If you’ve been reading my blog the past few months, I’m sure you’ve noticed a common theme in my approach to life. Whether it’s food or TV or social media, I’m an all-or-nothing person.
My husband is the exact opposite. For example, when I wake up one Saturday morning and announce that I’m giving up caffeine, he knows he will have to brace for the coming tsunami.
“Can’t you just taper off?” he begs. “Could you just cut back a little at a time?”
I look at him and laugh hysterically. “Are you crazy?!?”
Then I plunge straight ahead into a week of caffeine withdrawal, life-halting headaches and frequent naps. That’s how it has to be.

You see, there’s no such thing as “taper off” in my world. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it everyday at the same time, the same way. For example, my husband can drink a can of Coke once in a while or when he’s in the mood. Not me. If I drink one can of Coke at 10 a.m., I will drink a can of Coke at 10 a.m. every single day until I take some drastic measure to stop.
He can pop on Facebook once a month. He can eat a bowl of ice cream tonight and not be tempted to do it again tomorrow. He doesn’t have to worry that if he drinks a Cafe Mocha today, he might become completely addicted and have to have one every single day for the rest of his life. I’m just the opposite. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it all the way or not at all. There’s no in between.
This summer, I was so thankful to finally get some clarity on why we approach life so differently when I read the book, Better Than Before. The author, Gretchen Rubin, explained that some people are abstainers and other are moderators. Abstainers have a harder time doing things in moderation. It’s actually easier for them to give something up completely, than to try to do it just a little. Moderators are the opposite. They can set rules and boundaries for their habits and live within them.
Understanding that I’m an abstainer and he’s a moderator has been so helpful for our relationship. Now, when my husband suggests that I just cut back or take a day off or do that thing a little less, I tell him, “I can’t because I’m an abstainer.” When he merrily goes through life without all of the black and white lines that mark my path, I tell myself, “That’s’ OK. He can do that. He’s a moderator.”
He doesn’t have to worry about setting monthly goals for himself or making crazy adjustments to his diet. Meanwhile, I cover the walls in charts to mark my progress as I attempt to make some new drastic change to my lifestyle.
What about you? Are you a moderator or do you take an all-or-nothing approach to life? I would love to hear in the comments!

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