I know it doesn’t make for great reading, but let me brag about my wife for just a moment. This weekend was quite busy for me.
On Saturday Elysha, Clara and I went to breakfast with one of my former students before we headed back home to play with Clara before her nap. At 1:00 I left for a wedding and didn’t return until 10:00 that evening.
On Sunday, Elysha, Clara and I went to breakfast again before I left at 10:00 for a Patriots game and did not return until 11:00 that night.
In short, I did not see my family much this weekend.
As I was getting ready to leave for the game on Sunday, I told Elysha how much I was going to miss her and Clara. “Even though I’m going to have fun at the game, I‘m going to miss you guys and feel bad about being gone all weekend.”
Elysha immediately responded by telling me that she was happy that I was going to spend the day with my friends in Foxboro and that I deserved to have some football fun after working so hard. “Don’t feel bad at all,” she said. “Have fun.”
I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is.
Even though Clara is an easy baby and a generally happy kid, Elysha spent most of the weekend taking care of her without any help, and yet she didn’t possess an ounce of resentment as a result. She was genuinely happy for me and wanted to be sure that I left for the game without an ounce of guilt or regret.
“Have fun,” she proclaimed. “Don’t worry about a thing.”
This is less common than you might expect.
Lee Trevino once said:
My wife doesn't care what I do when I'm away, as long as I don't have a good time.
This is obviously not a universal sentiment amongst all or even most wives, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard feelings like this expressed from both husbands and wives, and the statement has a ring of truth to it. Even in the best of marriages, I hear these feelings expressed from time to time, and in some of the worst marriages, the amount of time that a spouse spends away from the home having fun is often traded with the ferocity of two kids trading baseball cards.
You went out on Monday, so I’m going out on Thursday.
Last weekend you played golf. This weekend I am going to the spa.
You spent almost $100 on dinner with your friends last week, so I’m going shopping.
While equity in a marriage is important, this kind of horse-trading of time and money invariably leads to distance, anger and resentment. And it’s more common than you might think.
Elysha and I prevent this pettiness from ever entering our minds because we are genuinely and enthusiastically happy when either one of us has a good time.
Again, I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is.
For example, as much as I would have liked to have stayed home with Clara during her first eighteen months in this world, I went back to work and never resented a minute of Elysha’s time at home with our baby. I have incredibly happy that she and Clara had that time together, even if it meant that I had to work twice as hard to make it happen. While I would have loved to join them for those first eighteen months at home, that’s the difference between envy and resentment.
“I wish I were you” is very different from “I‘m mad that you are you.”
To top things off, I arrived home last night to find two enormous piles of leaves piled up on the edge of the street in front of my house, ready for pickup. This was a job that I had planned to do on Friday when all of the lunatics were crowding the streets and stores for Black Friday. Instead, Elysha hired two former students who recently launched a lawn care business and paid them in a combination of cash and the bartering of services to start and finish my fall cleanup.
And because I told her that I didn’t want to pay anyone to do this job, she purposely spent no money this weekend, shifting all of the funds that she would have used to go out with Clara to taking care of this job for me.
While I was chowing on steaks and watching football with my buddies, my wife sacrificed large parts of her weekend to surprise me, and did it all with a smile on her face and happiness in her heart.
Perhaps you are as lucky as I am to be in this kind of relationship, and if you are, congratulations.
It’s a rare thing, indeed.