Thursday discussion 

These conversations between my wife and I are still awkward, but they are making a difference. Last night we started off easy about stuff that went well and progressed into talking about our kids. Always a joy for us both. 

After a while I turned toward my notes from counseling. I had a really good session. Earlier in the week I was actually wondering if I was getting anything from the counseling, and then I had a really good session. Last night I pulled up my notes and started with the first of many points. We never made it past the first point because it brought out so many things for both of us. 

My first note was that we need to figure out a communication plan that works for us. That term is just something I struggle with. It sounds so fake to me. As if we are going to learn inauthentic ways of dealing with each other that will make the other person think we understand them. Either way my wife liked the idea. She started bringing up examples of where it could help. 

Then she told about how she was so happy she had covered for me last week when I had a work outing. She was able to get the kids and put them to bed. She dropped the line “I was even able to take them to the grocery store and do grocery shopping!” And my panic buzzer went off. She hadn’t told me that before. I stopped her because I wanted to let her know how that made me feel, and apparently it didn’t come across very well. I told her that when she does those extra things when I’m depending on her, that is when things go wrong and it ends up backfiring on me. I told her I was glad it didn’t, but when she mentioned it I started to panic. She became very upset because she thought it was just a positive story, but she couldn’t see it from my perspective. 

Later in our conversation that led us to talk about how she reacts to the things I say. She will often get upset with me for the way that I say things. I do not always have the luxury of coming up with the perfect wife approved statement, and I said she needs to cut me some slack. Then I told her how I often feel that she puts me in the “jerk” box unfairly. Which makes her perceive that everything I say is from a jerk when it couldn’t be further from the truth. She has read The Rosie Project and I said “if instead you put me in the Don box I don’t think you’d have such a reaction to what I say.”

She got very contemplative and had to really consider. She admitted that I am not a jerk; she does often box me in as a jerk when she is stressed. She doesn’t know why, and she’s never thought about it before. We talked about when we were younger and we would joke about me being the kindest sweetest most loving jerk she knows. But it was only a joke. She has somehow made it part of her view of me. I told her that we can’t treat each other based on who we were in 2003. We are not those people. That was something else that came up during my counseling. She knows she struggles with bringing up the past as if nothing has changed. Everything comes from the past for her. She doesn’t let go. 

Later she brought up that she often feels that I’m selfish. That I make everything about me. That was interesting for me to hear, but I listened. She said I often turn conversations around in a way that she becomes the bad guy, and make her do more of the work around the house. We talked about it, and I don’t turn the conversation to me but I do change the conversations quite often to a level she is either uncomfortable with or doesn’t understand. We think differently. She even had to admit most of the time I’m putting her needs first, but it’s hard for her to see it when it’s happening. As to the work, I readily admitted I’m lazy, but I never make or expect her to do more. She just never sits down and does it anyway. I said I’ve been working for 18 years on being a better person to live with but it is not easy. 

Then I reminded her of all the times I asked her NOT to do something until I could get to it and she didn’t wait. She never does. Last night before our talk she actually took time out to watch a cooking YouTube video while I was putting the kids to bed. She knew it was garbage night and there was work to do, but she finally realized that if she didn’t wait for me to help, and just did it while I was busy with the kids, then it wasn’t fair to me that she feels overburdened. And she also resents that I take time out for myself – like watching a video of something that interests me – and she won’t until every last thing is done. That’s her issue to deal with not mine. She admitted as such last night. She saw that everything went very smoothly once I came downstairs, and we started doing the garbage together. No resentment. I even asked her about the video she watched. 

Things got a little emotional too when we started talking about all I’ve done for her over the years. We went into detail on how I was always there to support her career. Even the little things. Both pushing her and pulling her when needed. Showing her how to stand up to a horrible boss, and giving her the courage to take a giant leap for her career at my own expense. She knows all this.

Then we talked about friendships and all I’ve done for her to be able to maintain friendships. She even brought up how I stood up for her against her horrible off-campus roommates when we were in college. All the way up till now I’m still helping her setup times to see her friends so they stay close friends. She was extremely appreciative and realized that I do all these things for her quietly and in between chores getting done. One thing we didn’t talk about is that she does none of it for me.

Next we talked about the way we tell stories and how different we are personality-wise. She likes to tell every little detail from A to B to C to D. It’s too much. When I tell stories I jump around and highlight areas. I focus on what would be interesting to my audience. Those styles are completely opposed, and we often are angry at each other for it. I’m constantly telling her to summarize and skip to the point while she is flustered that I skipped points, and tries to insert them while I’m talking. It was just one very clear example of where we are very very different personalities in a way that angers both of us. 

Overall my wife is trying through. She even brought up that yesterday when we were discussing some area of our house we needed to address she thought about how to approach it with me. Instead of whatever she would have said, which most likely wouldn’t have worked, she said “ok, what do we do next?” The planning side of my brain took off and I launched into our possible options. She was floored at how well it worked because she had just wanted to give me her opinion which would’ve probably led to an argument. Instead she got a complete analysis and an animated husband. It was an eye opener for her. She was finally using and relying on my intuition and planning skills instead of fighting them. 

Finally she wanted to bring up how thankful she was that I am a great dad and the time I spend with the kids. She knows it’s important to me and she feels very lucky to have such an involved husband. She even mentioned that she listened to me and makes more of an effort herself to spend time with the kids over work and cleaning. It was an acknowledgment that I really do know what l doing and she learned from me. For some reason I think that is hard for her. She’s too proud to admit that I can teach her things. She says it makes her feel dumb. The only dumb people I know are those who stop trying to learn. 

