I do not completely open up to my wife. Over time I have tried, but it doesn’t go well. Being vulnerable with anyone is hard, but the person that you chose as your life partner should be the one person who you can share all.
When I was a child I used to keep journals of various types. I have always enjoyed writing my thoughts. Over time I’ve lost or tossed nearly all of them. Even as a child I was always scared of someone seeing my innermost thoughts without understanding them. Having four nosy sisters probably didn’t help. Because of that fear, I would either write them in code or destroy them after I became too nervous.
Many years later I got married. Wife and I lived in our own house. A safe place with my partner. Again I tried my hand at writing journals about what was going on in my head. Quickly the same fears came back. I realized that whether it be politics, current events, people in our lives, or sex, the topics and what I had to write about them could not be shared with Wife. She would be offended, and would not understand. It would lead to arguments, and derision.
That led me to doing many of the same things I did as a child. I would write them in a watered down way so that the meaning would remain, but easier to explain. Very unsatisfying when you are trying to unload the thoughts in your head. I would also tear out certain pages after rereading them. I would spend time looking for ways to lock them up, but realize that was a dumb idea when married.
You see the problem wasn’t the writing. The problem was me, and my relationship with my wife. She loves a certain version of me that keeps the hard stuff secret. Although I wanted to tell her everything, my attempts at doing so would always fail. She would get upset with me or not engage.
We don’t agree on politics. I would test the water with some theories, and the vociferousness of her attacks would stop me in my tracks. What I learned is to just not talk about something that I really loved talking about. Do not explore ideas.
Then I would talk about sex, and bring up mild things or concepts that were important to me. Some of them she would quickly and decisively shut down. That was hard to take. Others she would entertain at some level, and a few we even put into practice, but they were all short lived, and performed with much resistance. She is really not into the ideas, and only performing to please her husband. Which makes me feel worse than if she had just said no.
Various other topics would turn out much the same way. As a good husband who does not want to rock the boat and cannot match Wife’s energy in an argument, I would just put my thoughts aside. Place them back up in my head where I can live a private second life. It has all been hitting me the past year on how much of myself I’ve let go. How much of me I’ve locked up in my head.
Over the last several months I have tried to help her see how her reactions to who I am affect me. Rather than sulk away and let things drop, I tell her how she is making me feel. It has been an awful experience. Much crying and arguing comes from it. Her method for confronting me when I tell her more than she can handle is swift, loud and angry. There is no calm discussion. It completely shuts me down, and makes it very hard for us to have the deep conversations we need.
She’s also very competitive, and constantly turns whatever I’m saying into a competition over who has done what for the other. It’s not about that. First you upset me by not listening to my ideas, but you put your dish in the dishwasher and I didn’t. So we are even in her mind. But we are not even. It’s not about being even! I don’t feel understood or loved, and am contemplating walking out of the marriage, and she’s telling me the score is even.
At least with me bringing this to light she is getting a taste of the pain I am carrying now. Before, she thought everything was fine. And it was fine for her because I buried my pain. I hid it from her because I knew it would be under attack. Did I then end up building a fake marriage? I don’t know. What I do know is I’m going to do something about it now. I’m going to stand up for me. I’m going to share my vulnerable side. It’s going to be heated. My marriage may not survive it, but then it is probably for the best.