Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Love Lessons Learned

The last couple of days have been challenging on the home front. However, only I know how challenging they have been. That is a big lesson in of itself.

My wife and I have been both struggling with emotions lately. She has because . . . that is just part of her make-up. I have because I have been exhausted. It got the better of me on Friday night.

We went out, did some things, ended up at Barnes and Noble to glance over books and get a cafe drink. She found some interesting board games on clearance. Big mistake. I asked her if we got them, would she be willing to go and play them with my nephew and his wife?

She replied, "No."

To make a long story short, I got a little miffed because she is unwilling to be around my FAMILY to play games that SHE is interested in. There is nothing wrong with my nephew and wife. She just doesn't like them or something. She didn't like that I couldn't accept it very easily.

Then, she got wise. She threw my words back in my face. She set it up by saying, "You knew that I wasn't a social person when you married me. " Her following phrase came from my own book, "Your expectations of me as your spouse is your own worst enemy. People will always fail your expectations so don't put so much stock in them."

Here comes the lesson again, "Just keep your mouth shut." Ten thousand responses came into my head just dying to get out. From, "yeah, I guess it is unreasonable to expect you to interact with my family that is now YOUR family" to "well, I guess your expectations of me being faithful are your own worst enemy if I should stray," and a thousand hateful others burst into my head like the finale at a Fourth of July fireworks display.

Somehow, I just kept my mouth shut. Tragedy avoided.

Fast forward to last night. As many of you know, "Big Brother" is one of my guilty pleasures. I don't have many. We started recording the live feed on Showtime last season just to keep track of stuff and all the drama. No problem.

Last night, my wife informed me that we were not going to record or watch that anymore because the previous night's feed was "pornographic." So, she deleted it and will not record it anymore. Silently, I was infuriated. In all of last year and the first two weeks of this year there was no pornography. If there was a lapse the previous night (which I was skeptical), I was not going to pass judgement over one night. Plus, my wife thinks that the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is pornography (I don't, but I still haven't seen that issue since college for whatever reason).

I take issue with my wife's scensorship of my viewing for the following reasons:

A. She is not my mother (this could be broken up into several reasons really); and
B. I pay for the satelite

I handled the situation much like the Barnes and Noble incident, I kept my mouth shut. I wasn't going to be put into the position of defending "pornography". Besides, emotions have been running high anyway. She NEVER knew that I was miffed and the marriage avoided a hit. As an aside, I recorded the thing anyway and skimmed through it this morning. Guess what? No pornography.

Finally, yesterday my wife's boss called her and told her that one of the girls couldn't make it in and may not make it tomorrow (today) so she should be ready to be called in. She wasn't called last night and she stayed up late (and kept me up). The girl called her this morning and she hit the roof (with me, not the girl)! I didn't think she was going to go in and I got a little uptight. My wife only works part time. We have no kids, and I have taken a couple of extra jobs to make ends meet. She was warned that she may have to come in and somehow she thinks it is unfair. It was very difficult for me to sympathize and it was all I could do to not throw water on her in bed!

I left her in bed as I went to check on my mom. When I got back she was up and was getting ready but she was upset and believed she had been victimized. How did I handle it?

I gave her hug, made her some Irish Breakfast Tea, packed her lunch and left her a note inside it telling her that I loved her and was proud of her for facing the day. Lesson? You get more results from reward and encouragement than from berating. She went to work; that was enough for me today.

One big lesson in marriage, I have learned, is that you have to pick your battles. She went to work. Had she not have gone, I would be gearing up for war.

16 comments:

kristen said...

Hmmm, the more you bury, the more your 'trash can' will overflow....meaning one day you'll blow your lid. While I definitely think it's right to pick the battles, it's also good to communicate (although, I'm sure that's rough too). I don't know--all this coming from a never-been-married chica.

Pornography is never a good idea.

You are so thoughtful to leave your wife a little note like that. Sacrificing and putting the other first is so important (wish she'd do the same). Good luck.

cheerful said...

Marriage life is not easy.. cheers..

Hazel said...

don't feel sad, life is always challenging.

kristarella said...

Hope that bottling things up doesn't stress you out too much, although I guess if you said something and your wife didn't speak to you for a week it could be stressful too.

I think it was admirable of you to just make your wife tea and lunch.

I sort of sympathise with your wife on the Big Brother and Swimsuit issue (not that I've seen Big Brother in years, but when I did I thought it was unacceptably sexual and haven't watched it since). However, I would never have announced that we weren't recording it anymore and deleted it, but rather sat down to tell you it made me uncomfortable and for you to consider it...

Some people have rather strict definitions of pornography... I have a friend who described Angelina Jolie in Beowulf as pornography (most of it was CG and entirely smoothed over). I didn't necessarily agree, but I'm happy for him not to watch that stuff if he doesn't want to. I guess I'm happy for others to watch it if they DO want to though, so I'm not sure where that leaves you.

Jeff said...

Kristen: I get the "suppress" thing, but part of marital maturity (I think) is to admit that ALL issues do not have to be hashed out as soon as they approach. Some do not have to be hashed out at all. Sometimes we have to admit to ourselves that there are some things that we are never going to be completely happy about. After all, we aren't married to ourselves; we are married to other individuals who have wants, desires, and needs - some of which will inevitably conflict with our own. Such is life, I think.

