Monday, March 15, 2010

My Dilemma...

We've been having a bit of a dilemma here in our house. Steve is going to school for his PhD. Obviously, this is a great thing for us and our future. However, it isn't easy. It's stressful and it's hard and it really requires a commitment from both of us to make this our priority. I'm constantly trying to rearrange anything I might have planned so that it fits into his schedule and I totally get that that's 100 percent necessary. Everything comes after his studying and article reading and whatever else he needs to do for his PhD. I'm completely on board and am constantly trying to do what I can to make things easier on Steve.

For the most part I handle all laundry and dishes and regular care for the pets. I plan meals and do the grocery shopping and prepare the food. I decided to hire a house cleaner a few months ago to come every two weeks because with all of our pets and the household stuff going from 50% my responsibility to 100% (and lets face it...I just suck at cleaning regularly even though I love a clean house) I just needed to get a little help somewhere so I could keep my sanity.

If I'm in the office late at night just bumming around on the internet reading blogs and such and Steve asks me if I'll be done soon (translation I'm making it hard for him to concentrate on studying or whatever he's doing) I promptly shut off my computer and leave the office to him for the night. Or if I'm reading (which I do every night before bed) and the puppies are getting restless and bugging him and in need of going to bed I'll stop reading and put them to bed and go to bed myself so they don't disturb him. I'd much rather continue to read for a bit longer, but to make things easier on him I'll go to bed even though I know it's hard for me to fall asleep and reading longer makes that easier on me.

Overall, I'm just doing all of these things on a regular basis to try and make life as easy on him as is humanly possible so he can focus on his PhD with as little distraction as is possible. I think because these little things are just normal everyday things it makes it easy for him to only see how hard and stressful this change has been on him. It's hard to make him understand how much I'm giving up and I'm working harder as well throughout this whole process. When you compare housework or caring for the pets or going to bed without reading as long to studying for exams and reading articles to work toward his PhD, he's basically always going to win. My stress is always going to be "less important" than his when compared.

That said, here's my dilemma. As you all know we bought that home gym. The room that the home gym is in is directly next to our office and his desk is directly on the other side of the wall connected to that bedroom with the home gym. There's nowhere else to put the home gym in our house, so moving it is not an option. The first day I used it he had a huge issue with the noise factor from the weights and the fact that it would cause things on his desk to shake. I totally get this, so I asked him what days would be best for him for me to use the home gym. That way I could still work out and not do it on a night when he's got class the next day and has studying to do. So he told me Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays were bad days. Ok, that's easy. That leaves me with Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays to weight train. Awesome, not a problem.

Now we get to this week. He's currently studying for an exam that normally wouldn't be until next week, but his professor is giving students the option to take it over spring break. And since he has another exam next week he's all about that. I realize that when he has an exam the current schedule may need to change and I have no problem with that. So I asked him tonight when he'd be ok with using the home gym next and he got all stressed out and said I'll get back to you on that. No problem, I tell him, just let me know tomorrow what works for you. He puts his head phones on to get back to studying and then takes him off and starts off on how I don't understand how hard this is for him and how giving him one more thing to have to figure out is unfair. He says I should be able to figure this out on my own without burdening him. Or maybe I just shouldn't use the home gym this week. Obviously the dilemma is that it's not a matter of me doing it whenever I feel like it and for me not using it is not a solution (I don't want to turn into those people that use it as a clothing rack and there can be times where I could see him telling me for weeks at a time that I can't use it and that just doesn't work for me). And like it or not I need him to tell me how I can work this into his schedule. I asked him point blank if I can just workout whenever I feel like it and he said no. So I said, ok, that's why I need to talk to you about this so that I'm not disturbing you and picking bad times to use the gym.

Overall, I'm just frustrated. He's got a lot on his shoulders and everyday I'm doing things for him, they're just easy for him to overlook or see his stuff as being more important. He's proud of me and my success thus far, but he lets his stress get the best of him and has trouble working with me on just putting a schedule together. Instead of just spending 5 minutes thinking about it logically, he adds it to his mental to do list and then wants to vent about it when a quick conversation could have solved the issue and he wouldn't have to think about it anymore. I even offered to work out during the day, so that I'll be doing it when he's not here, but the problem is with him being on spring break I don't really know when he'll be here and when he won't (hence my need to talk to him). I honestly think I'm just going to have to jump on the opportunity to use it any time he leaves the house (good thing I work from home). I'll just take it on a day by day basis and do my best to utilize it when he leaves and hopefully he'll get over his stress and let me know what days work for him even though he seemed adverse to even talking about it. Anyway, that's all for now. I'm still trucking along over here and I'll continue to do so.


