Sunday, January 9, 2011

Who's yo daddy?

As Mollie said in an earlier post, I recently came to a surprising discovery: my husband is not a woman (thus he does not communicate like we do) and he is not my father, so I shouldn't compare the two.

Justin and I have been together for a little over seven years now. We know each other very well and I thought we communicated fairly clearly. Here lately though, it felt as though we weren't really in the same book, let alone the same page. I felt misunderstood and... well, I've got a feeling he was pretty oblivious to my suffering.

Being the mother of four children six and under has me playing the role of sheriff, judge, jury and (infrequently, as they have all more or less survived thus far) executioner far more often than I like. When I give a direction, I expect it to be obeyed. Simply put, if I don't keep a firm grasp on the situations that arise, the patients would be running this insane asylum. When my husband comes home, it can be surprisingly difficult to switch from being the sole authority in the house to sharing that responsibility with him. There are times when I know I parent him, instead of partner with him. And that's just not right.

Instead of trusting him to handle all those crazy situations, I step in and take care of it, and he lets me. It has come to the point where the kids will ask him something and he'll tell them to ask me instead, which frustrates me to no end because by the time he gets home I've had my fill of decision making for the day. I say I'm frustrated, but it was my own mistrust that did me in. I'm working on that now. I ask him to do something, and even if he doesn't do it exactly how I would, I try (oh, it can be hard!) to be cheery and thank him without criticising or offering "helpful tips". Even if the two year old comes back with her floral shirt on backwards paired with plaid pants. She's dressed and I didn't have to do it.

I know I'm rambling. Forgive me. Back to my two points: being a man, my husband doesn't communicate the same way I do. Have you ever heard of how women's brains are compared to spaghetti (everything is connected to SOMETHING) and men's brains are like waffles (or boxes, one subject per box and they only focus on that ONE thing at a time)? So I need to communicate my needs in a way he can understand. I need to be straightforward and not assume he knows how I'm feeling or why I'm upset. This, of course, drives me absolutely BATTY when it is something we've discussed before and surely-he-knows-this-by-NOW, right?? Keeping in mind that he has probably already put that one subject away in his mind-box and hasn't brought it out again until I brought it back up tends to help rein in the frustration. While women (in general) are all about relationships and body language and reading between the lines, men (it seems) are a bit more dense and need things spelled out clearly. Honestly, reading relationship articles like "How to talk to your man" one of the first things that popped into my mind were "Boy, men sure need things dumbed down for them!" Horrible, I know, but there are somethings that are just intuitive for women and ya can't blame a man for not being a woman.

Second point about realizing he is not my father. My father LOVES to work on projects around the house. I am my father's daughter, and love projects as well. So when we moved into a fixer upper, I was all sorts of excited about all these lovely PROJECTS to get to do with my husband! Yay! Right? Not so much. Nearly two years later, the house is still a construction zone and Justin has finally said we need to save up to pay someone else to do the work. Working on the house is just not his cup of tea. Before I came to accept this about him, I would get SO frustrated! "He has the know how!" I'd fume, "Just not the motivation. GRUMBLE." When I finally accepted that it's not that he doesn't have the motivation, he doesn't have the Love of Projects like I do, it was like a weight being lifted. It's like.. he COULD figure out how to fix everything on the van if he had a passion to learn that... but since he doesn't, we take the van to a mechanic who DOES. How is repairing the house any different? Much less frustration on my part, now that I don't expect him to behave like my father.

Mollie made the observation that perhaps our husbands married our fathers, and I think she's right. I'm much more like my father than Justin ever will be. And isn't that to be expected? After all, the man did raise me, not Justin. These little light bulb moments are beautiful, and I hope they happen with great frequency as we continue to navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of married life.

1 comment:

  1. "I'm frustrated, but it was my own mistrust that did me in." This is a BRILLIANT insight, one that I think many women never get. You could write a book around that sentence alone, Maggie.


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