Living the "mom life" is often a fast-paced whirlwind of activity, so sometimes it can…
Let me start by saying how much I love when a seemingly simple life experience turns into a big a-ha moment. I always marvel at the big messages I get in some of the most mundane moments. For this to make sense, I have to tell you that I love to travel. However, I hate to pack and disdain unpacking even more, but traveling is absolutely wonderful. Who knew that I would have such an epiphany triggered by hangers as I was prepping for a recent trip!? Yeah, I know – weird.
Recently I was packing for a family camping trip. We were excited that it was the first time we would be camping at a real campground for a few nights. Up to that point, we have only “roughed it” in the tent for one night at our local zoo. Granted zoo camping doesn’t even take a full 24 hours. It’s perfect for the people who aren’t big fans of camping (me!!).
With my camping checklist in hand, I had started gathering all of the supplies we would need for this trip. There was an excitement in the house. Well, until I started packing my clothes while my husband was getting his clothes simultaneously. Then the excitement faded into frustration.
Here’s how I do it…
We organize our clothes by hanging them in our closet. So, my method for packing is to go in to the closet and gently gather each piece of clothing that I will be taking. I then proceed to the bed where our luggage is usually spread wide and will fold each piece of clothing, placing it neatly in the bag.
Here’s how he does it…
My husband has an entirely different approach. In full transparency, it’s one of my biggest packing pet peeves. He goes in to select his clothing and removes the article of clothing while still ON the hanger. Gasp! When he is finished, he has a big pile of shirts that are laying horizontal, yet still ON the hangers! From the pile, the hangers are then removed. Each piece of clothing is folded and placed neatly in the bag. Here’s the kicker, the hangers are left in a messy pile on the bed or on the floor nearby.
After having taken many trips together, I have consistently expressed my view of his packing method. Simply put, I see it as a ridiculous approach. What is the big deal in taking the darn shirts OFF the hanger while still in the closet. Seriously?
So, as I was re-voicing my opinion about this for the one hundred fifty seven thousandth time, he said, “ What? I like to pack this way. If I change my mind on any piece of clothing, it’s already on the hanger to be hung back up in the closet”. And while I had never thought of it this way and was so glad he finally shared this perspective with me, a bigger breakthrough came to me.
Cue the lightbulbs!
Epiphany 1: There is more than one way to pack a bag and THAT’S OK
It’s no secret to me that my husband and I are very different. We have varying approaches to just about everything. In this moment, that fact was really irritating me. However, it’s usually what is super good about our relationship. I love how he thinks and shows me things I wouldn’t usually see without his point of view. From the bottom of my heart, I love how he analyzes and calculates things that I don’t even notice sometimes. Most of all, I love that no matter what, we are one hell of a team.
His strengths complement my weaknesses and same goes for mine to his. So what if he likes to leave the shirts ON the hangers for an additional few minutes while deciding what clothes he will really take on our trip?! It really doesn’t matter at all. I can loosen my grip on how I feel things should be happening and let him do his thing. Why is this such a big deal for me anyway?
Epiphany 2: There is space for both of us to be right
The second and biggest thing I realized in that moment is that there was space for us to BOTH be right. Of course I like the way I pack the suitcase and he likes the way that he does it. I don’t have to agree with his packing strategies, and he doesn’t have to agree with mine. We can both work together on packing without one of us being wrong. He doesn’t have to be wrong for me to right and vice versa. I don’t have to prove him wrong or convince him to do it my way. Who says that my way is necessarily better anyway for him when his brain works differently than mine?
Often times in marriage there are gray areas like this. There are moments that our spouse will annoy us by doing things in a way that aren’t how we would do them. You know what? That’s totally ok. It’s actually guaranteed to happen in marriage. Choosing to be happy is almost always better than choosing to be right in situations like this. It’s easier for me to change how I see this situation, not getting so annoyed by the hangers than it would be for me to try and convince my husband to change his lifelong method of packing.
The best tool that I have found to combat this type of annoyance that pops up with dumb stuff from time to time is appreciation.
What does that look like? Well, I might ask myself some questions. What can I focus on in a different way to see what I readily appreciate about my husband? I could choose to focus on how glad I am I get to spend the next few days with my family on a new adventure. I can start to run down the list of what I’m happy about and it will automatically shift my focus from how annoying the hangers are to how wonderful my weekend away will be. After all, do I really want to choose to be annoyed by some dumb hangers?
What are ways that you like to handle annoying stuff your spouse does?