An Update

Lately I have taken all my time to write and put it toward reading about fixing my marriage. A book my counselor recommended. It has worksheets in it that my wife and I will start doing together on our Thursday discussions. 

We will see where it goes. I have high hopes for our friendship. I’m less certain about sex. As I was discussing with someone just yesterday how much can you expect a person to change from who they are at their core? Is it even fair of me to ask that much of her?

Journal: at home

Another post by Meredith. Just read that last line. That’s the message she was sending to me. This is something we talked about a lot. How making gobs of money wasn’t nearly as important to us as making enough to get by and spending time together. 

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There are times that I think I could be quite content staying at home as long as I had a little work to stay occupied.

I’ve been at home by myself all day and it’s lovely. I’ve gotten work done, made dinner, fixed the budget. Now I’m going to shower and then read some more for work. I love having my time be my own. And I love knowing that I’m close to both my daughter and H should one of them need something. Sometimes I think I would love to work like 20-30 hours a week so that I could devote more time to caring for my family. Or even 40 in a job like my current one where I can work from home and move when I work to fit our family. I just… I really like caring for my family. A lot. There is something peaceful about getting our lives set up well. I don’t like the childcare part of it because it makes it hard to do all the other stuff. So I would want to make sure that I made enough money to have childcare most days. But still, that’s not too hard.

Something to think about for my next phase.

Flooding

Reading a marriage book at the behest of my counselor, and page 40 really nailed it! The concept of flooding. I had been trying to tell my wife how her reactions to things overwhelm me and shut me down. It frustrates her as well as me. I mean I’m in a conversation, and then I’m just done. She went a certain direction, and BAM my body shuts down and my brain turns off. 

It’s called flooding. It’s a real thing, and affects us in a very physical way. Blood pressure and heart rate changes are significant. It forces your brain back into primitive mode. I can completely relate to that. All my humor and creative solutions are gone. It’s just me trying to survive the situation and make it stop. 

I love finding new information. This is great! I have a name for something that has been plaguing my marriage. Can we change it? Only time will tell, but it is no longer a mystery which means we are closer to resolution of one kind or another. 

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.

Journal: Saturday at the In Laws

Meredith reflects on what a new life would cost. 

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H’s parents took my daughter to the park this morning.

Grandpa mentioned the park before breakfast which meant that she was fixated on it all through breakfast and didn’t eat much.

They left H and I here alone which was nice. I did the 7 min workout and yoga while H showered. The dog was my workout partner, despite my protests. I think all the jumping in my workout freaked her out because she wouldn’t stay away. She kept jumping over the gate and coming upstairs so I finally just let her lay next to me. She is pretty cute though.

I’m feeling a bit melancholy this morning. I love H’s family and I’m realizing that in order to get what I want I would have to sever ties with them. That’s pretty hard to face. They are sweet to me, especially his dad. I don’t know what to do with that. It makes me really sad to think about. Plus they’ve known me for so long. I guess I need to weigh the costs.

I’m going to hop in the shower. It’s hot and the 7 minute workout got me all sweaty.

Journal: 8/26

Another post from Meredith. This one gets into her sexuality and her struggles with her husband. I mean he got angry with her over not telling him something about herself she didn’t really understand. Something he would have no idea what to do with, but the point is that instead of helping her or appreciating this new information he was angry. 

Also, when she talks of reading, it is literotica to get her aroused. Something my wife wouldn’t think of doing.

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Well, it’s Friday. I meditated but I’m taking the day off from exercise today. I only commited to 4 days a week and I’m pretty sore from yoga yesterday. I know, it doesn’t seem like yoga should make one sore but it totally does. It’s actually a really hard workout if you hold some of the poses for any length of time. Yesterday had a lot of core strengthening so it was particularly difficult.

I had a great day with my daughter at the retreat. [redacted specifics about the retreat that are not important]. 

I’m pretty worried about H today. He seems nervous about clinic. I think that if clinic doesn’t go well then he’s going to have to look into taking serious time off from the program, which must be nervewracking for him.

We had sex last night. I was feeling playful while we watched a movie and started kissing him passionately. I bit his lower lip pretty hard and he spanked me HARD which got me going. But then I said, “I’m too hot. If you want to continue we need to go upstairs,” and he didn’t make a move. Once the movie was over I went upstairs and read a bit to get my mind into it. And then we had sex. I don’t know. It really wasn’t great for me. I didn’t get there when I was reading or during. And then afterwards I asked him if more sex would lower his stress level and he made a comment that it only would if I enjoyed myself too because that’s what he finds most enjoyable… and then said something about how it made him angry that I hadn’t told him all this time that I’m a sub. But then he quickly said, “but I know that my anger is misplaced and that I think I’m actually just upset that you’re having a hard time.” But really, the damage was done. And I don’t really know what to do with that. I tried to tell him what I needed all along… I didn’t identify as a sub until recently but I was always setting up sex in a way that he was in charge and I was more submissive. And I used to ask him to hurt me but he never seemed that into it except for spanking.

