My husband and I have been married now for nearly 15 years. We have several friends who have been married for similar length of time. Unfortunately, we are at the point in our lives when some of our friends are separating and divorcing – there is either something about this second decade or there is something about our age.
So I have been thinking about this… and you know, after fifteen years, Husband and I are definitely repeating the same fights over and over. I mean, how many times do we really want to argue about the same things? And we’ve had it pretty good, I must say. But how much are people willing to take? (If you throw in some real serious problems, I see how people reach their breaking point.)
We’ve argued about some petty stuff. Repeatedly. It has really only been over the past couple of years that I have seen the patience wearing thin in both myself and Husband. Maybe we are simply tired (I blame the kids). But over the past couple of months, thankfully, I have noticed that we have also both been trying to “fix” some things. And truthfully, Husband gets his share of the credit here as he is a decent communicator some of the time whereas I can also be a poor communicator.
We really have issues fitting into our gender stereotypes sometimes. And you know what they say… it’s all about communication. We just haven’t had to work so hard at it before now. It’s not that marriage has been easy up to this point or anything, but when you marry your best friend, you tend to get along pretty well!
Husband repeatedly makes pithy comments about me being on my tablet or phone. I get confused because Husband also uses electronics! This causes anger and frustration. After several months(!) of this, Husband communicates to me that he “gets frustrated with me when I am on my electronics.” I immediately spew out, “You mean like how you were on your tablet for 3 straight hours the other day??” (because, of course, I am now “keeping score”). After calming down, I told him that I felt like it was a bit hypocritical to be upset with me. We finally got to the bottom of it when he verbalized that it felt like, to him, my choice of timing was not appropriate… like bath time, bed time, etc.
I just thought Husband had it all under control. And it’s not like it was every night, or anything. But… Point taken.
Husband is on the phone in the other room talking to whomever making plans for the weekend. Husband perhaps assumes that I have heard the plans? I have not because I am not in the room. I often do not find out what is going on until last minute because I am not told. This causes anger, frustration, and confusion. Husband’s favorite’s phrase, “Well, you didn’t ask.” Grrr!! I don’t want to be all naggy by harassing him the second he gets off the phone, but after years of repeating this argument, I am finally learning that I need to ask pointed questions in order to prevent the anger and confusion later on.
I am a procrastinator to the nth degree. We enjoy having parties, but I am not very good about planning them in advance. Husband tries to get me to engage in conversation with him about the planning process (see above comments about my sometimes lacking communication skills). He sees that the best time to do this is in the car because my “fight or flight” response is strong and I would love to run and cannot if trapped in the car. How he tries to engage me in planning conversation:
- “So, are we having a [Christmas/birthday/4th of July/Groundhog’s Day] party this year?”
- “What are we serving at the party?”
- “Who are we inviting to the party?”
- “So, what time are we having people come over?”
- “Are we having people bring something?”
This is basically the list that happens ANY time we have an event. After hearing this every single time over and over and over… I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE!!! And I am trapped in a car! It is really smart of him. But I end up snapping at him, and then he snaps back at me for being so “witchy.” This happens often. So this year, I finally reflected on it when it happened in the car and my blood started to boil as I heard the litany of questions and heard my short, exasperated responses of, “Sure” and “I don’t know,” and Husband was all, “You always react this way when all I want to do, is for us to plan a party!”
And there it was.
For us to plan a party? After a very long, deep, slow breath, I began with, “Don’t get mad at me. This is going to sound stupid, and I am afraid it isn’t going to make any sense to you. But I think the reason I always shut down when you try to talk to me about this sort of thing is because of the way you word the questions…”
The conversation took awhile, and he didn’t really understand why in the world it made any difference to me, but in the end, I got him to at least understand that if we were going to proceed, he HAD to use different language. “Are we…” implied to me that the decisions were all to be made by me, or had already been made by me. I did not see that as an invitation to a joint decision making process. And since WE are the ones who enjoy having parties, WE were in this together. “Are we…” needed to change to something like “should we…” How many arguments had this one simple word caused??
It’s kind of strange to think about the fact that we have been together for this long, and we are just now figuring some of this out! Of course, we will always be a work in progress, but for us to take some deep breaths, and to be able to verbalize what it is that has been getting on our nerves is such progress for us! Right now, we are enjoying emphasizing “should we” in our conversations, even if it isn’t necessary
sometimes it doesn’t even make any sense… it just makes us laugh.
And, Hubby? When you see that I’ve written this article, and I didn’t run it by you first? All I have to say is:
“Well, you didn’t ask!” (Wink, wink, kisses!!)