What’s your choice?
Jay & Laura Laffoon wrote an email celebrating the birth of their granddaughter.
In it they talk about a change in their paradigm and thinking. As parents you “have to” as grandparents you “get to” . They go on “we get to hold her, change her, feed her, clothe her, etc. The same paradigm shift applies to your marriage.
You don’t “have to” have conversations. You “get to” have conversations! You don’t “have to” solve problems, you “get to” have conversations!
You don’t “have to” have sex. You “get to” have sex!”
They end saying, “your paradigm, your choice”.
What is a a choice you can make to shift in one of your paradigms and better yourself and/or serve your spouse? To increase your emotional connection with your spouse?
DH and I actually discussed this very thing awhile ago. For both of us, sex was getting to be almost a chore. I would tell him that tonight was our scheduled sex night and we decided we needed to do something. But we changed the thinking to ” oh good, tonight is sex night. We get to do something”. Actually, I changed my thinking first and DH eventually followed with his. It does make a difference.
I really can relate to the parenting vs grandparenting thing! Can’t wait for #2 to get here any day!
Okay, the literalist in me is having issues 😉 ….. I “have to” doesn’t work with me…. I don’t “have to” do anything, and there’s enough rebel/strength in me, to make sure I am never in that position. I “have to” takes away choice, and I am a firm believer in that we always have a choice. I “need to” relates better to me. I know what my husband needs. I know what my marriage needs. I sometimes I know what I need. I get the choice on whether I am going to fulfill that need or not. And I understand the concept, what’s going to be my attitude around it…. a dreaded obligation or a joyous one? And will I, or can I, turn that “need” into a “want”?
Now to answer the actual questions….
“What is a a choice you can make to shift in one of your paradigms and better yourself and/or serve your spouse?”
I need to remember what I like about sex, what benefits I get out of it, what it does for me…and that may help with the “want”, which in turn fulfills my husbands “wants” and “needs”.
“To increase your emotional connection with your spouse?”
I think for me, it’s been recognizing and appreciating the gift he truly is.
I think the theme NWLW and Scott discussed, about missing one when they are gone, mixed with my own experience of long waiting periods indicates that maybe the attitude shift comes down to gratefulness. I was afraid I would never find a man who would love me, and when I did, we spent five years fighting teenage hormones and avoiding pre-marital sex by the skin of our teeth, the grace of God, and taking turns saying no. By the time we married, it was definitely about “get to!” and we have kind of kept that theme in some ways. He has mentioned to me many times that he likes that he “gets to” touch my “boobies” (he and NWNL are apparently two of a kind!) whenever he wants and I have never stopped feeling that little spark of pride when we go out somewhere to think, “we just did it and no one knows it!”
Same with the premise of the article; when you wait for children for twelve years, it’s not just about “get to”, but “how much longer will I get to?” and “gee I wish that part had lasted a little longer, since I won’t get to again”.
But I agree with the point, since today I bemoaned deep cleaning my gas range because I saw a mouse come up beside one burner unit, when I should have been thinking, “I have a home of my own and I get to stay home and take care of it and I have a well-equipped (if small) kitchen and I get to cook for my family in it!”
I think we are always more grateful for the things we are most aware of how it feels to be without.
To answer the core question, then, I think I can be more grateful for the opportunities I have to be a homemaker and maybe then I will be excited to cook dinner when it comes time to do it because I am so happy to be blessed with enough food and good cooking equipment and a husband who appreciates the meals I cook; rather than thinking, “oh, man! It’s time to cook dinner–again! It sure is a pain to have to do this EVERY night!” Then he will get my best–better, more exciting, healthier meals–rather than me throwing the bare minimum together. This will automatically increase our emotional connection because he is a gifts of service LL person, and he will feel very loved when I am more consistent about providing good meals for him.
Also, just contemplating the many reasons I’m grateful just to have him in my life makes me want to serve him and bless him more.
I think I need to focus (intently and purposefully!) more on being grateful.
