gratitude journal 11-11-12

  1. I’m grateful for phones. Even though my dad is far away, I was able to call him and wish him a happy birthday and listen to the warm, cheerful tone of his voice as he told me about his day.
  2. I’m grateful John got off work early today.
  3. I’m grateful I made enough chicken noodle soup the other day that I didn’t have to worry about cooking dinner tonight. Also there will be salsa chicken tomorrow, and Dee keeps promising me some insane recipe called “Dr. Pepper Chicken,” which (according to her boys) is akin to hot wings but sweet?
  4. I’m grateful for the lessons we learned from living in Centralia about ourselves, our families, and our finances.
  5. I’m grateful for Kidling, who appears to have overheard a few comments I’ve made about putting something in my gratitude journal today, because he’s starting to make a point of listing all the things he’s grateful for. Today he told me he is grateful that he has parents who liked to spend time with him; he’s grateful his dad likes the same videogames as him; he’s grateful I bought all those Scholastic books for him; and he’s grateful he got to tell his grandpa happy birthday. I was like, cool dude. I’m grateful you are developing the ability to recognize the awesome things in our lives, rather than dwelling on the negatives.

Speaking of that, I really am grateful for that. Ever since a ridiculously childish disappointment at Christmas when I was, like, 10, I’ve always made a habit to hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always try to find the bright side of any situation. It makes life so much more bearable than dwelling on the negative all the time. It’s one of the reasons I was initially attracted to John, because he was always laughing and smiling and so happy.

Unfortunately, I found out soon after getting married that John could often and easily trend into cynical and pessimistic modes of thinking, and he could be very stubborn about being coaxed out of them. Eventually I realized where he’d learned some of theses modes of thinking and negative behaviors, and we were able to address them in marriage counseling. Happily, John seems to have largely left those negative thought cycles and tendency to loop on resentment/ chew on a grudge behind him.

Over the course of our marriage, it’s become a bit of an inside joke between us that John looks so happy and friendly and smilely, but is in fact a often a fairly cynical person who expects the worst from most people. Meanwhile, I have a serious case of bitch-face — even when I’m smiling, I often look sarcastic or mocking — but I generally believe the best of people and am always making excuses for their behavior. I’m pretty forgiving, and I generally believe that any cruelties or unkindnesses I encounter are merely the result of misunderstandings or miscommunications, or possibly because my bitchface offended someone.

Over the years, we’ve responded very differently to interpersonal interactions with the people around us — friends, acquaintances, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, family members — and our ways of dealing with people have subtly shifted. For my part, I’ve become a bit more standoffish, a bit less trusting that people are willing to live and let live, agree to disagree, love and forgive. for John’s part, he’s become . . . happier? I guess that’s the simplest word for it. It’s easier for him to laugh when things don’t go the way we expected or hoped. It’s easier for him to pick out the silver lining on a bad day. He’s more fun, more relaxed, more prone to jokes and smiles than he used to be.

Part of this may simply be the shift from financial strain to relative financial security. But I think part of it is just the long-term affects of being married to your best friend. You take on some of their traits, some of their behaviors. You learn things from each other — like how to choose to laugh when your only options are to laugh or cry, and how to throw up defensive walls against the unkindnesses of the world.

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