Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Things We Never Say But Always Should

Sometime last fall, my always-eager-to-learn-something-new sister-in-law Jen went to a parenting class. Although she's already a great parent, she figured every little bit of new info would help. I love this about her. As we talked about some of the things the teacher had discussed (most of which I thought was crazy btw) she brought up something that intrigued me.

At some point in the class, they were discussing marriage and the teacher suggested that every couple have a white board somewhere in their room to write little notes to each other. Someplace private, where no one else sees it and your kids aren't constantly scribbling on it. As is typical of my in-laws and true to their nature which I adore, everyone rolled their eyes and commented on how lame and utterly cheesy that idea was.

And it is, completely lame and cheesy but here's the thing: it's also completely fantastic! Jen hung one up in their closet and was always saying how much she loved the notes Matt left her, some of which were sweet, a lot of which were hysterical, but all of which were thoughtful. And even Matt, whose emotional side is almost completely non-existent, told me quietly one day that "I actually really like it. It's pretty cool."

I was sold.

On Christmas morning, somewhere between all the "cool" presents, Brad unwrapped our whiteboard. We looked at each other and laughed and promptly hung it in our closet.

At first the notes were pretty simple, but always touching.

"Thanks for making such a great dinner. I loved it!"

"I really appreciate you getting gas in my car for me tonight. It will save me time in the morning!"

And then there was the time I tried to summon my inner hubba hubba and wrote, after a particularly stressful day "Meet me in the bathtub later?"

To which my darling husband responded "Nah."

This fun little exchange of thoughts went on for a few months and I think we both looked forward to stumbling upon new messages. The very nature of the idea causes you to be spontaneous, to think of the little things, and to say what you want to say but rarely do. It's genius.

Back in March, when we were in the throes of the having the Black Plague hang over our house and everyone had their own version of some heinous illness, Brad and I were talking one early morning. He asked how I was and I told him that between all the kids, I had been up 9 times during the night and felt completely exhausted. He gave me a big hug, chided me for not waking him up to help and went off to the shower. I laid in bed and tried to sleep a bit more before the next child woke up.

Fast forward a few hours when I went into the closet to get another load of laundry. I hadn't showered yet, I was still in my pajamas, and was feeling pretty sorry for myself (and my incredibly sick kids) when I glanced up at the whiteboard:


And then I sat on the floor in my closet and cried.

That message meant more to me that I can explain. He made me feel appreciated, and good at what I do, and validated, and loved, and all the things that I wasn't feeling at the time. I called him at school to thank him and told him that I was never erasing that message because it made me feel so incredibly good. I always feel proud to be his wife, so to have him say it about me was magical.

Last week, with that same message still in place on the whiteboard, he jokingly asked if I was ever going to erase it. And today I finally did. I have garnered everything I needed from it and am ready to get back in the game of message writing. I think every couple should have one, lame and cheesy as it is, and see how if it makes a difference in your relationship. I know it will.

I wonder what I'll write today. Maybe something thoughtful, probably something funny, but I'm pretty sure it won't be an invite to the bathtub.

23 comments:

hatch said...

You are awesome! I really like this idea. The bathtub comment cracked me up.

Heather said...

Did Jen get you the whiteboard, or you and Brad get it for yourselves?

Sarah said...

This sounds like a fun idea, sometimes life gets busy - but to just take a few seconds to jot down a note is pretty cool. I love that you left that note up that Brad wrote to you so you could read it every day. Very sweet.

PRP said...

Heather-I bought it for us.

AOlson said...

As usual Karen, GENIOUS idea!! I love all the great ideas that I always get from you. Now if I would just put them into play!! LOVED the bath tub line;)

Tiffany said...

Man.....I am bawling my eyes out! I love this idea!!!!!!

Kate said...

great idea! I am going to move the one on our fridge to our room now :)
and what a sweet note from your hubby, something you will remember for a long time!

Sara said...

I think I will have to get me one of these. Great idea.

tharker said...

That is a great idea!

Better luck next time on the bath invite ;)

Trevor and Sara said...

I am so getting a whiteboard now.

Lisa said...

Now that is the sweetest thing I have ever written! What a guy!

Kris said...

This is a great idea. I think I would've kept that message up for a long time too.

Mimi said...

I am sold! Before marriage, kids & mortgage we had a whiteboard that was just for us. In fact, after a slightly flubbed marriage proposal (picture Tony leaning over on the couch and saying, "so, you wanna get married?" Tony re-proposed on that whiteboard. I still give him a hard time for the 1st proposal but he more than made up for it with the words of every woman's dreams.

I like corny every once in a while. I am getting another one!

Annette Rose said...

So that is an AWESOME idea and I am totally stealing it. The bathtub comment just about made that the best post EVER! HILARIOUS! I'm trying to think if I have a white board handy... hmmmm....

Stacia said...

There are some couples that just make me happy about marriage, and you two are one of them!

Several years ago I started a little journal book called, "I Love You...." and it's for us to write down the "I Love You because" moments. Small or big, and then we leave it where the other will see it.

Last night Kelly wrote something in it because of reading this post and being reminded of the book, so THANKS Karen! :)

Andre said...

Love it!! I wonder if my hubby would even write on the board? Might be something to test.

Janna G said...

We use the bathroom mirror.

Amy said...

That's so sweet! What a good idea! Sometimes cheesy is best.

Amy said...

p.s. I can't believe he turned down the bathtub!

Marilyn said...

Karen Karen Karen, you are a gift from Heaven for me today. This post, and the song playing (still-Matt Nathanson) were for me. My husband and I are in love, but we need something simple like this to say the things we should be saying to each other...

THANK YOU!

...................................Kim.......................................... said...

I'm so happy that I just moved down the street from Target because I'm hopping in the car now and buying me a white board!!! THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS!!

Kelly said...

Great idea! Even Connor asked me when and where we can hang up a white board after reading your post. :)

I wonder what his "inner hubba hubba" will jot down? Too funny!

Thanks Karen!

vwbabe said...

Karen,

Great blog post. I am so glad that you are enjoying this too. Our boys sure do know the right things to say. Matt will do the same thing of writing a totally heartfelt and simple statement that makes my day. I am so glad you are reaping the benefits from this.

Love ya