I was just digging into my sushi last Saturday night when Carrie looked at me with a big smile and said “I have a great idea!” I knew I was in for it.
“You should write a post as a follow-up to last week’s ‘This is Marriage’ blog.”
I couldn’t believe it. That dreaded day had come. The one I had always feared but had done my best to tuck as far down in the depths of my brain as possible and not let it enter my daily thoughts for fear it would ruin my life.
The day I would have to commit Carrie to the funny farm.
She had lost it. Any amount of reason and logic that she was capable of holding had been deleted. She had gone crazy. We have been together for 19 ½ years, and she darn well knows that I have a deep dislike for words.
Words drive me up a wall. I’ve never complete a crossword puzzle higher than a 5th grade level. I can only find 3 & 4 letter words in Boggle. And don’t get me started on the game that was created by the Satan himself; Scrabble.
If you want to make me sleep, hand me something to read. Even glancing over the back of a shampoo bottle is better than counting sheep for me. Reading is very tedious for my brain. She wouldn’t let me proof read her book because she knew, and it is true, that I would take way too long for her.
Writing is even worse than reading. I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to put a coherent string of words on paper. Pulling teeth is actually much easier, no joke! So I asked my wife, “Why do you want me to do this? You know I can’t stand writing.”
She thought it was a good idea.
Well I knew that it was not, but after a very thorough and fruitless discussion, I put the “good idea” on hold for the night by asking her to let me sleep on it. And she agreed.
So, without further ado, this is my side of marriage:
I remember the Great Oreo Fight. Oh boy, do I remember it.
I can recall the feeling of joy when I found that previously opened bag of Oreos neatly tucked away in the cabinet. Its presence was unbeknownst to me until that night. I did polish off the remaining cookies. You see, back in my younger days, I could make any size bag of Oreos or regular Chips Ahoy—not the chewy ones, in case you were wondering—disappear if there was an adequate supply of milk.
I clearly remember being totally confused when she stormed in the door. Where did her reaction come from? It was just cookies. There were no previous discussions or overlooked love note about the importance of always having a few Oreos waiting on standby. We had no kids, and now in retrospect, all the time in the world. I was more than happy to run out to the store and buy more at that moment.
A simple few words like, “Hey honey, I could have really used some Oreos. Why don’t you go get some while I settle in?” could have saved it all from happening.
She needed soothing, not solutions.
I could see the look on her face. That look of realization that she had married a monster. The Cookie Monster.
Was all that fighting really worth it?
Almost every one of our fights has the same basic formula to them: Her feelings are hurt. I get frustrated because it all seems so illogical, and then our words become angry.
I know we are not the only ones.
I also know the basics. Women want soothing and someone to understand and hear them. Men just want to give answers and move on. I know that I shouldn’t take things personally. But I am the first one to admit that knowledge of these principles and implementation of that knowledge are two very different things. I am extremely slow at implementation.
What I have learned in this past week is that we both do stand divided by an enormous chasm during our fights, but for different reasons. She is there out of fear and anxiety. But she chooses to stay, because she is the most motivated person I know. I know she will stay. She doesn’t give up easily, whether it’s me or the kids or autism or a copper tub for the bathroom.
On the other hand, I am there for totally different reasons. She chooses to stay, while I chose to stay fifteen years ago. I don’t have to make that choice again. It is done in my book. I made it and I am moving forward. Like a man on a road trip, I am going to my final destination with what I have. It is going to take a lot of setbacks and detours for me to stop and ask for directions, let alone turn around and go home.
No, my chasm is created from frustration. The idea that she still might perceive something I do as hurtful, when I know I have not purposefully done so. Doesn’t she see my choice has been made? How much more must I do to prove that to her? To provide sufficient evidence?
I suppose the question is not how much, but what do I need to do to make her feel it?
The chasm becomes so big that at the pinnacle moment it is hard to feel love, or give love, to Carrie. I am angry and hurt and frustrated, and the divide between us is deep. It is really hard to love her at that moment. Dare I say I can’t love her at that moment.
Thankfully, it is a fleeting moment.
For the rest of our time together I enjoy feeling as close as I can to Carrie. I reach for her often, always telling her, “You’re not close enough!” as I squeeze her. If you ask her, she will tell you I reach too often, and at times when she doesn’t want to be touched, which if I am not careful, can start a fight. (See above mentioned formula for a fight).
In her post she said she doesn’t want to breathe alone. But she will never have to–we will breathe together through whatever life hands us.
Any-who, back to Saturday night. I was lying in bed pondering how ridiculous it was to ask me to write a post. I tried to understand why she was asking me instead of what she was asking of me.
Because it was important to her. Plain and simple.
So without having to sleep on it, and without reading a shampoo bottle to doze off, I quietly agreed to do it and went to sleep. I had already made my choice.
This is marriage.
Thanks for spending the time to read my side. If Carrie can cross the abyss and choose to stay time and time again, then I can overcome my fear of words.
Maybe there something to this blog thing…nah….I think I’ll stick to teeth.