I will drop my kids for my wife, in basically every single instance that doesn’t result in putting them in danger, and even then maybe so. Here’s why: It’s the best. My experience tells me that it puts all of us in the best possible place to take on the biggest challenges and achieve the most good.
It seems to create a structure of living that’s more reliable than any other model I’ve seen. I’ve debated this for years: “Should we be putting children in front of spouse or vice versa? Who gets the trump card?” For me, it’s finally become obvious and now feels near undeniably so, that the spouse comes first. When children are the priority, it’s possible to go decades without prioritising the spouse because children are mega needy. They’re amazing, no doubt, but that doesn’t stop them from being little black holes of an energy and resource vacuum. It takes a LOT in order to mould even a reasonably functional adult. If you intend on moulding a really good one, you can certainly expect it require no less, and we’re determined to mould some amazing ones. Or perhaps ‘help chisel them out of their marble casing’ if we’re using an artist’s analogy that gives consideration to the pre-existing greatness already within them.
But here’s what I’ve found. It usually takes much less time and energy to ensure my wife is in a good, loving, & helpful psychological place, than it takes trying to do the same for our children. Kids can shut that frontal lobe down quicker and with more force than a zombie apocalypse bunker alarm bringing down the 10″ thick blast doors. They’ll then stop time with greater skill than Hiro just so that they can bury the access remote in quick-dry concrete, dig it up again alongside 20 tonnes of other rubble and toss it into the Kola Superdeep. Gotta love ’em. Seriously though, that’s actually the only way out of there. But it can be near impossible sometimes. Generally speaking, the frequency and intensity of “I need help” moments that come from a spouse are ridiculously smaller, in my experience.
Again speaking generally, my wife is near-infinitely more functional, capable and helpful than my children are, and not just because she can work the thermomix. She has a far superior work ethic than my own, she seems ever-ready to tag team in with the kids if my patience begins wearing thin and she can be great at ‘distracting’ kids out of negative emotions they’re trapped and while I’m still silly enough to be pushing them to tackle the issue head-on (which just doesn’t work sometimes). If I could pick her or one/all of the kids as the primary partner to work on everything else I gotta do, she’s the obvious winner. It’s kind of like putting on your own oxygen-mask in a falling air-plane before that of your children. Prioritising continued function because you’re your best chance of everyone’s survival. Keeping both you and your wife functional at least double’s the good you can do thereafter.
So does this mean that kids just ‘have a meltdown’ on their own if I’m busy trying to help her with something first? Yes, yes it does. How often does this actually happen? Extremely rarely. Similar to how I mentioned how little effort it takes to get myself right each day, helping to keep her ‘right’ each day also doesn’t usually require a whole lot of effort and it’s also something that can usually be done ‘after-hours’ when the kids are in bed. Even if something ‘pretty big’ comes up during the day, we can usually pin it for our ‘truth-wall’ time. I’ve also noticed that when our kids are deprioritised to my wife, it seems to have more of a ‘stabilising/helpful order’ to it for them, than a destabilising/chaotic one. They seem to ‘get it’ and ‘fall in line’ with little to no drama, like it satisfied a need within them. A benefit that just doesn’t seem to quite work the other way around when de-prioritising the wife for the children.
It’s this and many other reasons which have lead me over the years to believe we have varying degrees or differing orders and prioritisation requirements of our many stewardships. Or ‘circles of stewardships’, as I’ve come to say in simpler terms. Some closer & more therefore important than others.
There’s an amazing mobile phone game that I recall playing years ago (on our honey-moon in fact) called ‘solar 2’ and I was truly mesmerised by it. I remember playing it on her google nexus 4 which I was so jelly about buying her I later ended up buying myself one (a recurring pattern in our lives) and then two more after we both smashed ours in different incidents (yes, after I griefed her about smashing hers I later smashed my own). The game was about ‘increasing matter’ in space while evolving from meteors to planets into stars that team up/absorb other stars etc. It seemed to me to have countless layers of truth that I could see being applied to how we should function in life, especially with relationships. Connecting to what we can reach, avoiding black holes, teaming up for synergised benefits, using separate but connected entities to produce and maintain better momentum etc. I really loved it. Don’t think I’ve played it since, but the memory remains. (Thanks James.)
