26 July 2015

Sacred space.

We had an incident last month. Yubo was back in his bad gaming habits, and I was getting fed up again. And so we had a talk. This time was a little different in that I didn't start crying. And in the two days after, Yubo made a very clear effort to spend time with me, which I very deeply appreciated.

But, of course, I was wondering when he would jump right back into his habits and start neglecting me again.

At some point, I continued the conversation with him, and proposed an experiment. He had said a couple of times before that he felt like he never really got to be a bachelor. He always had some obligations, and didn't have a chance to just be on his own and do whatever he wanted when he wanted. So I thought to give him some "bachelor time," to see if that was something he really needed. I told him it was actually really important for him to take time for himself, but something was wrong with the way he was going every day -- how late he was staying up, and how absorbed he was getting in his games and Netflix -- because it never seemed to relieve anything. And his approach was obviously hurting our relationship.

I got a bit of grief from one of my closest friends. "How is that going to be any different than what he already does every night," she demanded.

But we've been trying this for about three weeks now, and I think we've finally figured out a compromise that works well for both of us.

Monday nights are his. I am not allowed to pester him to come to bed. He gets to stay up as long as he wants, and do whatever he wants. And I try to limit the things I ask him to do, if I ask him to do anything at all. This is the day when he doesn't have to feel obligated to anything. Aside from whatever work he gets, it's his bachelor day.

Saturdays after work are ours. Whenever we both get off work, the rest of the day is dedicated to us. Or, specifically from Yubo's perspective, after work, his Saturdays belong to me. This is the day we have intentionally set aside for each other. If someone else asks us to do something, we will generally decline.

This phrase of a "sacred space" came from a small group meeting. We've been going through a section of a book talking about perpetual and solvable problems within a relationship. While discussing solvable problems, I was talking about how I wanted Yubo to dedicate time to me, where he would turn down other things because he already planned to be with me. So Saturdays are our sacred space, and Mondays are his sacred space. I don't know if "sacred" is really the right thing to call it..... more like, "protected." In any case, whatever we call it, it is what it is.

As I said above, we've been doing these Mondays and Saturdays for about 3 weeks now. The results so far have been favorable.

Mondays give Yubo the time to himself that he needs to relieve himself of the stresses of the week. He gets to indulge in his night owl tendencies without being nagged. It's when he gets to be selfish if he so chooses. One week, he didn't come to bed until 4am.
I've surprisingly found some relief in these Mondays as well. I now have the mindset that I can't bother him, and so I go to bed on my own without having to care if he needs to be up early. It gives me the chance to really allow myself to see and accept him as an adult that can make his own decisions and deal with the consequences. And it frees me from feeling like I need to "mother" him.

The week goes on normally, with both of us working, and ending our nights about the way we usually would. However, Yubo hasn't been pushing to stay up as long as he can anymore. If I ask him to come to bed, it doesn't take as long for him to actually do it. On top of that, he's been much more responsive when I try to talk to him while he's playing, so he's been less absorbed. I did point that out to him, and thanked him, and let him know that made me happy.

I look forward to Saturdays now that I know they are just for us. We'll go out to dinner, and then spend the rest of our time either talking, running errands, or watching something together that we both enjoy. The first Saturday, we went to the movies for the first time in a very long while. Last Saturday, we caught up on a few Doctor Who Season 7 episodes. Yesterday, Yubo didn't work, so we got to spend a lot of time together. It got a little tricky, but it wasn't too bad. We tidied up our books using the konmari method. We took a few breaks, where Yubo would play for a little bit, and I would check things on my laptop. But then we got back together for dinner, and we watched a few episodes of an anime that we just started. I let him have the rest of the night to himself, but had him promise to have breakfast with me at the nearby donut shop in the morning before church, and he woke up in time to do that with me.

Obviously, I can only speak from my side, but I'm realizing that it's kind of amazing when we really consider each other. I don't feel like an afterthought anymore, constantly wondering if he even cares that I'm around. And he generally seems more relaxed, and I'm sure feels more respected. I think both of us are happier.

Since it was just an experiment, I asked him what he wanted to do with his Mondays, and he said he'd like to keep them. I am ok with that. I told him at the beginning when I proposed the experiment that I would be happy to give him a day if that was what he needed, as long as I knew he would dedicate time for me.

It's still early, but so far I think this is the longest we've successfully done something like "date nights." We'll see how this goes, but I'm actually pretty optimistic about this. And of course, we'll adjust things as needed. I think as long as we continue to keep each other in mind, that's the main thing. Somewhere along the way over these past 10 years, we forgot that a little bit. So I'm very glad that we're taking the time to regain it.

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