Nine years later, I’m still a fixer in recovery. For me, the most difficult thing is that I am paid in my professional life to fix all the things. To manage literal millions of dollars a year and abide by all the variable state and federal mandates. I’ve told you before that I’m a Faux Chaos Muppet. Or, as my wife said when we were first dating, “Don’t let her front like she’s chill about things.”
I am. Occasionally. Chill about things.
But it has taken a lot of practice.
I sit now and listen to my wife’s stories, and don’t interject advice or suggestions. I listen. She’ll ask for my input if she needs it. I know she’s perfectly capable to handle anything and everything. I know that the way she handles it will be different from the way I would handle it. Because, you know, she isn’t me.
It has taken me decades to understand this fundamental truth: there are a lot of ways to get shit done.
The early years of our marriage were ridiculous power struggles. You can’t put two alphas in a relationship and expect things to be simple. Especially if they are parents.
In retrospect, it’s one of my favorite things about our marriage. That we have to adjust our power all the time. We check in about chores and schedules and plans for the future. She knows that if we are hanging with the grandkid, I will always keep the kid safe, and never try to parent her. I know Mary’ll show up when I need her to show up, but I don’t ever assume it. I ask. I listen.
I let things be messier than I’m comfortable with because mess is not the end of the fucking world.
I don’t make plans if I haven’t checked in with my family about their interest and availability.
Stated another way, I see being a fixer as buying into patriarchy. This idea that there is a correct answer, and one person should take the lead in every scenario.
I didn’t get married to be less myself. I got married because I found someone who made being me easier and more resonant. I am more essentially myself because I’m married to Mary. I am better at trusting you to bring your best intentions. I am better at trusting myself to chill.
Anything might happen doesn’t seem like a curse now. It seems like marvelous potential. Anything might happen! You might even enjoy it, you faux chaos muppet. You might throw your arms way up above your head and start thrashing with joy.