A really good example is if you’re a two star system and one of your connecting planets in your solar family ‘suffers’ loss, shall we call it, the whole system can pretty much survive just fine and with time, recover with no permanent issue. However when one of the two starts collides with something heavy enough to matter, it can very easily throw the whole connecting family into mayhem extremely quickly. Ricocheting damage into the partner star is way too likely and/or pin-balling into the rest of the family is too possible and devastating. So should we be sacrificing our children to keep the marriage alive? Well that’s a discussion for another day, but I don’t recommend taking advice from Quokkas.
Point being if you can take some advice from Chubbs, keeping yourself and then also your partner in your respective ‘happy place’, the benefits drastically outweigh doing the same for a child. The only thing that trumps my wife in prioritisation is my conscience, and that’s strictly because if I don’t abide by that I can’t genuinely remain functional/happy myself. And just to clarify, that is very different to “what I want” as it’s much more like “what I honestly think is best” and conflating the two doesn’t do anybody any favours.
So far my circles of stewardship (at a top-layer level, because it can get a bit more messy and complex when you start pulling this apart a bit and looking more deeply, and they tend to change repetitively over time) looks a little like this at the moment:
- Family (parents/siblings)
- Extended Family
- Local community
Now don’t get me wrong, this can become quite complicated and tricky sometimes as life’s ebb and flow can easily re-weight things temporarily, but the above order does seem to be ‘flattening out’ with fewer changes over time. What’s really interesting is how obvious some of the first ones are for me, the moment they’re out of alignment. The phrase ‘we don’t see the world how it is, but how we are’ is never more true than when I’m ignoring my own conscience and growing a distaste and short-fused irritation for everyone around me, independent of their intentions.
My wife is another great one. Whenever things aren’t right between us it’s “to hell” with everything else. If we’ve had a fight, screw sticking to the budget, stuff eating well or using packed lunches, ditch exercising, forget work etc. and then it’s too quickly on to self-distraction through videos/games/whatever else. However if I’ve been able to maintain my relationship with my conscience, by not allowing myself to become angry, bitter, resentful etc during the debate, she can be very unhappy with me while I remain in a place genuinely trying to help her through it. The moment I betray my own conscience and join in on any chaotic or gratifying ‘shenanigans’ all my ‘circles’ are shot to pieces. Even if it’s not a fight and I’m just trying to do ‘work’ (for clients/employers) but sensing something’s off with my wife, it’s near-impossible to maintain the same ‘flow’. The inspiration, focus and drive just isn’t there for me.
I genuinely believe having a great relationship with your own conscience is the best place to start a great relationship with your wife. A great relationship with your wife therefore, the best place to start a great relationship with your children. A great relationship with your children being the best place to start a great relationship with everyone else and so on.
Trying to ‘save the world’ by being a super-star to ‘more external circles’ while leaving ‘inner circles’ unattended to, will leave us hollow and lacking the substance and density required to build and maintain lasting and meaningful foundations for others in our lives.
Simultaneously, getting the circles of stewardship right, seems to have a effect similar to aligning gears to their proper sequence, where you can build powerful and lasting energy and momentum that continues to grow, empowering and liberating you and everyone around you, seemingly in the most efficient way possible. For me to be truly happy, I need to be able to stop whatever I’m working on and put it on hold while I attend to my kids, whenever they come for me. I also need to be able to put my kids down at any point to attend to my wife whenever the opportunity arises. I’ve been doing both of these things a lot lately and despite it driving my wife a little crazy and lactose intolerant due to the cheesiness, I can honestly say I believe it to be an enormous contributing factor to my current happiness and continued drive. I’ve also spent way too much of my life getting these priorities wrong, so when they are aligned and I’m doing it right it becomes more obvious, for example I’m eating and sleeping less yet feeling better than ever before. I genuinely believe there’s an actual energy source accessed through the process of implementing or aligning to the function of truth.
