Cleaning Out My File Cabinet

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I’ve been meaning to clean out my file cabinet. There is a pile of papers on my desk that needs a better home. But the file cabinet, one of those big, four drawer units with a lock on it, has been in seven different offices of mine since 1990, gathering papers, losing some, gathering more. There is no more room in it.
I need to make time to clean it out.
Over the 4th of July weekend, I painted the kitchen. Had to take almost everything out of it. And it took much longer than expected because the weather was so humid. We had to work around the mess, put things in temporary places, move pieces back in one at a time. All of which meant I got to take my time thinking about where everything should go back. The reorganization is even more pleasing than the fresh coat of paint.
This makes me want to tackle the filing cabinet soon.
I have been getting lots of comments on this blog recently from men, fathers, whose wives have left them or announced they will do so soon. They were taken by surprise, and they want another chance. They know they can do better. Like me with the filing cabinet.
They want to say the things they should have said. They want to move family dinners back to the table and away from the TV. They want to be more generous, more open, more courageous, more there. And they are ready to get some counseling.
While they have been putting this off, their wives have been hurting, hurting enough to avoid family gatherings, drink too much, fall in love with someone new, think of putting their kids through a divorce, and practice reciting, “Too little, too late.”
I am sure the wives feel they have been ignored, treated unfairly, asked to do too much, denied the closeness — or space — they sought. But I am just as sure their filing cabinets are overfilled with unmet expectations they could have cleaned out of there.
They stick their loneliness on the nights their husbands work or see friends in a file labeled “Abandoned Again,” instead of setting up an easel, pulling out their guitar, or calling a long-lost friend. They make a list of must-do tasks and add a page to the “Unfairly Responsible for Too Much” folder for each one, instead of asking for help letting go of some of them. They’ve read several marriage books and do something likely to please their mate, then add to the “Uncared For” file when the only reciprocation is foreplay, instead of asking for what makes them feel loved.
And I am one of those wives. So, before I tackle the metal filing cabinet, I have another one to clean out. I need lots of room in there for happy memories, for playful evenings, for kisses without yes-buts, and for future plans with the wonderful guy I married.
Join me?

About the author

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

2 Comments

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  • Excellent post!
    It’s NEVER too late to make a wrong a right as long as you’re willing to be vulnerable, apologize for your wrongdoing and WORK to repair the friendship (which heals any marriage).
    Been there – doing that!

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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