I was going through my drafts and saw this post. I guess I was afraid to post it because the thought processe was incomplete. But I’ve decided to post anyway.
I have a confession.
The other day I snapped at my husband. I had told him we were ready for dinner. “We” being Stormy and I because I wanted to try eating together as a family. After several minutes I looked over and Chewy was still on the couch, looking at something on his cellphone. I said quietly to Stormy, “we’ll just say our own little prayer” and Chewy said, “what did you say about me?” And I snapped. I told him what I said and that I wasn’t trash talking him to our son…though if I’m being honest it was a nameless trash talking, I was annoyed that he was on his phone.
I immediately felt terrible for snapping. To him, and to me, it seemed to come out of nowhere. I apologized but the evening was tainted.
We are perfectly fine now. I think this might be normal in most marriages (and close friendships too). I had every intention of never sharing that story. That is until two things happened.
The first was a conversation with my best friend last night. I don’t have the details and even if I did they wouldn’t be mine to post, but suffice it to say on one or two levels it was similar. I confessed my irrational snapping as I tried to understand and relate to the information I had on her situation. Mostly I wanted her to know that it’s normal. It’s normal to be irrational and crazy from time to time. NOT to say we shouldn’t work on not being crazy and irrational but it’s not a fail just because you get it wrong from time to time, it’s learning.
From the title I expected to find a guy who had been married to someone with incredibly unrealistic expectations, or some kind of “not really” article where the dishes were some deep allegory. But I thought I’d read anyway. And I suppose I kind of found that. The article is well written and couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Not because I snapped at my husband, that will probably happen again, I’m crazy and I embrace this. But it was well timed with the conversation with my friend.
How many times have I expected that my husband knew what I was thinking? Not as a conscious thought but unconsciously. I catch it after the fact, just like I understood why I snapped days after it happened. In fact, I didn’t fully understand it until I confessed it to my friend. It was as simple as the words coming out as I texted her (Chewy was asleep on my shoulder so no phone calls – thank goodness for texting or I’d never converse with people). I typed, “I felt ignored”. Was I mad he was on his phone? No. Was I mad he didn’t come rushing in for dinner? No. In fact, it goes deeper. I felt ignored but mostly I had wanted to have dinner together as a family (which is hard to do when the youngest member eats at 5:30 and goes down by 6:30). Stormy was hungry and fading fast and I felt time was short. Had I ever SAID that OUT LOUD? NO! I do this a lot and I know it’s a problem but I realize it afterwards. Kind of like when I say the word “like” as a filler or in place of “thought”, “said”, “reacted”, etc. Now the guy in the article figured it out on his own, but what would have happened if she had vocalized how she saw it? Did she even understand how she saw it at the time?
When Chewy and I first got married he walked on eggshells expecting that when I said one thing I meant another and that I was secretly testing his mind reading abilities. It took me months to get him to understand that I wasn’t doing that. And yet, I realize that I DO. I expect him to do the work I haven’t even done. I expect him to figure out what is really bothering me, understanding that I am bothered by it and why I am when I don’t even know that myself. I have this opportunity to be married to my best friend and I think I take for granted that we aren’t always on the same page, sometimes we’re not even in the same book. It’s not because he doesn’t love me or I him, it’s because we are individuals with different feelings, thought processes, backgrounds, upbringings, cultures, etc. etc. etc.
I sent the article to my friend, almost before I even finished reading it. She asked how we share this with the men to help them understand. I think it’s great as an attempt to communicate, to try and explain that we think we’ve found the problem, but there isn’t much of a solution in the article, not for the women at least and for the men it’s still asking them to read our minds. We can’t get them to understand, we can’t change the way they see it. THEY can change it if they’d like, but we can’t do that. We never could. It has to be a team effort to improve our communication with each other.
I don’t have any answers to this, I’m not an expert and I’ve only been married two years – but what I do know is that it will be trial and error. Relationships are incredible learning grounds with one very amazing advantage. Our fellow student LOVES US. It’s not a competition, it’s not a pass/fail course, it’s learning and growing together. It’s committing with each other to do and be better.
For me (and I’m guessing for many, many women) good communication starts with figuring out what is actually bothering me. Why do I get upset when Chewy says or does a certain thing is important to first understanding and then to try and explain it. I think we would both be happier if I could figure out how to explain why something makes me feel a certain way, because “it’s not about the dish, it’s never about the dish.” You can replace “dish” with anything.
Anyway those are my “deep thoughts” that I sat on for a long time.