Kat and Bill clearly saw things differently. Bill was annoyed with Kat because she didn’t even see the chaos that was right in front of her eyes. Kat was annoyed with Bill for not acknowledging her efforts with the bathroom transformation. Sure, it wasn’t perfect yet, but she’d worked really hard on it and he was just nitpicking.
After a night of tossing and turning, Kat took action and made an appointment with Louise, her psychologist. She needed someone to hear about her frustration with Bill and give her some strategies to turn him around.
At the appointment, Louise listened patiently. She said some encouraging words about Kat’s decluttering efforts so far. That was more than Bill had offered. But she stopped short of sympathising with Kat about Bill’s behaviour.
As the session came to a close, Louise handed Kat two identical sheets of paper. She said, “I want you and Bill to do a values exercise together. I think it will help you both see each other’s points of view. Take your time with it and be open to what you discover.”
If that’s what it would take for Bill to see things Kat’s way, then she was on board. She explained the exercise to Bill, and he was on board too. If that’s what it would take for Kat to see things his way, it was worth it.
They each retreated to their own space in the home. Kat at her computer desk and Bill on the back verandah. The exercise instructions asked them to select their five top values from a list of thirty different personal values. And then, once the top five were selected, to place them order from one to five.
It took Kat two cups of tea and an hour to get through her part of the exercise. Bill was done in under ten minutes and celebrated with a cup of tea on the verandah with his feet in the sun.
Once Kat was ready to compare notes, they came together for the big reveal. But where to sit? Bill occupied the only empty chair on the verandah. The others were piled high with those dreaded shopping bags again. It would have been nice to sit at the dining table, but first they’d need to clear off one more chair. And the living room was too cramped for Bill’s long legs. How could they start to talk about shared values, if they couldn’t even fit together in the same room? There was the bed, but Bill refused to have this discussion laying down.
They went out to the caravan. Despite Kat’s efforts to try to use it for extra storage, Bill had stood firm and refused her access to his domain. Inside it was neat and tidy, and there was room to sit at both the table and on the small couch. They chose the table.
Bill was keen for this to go right. He was betting everything he had on a change of perspective for Kat. To sweeten the mood, he brought out a bottle of white wine and two glasses. Kat was touched. How nice that he was willing to see things her way for a change.
They clinked glasses. Bill said, “Let’s go from the bottom to the top and talk about each of the values. You go first, Love.”
Kat said, “Number 5 for me is Compassion for myself and others. I really need you to be compassionate with me.”
“Ok”, said Bill, quietly thinking he’d been pretty bloody compassionate for a long time now. “My number 5 is Economic security. I’m not getting any younger and I don’t want the money to run out.”
After Kat’s recent money troubles, she felt a little sting in his comment, but was willing to let it pass. “I understand. My number 4 value is Stability. I want certainty in my life. I like things to be predictable. I like things to stay the same.”
Bill thought that was pretty obvious, because nothing ever changed. But that’s the woman he married. He knew that a long time ago. “My number 4 value is Health and mental and physical wellbeing. I’ve had some close calls and I’m not getting any younger. It’s time to look after myself.”
Kat couldn’t disagree with that and squeezed his hand to show that she cared. “My number 3 value is Loyalty. I’m a very loyal person. That’s why it hurt so much when you and Violet went behind my back.”
Bill had to acknowledge that it hadn’t gone well, and he could see Kat’s point. He squeezed her hand back. “My number 3 value is Adventure and new challenges. There’s lots more I want to do with the years I have left.”
Fair enough, thought Kat. “Ok, my number 2 value is Leaving a legacy. I know you don’t think it’s important but it’s important to me.”
Bill laughed. “Well, you won’t believe this but my number 2 value is Leaving a legacy as well. I want my time on this earth to have meant something.”
Kat’s eyes watered a little. At last, there was a shared value. She squeezed his hand again and went on. “My number 1 value is Family happiness. They mean a lot to me.”
Now it was time for Bill’s eyes to water. “It’s my number 1 too!”
They hugged and clinked glasses again. Bill was excited. He hadn’t felt so close to a resolution in years. “I know we don’t always see eye to eye, but I love you, Love. Ok, let’s get down to details about our values. Here’s what leaving a legacy means to me. This house could be worth a lot of money when we’re gone. It’s a really big block with lots of potential. That would really put Kylie in a good place. She could sell it and live anywhere she wants. It would make me so happy to know they were taken care of, and my years of work meant something.”
Kat was shocked, speechless.
Bill went on without realising the impact of his words on her. “Our family’s happiness is so important to me. I love to see smiles on their faces. We don’t get to see them nearly as often as I’d like. We don’t have much time left to enjoy it.”
Kat had to stop him. “Bill, stop talking about dying and listen to yourself! How can you even contemplate Kylie selling this place. That’s not a legacy. It’s an abomination. I’ve worked all my life to create a legacy for the family. All the family history I want to hand down to Kylie and Tiffany is here. I can’t let them just throw it all away.”
Bill’s heart sank. There was no getting through to this woman. “I give up. Tomorrow I’m packing up and taking the caravan to visit the kids. You can stay here with your legacy and dust your piles of stability.”
Catch up on all the past Adventures of Kat here.