Someone once asked my husband, Mike, “What’s it like being married to a psychologist?” Mike answered, “It’s great. I get to sleep with my therapist.”
In all seriousness, there are some very frustrating things about having a wife who is a psychologist. Probably the greatest drawback is that I always notice what is wrong. Remember the story of “the princess and the pea”? She could feel the slightest item under a pile of mattresses. That’s how I feel sometimes in family life. I notice when there is the tiniest hint of conflict, and I am super aware of how we should be improving our marriage and parenting efforts.
To be fair, this may be more the result of being a woman than of being a psychologist. Most women are far more sensitive to relational problems than their husbands are.
My marriage and family “perfectionism” went to a whole new level when I worked at Focus on the Family where my job was to interview marriage and family experts. Practically every day I’d come home with the latest strategy to improve our marriage or a new concern about how we were raising the boys. While Mike was interested to hear what I was learning, he was also realistic about living in the real world rather than in a marriage and parenting utopia. Some nights I’d lie awake worrying about all of the things we were doing wrong, frustrated that my husband wouldn’t “get with the program.”
I can become so uptight about all the things we should be working on that I forget one of the most important elements of family life: enjoying each other. Even with all of my sophisticated knowledge, my husband’s approach to marriage may be better than mine. He continually invites me to “play” with him. “Juli, it’s time to come out of the submarine and join the rest of us,” Mike playfully teases me when I’m deep in thought.1