The other day Toni and I were Skyping with some friends from back home and they asked us how our marriage was doing. It was actually a nice question to be asked since we don’t have much opportunity to talk to other married couples about things like that here. The honest answer was that things were (and are) going pretty well. This whole move to China has forced us to communicate better, work on problem-solving together and form new friendships with people together. But after that, the next thing I said was, ‘ The toughest thing we face right now is the fact that we literally spend every single minute of most days together.’ The friend’s reaction was to say, ‘Yeah that’s not good.’
I’m actually proud of how we’ve handled the challenge. We both miss having our own jobs to go to during the day, our own work-friends and the ability to come home and tell each other about our days.
But I think the hardest thing so far has been the ways that she and I have completely different work habits. Our teaching styles couldn’t be more different. We have a lot of conversations that are kinda like this:
“Hey, I noticed that you assigned the class a lot of homework for tonight.”
“Are you sure you wanted to give them THAT much?”
“Nothing! No! No, I just wasn’t sure if they did something to make you mad and you’re, like, punishing them with that much homework.”
“You think it’s too much?”
“No no no, I think it’s fine …as long as you’re OK with the fact that they won’t have time to finish it.”
“You know what! You’re right! I’m being too hard on them. I’m gonna go in there right now and give them a big hug and tell them I’m sorry and that it’s OK if they don’t want to do their homework. In fact, they never have to do anything in my class ever again! We’ll just listen to music and party from now on! That’s been working really well for you, right? They’ve been learning A LOT in your classes, right?”
I like to let you guess which voice is whose.
We’ve also been using Google Docs to collaborate on activities for class. Today I was purposefully moving my cursor around the document so the little flag that said “Josh” would get in the way of her typing. It was annoying and immature but I had a good laugh. This is an example of a thing that doesn’t help the situation.
It’s possible that we might have to be intentional about finding our own activities to get us out of the house and provide some space. But to talk about the general state of our marriage, I’m really blessed that I have a wife that I get along with so well. If you were to look at certain areas of our personalities you would realize that we couldn’t be more different. I’m realizing that I can either allow that to get under my skin or I can take advantage of the fact that my wife is skilled and competent in some of the places where I am most inept.
I think we make a good team. Plus, she also likes the idea of coming home after a long day and curling up in front of an episode of House of Cards so most of our days end pretty well.