  1. First of all, I hope when this is done the appriciates all that you've been doing for him, seriously, it's a big deal.
    Still, I would argue that you're doing something that's as important for your future as getting a PhD, and there has to be some give and take. Can he go the to library a couple nights and study there?

    Sounds like you guys need to get through the next couple weeks and then negotiate when the pressure of the immediate exams are over. I would point out, nicely mind you, that there's two of you in this thing..

    my 2 cents.

  2. That's probably good advice. I should just work around him until exams are over and then broach the subject again when he's less stressed.

    Also, I just wanted to say that he does tell me he appreciates everything I do, it's just when he gets stressed out about something those appreciative thoughts seem to go out the window.

  3. It sounds like he's stressed and taking it out on the closest available target (you)/issue (the home gym). Not saying it's *right*, but it's understandable. As sank said, you're more than doing your part to help him out by running the household and working around him.

    Aside from waiting exams out and bringing it up later (and I'm a huge proponent of talking it out), could the rooms be rearranged - move his desk to an opposite wall and/or the gym? Could he study in a different room for an hour while you work out (bedroom, kitchen, living room, etc)? Oh! And as far as reading and putting the pups to bed, could you take your book to bed with you? I love reading in bed, and it's become such a habit that I have a tough time getting to sleep without my book.

    I hope the next few weeks go fast and that you guys are able to work out a compromise. :)

  4. The rooms being rearranged is not really an option. He has a big L shaped desk and the home gym is this T shape and only fits on one wall in the room next to the office and that's the only room it would fit in.

    I think I will suggest he at least try working on my desk for the hour if he wants to study. It's in the same room as his desk, but on the opposite wall. And his computer is just a laptop, so he could easily take it with him to my desk at the opposite room.

    He's more apt to just not study when I work out, though. Sometimes he can be stubborn like that. He used to study in our guest bedroom we is the room furthest away from the home gym, so maybe I can talk him into going in there for an hour. We'll see. I'll definitely suggest it soon and see what he says.

    I actually do always read my book in bed, however, since we just moved into our house not too long ago and were in a greater need of some bigger items we never got around to bedside tables and lamps. I have a cheap little ikea bedside table (with all my books stacked under it) and he has a tupperware bin he stacks stuff on top of. Lol. We need to get bedside tables and lamps. I've tried book lights before, but have never really found one that worked well. Anyway, that means the overhead light is on, which will sometimes make the puppies restless, but the second the light is out they go to sleep. Sometimes they sleep with it on, but other times I'm stuck because they're playing and I need to turn the light off so they'll sleep and I need the light to read. I guess we need to start looking into bedside tables and lamps soon. I know he really wants to get them and I definitely do. I'll also check out book lights to see if there's some kind that looks like it would work better.

  5. Ah, gotcha. I understand the... challenge of a *cough*stubborn*cough* man. ;)

    And I hear you on the no bedside tables/lamps: I wouldn't be able to fully relax with the overhead light on, and getting out of bed to turn it off would be annoying. :)

  6. The first thing that popped in my mind was change from doing "inside" activities with weights to more body weight centered activities that can 1)be done outside or 2)in another room besides the gym. Things like pushups; jumping rope, wall sits; most any ab exercises; ....and if there are kids you are close to--- bear crawls; crab walks; obstacle courses; things they find fun but actually are work for us adults :)
    The only other suggestion I have is that weight work is a GREAT stress reliever. I know he doesn't think he has 30 minutes to spare.....but that 30 minutes really does multiply by 1000 in peace of mind and body. Maybe you could agree to somehow get up 30 minutes earlier to work a 30 minute session TOGETHER in on 2-3 days per week? I know its easier said than done. My hubby is back in school FT also while working FT and we have twin 10 year olds.....but making time for the important things in life is important. When you both are on your death studying more or working more going to be the first thing you wished you did MORE of?