When we were expecting our first child, Cliff and I agreed that we’d try not to use pacifiers. Like most expectant parents, we’d done a good deal of reading – and some of the most persuasive literature said that pacifiers were crutches. Teach your kid that they need the pacifier to sleep, and they’ll be dependent on a little piece of plastic rather than learning how to soothe themselves to sleep.
Two nights into parenthood we begged the maternity ward nurses for a pacifier – any pacifier, used if necessary – too quiet our demanding, noisy little boy.
It was three years later before our son gave up his beloved paci (in exchange for a lollipop), but it was three years of sleep-filled nights for all.
Was the paci a crutch? Sure. But if the choice is between a crutch or no sleep, I’ll take the crutch every time.
I’ve been thinking about crutches lately – those little things we need to get us through our days. A good crutch brings a big benefit with very little harm. Life is rosier because of its existence. Relationships are less strained.
Football season – which is now drawing to a close – necessitates my favorite crutch, the DVR. In our family’s pre-DVR days, an interruption to change a dirty diaper or tickle a toddler’s belly presented an unbearable choice for my Bears-loving husband. Not always understanding of his affection for da Bears, I let my withering looks and cold shoulders punish him when he wasn’t eager to step away from the television. Now we just hit pause, take a play break with the kids, and catch up with the game when we can.
I’m not the only one who relies on a crutch. A friend of a friend mentioned her marriage’s favorite recently: a cleaning service. Neither husband or wife could stand their filthy apartment – and regular bickering over who was pulling his or her weight with the cleaning, and who wasn’t, spoiled otherwise nice days together. For this couple, marital happiness was worth more than the price of a twice monthly maid.
What crutches does your marriage rely on?
Or do you need a crutch you haven’t yet found? To discover it, think about the areas of marital tension that always surface: interruptions during the football game, a house that seems dirty with no one to clean it, managing the after-school hours for the kids. It’s unlikely that your partner will change his or her overall approach to these issues – so is there any other solution that might decrease tension?
Admittedly, most of the crutches I have in mind cost some money. These are middle class luxuries that not everyone can afford. But if you can, spend the money – sacrifice your custom cup of joe, tickets to a concert, or a few dinners out and make it happen. Like that pacifier we popped in our son’s mouth, it may just stop some crying.