Sometimes, you really just need to take a break from the routine and check in on each other.
Since being back in Arizona, Camaron has started his new job, and I've gotten back into the stay-at-home parent routine. There are a lot of wonderful things about being back, but not everything has been great or easy. I knew Camaron had been bummed about not moving back to DC, especially since his new job really lacks in comparison to the enjoyment he felt at his last one. And I knew there wasn't much I could do about it. The more I tried to help, it just felt like I was being annoying or getting in the way. And I knew Camaron was holding back a lot whenever we talked about feelings or anything remotely deep. And I knew I was lacking in a lot of important parts of our marriage. These were things I "knew," but not things we ever actually "talked" about.
I have an uncontrollable tendency to cry whenever faced with stressful situations. It's the most embarrassing thing ever and I hate it and I wish so so hard that there was I way I could manage it somehow. For all of my life so far though, that hasn't been the case. Because of my uncontrolled emotions, I tend to avoid stressful/emotional topics when speaking to others ...including my own husband. Camaron has gotten in the habit of avoiding bringing up stressful topics too, to help keep me from having breakdowns. But all of this avoidance put us in a relationship rut. We would wake up each day, play with the kids and eat breakfast and get ready for the day, Cam would go to work, we'd text a little, he'd come home, we'd play with the kids, eat dinner, put kids to sleep, watch a few shows together until we were falling asleep, then head to bed, and kiss goodnight. I liked our routine, but the avoidance had been feeling more and more obvious and last night, I just felt prompted to finally do something about it.
I sat down and made a list. Here is what I wrote:
Things we're doing well together
Things we're doing well individually
Things we like about each other
Things we can improve
Things we can work on this week
Things we can work on this month
Things we can work on this year
We went through each topic together after the kids went to sleep and wrote down everything. I cried, of course, but we all knew that would happen. But it was so good. We finally got everything out in the open and were able to make plans for how we could make things better. And we plan to check in and do it again next month:) Honestly, I had seen relationship inventories like this one before (mine's not really anything special), but I avoided doing them mostly because I didn't want to hear my faults said out loud. I'm such a wimp. But it really wasn't that bad. I prepared myself and reminded Camaron that I respond best when criticism is worded carefully. And he was so great. I'm so glad I finally just buckled down and talked it all out. It's so easy to get in those ruts where a relationship really feels like it has stopped progressing. Routines are great, but it was so so great to be able to pause and check in on each other.
Have you ever done something like this when it felt like you were in a relationship rut? What other ways have helped you or have you heard are good solutions?