I posted last week about how I was frustrated that I wasn't making my personal projects a priority amidst all the other things I needed to do and wanted to do. While lack of time is certainly part of the explanation -- I'm at work 8 hours, plus 3 hours total commuting each workday -- this didn't seem like a complete enough explanation. After all, there are days where I find myself just wasting time online or looking for things to do, yet I don't start on those projects. Why not?
I started thinking about this fact: When Mike is gone for the evening, I get a LOT accomplished. I embark on large-scale projects that I wouldn't normally do, like cleaning the kitchen. In fact, I was starting to worry, now that he's unemployed, that I wouldn't have these uninterrupted blocks of time anymore. So I asked myself, why does that matter? Why does he have to be gone for me to do anything?
(I should probably note at this point that this is not intended as a criticism of my husband, but rather a look at my own less-than-ideal reactions to being home with him.)
I came up with three reasons:
- When Mike is gone, I have the ability to surprise him. That is part of the reason I do things like clean the kitchen. I am thinking, "Won't it be a nice surprise for him to get home and find the kitchen clean?" When he's home, if I'm cleaning the kitchen and he's sitting on the computer playing video games, I'm more likely to think, "Why am I doing this work while he's just sitting there?" This also opens up the possibility that he would comment on how I'm doing something, which would make me really annoyed. Not that he would, I'm just overly sensitive to the possibility.
- Mike makes a lot of noise when he is in a good mood. He sings, whistles, hums, laughs, and wants to tell me all the great ideas that go through his head every 2 minutes. This caused a big problem on the days I was working from home last summer because it made it very difficult to accomplish anything. Since we live in a small apartment, there's not really anywhere I can go that's separate from him, plus he gets upset if I shut myself in the bedroom to get away from him. So when I'm home from work, it's easier to do mindless things than try to work on something that requires concentration. OK, maybe this one is on him. But I can't really begrudge him being cheerful or wanting to be with me, right?
- Mike and I spend a lot of evenings doing our own thing on our separate computers. I always feel vaguely guilty about this, like we should be making the most of the time we have together before we have kids, so when he suggests doing something (playing a board game, watching a movie, etc.) I feel compelled to drop what I'm doing to spend time with him. He tends to be spontaneous about these things and sometimes gets annoyed if I agree to do something but don't want to do it immediately, because he is in the mood to do it immediately. I realized that the upshot of this pattern was that I was avoiding involving myself in anything that couldn't be wrapped up within 10 minutes. Starting up something that involved spreading out papers on the floor or otherwise settling in for a solid period of work would make me feel like I was isolating myself from him and rejecting in advance any suggestions he might have for things we could do together.
Has anyone else run into this problem of sacrificing actual accomplishment time for potential partner time? Do you have any other re-framing suggestions?