Friday, March 25, 2011

Intimate Marital Sharing Post

So...things are a little shitty between D$ and I right now.

I've been noticing for weeks that something was off. We got in a huge fight about a  month and a half ago that was never really resolved, mostly because we feel fundamentally different about the event that started and the underlying behavioral pattern. Basically: we went to an engagement party where I apparently swore a lot in front of people we'd just met. These people thought I was funny and charming and were not in the least annoyed (I don't just swear if I think it will offend people). Apparently D was mortified and basically gave me an ultimatum a few days later about swearing in front of his friends. He has mentioned before that he thinks I swear too much and he feels like those mentions were akin to requests to stop swearing that I ignored. I really never thought he could possibly be serious because I fundamentally disagree that a) my swearing is a problem, b) that I am a reflection of him that he gets to order around. I have also always, always had a filthy mouth. When we got in the fight I felt like there was this aspect of me that he used to find charming that he now finds abhorrent, which felt (excuse my language) shitty as hell. I felt nauseous that I would embarrass him but also annoyed that he would all of the sudden find fault with something that has always been a part of my personality. The fight basically ended with me saying yelling, "I'll stop swearing in front of your friends, but I think you are being an asshole." Real mature, I know.

So, like I said: never resolved. We moved on but D has been short-tempered and snappy. I have been over-sensitive to this and tried to avoid being snapped at...which means I have basically ignored him when we were home together, except to nag about something I wished he'd done. We got in a lot of stupid fights when we made an effort to carve out time to see each other.

A few nights ago as yet another evening ended in an argument (that we thankfully nipped in the bud before it became full blown), I made D come sit with me as I went to bed. I said that something was off and I thought we needed to talk. He was noncommittal - now wasn't the time to talk, no real acknowledgement that he felt anything was wrong. I asked to try and think if there was something I was doing that was bothering him, and he said no.

Then, last night, it all came down again. I'm not sure how it happened, but I made a comment that sent him off. We brought up the swearing fight again (bad idea) and the real issues were brought to light. I've been nursing this wound that my husband is embarrassed by me but D doesn't want to hear it because he thinks that he can't make any criticism of me without me becoming vehemently defensive and turning my behavior back onto him. This, apparently, is a long-standing problem of D's (and mine, I suppose). We fought until we left the house to go on a walk (which makes my head want to explode with anger) and then went to sleep. We did cuddle, at least, but nothing was resolved and we both feel like shit today.

We are stuck. I don't want to be defensive as a knee-jerk reaction but I also don't want to take all the blame for issues in our relationship. I want to show that I can listen to him, take criticism, and make changes but I also don't want to sit down and be read a laundry list of my faults without the chance to speak up for myself. That is just really not how I roll. (He is not wrong that I am very defensive).

I also want to be able to talk about this and honestly agree that I need and will work on listening and changing faults, and then *poof!* have me be great again in his eyes. Unfortunately I know that he will need a lot of time to feel that he can bring things up to me and have me listen. My gut reaction to this is: a) fuck, I want this to be solved and b) crap, does this mean that things will be bad for even longer and c) what? does this mean that every time we have a fight I can't defend my position or feelings without it causing him to solidify his opinion that I refuse to admit fault? How do I get out of this without totally losing all power to speak up for myself in disagreements or to defend my feelings over whatever he thinks is fact? I know there are times when he has legitimate complaints, but what about if the complaints aren't legitimate? I don't want to be backed into a corner by his (angry and therefore maybe exaggerated) conception of my response to criticism.

Blech. This sucks. I want a lot of things right now. In the short term: not to have to go volunteer in a few hours. Not to have to meet some girlfriends for happy hour. I want D to come home and I want to work some of this out before we go work in my parents' yard all day tomorrow.


  1. Oh wow, that sucks. I have so been there! Is he planning on being home tonight? I don't think your short-term goals are unreasonable actually. Your girlfriends (being your friends) should understand if you need to get home and try to work things out. If he's not going to be home, though, girlfriends can be an excellent resource. :)

    So, here's a couple of options. One, go out together somewhere (don't be at home) where you can still talk privately. Establish some rules (no evading, no yelling, no blaming) and try to get at the root of it. Two, (and this is not always my favorite, but it does sometimes work) write him a letter. The bonus on letters is that they can be edited for content and you have a chance to express everything you need to, at which point perhaps a dialogue can start.

    And option 3, I'm divorced, full of shit, and unqualified to give advice here.

    But I'm sorry you are hurting and I hope it gets better soon!!

  2. Good luck, chickie. I wish I could say some magic words, but I can tell you that you have a really good grasp on the situation and I am totally rooting for things to work out. I'm in your corner.

  3. @Izzybella: Option 3 made me laugh out loud, which is always therapeutic. You are totally qualified to give advice! I thought about canceling tonight (and asked D if he wanted me to) but he said not to. He might want to some to himself and I want to respect that.
    @Shanner: Thanks. I hope I have a good grasp, anyway. I'm hoping that D and I will spend some time on Sunday working through this stuff.

