Rooting Out the Weeds

>> Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hubby and I recently dived head first into Dave Ramsey's philosophies of budget and debt management. In one of his books, he says "If you are apathetic because everything seems 'just fine,' then you will be unwilling to make the huge changes needed to get huge results. ... The enemy of 'the best' is not 'the worst.' The enemy of 'the best' is 'just fine.' "

I both 100% agree with this and yet kinda disagree. When it comes to strict budgeting to eliminate debt and build wealth, he is totally right. But I am not sure this phrase applies universally. When I try to apply this philosophy to my marriage and my parenting and my relationships with my family, I start to see how it leads me down a dangerous road. Let me explain. (To be fair, Dave Ramsey is NOT applying this phrase to my marriage and mothering abilities... that is all me... and I am preaching only to myself here.)

I am an all-or-nothing kind of gal. I always read the preface of a book because either I am reading the whole book or I feel like I have cheated. I am not good at skimming or "maybe" or "we'll see how things go." I like a plan, I like things to fit in the boxes I have made for them. Things and people.
Before I was a wife or a mother, I had pretty sure ideas of what both marriage and parenthood would be like. (*wink*) My husband would always passionately pursue me, we would talk about everything and usually agree, and sex would never be dull or routine. Then would come motherhood. And I was sure that would be filled with joyous moments of watching my children grow into respectable little humans who adored me and only occasionally tested their boundaries. I am exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea.
Reality is usually different than the world I envision in my mind. Relationships too. We all know that marriage and motherhood are hard and that no one is perfect at either one. But how much mediocrity do we say is part of the reality of life and how much should we be striving for things to be "the best" or at least "better?"

It is easy for me to look at my husband and see things that I would like to change. Little behaviors or personality traits or sometimes even bigger things. It is very easy for me keep a running tally of those things in my mind and gather more and more ammunition each time.
I have this habit of taking my less-than-stellar motherhood moments and harping on them in my mind until I am convinced my boys will need therapy before they reach puberty. I have gone to great lengths to preserve my days at home with the boys and have visions of how those days should go. Yet when the boys fight and I lose my cool and we didn't get to the Advent craft I had planned, I feel disappointed and a little like I have failed them.

What I am getting at is this: My marriage could be better. My mothering could be better. My relationship with my mom and my sister could be better. But I am afraid I am paralyzing my ability to enjoy and appreciate those relationships for what they truly are by always looking at the ways they could be "better." I am not saying I don't need to work on things. I certainly do. In fact, I met with a good friend this morning for coffee who lovingly challenged me to look at my own sin of finding fault with others and how that can be so detrimental. Especially to my marriage. I am just saying that always focusing on how things "ought" to be and the ways in which my Hubby or my boys or my family need to change in order to better fit into the boxes that I have created for them might actually be hurting my ability to be content. I tell myself "if only ... blah, blah, blah." Fill in the blank. If only Hubby took more initiative. If only the boys were less wild. Whatever.
My habit of finding fault is a weed. I have to root out this weed. When such a thought pops into my head, I have to get rid of it immediately. Root it out. Don't even let it grow.
Because when you really get down to it, even though it could always be "better," my marriage is "just fine." My relationship with my boys is "just fine." My Hubby loves me and I would never doubt his loyalty. My boys are sweet and forgiving of my out-bursts and truly do adore me. We have some great times together.
This is one instance where saying things are "just fine" is not an indicator of apathy. It is an acknowledgment that we are a work in progress and might never reach "the best." But as long as we stop constantly finding fault but are still willing to see areas where we need to improve, it is better to be content and find joy in the 'just fine."

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Shannon December 6, 2010 at 7:40 AM  

My problem is that I find faults by comparing myself to others. Now, with motherhood, mom blogs have sort of assuaged some of the guilt I have about my inferiority to other moms. Like, sure there's that one woman at the library who told us her kids have only been out to breakfast once, but there are also 75 mom blogs that admit to taking their kids to McDonald's twice a week.

But with marriage, there aren't really "true confessions of a wife" blogs. Or if there are, I haven't found them. Because obviously, nobody wants to put a bunch of bad stuff about her husband on the Internet, at least not if she wants to stay married to her husband. But as a result, I get the feeling that my marriage is the only one that isn't perfect.

Adventures In Babywearing December 16, 2010 at 10:17 PM  

Ok- gosh does this speak my life. And same with that above commenter... to talk about honesty in what marriage is really like- wow that does seem to be a sensitive subject. But yeah... same here.


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