It's a place he enters into that is another source of stress, he tells me as we're washing up getting ready for bed. The place that is supposed to be restful and peaceful at the end of a day and it's eye-opening, this reality that makes me gulp in hearing. But I have to hear it to understand why. Why of all places is our home a source of stress to him?
I had never asked. And he has always appreciated everything I juggle. And he's not complaining. It was just a topic that had come up in our couples study earlier, which we were now discussing and he's sharing honestly, and I didn't realize.
I didn't realize he experienced peace differently than how I viewed it: by how messy or clean the house was, how loud or quiet the children were, how much arguing or correcting was occurring and I thought we were doing pretty good under the circumstances.
But it's the little things, he tells me. It's the tasks left undone for days or weeks. It's having a space that is his, that is always touched by little hands or with my piles, and it's not just me. It's the never-ending household projects he has yet to cross off of his list.
The water trickles as he brushes his teeth and I stand stunned as I think about how I am failing because what good is all of my efforts in creating a peaceful and orderly home if he doesn't feel it?
And I know that I should consider him first. I know that if I uphold him and he upholds me, together we uphold our family and there is cohesiveness. And I know that it is all too easy to fall into the trap of expending all of my energy on the children.
Yet, if I am expending all of my energy with my priorities out of order, how much of my energy am I expending in vain?
We draw back the covers and crawl into bed and our conversation has ended, but I'm still thinking that maybe it's not about having a perfectly clean or a reasonably quiet space. Maybe a peaceful home is simply the space where love and respect abide; a safe place where needs are met and pressures lessened. One upholding the other so that the cares of the world seem small. Peace in the midst of life happening; a place where we create order best when we have ordered our priorities.
from the archives