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[From Noel] noel portrait1BW Thank-you to the friends who have gently prodded and provided encouragement for Julie and I to get back to posting stuff regularly on the blog.  And thank-you to the ten to fifteen people who checked each day to see if we’re back.  I have been working for the past six months on a thesis for school.  You can read a little bit more about that here. Julie has lined up some guest posts and some other things, plus a seven day challenge in March so let’s get back on track.

When I was elementary school age right through into my teens I spent my entire summer living at Camp Omagh each year.  At that time they had, what was even then an 8e10764u.previewancient washing machine that they used for tea towels, dish rags and the odd load of laundry.  It was an open tub that you put the clothes into, with the soap.  You ran a hose into it to fill it with water and then an electric motor agitated the whole foaming mess.  Then you drained the tub, filled it again with fresh water and gave it another five minutes before wringing everything out.

There was no spin cycle.  What you did to get the water out of your clothes is pass each item between two rollers at the top of the machine that were pressed tightly together.  An electric motor would turn the rollers and pull the item through, wringing  the water out, back into the tub (you were going to reuse that water of course for the next load!) For those of you who are fascinated with this idea (or perhaps you can’t imagine what I’m talking about go see this video clip.

I remember vividly one time my Aunt Barb washing a load of tea towels on Saturday morning after camp was done for the week.  She was going to quickly do this load, hang it up and head home.  She was planning to get this job done by herself, but I had other plans.

wringer 2

At first I was just watching, then I was catching items as then came out of the wringer.  Barb was clear that I was not to touch the machine and I wasn’t planning to either.  She set one tea towel on the tray and turned her back without seeing that it had failed to catch.  It sat on the loader, just out of reach of the wringer.  All I needed to do is give it a little poke with my finger and it would start. Now firstly, let’s establish that everyone who has ever seen a wringer in action knows you don’t want to get your hand caught in there. Nobody is so stupid that they have to be told that. I knew I didn’t want my hand in there so telling me twice wouldn’t have helped, just in case you’re wondering.

In the blink of an eye my finger was pinched and my hand was going in; I was speechless as my hand slowly entered the machine.  After my knuckles went painfully through the rollers I was finally pulling hard enough to keep my hand from rolling in any further and I was grunting with exertion.  Barb turned and realized what was happening and leaped across the room and slapped the release button which sent me flying the other way.

I know what you`re thinking: what’s this have to do with marriage? We’ll get to that in a minute. I know what else you’re thinking: those washing machines are a menace and should have never been approved for public use.  I agree. But you know what I learned?

Going through the wringer hurts twice.

It hurts going into the wringer, that’s for sure. As I watched my hand disappear into that machine I pictured myself with a floppy rubber hand for the rest of my life. All four knuckles were momentarily dislocated and I got a pretty bad friction burn on the back of my hand, but the second pain came later. When the pressure was finally off, my hand throbbed. For days I had to keep it up over my head or it would pound with every heartbeat.  It hurt while I was under pressure and then, when the pressure was off, it hurt coming back to normal.

After working through two massively over busy months I am returning to a more normal pace and I am finding this stressful to, but for a different reason.  My school work and a host of other things made January and February stressful, but it is stressful to come back to normal.  When you are preparing for a busy season in your life, don’t fail to attend to both sides of the event: Prepare as much as you can for the event but also leave some time afterward to come back to real life.  Here’s the marriage angle:

When you’re married, your lives are fused together which means that when you’re busy, your spouse is busy too.  When you take on a big job or a task that is going to demand a great deal from you, you need to think in terms of this being something that you and your spouse are agreeing to.

I have for years traded on the assumption that Julie is going to back me up and it has caused significant stress in our marriage.  My sin against her has been assuming her availability without asking her or just checking my calendar when asked to commit to something without checking OUR calendar.  When you get married your money becomes OUR money and what is often forgot is that your time becomes OUR time.

The free advice is this: treat your individual commitments like family commitments and do the same for your spouse.  What that means is you carve out time to support each other’s engagements.  Julie has been backing up this thesis for months by being more available and changing her work schedule to support me as much as she can.  She’s been great!  What I can do, besides demonstrating an appropriate level of gratitude, is see my opportunities as opportunities for us and not just me.

I am so grateful for her support and for what she makes possible in my life. Thanks sweetie!