Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monday, March 8, 2010

True Romance

This morning I woke up to find that Jim had not only cleaned up every single toy all over the house yesterday, but he'd also stayed up last night folding about a gazillion loads of laundry and doing the dishes. There was also a big pan of jello waiting for me in the fridge.

Jim's actually been doing the majority of all housework for over two weeks now, partly because I've been so sick and tired and partly because now I'm not supposed to being doing any lifting or "straining," which we've taken to mean bending over and picking up toys all day, vacuuming, etc. I mean, no sense taking chances, right?

He's also been doing a lot of grocery shopping and preparing meals and entertaining kids and basically, doing all the stuff he usually does PLUS all the stuff I usually do. Short of dusting, of course. :) My main job has been reading stories to the kids. And gestating, of course. That's pretty much priority one these days.

Not only has he been uncomplainingly doing all this stuff, but he also hasn't said word one about all the extra money we've been spending on food lately due to my weird stomach needs and unwillingness/inability to get near any sort of hot meat or vegetable, which equals lots of pizza and take out and running and fetching from Subway. All while I stand cringing because the pot of water boiling for the kids' macaroni is just so ODOROUS and UNBEARABLE.

And did I mention that I'm on doctor ordered pelvic rest, which means exactly what you think it does?

You're a champ, Jim.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine's Strategies: What's Yours?

So the results are in, and it seems you all are CHEAP dates- most of you will be happy if your significant other even remembers V-day, let alone woos you with dinner or a dozen roses.

On the other hand, I read somewhere that the secret to happiness is lowered expectations, so maybe you all are on to something...

For my part, I know I'll at least get a card or something, because I make sure to drop plenty of hints, circle the day on the calendar, and wonder aloud frequently what my FRIENDS' husbands will be getting them for Valentines Day. I think of this not as being demanding or bitchy, but as giving fair warning. I'm doing him a favor, actually. At this point I know that Jim would much prefer shelling out a few bucks to Hallmark over an evening of silence and wounded, accusing stares should he FORGET the holiday. And while I would prefer that he remember all on his own and surprise me with a grand gesture, I also know myself, and know that my disappointment should he FORGET would outweigh any delight I might feel over an unprompted romantic gift or dinner.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Androids and Husbands

Something that comes up over and over again in our marriage is the differences in how men and women comfort each other. (And yes, as a preface, we're working in stereotypes here. Sorry. Our marriage just happens to fall in line with stereotypes. Each marriage is its own unique snowflake though and you should be no means feel excluded if the roles are reversed in your home!)

Growing up with my mom, two sisters, and an unusually empathetic dad (whether by nature or by virtue of HAVING all those girls, we'll never know,) I went into marriage accustomed to having every bad mood noticed and every crying jag responded to with compassion and probably a nice long talk followed by chocolate. It seemed natural and expected to me that this was how EVERYONE responses to another person's sadness, provided they aren't a HEARTLESS BEAST. Naturally, then, when Jim often seemed completely oblivious to my bad moods- or worse, got annoyed by my subtle body language and slamming of cabinets and would seem completely bewildered by what I considered quite OBVIOUS cues of emotional distress- I began to wonder if I had in fact married a heartless beast by accident.

Over the years, Jim did learn that when I was angry or upset about something, I often wasn't prepared or able to just march right up to him and calmly announce the fact, then have a rational conversation as to the cause of the mood followed by a session of brainstorming re: possible solutions. He got a lot better at reading my moods and realizing when I was sad or upset about something, and he even learned when to immediately approach me and when to give me a while to stew about it. But I still found it upsetting that he often just wanted to fix everything, or that if I seemed un-comforted after five minutes or so, he would sometimes give up and leave me alone- and even if he stayed, it was obvious that he very much WANTED to get away from Teh Crazy Lady.

What I found most upsetting was that I had to coach him on all of this. Of course it meant a lot to me that he at least wanted to comfort and support me, but I COULD NOT understand how a person who truly loved me could honestly be so clueless and insensitive sometimes. It seemed there were two options: either he didn't really care about my feelings very much after all, or he was in fact some kind of Emotionally Stunted Android who just wasn't capable of being the sort of caring, sensitive partner I had set out to marry. I wasn't sure which option was more depressing.

And then, FIVE YEARS into our marriage, we had a conversation that literally made me a happier person overnight. We had been having a perfectly normal conversation that had somehow disintegrated into me sniffling and staring moodily out the window and scrubbing dishes much harder than they required, and Jim sitting on the couch with his head on his hands, looking a little angry and also a little defeated. Though at this point I have no idea of the specific subject causing the fight, I know it had to do with my getting sad about something and then Jim responding in what I found to be pretty much the exact opposite of what I needed.

