The Interaction

Background: This weekend we will have both my parents and my wife’s parents (I’ll call my wife Marie) visiting for our son’s High School Graduation. This is of course a joyous occasion at our house (or should be). Now, I do realize that my wife is going to be a bit stressed with both of our parents visiting. This is normal. Plus, I know that whenever we visit family on either side she gets stressed out, and often I feel some pain from this. She always tries to put on the best face and make a good impression, as well as show genuine hospitality.

 

The call this morning

Marie (sounding annoyed): I need to know you are engaged and care about what is happening and have a list of things that need to be done.

Me (trying to sound calm and kind, but I think she takes this for demeaning): Well I know I am not really that engaged or proactive, but that does not mean I don’t care about what is going on (I think we are talking about a general sense of things in our family).

Marie: I know you care, but I need you to push harder than you feel like pushing and do things that I can see to help out.

Me: Trust me, though you might not see it, I am already doing this. I think I do things every day to help out around the house and I do care about what is going on. If there is something specific you need or want me to do please let me know.

Marie: Chris, I know you do things around the house, but we have people coming this weekend and we have a lot of things to do. I just need to know you are active and engaged and being proactive. (This was the first mention of this weekend, so now I am understanding a bit more – not that her opinion is not valid otherwise in a more general sense).

Me: So I understand we have people coming to the house and you want to make sure I’m helping to get ready for the weekend (proud of my active listening). I know you are going to want to have the house clean and the yard looking good, those are normal things. I also engaged you yesterday on the meal plan for the weekend and what Sunday (graduation day) would look like and I think that I had already given it all more thought than you had.

Marie: (frustrated interruption indicates she doesn’t like my response – thinks I am keeping score)

Me: (I interrupt) All I’m saying is that I am trying already to be proactive and I do care and I know there will be things to do. If there are specific things you are looking for please let me know because I am not sure.

Marie: It’s more about the specific things on the list. I just need to know you are engaged and care about what is going on and are going to be proactive. Do you understand this?

Me: No not really, I know I am not feeling engaged or proactive, I know that, I am frustrated with this, I am trying. If there is something specific you need me to do you have to let me know, I can’t know what you are thinking all the time.

We went around like this for a while – She has to go to work so conversation ends.

…………………………………………………………
I know she is frustrated with me. For almost four years she has complained that I am not engaged, not caring, our physical intimacy has diminished to almost non-existent mostly by my choice.

I am frustrated at the lack of sympathy or compassion for my struggle. I want to engage, I want to want to feeling like doing things. I pretend to care, I push (but not really as hard as I used to), I am failing.

Looking for the old Chris . . .

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6 comments

  1. I am sorry, but as a woman myself, that conversation from your wife would have pissed me off big time. You were telling her “I HEAR YOU AND IF YOU NEED ANYTHING, LET ME KNOW!”
    Why was she not listening to you?
    Did she want another answer?
    Sorry, but that is crazy to me.

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  2. I walk away from these conversations perplexed. This is truly what I call spinning our wheels. Round and round we go. I was glad to have my WordPress community to share it with – interestingly, writing that down helped my day not to be ruined as I let these conversations sometimes do to me. :-)) Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  3. the last line…’i am failing.’ yeah…i am failing too. i still have a sympathetic and forgiving partner. but i worry that he’ll give up and resent me. i worry about that every day. i praise him for it and i honestly think he sort of likes playing the savior role. he just keeps saying, “as long as you keep leaning on me i promise i’ll be here…but if you turn away from me…i will too.” so i cling to him, for dear life. and he likes it. he doesn’t want to see me hurt, of course, but he loves being the one that holds me. and the bjs…he likes those too. 😉

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