My wife and I rarely fight about anything, but when we don’t see eye to eye, it’s usually about time.
We serve as a good example of what polar opposite perceptions of time might be.
While money, religion, and politics often make for disastrous dinner conversations, we can all (when we choose) exercise courtesy and respect to help keep the discourse from becoming combat. Perhaps that’s because we all visibly and openly represent different views, which leads us all to expect disagreement.
What’s not as obvious is that we also tend to perceive time in different ways. This difference can actually be the catalyst for some seriously different attitudes, characteristics, and beliefs regarding time.
Allow me to explain. My wife is a photographer. She’s patient, kind, compassionate, and artistic. Her qualities suit her profession well. On the contrary, I’m a transportation manager on the civilian side, and a non-commissioned officer on the military side. I’m impatient, demanding, and organized. We aren’t polar opposites. I have some musical ambition to compliment my wife’s artistic talent, and she detail-oriented and thorough, which compliments my “clean-freak” nature. We love and respect each other, and I certainly think we have a great relationship.
Hey, at the root of all this, our biggest divide lies between our perception and management of time.
I am the guy who says if you aren’t 15 minutes early, you’re late. My wife has been known to say things like, “we can get there around 7:00am, give or take.”
If I have to be to work at 7:00am, I calculate the total travel time, pad that time in case of an unplanned delay, and typically arrive early. My wife, who knows it takes me 30 minutes to get to work, will ask my why I’m leaving so early if I say I’m leaving before 6:30…get the picture?
It begs the chicken and egg question. Is it our other qualities that dictate how we perceive time? Or is it the other way around?
My wife, who is also a mother, multi tasks just as much as I do. She works from home, takes care of our children, coordinates doctor appointments, assists with meals, cleans house, and so much more. She accomplishes her missions – but it’s hard for me to watch. If I can’t decipher the method to her madness, in my head, she’s doing it incorrectly. Likewise, if I worked from home with her, my obsessive compulsive nature around using a planner, doing things in order, sticking to a schedule, and holding others accountable to their schedules would stress her out significantly.
I treat time like a limited resource; my wife is more peaceful and better at “living in the moment.”
We’ve confronted this on multiple occasions. The topic of time is the bedrock of most conversations that strengthened our relationship over time. We don’t agree most of the time, but we understand where each of us is coming from, or rather, what motivates us and our perceptions.
This isn’t exclusive to relationships. I work full-time, serve in the Army National Guard, and use every spare minute of the typical work-week trying to side-hustle. I see free time as lost income if it’s not spent working. We recently had the opportunity to go to St. Thomas on vacation. For the first time in a very long time, I embraced doing absolutely nothing. I loved it. If it weren’t for my wife, I’m not sure I’d be able to do this. Time can’t always be money, or ABOUT money.
The point is that many others who have disagreements about money might be either failing to use that unstructured time to make more money, or failing to take the time to talk about money. You might hear statements like, “there’s no time for that” or “you spend all your time at work” and so many more…but like I said in the beginning – time, or the perception thereof, might be at the root of the problem.
So, if you’re like me, and believe every day has 24 hours and it’s that simple…just budget those hours appropriately – remember to have patience for people like my wife, who instead say there’s not enough time.
There is common ground, and maybe if I stopped to smell the roses more often, I could be as good of a parent as my wife is. She probably doesn’t believe it, but I look up to her. We just have to lean on each other to meet in the middle and have the best of both worlds.