T: Amazing Husband ST: Three-year-old Wonder Prof. G: Advisor I Prof. C: Advisor II Julie: Stylish Sister Rob: Awesome Brother Belle: Our Cat Bill: Grumbling BIL Rita: Uncomplicated SIL SMU: Smallish Midwestern University Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
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Thursday, October 26, 2006
On Being Married to a "Do-er"
I am married to a "do-er." T is one of the most ambitious and goal-driven people I've ever met, and that was a huge attraction for me when we first met. He gets his mind fixed on something and then he methodically chips away at the obstacles until he reaches his goal, usually in less time than it takes "normal" people. He's like this with everything: when we were in college together he would study for his exams and write his papers with a clear method; he sets financial goals for us and then has all of the micro-goals we need to meet mapped out in Excel; when he was training for the marathon he ran last year at this time he trained according to a strict schedule spread out over six months, missing only one training run due to a slight injury. He's a very accomplished person as a result, but he never gloats about what he's achieved. His successes are due to planning and hard work.
The problem with being a "do-er" like T is that he sometimes gets focused on one single goal, and that goal overwhelms thoughts of everything else. When he was training for the marathon, for example, we talked about training ALL THE TIME and he was obsessive about keeping his training journal, food intake journal, and making sure he rotated his shoes for every 30 miles logged. While he still helped around the house (he's good about stuff like that), his heart was just not in it -- he was thinking about running, about meeting that goal. It was a little frustrating for me, but in the end I was extremely proud of him for running the marathon in under four hours (his goal for his first marathon) without injury.
His latest obsession: Pond House. I suspected that Pond House would consume him the moment we stepped onto this property for the first time in May. As he looked around and saw the lawn that needed maintenance, the empty and cavernous basement just waiting to be finished, the large garage in need of insulation, and the dock in the pond in need of repair, I could almost see and hear the wheels turning in his head. Those wheels have not stopped turning for a moment since we've been here.
When T comes home each night, we eat dinner, clean up, and then he's off to work on something for the house. On nights like tonight, when I have to prepare for classes the next day, he takes ST along with him: tonight they're at the home improvement store looking for bathtub drain covers, light fixtures, and moulding. For his birthday, he asked for gift certificates to the same store; he's asked for the same thing for Christmas. He regularly reads all sorts of home improvement magazines and books, and often spends his lunch break in his office, eating his lunch while looking up things like "pond weed management" or "radiant heat efficiency" or "installing crown moulding" on the internet.
Talking to him last night, I just had to laugh. He started by asking me about work and how it was going, asking me questions about my students and my colleagues. But, soon enough, the conversation turned to the bathrooms and when we would get rid of the brown tub, when we would replace the mauve carpet, when we would put in a window in the dining room, when we would put on a screened-in porch. "You know, the more we chip away at these little projects, the more I want to really tackle the big ones," he said to me. He wants the ugly brown tub gone ASAP (hurray!), the ugly gray tub next, and then the carpet. "We have the money to do it. Let's just do it, don't you think?"
I hesitated. "That's a lot of money," I said, "and we have a lot of other things to do with that money." I'm not even sure he heard me. His eyes were closed and I could hear his brain turning, turning, turning. In the next moment, the phone rang. He answered it. It was my Dad, who launched into a conversation about all of the projects he and T would do this weekend while my parents are here. As soon as I realized it was my Dad, I knew that it was no use talking about it any further: there is little that can stop T when there's a goal and there's a plan. When we bought this house, we started in on a whole new kind of marathon.