A Whole New Level Of Support

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 8.442% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

While I was away, Gini spent the entire week cleaning the house to up her standards.  Her standards are spartan; nothing on the counters but the barest of essentials, everything else put away neatly in a drawer.  The house is visibly lighter after Gini has swept through, as the sunlight has so many more open flat surfaces to reflect off of.
I do not support her in this.  And so I shall not help.
This is why our marriage works well.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to clean.  I won’t leave dishes out just to prove a point; certainly, Gini has raised my cleaning standards over the years to be more compatible with hers.  But Gini’s idea of “a nice house” is something that looks despicably barren to me, more of a show apartment than an actual home.  I like a place with a few books strewn about.
So I shall not help her in her quest to do this.  I shall not particularly stop her, either, but I won’t go out of my way to help her achieve her look.
This is a vital skill in marriage.
There’s much talk about being “supportive” in marriage, but there’s not much talk about the low support that most things actually require.  When I think of “supportive,” I think of helpful wives brightly saying, “Yes, sweetie, get out there and go exercise!  Have you biked this morning?  Here, let me help you out of your chair and get your bike out of the garage!”
Yet the majority of the stuff that Gini and I deal with can barely be called “support.”  It could, grudgingly, be called “not opposed to.”
For example, take my exercise.  Gini hates jogging, and cannot drum – so when it comes time for me to exercise, I’ve pretty much gotta do it alone.  Gini never asks whether I’ve worked out that day, doesn’t really care to know the details of my jogging/drumming unless I share them with her, and is mildly happy for me because it makes me happy…
…but other than that, she couldn’t care less.  Much like she really has no inherent interest about Magic, or videogames.  Or like I don’t really have an inherent interest about her quilting or classical music.  These activities are interesting only to the extent that we share them with each other… Yet if I never said a word about the Dark Ascension prerelease, Gini would never follow up.
This is a positive thing.  Sometimes, the best thing your spouse can do is shrug and let you do it, if you want.  Gini doesn’t need to run down to the gaming room and organize my Magic cards for me…. Because as a human, you need to learn how to be self-directed and get that shit done yourself, if it makes you happy.  Relying on your partner to constantly push you into happiness makes for a sad and work-like marriage.
There are things we do check in on; if I didn’t write for a week, Gini would be concerned.  Gini needs to have some hobby going on in her life, lest she feel awful about wasting her week on iPhone Sudoku, so I urge her to go do something if she’s been sufficiently still.  But the majority of our “support” involves “you go right ahead, and I’ll even listen if you want.”
So if Gini wants the house super-super-clean, I’m going to not be a dick about it, but I’m also not going to spend a half-hour out of a busy day in efforts to keep the house to a standard I’m not overly fond of.  Instead, I’ll simply let her do it when the urge moves her, and not actively complain about oh damn, the book I had in the place I was reading has once again moved to another room where I have to go search for it.
Such is our support: not getting in the way.
It works.

2 Comments

  1. FireRose10
    Mar 6, 2012

    I LOVE THIS!!!! It SOOO wraps up a lot of the best points in my relationship as well. Granted, I am starting to gain interest in some of his interests (video games), but I have a different style and preference than he does, so even that barely overlaps. We have both put effort into learning the jargon for the others hobbies, but that is just so we can have an intelligent response when talking about photography, glass-blowing, film, sculpture, etc… NOT because the other is expected to have an active interest in the hobby.

  2. Skennedy
    Mar 6, 2012

    When it comes to support, what I expect from a partner is to not be derisive about what I am passionate for (which is, frankly, a lot). To encourage me to do what I like, even if they’re not into it, preferably not while making me feel bizarre for liking it. And, to some extent, if I am super excited about something I think is important, to at least give a shot at listening.
    And in exchange, I try not to go on too much about details that I think she can’t relate to, and engage her in things that are ‘common ground’. I don’t expect her to pretend to be interested or to enjoy something that is purely mine, but I expect her to put something into a conversation I really want to have with her. And, of course, I try to do the same in return.
    When we have a common thing that we both want to do, but is challenging for us to do frequently, I appreciate someone who will give me a nudge to the extent that they also desire that nudging – mothering and nagging is very uncool, but “Hey I’m thinking of going to the gym tonight, want to join?” is awesome and positive, especially for a forgetful person like myself. Obviously, these are things we do together, though.
    As far as cleaning goes, my personal belief is that everyone in a household has to participate in maintaining it somewhere shy of hoarder status. Everyone has different comfort levels, and so there may be negotiation. I put in more effort than I might otherwise to ease her comfort and anxiety, and if she wants to take it all the way up to spotless, that is something she can (and sometimes does) do.
    We’ve found that having a specific place for things, including books being read, or current magazines, or the mail, really seems to help – it both feels less cluttered and more accessible than shoving everything in bookcases. It might just be the upper left corner of the coffeetable.
    Of course, that’s just us.

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