  4. Well, shit. (I really LOL'd when I read the end to the first fight, which was ill timed given the situation, but I mean, hello, where have I heard that kind of argument before...?)

    Izzy speaks wise. I add Option 4 and say, Marriage is hard, yo. Which happens to be a work in progress post over here. In any case, I'm thinking about you and hope for the best, for the both of you.

    I have to say, it is good that you are addressing the issue. It's brave, it's responsible, and while entirely much too uncomfortable, it's important.

  5. Eh. I gots nothing by way of advice. We had an issue in our relationship for a while (which was about talking - the amount of time we devoted to talking about talking. Shiiiiiiiiiiiit.) but it was the kind of thing that bubbled up on occasion, then was pushed under for ages till it came up again, and over time it eventually got hashed out. But you sound like you've got a really good grip on the issue, and are not afraid to face up to it, and it sounds like the kind of thing you don't want to let bubble under too long either. I wish you both courage and patience in working it through. And if you can't work it out on your own, no shame in seeking help from a (neutral, objective) 3rd party to mediate briefly?

  6. P.S. I've also been accused of embarrassing my boy when swearing too much. Unfortunately, he had a point - there were children in the vicinity. Although I maintain that they were all pre-verbal, so it was relatively OK. But still.

    P.P.S. It's amazing of you to write about this. I wonder whether I'd have to courage to share a shitty patch in our relationship on my blog until it was over. I honestly don't know, but I admire you for doing so.

  7. Oi. I'm with Izzy on option two. I had the I-don't-feel-like-I-can-defend-myself-he's-not-listening-he-thinks-he's-effing-right stalemate several months ago and after beating the horse to death, letter writing helped. In particular it helped me to articulate all of my feelings, articulate what I THOUGHT his position was, and then edit, edit, edit. It helps to vent out all of the ugly words first and then re-write. I had my husband read the letter in front of me and it really did help start a dialogue. I'm still married six months later so I think it worked pretty well. ;) Good luck!

    Also, I second agirl's P.P.S.

  8. Letter writing has been a very good method for me in the past in communicating with a partner about my feelings. And it works. It allows you to express yourself exactly how you want to, without all of the emotion getting in the way.

    I third the p.p.s. Your willingness to share the hard stuff is what I admire most about your blog.

  9. I don't really have any advice, but I wanted to offer a little solidarity. My wife and I have this fight too (it's not about swearing, but about house projects, but the pattern is exactly the same). My wife says something critical (or something that I take as critical) and I get super defensive and then we have a fight about it, in which she says she feels like she can't ever talk to me about house projects. I don't want her to feel that way, but at the same time, I don't want to feel like I'm a doormat (this was a pattern in a previous relationship, and it has definitely made me err on the side of being defensive).

    I don't have any solutions; I haven't figured out how to change the pattern, but I'm aware of it and I try to react less defensively (this is much easier if I know the conversation is coming - I still pretty much always fail if it is a "surprise" conversation).

    So anyway, I hear you and it sucks. Best of luck as you guys work through it.

  10. @jehara, thebluemuse, and c.r.a: Oh, I can't do the letter-writing, it is off the table. My mother has a history of sending letters/e-mail to family when she is angry and it...doesn't go well. I can't go down that path at all. Plus when I have tried it I haven't done so well on editing out the ugly parts, and then there is just written documentation of me being a jerk.
    @EVERYONE: Thanks for the support and for telling me I'm brave (i'm a sucker for flattery). We are working it out over here. I have a post in my brain but not on "paper" yet but I will keep you all posted. Things are better.

  11. Hey. I agree with BIP: Marriage is tough shit sometimes. And it can take a long time to establish how and why and when you will argue and how it will be productive. But you are doing all the right things in caring in the first place, dedicating yourself to working it out when it actually completely sucks and would be easier to ignore, and caring for both yourself and D in the situation. And in doing all this you're building a foundation for the future of how you want to be treated and treat your partner. But in the interim it is total f*&$ing shit.....a fact to which I can attest through personal experience.

    @agirl: Swearing in front of pre-verbal children is totally okay in my book. And maybe even the verbal kind too...I mean, they'll hear it eventually, and it might give them just the social capital they need to survive middle school or something.

  12. N and I did this thing once before/when we were in counselling (not quite sure exactly) where we took it in turns to talk, maximum 5 minutes I think, about how we felt about things between us and whatever issues had been going on. The second person was not allowed to respond to what the first had said, just talk about how they felt as if they were going first. Then we weren't allowed to discuss any of it for 24 hours. It was a bit weird getting started but it was *so* useful. When you know you *can't* refute what the other person is saying, you realise that actually you don't gain anywhere near as much by doing so as you would by just properly listening.

    Just an idea. Hope things are getting better. x