To me this is rooted in selflessness, or surrender to Christ and God’s much bigger story that we are only but small-part players in. Nothing good that comes to me is outside of His grace and mercy. So like a kid at Christmas, I don’t deserve presents or simply (in a quid-pro-quo) get presents because I am alive and it is Christmas. Instead my heart is rewired, to understand I get those things because someone loves me, and sacrifices something for me. Of course, we see this in the Cross. But also in marriage, sex is amazing and a gift, the depths of which seem unending, that is way to good to relegate to simply a ‘have to’, or ‘need to’. Granted I am a sinner, and so I will still slip into this mindset when attacked by my flesh, but otherwise sex is absolutely a ‘get to’. To me its like when I was kid. I never asked my parents to go the park and then said, I ‘have to’ (or I wouldn’t have asked!) – no, it becomes “I get to go to the park! woohoo!” To me, sex is like the ultimate recreation (and intimate) fun thing God gave us as married couples, and so now..”I get to have sex! woohoo!”. Of course, we are human too, and sometimes that selfishness, will creep back in, and I ‘have to’. But I suppose that is true for just about everything in this life..
Some great comments in this thread, thanks for the heart reminders this morning!
The “have to” vs “get to” dynamic is indeed a huge attitude shift that can be applied to almost every aspect of life – and shifting from one direction to the other can go both ways. As a friend of mine told me he lost weight by shifting his thinking about food. He went from “living to eat” (get to) to “eating to live” (have to).
Perhaps one of the most applicable places for this, that can trickle down into all of life, is “I have to go to church” to “I get to go to church.” It will certainly affect what you gain from the experience. I would say the same is true with sex in marriage. It would be a great goal for the lower drive person to look into their attitude and seek to move from “have to” to “get to.” It can be an actual big hill, or a mountain made from a mole hill.
But there is a dig. At some point in a relationship, there will inevitably some feeling of obligation present. Even in church scenario, in order to reach the “get to” phase, one most always has some underlying “have to” obligatory motivation, otherwise , it is too easy for the things of the world to draw you away. Same goes for sex in my estimation. Without the underlying understanding that this is something that should be taking place, it will be more difficult to reach the positive “get to” vibe.
I can tell you from my experience though, in relation to how my children’s grandparents act/react – you can quickly change that “get to” to a negative if you force the “have to” on them. I want to have grandkids, but I do NOT want to raise them. If that burden were cast upon me, I would adapt and love, but it’s not preferred or what I raised my own kids to do. Heck, I’m ready for them to get out of the house NOW so me and momma can get freaky again! LOL
So same for sex – if you force the “have to” you will derail the possibility of “get to” – at least most of the time.
“What is a choice you can make to shift in one of your paradigms and better yourself and/or serve your spouse? To increase your emotional connection with your spouse?”
Upon thinking about this question, it occurred to me that as far as sex is concerned, all I can do is work on making every interaction as positive and easy and pleasing as possible – emphasis on “easy”- for my wife’s sake. But a change of attitude to “get to” for her is totally in her court. All I can do is make the game easy for her to win, making the right thing easy. It’s the making the wrong thing hard that is tricky and fraught with pitfalls as far as sex is concerned. But if you don’t make ignoring the elephant uncomfortable, then ignoring it will be the default – unless there is some obligatory “have to” present – which take me back to my first post….
if you force the “have to” you will derail the possibility of “get to” – at least most of the time.
That’s why I deliberately asked the question, “what is a choice YOU CAN make…”. My spouse can’t make me go on a walk with her, that’s my choice…and MY attitude and feelings can change with MY decision.
I can’t help change my DW’s choice to not help picking up my socks when I miss a shot in dirty laundry basketball despite my great than 50% shot percentage. I have even suggested to her that someday she might wish she could pick up my misses one more time because I’m gone rather than complaining or ignoring it. That appears to have not worked yet…but it is motivating me to go on walks with her more. (Well that, and I’ve gained the Covid 19 and now need to work it off and then some.) 😀
A positive attitude is always good. But unless both people see matters in the same way it’s unlikely to change things. Sometimes you feel like you get to do something, other times you feel it’s an obligation. I am not certain if that is a switch you are always able to switch.