Wednesday, 15 February 2012

February's Happiness

For the month of February, Gretchen Rubin (author of the Happiness Project, which I'm re-reading) writes about love.  She focuses specifically on her marriage, but also describes throwing an elaborate birthday party for her mother-in-law.  It amused me that she referred to her pre-party nerves as 'hostess neurosis'. 

She says she wondered whether being so focused on her own happiness was selfish, but then research shows that happy people are more forgiving, helpful, charitable, tolerant and have better self-control.  So, I gather a happy person is easier to live with than one who is unhappy.   Another quote I loved (her book is full of research findings and quotations) came from Oscar Wilde: 

One is not always happy when one is good; but one is always good when one is happy.

Her weekly goals included
- Quit nagging
- Don't expect praise or appreciation
- Fight right
- No dumping
- Give proofs of love

I know I nag Bill when I find that the 'clean' dishes aren't really clean, but I sometimes miss spots, too (so he nags me back!)  I'm beginning to wonder if we 'need' an automatic dishwasher, or just a special light over the sink?  It would be nice to have more compliments on my cooking, but if he doesn't say something I really liked was good then I'm happy to say so myself.  I'm just grateful that he eats 99% of things without complaint.   As Gretchen discovered was important, most of what I do around this house I do for my own benefit, because I want to or believe it is my responsibility.   If I discover that I resent doing something very much and I can't find a way to change my attitude, I generally just stop doing it!

We never have fought very much.  I truly believe life is too short for such nonsense.  However, we are still getting adjusted to both being retired and sharing the same space virtually 24/7.  Well, eight rooms including the kitchen and garage but not the bathroom (cause we don't share it).  I'm looking at the size of this house and asking 'How hard can it be?'  I did a bit of internet research about adjusting to retirement and found a women's support group that had me in stitches, also counting my blessings; Bill is nothing like any of these men (which is why he is still alive, because I'm not like most of those women either!).  It did me a world of good to put things into a better perspective.  I think we've always been able to 'fight right', ie about a specific issue, not every grievance that ever occurred all at the same time, and without 'You always/never' accusations.  In my view those are teenage tactics; grown ups have discussions.

Regrettably, I did practically nothing but dump on Bill (about my problems at work) for years.  It is testament to his character that he didn't just murder me and tell God I died.  I might have in his place.  It was really Bill's request for this not to continue that caused me to make the leap from work to retirement.  It didn't seem sane to keep at a job that not only made me miserable but him as well.  Best decision I ever made.

As for giving proofs of love, I think we're pretty good about that, though not generally in the way of wildly dramatic and romantic gestures.  I bought him a Valentine's card and he took me out to dinner, which was lovely, as we seldom go out.

Did you do anything special for Valentine's with your sweetie?


Beryl said...

I got my Sweetie a clothes steamer for Valentine's Day. It's always been lovely to have a husband who does all his own, as well as his children's ironing, so I decided to make it a little easier for him. I don't know if he'll like it, since he's on a business trip. That's another nice thing I did for him for Valentine's Day - I didn't give him a hard time about being away this week. Every few years, some silly engineering organzation will notice that the second week in February is free for putting on a trade show. It's never a very good show, since they have underestimated Valentine's Day as a reason for husbands staying home. They try for a few years and then give up and move the trade show to summer. So I should have my husband home next year for Valentine's Day.

Shelley said...

Beryl, You are blessed that your husband irons. Mine does, too! Sad that he had to be away this year, then again I've always counted Valentine's as a *small* holiday, not like Thanksgiving or Christmas. That said, Bill actually thinks New Years Eve is more important than Christmas, but I think he convinced himself it was because he worked Christmas to let colleagues with small children stay home. Anyhow, I hope he likes the steamer!

BigLittleWolf said...

So often, the best romantic gestures are the same sorts of things that true friends do for one another - signs of caring and attentiveness.

A man who pays attention to what matters to me, who picks up on moods, who offers a hand when I'm tired or down? The awareness and acting on it is a gift - and in my mind - romantic.

As for the truisms around goodness and happiness, I've seen far too many exceptions to buy into it. In particular, those who are happy, and far from "good" by any definition.

Rick Stone said...

I took new flowers down to the cemetery. (My blog entry tells about the day.) Shed a few tears and felt sorry for myself. Not one of my better days.

Suburban Princess said...

My husband gave me chocolates and a mug :O)

Even if what one's partner does is for their own almost always benefits the other person. There's no reason he shouldn't compliment your cooking!

Shelley said...

BLW, I see your last point clearly, now you point it out. I, too, have seen people who looked happy and weren't very nice. On the other hand, I'm not sure how nice Oscar Wilde could be considered. I should read more about him as I enjoyed reading about his niece, Dolly.

Rick, So sorry you had a bad day. Given the circumstances I can't see you having a great one. I know Joanne will have appreciated every single rose you gave her while she was living, so give yourself a pat on the back for those.

SP, If the mug is pretty, you will enjoy drinking from it; I always do. Chocolates aren't my thing, but I know many women love them (note to self: get Bill chocolates next year - he loves them!). I might get more compliments, or I might not. No matter, I enjoy cooking for us.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I need to go read the posts on the forum. One of my biggest fears about retirement is being around one another 24/7.

Shelley said...

Terri, It is a serious problem that I've yet to figure out. I can't even begin to explain it here. It's not about housework or money, but about space and privacy. A person's need for solitude can cause ripples of hurt and resentment in those without that need.