Ask your partner why they love you. See what happens. I did, and then I tried not to panic when my husband paused and told me the question made his brain hurt.
Well actually, that requires the presence of a brain, and since he still hadn’t answered yet, I seriously doubt his is in working order. Men can be so DENSE.
Oh, by the way, our rubberbands from last week’s session, lasted approximately 20 hours. Not even a full day. They were, quite possibly, the worst idea I’ve ever had. More on that later.
So, after a too-long-for-my-liking pause, a sigh, and finally resignation, he did proceed to answer my question. He also couldn’t help but let me know, he was feeling just a little too tired for “school”. Certainly, he assumes, we can do this another time. He wants to go to bed.
I’m already off schedule. The past week has brought forth sick children, a computer virus, and a puppy that refuses to leave our Christmas tree alone. He’s managed to pull the entire DECORATED tree over, crushing precious ornaments all over the living room floor. But he is cute, cuddly, and unable to talk back, so I can let that go.
Back to my husband. I’m allowed to quit, nobody else. Since I’ve declared myself the leader, the President, the CEO of our relationship, I happily let him know that sleep is not an option. Furthermore, if he does, in fact, get up and leave our counseling session, sex will no longer be an option either. Problem solved.
(let’s refer back to the 2nd paragraph, last sentence: Men can be so DENSE.)
It’s a loaded question. A question that truly deserves an entire counseling session, and possibly a lifetime of “reminder” sessions. WHY do you love ME? No ridiculously superficial “I love your smile” answers allowed. We’re digging deeper.
I, of course, was prepped and ready with my answer. My husband paused. Was he thinking, contemplating, the best most eloquent way to phrase his undying love for me? Or, more likely, was he trying to remember exactly WHY he does love me? I no longer begrudge his pause, let’s be honest, I know the topic ahead of time, therefore I’m not the one being put on the spot. He comes to the table blind, I like to watch him squirm.
Now, we do say “I love you” every morning before he leaves for work, every night before we go to bed. But after a while, those words are just words, a routine, almost a superstition. Do they really have meaning? They’re comforting to hear, but after a while, even comfort doesn’t feel as good as it used to.
So really, sit down, directly across from each other, look into your partner’s eyes, ask the question, and wait for an answer. Give it a shot. You almost feel naked, stripped down to your bare soul, sitting there waiting for a response. It crosses my mind that this may have been an easier conversation to have with my boyfriend, rather than my husband.
Relax, I don’t actually have a boyfriend. Aside from my Port Charles, French countryside, Bon Jovi loving fantasy world, it’s just me and my hubby. Only trying to make a point. Did anyone understand my analogy, or once again, are you rolling your eyes?
As we stumbled through this, we began to realize something so totally eye-opening and transforming. The very qualities we love most about each other, at least some of them, are the same qualities that have threatened to tear us apart. Let me explain.
Now, dear Sister-in-Law, I know you’re reading. You’ve been warned, please don’t pass out. But when I fell for your brother, I remember thinking…..”Wow, so this is what it feels like to be with someone so totally SELFLESS”. I instinctively knew he would always take care of me and whatever future family we had. I felt safe.
How could those qualities possibly tear us apart? In a roundabout way, it’s quite easy. Over the years, we’ve had children, I’ve left the traditional work force, life has continued to happen. My responsibilities inside the home have doubled, tripled, quadrupled…I’m raising little people, a huge task. His responsibilities outside the home have grown too. All of this so we can live our life the way we choose. Of course there’s sacrifice; that goes without saying. My husband has willingly sacrificed the most, quite noticeably, his time.
From the beginning, he’s picked up extra jobs, work, whatever he’s needed to, in order to bring home that needed income. I clearly remember in years past, him leaving at 5:30am, coming home to bed after 10:00pm, and then waking up to do it all again….over and over and over. He was visibly tired, worn out, exhausted. But he did it. Days would pass without him seeing the girls, and I was lonely as hell. Thankfully, I think those years are over.
