Monday, June 14, 2010

Pushing buttons

E and I had a big fight last week. I cried and freaked out--standard behavior for being pushed beyond what I feel like is my capacity. He made a solo decision about what to do with some extra money we had and I felt left out--standard button of mine that got pushed. It took hours of talking, doing what we know to do now, but it got settled. Well, the argument did but I had this feeling into the next day that I can't characterize any better than to use the phrase Addie did the night after I forgot to pick her up from school--leftover sad. I was totally leftover sad. Yes, the money thing got straightened out. E didn't know that there was so much weight given in my mind to being a part of the decision of what to do with the money. I didn't know that he was just trying to take care of things because that was what he thought he should do. I was just leftover sad.

It brought a few things to my attention. First, I hate being out of the loop on a decision. I'd told him specifically that I needed to talk to him about that very issue, so the fact that he made a decision without me left me feeling really disrespected. That wasn't how he meant it, but that was how it felt. His thinking? We'd arrive at the same decision (that he did alone) together, so we didn't need to talk it out. My thinking? We always need to talk it out. Just one of those fundamental ways people differ, I know. Neither one of us is right. He really felt like I was reading too much into it; I really felt like he wasn't validating me as an equal partner in the marriage by giving me the opportunity to have my say. It reminded me how important it is to me to have an active role in decisions we make as a couple.

Why did it matter so much to me? I tried to really think about what about that situation left me in pieces on my bathroom rug, Eat, Pray, Love-style, and why I was still leftover sad the next day. I really think that I feel valued the most when people ask for my input, and conversely devastated when someone important to me doesn't want it. Not having the opportunity to give it left me feeling locked in, frustrated, and at the mercy of whatever he decided. Especially when it comes to money, I hate feeling like we don't have options. I hate feeling chained to whatever burdens and responsibilities we have. Most of them are unavoidable, but at the moment of the fight, my hurt didn't let me see the truth of the situation or what the facts were at all. At that moment, I felt like one of the people screaming in silence in that informational message that plays after Celebrity Rehab--exerting all kinds of effort, getting nowhere.

It also bothered me when it happened because I was feeling ignored in other areas of our marriage. For lack of a better term (as I've never found a more suitable one), my love tank was pretty empty. I hate to even use it because of its cheese factor, but that's the term E and I use because it makes sense to us both. I really do believe that each and every one of us has some basic needs when it comes to feeling loved... everybody is different when it comes to what that is. When that tank is empty, look out.  For me it's affection I need, and I hadn't been feeling it for a while. One of the old patterns that E and I slip into SO easily is that of neutral roommates. It's tough--one of the things I love most about him is that he's so easy to be around--but the flip side of that is his apparent indifference to a lot of things. Sometimes it can mean spending days (or in this case, weeks) just existing side by side. We call it "buddies" rather than husband-wife. For someone as feeling-oriented as I am, that starts to create an opportunity for a big hurt the moment something difficult happens and a button is pushed. The day we fought, I couldn't remember hearing he loved me or even having him so much as touch my arm in quite some time. Whamo.

That night after the fight I had my awful dream. It's the same recurring dream I've had since our separation, and it's always the same even since we came back together. I dream E comes to me and says he had an affair, long ago, but that he didn't tell me about it because he knew it would hurt me. I know that's the place in me that's most vulnerable--the place I'm most afraid to feel even with all I've come to accept and what we've worked through with our separation. I wasn't dreaming that E was going to cheat or that he had cheated--I know better--but I was dreaming my discomfort with where we were the day we fought. I was dreaming my hurt, dreaming the worst emotional place I could imagine. Because even though we got to a point where I could look him in the eye and say "okay," my heart needed to catch up.

I know this post is entirely one sided and I feel bad about it. As always, though, this is my blog and I can only offer my own perspective. I can't speak for E but I can use this space to try to work through what goes on in my own little warped heart. That isn't to say that I don't value his feelings as being completely different than mine and completely his own, or that I don't play a part in filling his love tank (sorry! so corny! I know...) so he feels valued in our marriage. If there's one thing I learned at Retrouvaille when we were staring down a divorce, it's that your feelings are neither controllable, right, or wrong, and that everyone's are different. Part of exploring my own feelings on this stuff is accepting that he has just as much going on behind every action he takes. I hope this post doesn't sound ignorant of that or disrespectful to him.  Our work is always going to be in continuing to learn to hear what each others' feelings are.

E and me, we're good. We're the same as we always are. I can still say that I'm happy that blowouts come much more few and far between and that we continue to use the things that allowed us to put our marriage back together. It's just always going to be this way, and that's okay. I sure love the dude.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE "The Five Love Languages." I also really enjoyed "The Five Languages of Apology." I'm glad you guys were able to talk it out. It's always nice to be apart of all the decision making. :)