, etc. And, these boxes never touch. He then said that a man’s favorite box is the “Nothing Box”. It’s the box they pull out when they want to get away from everything. And when they’re in the Nothing Box, they actually think about absolutely nothing.
This was very eye-opening for me, because to this day I can’t envision how it’s actually possible to not think about anything. I looked at my husband who could immediately tell that this was new knowledge for me. He asked me why it was so surprising because he tells me all the time when he’s in his “Nothing Box”. He then asked, “So basically, you thought I was lying?”
I did. I absolutely thought my husband was lying because I couldn’t conceive that he wasn’t thinking about something. I thought about the countless hours I’d spent with female friends over the years where we talked about why our men weren’t open and weren’t sharing, all of which were triggered by a single response, “I’m not thinking about anything.”
So wives, if you ask you husband what he’s thinking about and he responds, “nothing”, accept it. A “nothing” response doesn’t have to mean he doesn’t want to talk to you, that there are problems he’s not ready to address, or that you have communication issues in your marriage. It often only means he has nothing at that point in time to say because he indeed is thinking about nothing.