Thursday, July 28, 2011
If at first you don’t succeed (Joanne’s comment)
Rob and Celia have taken different perspectives about work. For Rob, it has always been about provision and security. His chosen field, accounting, will come through for him. Celia, by contrast, chose music education, a combination of passion and mission. Rob has resented that Celia did not appear to value earning ability and Celia has resented that Rob has not sufficiently respected what she considers a call to her field. I appreciate Celia’s choice right now. She is not walking away from either her passion or mission; rather, she is responding realistically to the job market by looking for work that is either temporary or supplemental. Rob is similarly responding realistically by accepting part time work to supplement. In his way, this is how he is showing support to Celia’s music career. Flexibility—one of the best gifts a spouse can give.
Monday, July 25, 2011
If at first you don’t succeed…
Starbucks called Rob for an interview, but so far, they have not called Celia.
Rob was driving home after his Starbucks interview. Robin, the night shift manager, had offered him the chance to work twenty hours a week over three shifts, two weekday evenings and one longer weekend shift. There was one catch. As low man on the barista totem pole, he would not get to predict his schedule. Robin would add him after she had scheduled the other employees. Rob would get his schedule only a few days in advance.
Oh well. This was easier than worrying about money all the time.
Frankly, though, he dreaded telling Celia the news. This was just the sort of thing that would make her feel inadequate and guilty and make her less inclined to try to find a real job. Rob realized was driving home more slowly than he would otherwise.
However, and surprisingly, he need not have worried. Celia met him at the door, wearing a pretty summer dress and apron. The aroma of her latest culinary creation wafted from the kitchen; it was definitely Italian.
“Guess what I did today?” she said, holding a wooden spoon in her hand.
Rob shook his head that he had no idea, because really, he could not figure out what this was about.
“You inspired me. Even though you already have a full time job, you’re willing to take on an additional part time one for the sake of us. So, I put in applications for every job I saw online today that I thought might have a vague interest in me.”
Celia took his hand – he was immobilized on the doormat—and pulled him across the threshold. “Not just music jobs,” she continued. “Every receptionist, waitress, and nanny job in Columbus now has an application from me.”
Rob let her words sink in because this was a significant change from her previous inclination; she was committed to being stubborn about using her college degree because music education mattered. Although he hated to admit it, this had put a wall between them. He wanted – needed, maybe – for her to be at least as proactive as he was about their finances.
He was flooded with relief that he was not, in fact, the only grown up in his marriage.
What does Rob say?
Monday, July 18, 2011
The Waiting Game
Rob and Celia discovered they had both submitted applications – separately—to Starbucks, each hoping to close the financial gap until Celia finds a full-time job. Celia fears Rob will resent her even more if he works a second job, but Rob made it clear that if it meant he would worry less about money, it would be worth it.
Job boards searched, check. Follow up calls made, check. Networking emails sent, check. As she had been doing all month, Celia spent the first hour of the day on her current job, which was to look for a full time job. Though the process itself was discouraging, observing it routinely provided rhythm and stability as well as something to share with Rob when he got home, to show him she was trying.
Next, she moved on to promoting her private piano lessons. She updated her Craigslist ad and started a Celia Benson Piano Lessons page on Facebook. She sent Rob the link so he could be the first to “like” it. Few parents started their children on lessons over the summer, though; but perhaps some would file the info for fall. Meanwhile, she had about six lessons a week scheduled for the rest of the summer.
Her phone rang. “Hi handsome,” she said to her husband. Their marriage, strangely, had flourished in recent weeks following Rob’s confession of his resentment, her embrace of the food-and-sex route to Rob’s heart as a compensation for failing to provide sufficient income along with a new commitment to getting a job, and the realization they could both be more flexible in their responses to the current state of their financial affairs.
“Did you get a call?” Rob said.
“Starbucks. They just called me in for an interview.”
Celia did not respond as the news dripped into her psyche. “No, I didn’t get a call.”
“I’m meeting the late shift manager at 6:30 this evening,” he went on.
“Great,” Celia said, but it did not sound like she meant it. “I mean, it is great that you got called. I wish I had been called, too.” Discouragement threatened to flood her – it was already flowing fast.
“I figured they called you, too,” he said. “I’ll mention you at my interview.”
What does Celia do next?
Monday, July 11, 2011
Will the bucks be Starbucks?
Since Rob had voiced his anxiety and resentment over Celia’s underemployment, she had been intentional about approaching the situation differently. This culminated with Celia asking Rob, “Guess what I did today?”
“What?” Rob said, taking a long sip of the mint-sprigged lemonade she had just handed him. As Rob waited expectantly for her answer, suddenly Celia felt small and vulnerable. She turned back to the counter to finish composing the peach salsa to garnish the pork chops she was about to grill. Little as she had to offer Rob in any concrete way, it seemed like sex and food were the only means she had to contribute to the flourishing of this partnership. She had been doing her best on both fronts while exploring other means.
