Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What I learned from Wife Swapping

Lately Larry and I have been catching up on past episodes of Celebrity Wife Swap. If you're not familiar with this show, what happens is that the wives exchange households for a week and experience what it's like to be part of another family. Those paired together are always opposites and provide a guaranteed opportunity for conflict. There are hilarious as well as heartwarming parts of every episode.

Without exception every wife is shocked by the way the other woman's home operates and how the family members relate to one another.  Usually they learn at least one positive thing from the other, while also discovering the weaknesses of each family unit. There are times a wife can't handle the differences, goes ballistic or has a crying jag and and quits.

There's something I've realized watching a bunch of these shows.  Every family has unique dynamics that would be seen as bizarre by others. Even if you're not a celebrity, you have these idiosyncrasies, I guarantee it!  My family has them too. Things like the fact that we all work best at night and it's nothing strange for any of us to approach someone else in the family to discuss a project or work on things together at 3 AM. We've got two huge dogs that are literally part of the family who are never in kennels while we're home. Max and Maddie live right alongside us, sometimes on top of us while we sit on the couch! In our house Larry cooks just as much as I do and he's really good at it.  We make our decisions as partners, and we have raised our children together in every sense of the word. (I've learned that many people don't. Even if there's a Dad in the home many view the kids as Mom's domain and she does most of the caring for them, and decision making regarding them.)  At home we live in PJ's.  When someone's coming over, we have to let everyone in the family know to get dressed, depending on who it is. We have some friends who are so close, we stay in PJ's even if they do come over.

This is insanity to some people, but it works for us. I could handle being on Wife Swap without melting down or quitting, but I don't want to. My life works for me although most wouldn't understand it or want it. That's one of the things I believe is most important when people consider how to handle all their roles and responsibilities well. If what you're doing works for you, don't worry about whether what you do would be accepted by others. They might not understand that you are a family with a stay-at-home-dad or that your family doesn't eat meat or that you sing the Doxology before every meal. It's your family. You're the only ones who have to understand it or live it. Go about your business and when somebody finds out one of your family idiosyncrasies and says, "you do WHAT?" resist the tendency to doubt yourself or feel lesser than.

Is it working for you? That's all that matters. Let it work.

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