Out of nowhere he said something like, "You know, I’ve never been in charge of comforting anyone before we got together. I’m a guy. I’m not like you- I didn’t have sisters and friends and people who needed me to make them feel better all the time. It was never my job to make someone feel better until you. I’m literally practicing on you- so I'm sorry I mess it up sometimes, but I'm really not TRYING to make you sad.”

While this may seem like a cop-out or an excuse, to me it was a startling insight which had honestly never occurred to me before. In my relationships with other women, it has always come as a given that if one of us is sad, it is the job of the other to listen, empathize, comfort, reassure and SAY THE RIGHT THINGS. Right, yes? And I've been learning the Right Things To Say since I was like four years old. Is it possible men don't relate this way, and that in fact Jim really was- and is- learning an entirely new skill set here? Is it possible that there was a third option all along, other than Uncaring Spouse and Android Spouse? And is it possible that all the archaic stereotypes are mostly true, and men really just have trouble getting our sensitive little lady feelings, much less responding appropriately?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dieting Sabotage

Here we go, folks- first gripe session. Subject: the comforting slash SABOTAGING of one's spouse with treats of the edible variety.

My poison of choice is Little Debbies. I ate them like I was getting paid for it back in high school, and only backed off them once I realized they were essentially fluffed up nutritional poison. And once I realized there were much better tasting sweet treats than that junk. The IDEA of them remains nostalgic and comforting though, and so occasionally, Jim will still bring me home a box if I'm feeling down.

I never even enjoy them all that much, but I seem to have no self control once the box is in our cupboard. Every pack will be devoured in a few days' time, if not ONE day. I'll keep unwrapping them well past the point of pleasure, shoveling them in and ignoring the sickening feeling in my gut. I don't understand why I'm so powerless in Debbie's sweet, seductive grip. She is consistently unsatisfying, yet I keep going back for more...

Er, anyways, a few weeks ago on our getaway trip, we stopped at a convenience store for treats. I went right for the Dove chocolates and Reese peanut butter hearts, but Jim stopped at the Little Debbie display. "Don't you won't some?" he asked, shocked by my expression of disinterest. "I really don't. I don't think I like them at all, really, anymore," I replied.

And then I finally made the bold move of asking him not to bring me home any more Debbie cakes. I understand that it's a sweet and thoughtful gesture meant to bring me comfort and pleasure, but it only leaves me with a bellyache and a sense of disgust with myself.

He has honored my wishes, and I haven't seen the Debbies in our home for quite some time. But you know what I'VE been doing? Sabotaging his diet. He's supposed to be doing this Biggest Loser contest at work, and is attempting to control portions and cut out evening snacking, etc. And while I certainly haven't CONSCIOUSLY done this, I realized that in the last few weeks, I've been cooking more high calorie dinners, fixing more fatty snacks in the evening, buying ice cream for the first time in months, etc.

What is WITH me? I think I make these food decisions believing on a conscious level that I'm being NICE to him, that I'm making him a TREAT after a day of being "good." But wouldn't true niceness be helping him with his diet, not shoving tempting food in his face?

Anyone else noticed strange food sabotage in your house, under the guise of being nice?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Group Therapy

So we're trying something new here!  It's a blog about... my relationship with my significant other, I guess?  And hopefully yours, too!  Please talk to me.  Otherwise I might as well just keep a List of Grievances Against Jim journal under my mattress and be done with it.

I got the idea from the enthusiastic comment sections a few weeks ago, when I posted about a specific relationship issue that Jim and I were having.  In fact, maybe it WAS Jim's idea...  Hmm.  (Next marital issue: taking credit for the other's ideas.)  Anyways, I was kind of surprised, because  I sometimes worry, like most bloggers do, about whether my honesty crosses the line into exploitation.  I had been wondering if he would find the specific content of those posts erring on the side of Too Much Information, but in fact, he kind of liked the ability to consider the subject through the eyes of commenters.  We both noticed that everyone seemed able to relate, and eager to compare notes.

So I guess that's what the purpose of this site will be, if you all are on board with the idea.  I'll try to post a discussion topic at least once a week- most likely taken from a recent experience in my own relationship-  and then get a good comment thread going, and hopefully we'll get some suggestions/guest posts from you all, too.  Like I said above, anything goes, we're just looking for honest dialogue here.  It's free group therapy, because in these Troubling Economic Times, who can afford to pay for it?  Or a divorce, for that matter?  Come here instead!