Tag Archives: happiness project

(Another) Secret To A Happy Marriage: Have A Division Of Labor

I’ve posted before about what makes for a happy marriage. (Answer: Have common interests.)

I’ve also posted on five tips for staying monogamous.

But this morning I had another epiphany about what makes for a successful long-term partnership: set up an appropriate division of labor.

I realized this about an hour ago when two things happened simultaneously:

a. my cell phone failed to charge properly (again) and

b. I couldn’t locate a tool bar for a new social networking program I’d just set up on my computer.

It’s not that I couldn’t have tried to fix either of these problems on my own. I’m not a technophobe. As an avid blogger, Facebook friend and now Twitter-er, I’m all about technology these days.

It’s just that when something technical goes wrong with a household object – be it the remote control for the VCR or a lightbulb – my first instinct, in the words of my late Irish grandmother, is “to call the man.”

But that’s not always the best strategy. Because “the man” is not only usually quite expensive, he’s also often unnecessary. Rather, these problems are often easily solved if one is just willing to sit down for a few minutes and think things through. Or read the instruction manual (which, in my case, usually gets tossed in a “to be read” pile, never “to be read.”)

Which is where my husband comes in. One of the (many!) reasons I’m glad that I married him is that he is (a.) technologically astute (b.) very helpful and, crucially (c.) incredibly patient. So when my joint technological dilemmas presented themselves this morning, he immediately came upstairs and had them both under control in a matter of minutes.

All of which is to say that in our marital division of labor, my husband is the technological advisor.

He’s also the aesthetic consultant. The son of an architect, he has a really good eye. He always knows what colors match, which piece of furniture ought to go where, and how high a particular painting ought to hang. Me? I’m just not all that visual. (Don’t believe me? Read this post under “comfort zone.” Nuff said.)

But lest you think that this is an entirely one-sided arrangement, let me assure you that I also pull my weight in this relationship. I’m in charge of anything time-sensitive.

So, for example, I recently got an email from an old friend who’d (apparently) been trying to get in touch with us for several weeks. She’d initially emailed my husband to ask if we were free for dinner one night in November when she’d be passing through London. When he didn’t respond, she emailed him again to be sure he’d gotten the first query.

My first reaction was:  why didn’t she email me first? Doesn’t she *know* that I’m the Chief Scheduler? Apparently not. But my husband does. Which is why – once he actually got to the second email – he immediately forwarded it to me.

Done.

So now I’m curious…what’s your division of labor?

*****

In case you’re interested, here’s yesterday’s post on PoliticsDaily.com about Five Things We Learned At The European Summit.

Image: Blue Lightbulb by Curious_Zed via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Finishing a Major Task: What Charles Dickens and I Have in Common

I completed a major milestone yesterday. I’ve been working on a big project for the past couple of years and yesterday, I finally sent it out to a bunch of agents. It was one of those photo-finish endings that had me kneeling in a corner of the local post office with about 12 different piles of material, a bunch of bubble-wrap envelopes, a handful of rubber bands and a magic marker, furiously checking and double-checking that the right material was going to the right agent (which did nothing to endear me to the officials at said post office. Suffice to say that like most things British, the whole “leg room” concept has yet to take hold, even in post offices…) There was also an enormous queue, so that I had to stand there for like 20 minutes clutching my 12 packages, literally sweating, as I waited to send them off.

But once I mailed it all off, instead of feeling gleeful, joyous, ebullient, ecstatic…(Help me out here, guys. What are other synonyms for happy?)…I felt oddly…deflated. I came home and sat down on the sofa and didn’t know what to do with myself. Gretchen Rubin, of Happiness Project fame, talks about the arrival fallacy to capture the notion that we all think that once we hit a deadline/meet a goal/cross the proverbial finish line, the clouds will part and suddenly happiness, relief, satisfaction etc will rain down upon us. Not so. At least for me, the opposite is usually true: I find myself missing the purpose and momentum that preceded the deadline, uncertain over where I’m headed, and nervous, already, about how said project will fare. In short: there is no joy in the achievement. Only a sense of loss and anxiety.

I shared these feelings with my sister, who said I was in good company. Apparently, Charles Dickens reported something similar when sending out David Copperfield.

Of course, the solution to all this, as Rubin and others will tell you, is to take more joy in the process than in the outcome. To learn that the game of life, to quote a cheesy phrase, is all about the journey and not about the destination. Easy words to say; a simple concept to grasp; an almost impossible goal to achieve. But one of those eternal lessons of adulthood, nonetheless.

So I soldier on, endeavoring to take more joy in the doing. In the meantime, I’m trying to come up with a list of other ways that I might possibly compare myself to Charles Dickens. Let’s see. He lived in London, there’s one…Hey! Maybe this is what I should spend my time doing today as a cure to the post-finish-line blues…

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