The "pornography" issue - you are right and that's why I kept it to myself.

She does nice things for me sometimes, too. Shame on me for not writing about that very much.

Cheerful: You got that right!

Jeff said...

Hazel: Not sad, just contemplative.

Kristarella: I think I have put the bottling up in perspective. When it puts too much pressure on me, I take that as a sign for me to pick that battle. I think one mistake that I have repeated too often was that I didn't take a step back, calm down, and put things in perspective. Putting some time between the initiation of the issue and the decision what to do about it has been the key. I don't react as much now but I contemplate. So far, the payoff outweighs the cost.

Thanks for the complement.

I respect that everyone has their own definition of many terms. My definition of "pornography" is not the same as my wife's or yours. The difference is that I don't force my definitions of terms on hers and she shouldn't do that to me. I am a big boy and can make my own decisions. I would appreciate your approach to it much more than my wife's. ;)

chosha said...

Your wife annoys me. Yeah, I know, we only here one (ranty) side of things. And yes, I'm sure she does nice things sometimes. I don't care...she still annoys me.

'You knew I wasn't social when you married me'??? Wt...? Clearly social enough to play board games, usually designed to be played by at least four people.

Please, if you plan to tell us something nice about her, can you start with one single situation where she has sacrificed in any way just to support you or let you do something you want to do? It would be nice to think that happens. Or has happened, you know, at least once.

HoosierGirl5 said...

Please, please, please....get her (and you) to marriage counseling. And fast. You two do not sound or act like a newly married couple.

Jeff, I have to agree with Chosha: she annoys me. She's not nice to you, and you deserve better.

J.

Jeff said...

Chosha: My wife annoys me sometimes, too. Is she better than I paint her? I am not sure, but she IS nice to me a lot, really. I just don't write about it for any number of reasons. That is on me. In the near future, I will write about Valentines week. I meant to, earlier, but it never worked out. Then, it passed and thought it was not time appropriate. However, you talked me into it.

Hoosiergirl: We have been to counseling. I want to continue it and will, but you know, money.

I don't know if I deserve or not. I think people usually get what they deserve - especially if they have a hand at making their own circumstances. I guess I knew the risk when I bought the ticket.

That, being stated, I am still optimistic that my marriage will prosper - probably more optimistic now than in the past.

Michelle said...

Jeff

if you ever want an extra insight/help - get me your wife's Mars, Venus and Moon positions. Especially Mars.

The Real Mother Hen said...

That...
I'm speechless.
I can't judge, so I'm speechless.

Mom23boys said...

Hi Jeff,

Delurking to agree with the real mother hen. I'm speechless at her childishness.
On one hand I do admire your insight and thoughtfulness attitude, but....I hope that selflessness on your part does not eventually just completely drain you. You seem like such a nice man and it seems like you deserve to be treated better on a more consistent basis. It seems like every now and then she throws you a bone and is nice to you but how difficult it must be for you to live that way. You must feel like you are walking on eggshells most of the time. I enjoy your blog and your thoughts and it appears that you have alot of readers who think highly of you. I wish you the best.

Jeff said...

Michelle: Where do I find those positions, in her underwear drawer? ;) You may get an email from me.

Mother Hen: Is that good or bad? Are you ashamed of me? ;)

Mom23boys: Thanks for commenting. I knew I had some lurkers and I am glad that you finally chimed in. You are ALWAYS welcome to offer your opinion.

Marriage life is hard and it is draining no matter what the approach. I DO feel like I must walk on egg shells sometimes. It is getting better, though. We all have our problems. My wife surely has her fair share. All I can do is live out my part of the marriage in a way that I would want my wife to live out hers. That, with prayer, will hopefully have a positive effect on the way she approaches the marriage. Even if it doesn't, it is still the right thing to do.

I do know, although it is hard to keep it in the front of my mind sometimes, that I can only control what I do. I need to be the best husband that I can be. It will either be reciprocated or it will not. If not, eventually the marriage will end (either legally or practically). If it is reciprocated, then the rewards will outweigh the costs.

Michelle said...

Hi Jeff

Sure, email me anytime.

Michelle said...

Hi Jeff

Sure, email me anytime.

Sayre said...

You've got some interesting feedback on this one, Jeff. I have been back to read this several times and have always been left struggling for words to say to you.

Marriage is so personal. It's the melding of two lives to make a completely new kind of life. WHen the two sides don't fit, that new life doesn't always work well. Sometimes it can be fixed and sometimes not.

You obviously love your wife a great deal and are trying to make your side fit with hers without changing yourself too much. The only way it will work though is if she's also willing to make her side fit with yours. You are wise to recognize that you are, in fact, two DIFFERENT people - a lot of folks don't seem to realize that marriage doesn't change THAT aspect. But the commitment requires that both of you bend a little. YOU seem to bend a lot and that's not good.

COntinue with the counseling as much as you can. It can and will help if you both are committed to keeping your marriage alive.