Now that I see myself more clearly I’m seeing all the ways that I’ve always been a sub and just didn’t know it. It’s not just the sex – it’s everything. The way I take care of people. The way I ask questions. Everything. And I kind of like that about myself as long as I can find a situation where it’s understood and handled the right way. It feels like if I want to stay with H I have to change that about myself… and I don’t know that I really can and I don’t know what else I’d lose.

Introverted Intuition

My personality type falls into the Introverted Intuitives group. I’m an INTJ. It’s a way of thinking that I’ve had all my life, and influences how I see the world. My mind rather easily pieces together patterns and impressions which help me to predict what will happen in the future. The future is sometimes just the next 10 seconds and other times decades down the road. 

When I share my thoughts with others it can often seem outlandish or even mystical.  If you are not an introverted intuitive then it can be hard to understand how those connections are being made. I get a lot of skeptical looks. Especially from my wife. 

Here is a great description from psychologyjunkie:

Introverted Intuitives (INFJs, INTJs, ENFJs, ENTJs) form long-term conclusions and strategies for how things will most likely play out. They think visually, using many abstract symbols to make sense of their perceptions. Their future insights are often uncannily accurate. Their ideas often come to them “out of the blue” and are usually internalized, unlike Ne which is stimulated by the outer world and is more externalized. Introverted Intuition has less breadth than Extraverted Intuition, but more depth.

Out of the blue is a good way to describe it. Most of the time I have a vague idea of why the conclusion is reached, but it’s not always in a way I can put into words. Other times I’m really not sure where the idea came from. Much like waking with a song stuck in your head. Where did that come from? Who knows. I really don’t think too much about where it came from and just appreciate the new idea. 

However I am regularly grilled by introverted sensors over how the idea came to be. They require a solid historical example of how something could’ve happened, and they have a keen memory to debate every point which I can’t fully articulate. I know this because my wife does this to me so often I have stopped engaging her with big ideas unless I can fully explain it. 

Generally, I walk around in a world of probability. I even talk this way to myself when making decisions. In every action there is a probability of any number of reactions. My intuition often guides me to see those next steps, and even the next several steps, ranking them by likely probability. Often there are many forks to consider and then reconsider at lower levels. 

I love going through the process, and frankly I can’t turn it off. I can only choose if I share. With any project I end up with plans, backup plans, and backup backup plans. Most of which never occur, but cover all the top probable outcomes.  There are times when I appear to adapt quite quickly to complex changing situations, but usually those adaptations were preplanned in my mind. 

Take driving for example. As I’m driving down the road I am constantly analyzing other drivers to predict their next move. Not just the drivers around me, but those 5 cars ahead of me, too. Honestly I can’t tell you all the data that goes into these decisions. But there are times when I know that a driver will be soon trying to merge this way or that. A driver will be heading in a particular direction or maybe driving faster or slower than average. I will then adjust myself accordingly. I do the same mental excercise when my wife is driving, but she argues with me about it constantly! Even though I’m right most of the time. She reacts to what she sees in the moment, and I react to what I predict will be the next moment. 

Again it’s a probability. I’m not always right, but it’s rare that I’m massively wrong. Usually it’s just a level of detail I get wrong. 

Another way to think of it is with the game of pool. If most people can see a straight shot or even a simple bank shot, I can often see a double bank shot to sink three balls. It’s just part of introverted intuition, and I’m sure many other INTJs know what I’m talking about. 

The hardest part can be describing how you reached those conclusions to people who doubt you. My wife is my biggest doubter. I’m always finding these connections between things and explaining them to her. Things about why people act a certain way, and the little things that could make a big difference. She argues with me about every one of them. Often I’m using this skill to help her, but it doesn’t matter. 

The thing is, I’m very good at it, and have used it successfully to help people many times. I love helping people. My wife will often say that she doesn’t know anyone who looks at the world and sees things the way I do. But when I try to use that skill to help her she rejects it. 

The main reason she rejects it is because she does not understand it. My wife is a very literal person, and she must see things directly. She does not see the double bank shot. Therefore it cannot exist. Regardless of how I try to explain it, and to be honest I’m not always great at explaining it. That doesn’t make what I’m saying incorrect through. 

My wife also has a very naive view of human behavior. Essentially everyone is like her, and has the same drivers she has. She can’t really fathom all the ways different people react to things. I am constantly explaining to her other explanations of why people might be acting the way they are. It frustrates her to no end. 

With my friends, and with Meredith especially, they love this skill and we can often talk for hours about theories and different probable future events. There is no animosity over what I propose as a solution nor a need for detailed analysis on how I got there. They accept that I am smart, and know what I’m talking about. Then we can talk about the results rather than the process. 

Meredith was such a breath of fresh air in that regard. She was struggling with many varied things over the years, and she loved talking it out with me and hearing what crazy ideas I had about it. Though she knew they would be unique she also knew they would be pretty accurate – usually.