However, at the time, loneliness does terrible things to you. In the midst of this, our girls still weren’t sleeping through the night. Boohoo right? All parents go through this. Well, do all wives have a husband who would willingly get up in the middle of the night, changing diapers, rocking babies back to sleep, simply because he wanted to? Mine did. He still does. Even typing this, I feel somewhat spoiled and guilty. I have a husband who, even while I was breastfeeding, would get up as often as I did, and change the baby’s diaper…just because.
So again, how could this possibly tear us apart? Look, I know how it sounds. Suck it up and deal with it, right? But when you’re used to sharing all your time with someone, and then suddenly you’re spending all your waking time apart, loneliness takes over, no matter how well intentioned the reasons. You start to feel neglected. You start to shut down real communication, and you simply do what needs to be done to get through the day. Does this make sense? Hindsight’s 20/20.
Realizing this simple fact makes me feel like our entire world just opened back up. My sense of humor, one thing my husband has always adored. Uh-huh. When communication shuts down, and my sense of humor, aka sarcasm, takes over…. It’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Another example of how easy it is, without consciously working against it, to use the things you love about each other the most, to tear each other apart.
Ironically enough, now it’s me, MY brain hurts. Would you like to know what happened to those rubberbands? Ah yes, my brilliant idea to force positive thinking on 2 very delusional idiots. Revelation or not, we’re still remarkably flawed humans.
The day after we snapped our rubberbands in place, we left for a 4 hour trek, across the state, towards Thanksgiving, holiday, and family bliss. Rubberbands didn’t even last a car ride, let alone a week. Thanksgiving WAS nice, the trip was horrific. As you all know, children and car rides are a very touchy twosome. On this particular day, the result was anything less than, shall we say, “positive”? As our girls argued over music, movies, and whose shoe was touching whose pillowcase, I lost it. Turning around and yelling something I thought was quite warranted, my husband looks at me and calmly, not a bit sarcastically (yeah right) asks me to stop yelling in his ear. My voice, he says, is assaulting his ear drum.
He too, it seems, has his own sarcasm gene. Oh, I’ll stop yelling. In fact, I promise I’ll never yell or discipline the kids again, within earshot of him. I’ll be calm, cool, and collected. Yes, I’ll make this promise to him, if he can, in turn, promise me he’ll never again let an offensive, raunchy, and putrid smell escape from his backside. Ridiculous, right? Why do I say such stupid things?
As we continue to exchange poignant one-liners, fanning the flames with each and every word, I reach into the center console for a pen and paper. I am, after all, recording 6 months of our marriage, good or bad. I don’t want to forget this. I start to take notes.
Start laughing now, because let me tell you, you don’t want to start taking notes in the middle of an argument, no matter how seemingly insignificant that argument is. Ignore this advice at your own risk. If you do proceed to take notes, when your husband notices what you’re doing, I assure you he will NOT be happy.
I do applaud my husband’s ability to switch gears so quickly. In fact, he didn’t even appear angry anymore when he glanced over at me and oh-so-calmly, scratch that, eerily said, “Make sure you write down that you have your period. Just one more reason you’re being such a bitch.”
Oh, I wrote it down. Yes, I did. Mind you, the entire time a little voice inside my head kept saying….”let it go, let it go, let it go”. That little voice even said…”he’s right, stop now, don’t engage, don’t engage, do NOT engage”. You see, the new me, is trying very hard to listen to that little voice, to take the high road, to end the argument before it starts. So, I did hear my little voice, I did acknowledge it, I even thanked it for stopping by. Then I officially, purposefully, quite emphatically squashed it. Bye-bye wise little voice. Hello irrational, irate, destructive self.
Now, I’ve been informed that a few men are actually following our somewhat ridiculous saga. To said men, take notes. There are 2 things a man should never, under any circumstance, EVER bring up in a less than positive, loving, and affectionate way. 1: a woman’s period. 2: her mother. Listen Guys, you may be right. You may have every reason in the world to do so. Think these thoughts, THINK THEM, do not say them out loud. Don’t even risk mumbling them under your breath; it’s detrimental to your health. If you choose to ignore this advice, and you do, God forbid, choose to forge ahead and “mention” the above referenced circumstances, heaven help you. You’ve dug your own grave.