Anyway that was our talk. It was good.


11 thoughts on “Thursday discussion 

  1. I read The Rosie Project and absolutely loved it. In the sequel, though, I felt that Rosie was a complete bitch–unreasonable, ungrateful, demanding, and dishonest. I wonder how your wife would interpret her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha. I was thinking the same thing. She seemed unreasonable in the second book, but with a new baby I kind of understand. It just seemed he didn’t get any slack. The first book had s good push/pull dynamic. We will see what she thinks.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was super annoyed that a) she got pregnant despite a discussion to wait and b) she then blames all of her problems on “baby brain”. I thought he worked SO hard to try and figure out what would help, and she was just impossible. Grr! Makes me mad all over again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Our relationships are power struggles. From the time you are born until you die you are in a struggle to maintain power over yourself and your environment. So are other people. This becomes a tricky balancing act where you express your view out loud without being controlling. It then allows the other person to have power as well. This is the hardest thing for people to get their heads around. You want power, so does your wife. Each of you thinks the other has more power. One thing both of you need to be very aware of is being negatively manipulative. Understand, all people manipulate. Babies learn to smile because they get rewarded for it. Children learn please and thank you because they are rewarded for it. We either learn positive ways to get our needs met as children or we learn negative ways. Of course we bring all of that with us into adulthood. It worked as a child why can’t it work as an adult. Well if it is not healthy it is not going to work. Both of you need to look back at how your childhoods shape the two of you and go from there. Also, people just simply ignore genetics. That nature versus nurture argument is ridiculous. You are born with a personality and your childhood either allows it to grow into a healthy person or it squashes it, and damages it, and does not allow anything healthy to happen. (I believe some people are born sociopaths. There is no fixing them) I’m talking about two reasonably emotionally, healthy adults. Neither of you should feel it’s your way or the highway and that is what comes across in your writing. Your wife has hopes and dreams and expectations just as you do. If you have put off getting your needs met to help your wife through college and medical school then now you need to sit down and very clearly state what you would like to have happen for yourself. If you do it by being negative about her in anyway she is going to get her back up. No one, I repeat, no one likes criticism. If you insult someone badly enough they will remember it the rest of their lives. In fact 20 years later they can quote you verbatim. You need to be very aware that words do hurt and they do change directions of relationships. If you want to stay married and have a fulfilling relationship with your wife you are going to have to be honest, but kind. What is it about your relationship that you like and what it is about your relationship you do not like. You have to be clear about that. “Communication” is too broad a meaning. The little daily interactions between the two of you either leave you feeling better about things or not so. Right that minute is when you need to stop and say, “What just happened. Why don’t I feel good about this. What did I say and what did you say that made us have this outcome?” Getting your feelings hurt, getting angry, putting off talking about it only makes it worse. You don’t have to be angry. You can just make sure that she knows you’re not comfortable with the outcome of that interaction. She should be able to do the same thing. If you talk about it instead of getting angry about it you may find out how the two of you are manipulating each other. It really is just stopping and looking at why this is happening. And fixing it right then.
    You need to start hugging each other. Most human beings crave physical contact. And that is also communication.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are leading her and it’s working. Do not lose sight of your end game and understand the things she does that trigger a negative response in you. Some of those things you should gently address directly, but others like her being proactive when it comes to chores, that’s a positive trait that should be praised. Roles and responsibilities take its toll on a marriage, but it sounds like you do have sort of a system which helps (i.e.; garbage night). I disagree that a relationship is a power struggle as Moi suggests. I’ve noticed that my attitude is directly related to how I process information or decode a message. If my thoughts become defensive, I need to unpack the reasons that cause defensiveness. Guarding your heart/mind is just as important as letting love in. Communication strategies easily breakdown under stress, be sure to get back to what establishes sustained joy – build your house on the rock instead of sand. Thank you for sharing your life. I’m glad you’re experiencing some wins in your relationship. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is about power. The first word after “Dada” that a child says is “No!” It begins that early. It is all a balancing act. I think some affairs are passive aggressive in nature because one partner feels diminished in the marriage. Nothing is more heady than having someone hang on to your every word. At home there is life going on. In an affair there is ROMANCE and all those feel good hormones. But they don’t last. It may be that his marriage won’t survive. If there are children I hope it does. I also hope both of them feel empowered in it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What you call a power struggle I know as the will of a person. The will exists even without someone present; therefore the struggle is not with flesh and blood. I do believe ROMANCE can last, the ROMANCE of fiction, no, but the deep intimate love, yes.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The funny thing is if you guys had a solid sexual bond, all these quibbles would be less grating. But as it stands you are left to parse things out like a translator. I often tried to explain to my husband that sex is the “joint” of relationships. Imagine an arm without an elbow or a leg without a knee. This is what a relationship with a mismatched sexual bond is like. Anyway I admire your perseverance.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course a couple with a strong sexual connection will understand a gradual attenuation in physicality over time. But patientman is not 90, he just has a spouse who doesn’t give a shit about his sexual needs, or seemingly, his emotional needs.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. People naturally lose their sexual connection when they’re not connecting in other areas. Young children for any couple takes a toll on the sex life. It’s a season and it really depends on whether or not both people can bounce back and be resilient.

        Liked by 2 people

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