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Kathryn and I have been meandering our way through this book over the past few months.  In it, Gretchin Rubin shares her ideas, adventures and projects about making her life “Happier at Home.”  We take it slow, absorbing a small piece of it at a time, often just before falling asleep.  Kathryn falls asleep in nano-seconds after the light is turned off; it takes me a bit longer.  So I lay awake dreaming of all the ways we could change our home, not just the physical objects and layout (though that is part of it), but also the way we manage our home together, the activities we engage in, the frequency of dishwashing, or the way we budget our income.

We have been trying to take small steps towards our own ‘happier at home’ projects.  I replanted our terrarium two weeks ago, and we finally put some objects on the shelves in our living room that have been empty for nearly two months.  Today we decided to set up my ipod speakers in the bedroom so that we can wake up to music in the morning, instead of blaring alarms.  But there was no plug on the wall where our bed and nightstands were, so we ended up rearranging furniture.

Our bed is now on a different wall, and while I enjoy the new layout and space we’ve created, laying on the bed felt disorienting.  We tried switching sides and in the end, I opted for the spot closer to the window.   We lay together, content in the effort it took to be happier at home.

But as we lay there I began to feel guilty.  Had I taken the prime sleeping spot from Kathryn, leaving her with the inferior nighttime location?  How many times in our relationship does she give something to me at a cost to herself?

I brought this up with her and we ended up having a good conversation about what it means to give and take in a relationship.  The reality is that because Kathryn is such a good sleeper it really doesn’t matter to her what side of the bed she sleeps on, and because I have so much trouble falling asleep, she wants me to choose the place where I feel most comfortable and am most likely to get a better night’s rest.

Still, knowing this, I can’t seem to shake this sense of guilt I feel for having the better sleeping spot.  It’s not just that, but in so many aspects of our relationship, I find myself feeling immediately guilty for asking for something.  It can be as small as asking her to pick up milk on her way home, to as big as asking her to stay with me as I struggle to find my balance in difficult moments.

I think it comes down to this: “we accept the love we think we deserve.”  At times, when I feel shame about my choices or my emotions or the way I process through difficult situations, I feel like the love she has for me is unwarranted.  I know she loves me, but I often don’t know why.  And perhaps that’s the mystery of love.  I don’t know how we found each other, or why we fell in love, or what draws me to her even when she is driving me nuts.  She is not perfect, and yet I love her wholly.  And she feels the same way about me.  It’s hard for me to accept this, but I am learning in small moments and small ways to accept the love she offers me and to remember the ways I can give it to her in return.

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