Last night my wife and I had a good discussion. We each had a glass of wine and settled down to discuss personal things. We did not address the elephant in the room (sex), but we did talk about many of the things that are impacting our communication.
We started by acknowledging the positives. Then we looked at what could’ve gone better. Then looked at specific things we need from each other. The positives were nice. The negatives were harder, as most of our negatives are really a lack of positives in certain areas. The specific things were also hard as I don’t know what those are specifically. My brain works more in theories and philosophies. But we mustered through it.
She is listening. She is actually listening to me on a deeper level without arguing with every point. This is a first, and she acknowledged it was work for her. This was a different way of acting for her; to really listen to me tell her how I’m feeling. I need to be able to talk those feelings even if she doesn’t find them pleasant.
She is controlling her anger and reactions. This is a big one for me. Normally her intense negative reaction shuts me right down. For years this has been the case, where now I am just trained to avoid that which brings the reaction. Her newfound control allowed me to really tell her what she needs to hear. I’m sure I still wasn’t super open. Baby steps.
She is focused on us and loves me. This was clear and we acknowledged it. She isn’t going to attack me for how I feel. She is going to work on our marriage because she loves me. And I love her.
She needs me to tell her when I notice her improvement. She said she often can’t tell anymore whether she is doing anything right. Her world has shifted. I need to be extra appreciative when I notice a positive change. Fair enough.
She wants to change both for me and for herself. Much of the change we discussed was for me and our relationship, but there are also things she does that upset me that she does with others. She knows what they are – her mother does them. It bothers her to think she makes people feel invalidated the way her mother does. She knows that pain well. Part of this will help her in all relationships.
We talked about our communication styles. We are very different people, and we need to know that about each other. She knows now that she can’t wait for me to tell her things in the same extroverted style she would use. I also need to know that she is going to overwhelm me with her own feelings at times, and I need to discuss that with her. She also isn’t going to intuit my needs well. She wants help on how to navigate that. I will help, but I also explained that I don’t always know the answer. She’s going to have to work on figuring some of it out.
I told her that there is a whole world to me she knows nothing about. I’m not hiding it from her intentionally. It is just how my mind works. She can crack into it, but I’m not going to just deliver it to her. She will need to learn how to navigate and learn more about me. It’s up to her if she wants. I want her to know about me. That there is a lot under the hood. But I can’t force her to find it and I’m not sure she even can. It takes a type of mental connection we’ve never had.
We will keep doing these talks, and it seems to be getting easier for her. The more we have these hard talks the easier they get. That is good news. She was less anxious this time. She isn’t as scared of what is to come.
I told her that I need to know that she is interested in me. It’s important to me. After spending so much energy on her I need to feel her interest in my future and me as a person. It’s hard feeling invisible in your own marriage. She said she never ever meant to make me feel that way. And it’s true. She never meant any harm, but it happened anyway.
I don’t need a scheduled set of checking in. I need an organic interest from her. She often wanted some sort of action plan or checklist. I kept saying, no. That’s too much. We just need to talk about it now. I just need you to show interest. From the interest things will come. A checklist does not show me you care about me. It only shows you can follow directions. I need it from the heart. Genuine interest.
We both need some time to ourselves to work on ourselves. This we acknowledged together. I need her full support to be able to work on things for me, and she needs my support to do things for her. To be honest she has my full support already.
I need to be me again. I’ve been on hold so long. That is the essence of what I need in all its forms. She wants a list of what that is, but I need it to be a conversation, and an ability to know me. We will see how well this lasts. Perhaps I’m asking too much.
I think she could see that the equality she thought we had was not so. I feel very much like our relationship is focused on her and my role is to support her. She hadn’t ever paused to think about that.
She said she often feels like she is failing in every aspect of her life. She can’t spend enough time at work; or with the kids; or with me; or on herself. She is not failing, but she feels that way. As long as she has kids and a job she will always feel that way. I will help her look at ways to lessen that feeling. That may mean cutting back at work.
In the end will this be enough? I don’t know. It’s hard to say. At least we will give it a try. At minimum this will improve things. It will open us up to be able to communicate about sex.