A never-ending stewardship
Further to the infinite-lists that I’m regularly rabbiting on about, our stewardship is yet one more. Every time I run through the 3D LifeSpan experience with someone, there’s always a “the rest” stewardship that sits at the bottom of the list, meaning anyone and everyone else. Nearly everybody that has gone through the experience agrees that there are those we could do good for, or could help, or that could be effected by the success or failure of our existence, that we haven’t yet thought of.
I don’t believe it’s possible to accept the truth that “we should do what we can”, without simultaneously accepting the reality of an infinite stewardship. The former can’t be accepted without also accepting at least some degree of responsibility for the welfare of everyone and everything around us. Why? Because there undoubtedly will come countless opportunities over the course of our lives to ‘do good’ for those that sit outside of our standard or everyday stewardship. If we’re going to limit ‘doing the good we can do’, to those within our pre-determined stewardships and ignore everybody else, then there undoubtedly will arise numerous occasions where we could have done good, and didn’t do it. We’re not really abiding that first truth.
If however, we keep everyone and everything on our ‘infinite list’ somehow, predetermining that we are willing to do what good we can do, whenever we can do it, then we are also acknowledging that our stewardship never really ends, it only ‘thins’, or ‘remains appropriately prioritised’. It’s okay to not do good, when we’re busy doing something more important, something great. Keeping our circles of stewardship appropriately prioritised will undoubtedly require a forfeiture of the ‘good’ we can do for those less important circles. That’s fine. However if we’re ignoring the good we can do for others, when such wouldn’t encroach on our stewardship priorities at all, well that’s a different story.
Anybody who believes ‘we should do what we can’ must also believe in a ‘never-ending stewardship’, because anyone and anything can fall within the good ‘we can do’, at any point in time.
It seems to be the case that most people are appreciating how much the ‘why’ matters. There have been countless discussions online, in books, videos and even movies which highlight how ‘core’, ‘central’, or ‘pivotal’ the ‘why’ is. Without saying I disagree with any of that, another thought I want people to consider is ‘who’. I argue that the ‘who’ might be even more central than the why. Whenever discussing things of the most significant importance, it seems to me that the ‘who’ is the primary driving factor for the ‘why’. Why are you working at all? To provide a better life for your loved ones? Would you be as motivated if it was strictly for yourself? Does their inclusion increase the extent of your drive? Are you doing it more for them than yourself? WHO you’re doing something for, seems to be far more substantial as a core driving factor within us than many seem to realise.
Here’s an argument: Isolated we die; connected we live. Our existence is of no greater good than the extent to which it can provide value to others. If correct, than identifying who we should be providing that value to, will always be a core driving factor fuelling our ‘why we do anything’. Those who appreciate and experiment with this idea can find purpose, reasoning and motivation even for themselves through serving their ‘who’, that can’t be found through serving oneself. I argue that the better we get at understanding and appropriately prioritising our ‘who’, the more capable we become at understanding our ‘why’, and in turn we become something better not only for them but also for ourselves, once again, improvements otherwise inaccessible through the over-prioritisation of oneself.
Edifying your hunger for success is thematically about working from the inside out. Not just consuming anything, but giving consideration to what that internal craving is actually in need of, before going out and cramming the hole with just anything you can find. Inside-out seems to be the more edifying model in many aspects when compared to working from the outside-in, and it’s never more true than when applied to our circles of stewardship. Experiencing truly edifying success, is going to involve appropriate prioritisation of those in our stewardship, as without that, the success will always feel to some extent, tainted or hollow due to failed priorities. So let us pursue our successes, not instead of serving our who, but through serving them. Their existence is a powerful motivating force that when appropriately understood, can be utilised to make us far better versions of ourselves than we otherwise would be.