“I put in an application at the Starbucks on the corner,” she said.
There was a long pause.
“Really?” Rob said, somewhat stupidly, she thought. Like this had never crossed his mind. “That’s funny,” he continued. “I did, too.”
Celia’s mind ground to a halt and her hands stopped, knife poised in mid-air, over the cilantro she was chopping. This was not the response she was expecting. She turned to Rob with her mouth open. “You put in an application at Starbucks?”
“Maybe we can work there together,” he said, smirking, so she knew he was joking.
“What? Are you getting laid off?” she said. Rob took the knife from her hand and set it on the cutting board.
“No, nothing like that. I just figured I could earn some extra money while you’re job hunting,” he said.
“But you already work so much,” Celia said. “That’s not fair that you would work two jobs while I work, like, half of one.” She turned back to the knife and cilantro and began to chop again. “You would just resent me even more if you worked that much.”
“This isn’t about resentment, Celia,” Rob said. He looked thoughtful for a moment. “This is about trying to take charge of something that makes me feel constantly out of control. I don’t care who earns extra money if it means I don’t have to worry about the bills all the time. Besides, it wouldn’t be forever. Just for a few months.”
Just talking about it made Rob seem lighter and happier to Celia, and this relieved some of the burden she had been carrying, too.
What happens next?
Monday, July 04, 2011
What is the fastest way to a man’s heart
Rob and Celia have figured out that if their marriage is going to remain resilient over time, they are going to have to separate their issues from their love. So while they are still in turmoil over Celia’s earning ability as a music teacher, they are trying to remain connected using whatever means they have at their disposal.
Celia’s job at the afterschool program at her church had ended last week. Rob was curious how she would respond to the extra time on her hands, hoping she would be intentional about finding work, any kind of work, while she waited to hear if any full-time teaching jobs opened up for fall.
Meanwhile, she seemed to have decided that the best way to Rob’s heart was through his stomach. Rob was not sure if this had something to do with learning that his office mate Lucy cooked for her boyfriend Rocco every night, but she had been surfing the internet for recipes and testing them on him. He tried to enjoy this – and he did, up to a point. Rob realized he could never lighten up when his ducks weren’t in a row, and until he knew that until they could meet their expenses, pay Celia’s school loan, save for a house, save for retirement, and fund the occasional small trip somewhere besides their parents’ homes, there was a part of him that couldn’t fully enjoy anything. Most
months they got by on the basics, but a couple of months recently they had used the credit card to float groceries and other essentials.
This meant that Rob had not fully relaxed since their wedding, and he began to wonder how long he could manage the chronic low-level anxiety he lived with. Since their marital breakdown in the kitchen, when Rob had voiced his resentment about Celia and money and they had ended up in bed as a result, Celia had been initiating sex with more frequency. Between the sex and the meals, part of Rob thought he would enjoy making a lot of money and funding a trophy wife; and Celia might like that too if she could make her music a “ministry,” as she had been saying lately, whatever that meant.
Celia had greeted him upon his return home from work in lingerie, so tonight’s dinner appetizer had been a sweet tryst. Now she kissed him, climbed out of bed and into a short little robe, and headed out to make dinner, which she declared would be grilled pork chops with peach salsa and corn on the cob. Meanwhile, Rob tormented himself over what she had or had not done today about a job, but being satiated with sex and the anticipation of good food, it seemed ungrateful to bring it up.
Rob got out of bed, pulled on boxers and a shirt, and joined Celia in the kitchen, where she poured him lemonade and garnished it with a sprig of mint and a straw.
“Guess what I did today,” she said she handed it to him.
“What?” he said, taking a long sip.
What does Celia say?
Friday, July 01, 2011
Making love not war (Harold’s response)
A few weeks ago, my wife and I were in a conflictual situation. We just didn’t see eye to eye on an issue pertaining to one of our children. And, it was emotionally disturbing from which you could feel the relational strain. There was no sense that we didn’t love each other. And, it was clear that we both love our child in the center of the conflict. But, the situation was just taking a toll on our feeling of closeness.
In the midst of this conflict, I took a somewhat vulnerable position with my wife by asking to make love. Why? Because for us, the act of making love isn’t just about sex (the physical). It is also about emotional and spiritual connection. While I certainly enjoy the physical aspect of it, at this point in the conflict I needed the spiritual and emotional connection.
Sometimes, we husbands have a bad (well-earned) reputation for being most interested in the physical aspect of love-making. I would suggest, however, that if we can see sex as a spiritual-emotional bridge that our love-making will be enriched and our sense of unity will be enhanced. This will help us to stand as a unified front when Satan is trying to use those darts to place a wedge between you and your spouse. Let’s learn to make love with our spouse and war with Satan.
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