As I proceeded to declare war on my husband, his character, his various abilities and inabilities, etc…. he did, in fact, proceed to go where no man should ever go. Justified as he may have been, anytime my mother, me, and a dysfunctional, delusional, irrational comparison come up; I check out. It’s as if I leave my body and a creature which even I’m afraid to know, takes over.
For a brief moment, I seriously consider removing my rubberband and wrapping, twisting, tying it, around a certain part of my husband’s very sensitive anatomy. To understand my rage, you have to know that my mother and I have a very complicated history. I love her, I do. But we’ve got issues, way too many issues for this post. We could actually benefit from our own type of mother/daughter counseling experiment.
I have to get out of the car. I need to get away from him. How dare he actually bring up such touchy, unresolved, emotionally damaging issues? How dare he state the TRUTH? I’m trying not to yell. I don’t want to scream. Only because the girls are directly behind us in the backseat, but any reason, is good enough. So we’re now viciously whispering back and forth, shooting daggers at each other with our furious eyes. Whispering or not, we all know children are instinctively stupid, and couldn’t possibly pick up on the tension and negative energy which has so quickly taken hold of us. Right, they have no idea what’s going on…..uh-huh.
Can I justify it all with….”I’m teaching my girls that love isn’t always easy. You have to learn how to fight and get through things to make something last.”? Even as I type this, I admit, it simply sounds like a pathetic excuse for my lack of self-control.
My little voice returned. Wise or not, it started chirping away. Something to the effect of, you better pick your battles because you’ve got a long 3 days ahead of you. So I shut up. I shut my mouth and stared out the window, not daring to move a muscle, not even an inch. I still have a point to prove. I don’t remember what it is, but I know I’ve got to stay angry longer. I need to outlast him. I need to win.
Yes, People, that’s ridiculous. I seriously hope I’ll get out of my own way long enough to realize, I better continue with my self-examination before I thoroughly destroy all the progress we’ve made.
As my husband calms down and advises me to do the same, he ever so swiftly slips a CD into the player. Not just any CD, but Bon Jovi, MY Bon Jovi. He starts the music at #9, “Till We’re Not Strangers Anymore”, and my heart begins to melt. I know you hate me now. I’ve been terribly cruel, ruthless you might say, and my husband is the one breaking the ice with one of my favorite fantasies and songs.
It occurs to me now that HE is the one who is learning the most, changing the most, from our counseling sessions. I didn’t bank on that. After all, this experiment was MY idea. Hmmmm, perhaps it’s time to set my pride and stubbornness aside?
So as quickly as the storm came, it also passed. There’s so much more I could say, so much more to divulge, but the little voice inside my head is rambling so fast, even I can’t keep my thoughts straight. This happens quite frequently.
A repeated thought that does make sense? Surrender it all. I’m reminded to surrender myself, my worries, and all my “walls”, in order to completely let go and move forward. Talk about a full circle car ride, moment, life lesson, whatever you want to call it.
So, I love him and he loves me. We fight like cats and dogs, and we make up just as quickly. Can we say we’re passionate? That would certainly make me feel better. Sometimes I think I get too caught up in how I think we should be, instead of focusing on how we actually are. I don’t know.
I do know I tend to get caught up in fantasy worlds. No kidding, right? I love to read. So last night as my husband passed me, on the sofa, book in hand, and said, “How’s your book”? I almost didn’t hear him. Did he really just ask me about my book? This is seriously uncharted territory. He proceeds to ask me details about the story line, the plot. He thinks he’ll read it when I’m done. Excuse me?!? As random as this part of my post may be, it was just as random a moment in our marriage. But it clicked.
He is trying, he’s really trying, and he wants to read MY book, so he can connect with me. I’m astonished and dumbfounded all at the same time. In fact, I’m noticeably silent. He’s probably thankful for that. Perhaps, he’s realized that if he’s reading, I won’t be talking. There are many things I don’t have, but I do have a sense of humor, and I can live with that. Until next time…..