John and Janae Marriage Excellence: Promises


One of the most valuable things in my marriage has been the Meyers Briggs Test. My brother in law Pete would probably scoff at this but his favorite test says I have very low agreeableness so I don't care. You see John is a P and I am a J. What does this mean? I will tell you what it means- it means that we fight.
Well we don't like to fight but this small difference has lead to marital strife. You see I like to talk about things and think we have a plan. John likes to talk about possibilities. He throws out ideas but doesn't feel tied down to a schedule.
This has lead to a lot of broken promises, I've got to tell you. Like the promise that he would hang up the shelf in the garage. Or the promise that he would use the dremel to file the dogs nails. no wait, that is a different topic- Times I was right. (see the future post on predicting failure: if you do it enough you will be right eventually) Anyway I would think we had a plan and he wouldn't. John volunteered to do all sorts of improvement and household tasks.
and I waited for them to get done.
and waited.
and nagged.
until finally one day I realized John had no idea he had promised to do them at all. This happened while we were talking about our plans.

one thing that will make you feel stupid is getting your feelings hurt and your spouse being totally shocked that you didn't tell them a few months later. Or years later, in my parent's case.
realizing that John wasn't intending to promise these things didn't actually make it better- the real resolution and the real marital plan: the day John asked me exactly what I wanted him to do. Most of the time this is a really annoying habit- but this time it was different- I realized that John couldn't possibly make it to his final and get the dog groomed and do the dishes and take Danielle to the park and clean the basement and call the insurance company and go the gym and take me on a date like he had "promised" for that day.
From then on John wanted an itemized list. I am thrilled that he is finally on board with the lists solving every life problem- but that is not what will propel your marriage into excellence.
The magic comes from the list I made. John told me he only had so many hours in the day. your spouse also only has so many hours. Write them down.
now write down all the things they have to do- 8 hours of work and a little time for eating.
Now write down the "promises" your spouse has made. Basically take out a day planner and write "my dream spouse" at the top. Then write what your dream spouse would do all day. Some of you will be so hopelessly out of touch with household tasks that this will be difficult. Go clean a bathroom- then you will know how much time to block out for your spouse to clean a bathroom. Add about 10 minutes every hour for "transition" time. This can include driving from one place to another or going to the bathroom or taking a break. It is said that after an hour the brain needs a break from learning. My friend always wants her husband to work out so she should write it in the schedule. schedule everything.
What would your ideal spouse do? Mine would send me something in the mail, vacuum (or PUT LAUNDRY AWAY), work out, do the dishes, make love, take Danielle to a class, and do something in the yard. and of course all that other studying stuff you have to do in school. Or work, as the case may be.
According to the rough schedule I came up with the first time, my ideal husband actually doesn't sleep. I've always thought that sleeping was a waste of energy, and my schedule confirmed it.

Scheduling promises can help you realize a few things.
1. it seems like everyone lies about what they will do in their marriage.
2. if you really want something done you have to write it down.
3. my non sleeping spouse would be awesome.
4. If you never manage to do any of the things on your spouse's list, you probably suck. Marital excellence is based on people who want to be good at this- and that means work, idiot.

now that you have your idea spouse, prioritize them. it's really helped me to prioritize what John can do.


but I'm still writing it all in my "promises" notebook, even if it is impossible.

Carlie Madsen (July 17, 2010 at 10:29 AM)  

I blamed Matt's not calling me and telling me he was coming home on the reason I couldn't make dinner last night...then, we went to Chiptotle. I was happy. I should try blaming more of my domestic failures on my husband. Maybe we will get a housekeeper then :)

rjs (July 24, 2010 at 9:12 AM)  

I laughed out loud as I read this. I also felt a little sadness as I remembered sometimes learning years after the fact that I had inadvertantly hurt your mother's feelings. But I was very pleased to read that you and John seem to have a system that works for you. Women should remember that they cannot put the dots close enough to each other for men to connect them by themselves--you need to connect the dots for us. Then we will someimes skip sleep to do what you want us to do.

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