Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Bends

The only thing harder than raising small children, is keeping the marriage that made said small children on the rails. (Can I get a witness?!) To borrow an oft’ used phrase from our dearly beloved Jen Hatmaker: Bless!

When I woke up this morning, my tall hunky husband didn’t hug and kiss me. He didn’t say good morning. I didn’t put down his Sudoku. The first words out of his mouth to me were, “I think your sore throat is probably a combination of a cold we picked up from church nursery and mouth ulcers.” 

As you can tell, we’re really keeping that spark of romance burning bright. *Facepalm*

This dear man I married can be a puzzle. Sometimes he is so emotive and gushy and lovey that I’m like, “Ew. Get a room.” Other times (like the past month) he is so deeply up inside his own head that I feel like I’m living with a stranger. 

In our relationship, many of the traditional male/female roles can be reversed. I’m intense, he’s mild; I’m a dreamer, he’s a task man; I’m a fighter, he’s a healer. So when things are trending weird between us, I tend to put on my Handy Wifey Belt and try to fix it. Fix ALL the things!

Are you sad? Are you mad? Are you tired? Are you unfulfilled in your job? Do you love the kids? Do you love me? Do you want to have sex? Why don’t you want to have sex? You’re a man… aren’t you supposed to always want to have sex? Did something happen at work? Do you need to go to the gym? What am I doing wrong? Can I cook you something? Is the house too messy? Did I mess up? Did I do too much? Did I not do enough?

When I don’t feel loved (because Mr. Man is in a Man Funk—let’s call a spade a spade), I feel insecure. When I feel insecure, I go into an “Oh $h*t” bubble where my tension and fear drive my actions and emotions. Shocker: that doesn’t help the situation. 

Today, I went into Misses Fix-It Mode. It just happened to be the day that Dear Husband was going into Lumber Jack Mode to take down the tree in our backyard. So he’s totally zoned in on tree murder, and I’m all, “But the feeeeeeelings!!!” To my credit, I didn’t complain. I buttoned my lips, took on child duties, and kept grumbles on the inside. 

The day goes on. The tree comes down branch by branch. Husband decides to skip the trip to the library that he promised our oldest son. I fill in as Library Chaperone… and that’s where the real trouble starts.

It ends up being one of those humiliating experiences where half the moms are glaring at you because you aren’t disciplining fiercely enough and the other half are glaring at you because you’re being too tough and he’s just a baby… because… parenting theories. And the child in question is throwing his shoes into the light fixtures, running around screeching like Braveheart, beating the table with puzzles, and peeing on the floor. *second facepalm* 

My anxiety meter was ticking up bit by bit. We made a run for the car. Crying fits and a zillion “Why’s” on the drive home put me over the edge.

We screech into the drive way. All three of us in tears. I launch myself into the mosquito laden air and shout up at my husband (who is brandishing a chainsaw on an extra tall ladder), “You are DONE with the tree, Honey!”

Things kind of devolved from there. I ended up running away to eat CFA ice cream alone in my car, because my feelings are delicious when they’re angry. 

Then we finally sat down and had a big talk.

I feel like I’m in a pressure cooker with these kids.
Me too.
I feel like my dreams for myself are crushed by real life.
Me too. 
I feel like there are so many needs pressing down on me.
Me too.
I feel like we’re far, far apart.
Me too.

Marriage is hard. When we’re both maxed out, it’s even harder to support each over on this race. When both people are exhausted, strained, needy, hungry, and loosing hope it’s almost impossible to listen, care, support, try, open yourself, extend compassion, speak with kindness, hear the other person’s need.
For the introverts, it’s easier to bottle it up and just go through the motions from the safety of your inward place. 
For the extroverts, it’s easier to lash out and thrash loudly and demand love to pull some kind of reaction out of your introverted partner.
And the introverts go more inward. 
And the extroverts push more outward. 
And round and round we go. 
It’s harder to bend toward each other.

Can you guess which one I am? I’d rather be fighting than not communicating at all. At least we’re connecting!! Even if it is through tears and accusations!! Bless.

Today we bent toward each other. 
That’s all. It’s no grand conclusion. It’s no “And then, dun dun daaa, they lived happily ever after with this handy tip for perfect marriage under their belts.”
We just bent toward each other. 
I pressed him and refused to let him hide in his inwardness, but I did it with gentleness in my speech and compassion in my eyes. He opened up and admitted that he was tired and feels like Less than he wants to be. We acknowledged each other’s struggle. We acknowledged that this wouldn’t be the last time we would get into this fight. We looked for practical ways to support each other, even from our places of mutual brokenness. 

Sometimes all you can do is bend. 

No comments:

Post a Comment