“Don’t let the sun go down when you are angry.”
My bride and I do not live by this axiom. I want to talk/argue things out until they are rested. She hates confrontation and will do anything she can to avoid it. So when we are finally able to have our discussion time, which is virtually always when we go to bed, disagreements do not end. Once she lies her head down, the clock is ticking. Something she frequently states is that “Once my head hits that pillow, I’m not really able to have a good conversation.”
And therein lies one of our most major marital issues. Arguments rarely seem to be resolved. They are left to fester. Bitterness and animosity are allowed to grow. We go to sleep with the argument still running only to awaken with it still living inside of our minds.
It is my long held belief that she is purposely avoiding our marital issues. Far better to leave issues unaddressed and remain at peace than to cause the stress and strife of a conflict. She seems to desire a stress-free, peaceful life.
That’s nice and all. There’s a major problem with that though. Remaining stress free and in constant peace is an unrealistic goal. Arguments happen. We get mad at each other. We become upset when things are not going as we intended. That is called life.
Avoiding conflict is a form of escape. Those that do anything possible to keep from conflict are doing EXACTLY what we addicts are doing: Avoiding The Realities Of Our Emotions. They are attempting to live in a fantasyland. And it is every bit as damaging as the fantasyland I live in. The method is far different- there is no betrayal of marital vows. The end result, I contend, is very similar: Human emotion is destroyed in the wake of the fantasy. It is every bit as real as what my crappy problems are.
Do I feel bad about what I’ve caused? Hell yeah I do. Bad doesn’t do my feelings justice. BUT, I must move on. It’s done. That stuff is in the past. I am beginning the process of putting my baggage where it belongs.
I also feel bad whenever we have unresolved conflicts. She says and does things that really piss me off. And I return the favor. We both have culpability when there is conflict. It’s not like I begin a conversation with the intent of hurting her or causing trouble. It just happens. As far as I know, she experiences the same thing.
I feel bad about unresolved conflict for these major reasons.
1. I have not been allowed to fully express my opinion/viewpoint of the situation.
2. I am not allowed to properly process the two differing positions.
3. I am left with many questions about what her viewpoint is.
4. I am not allowed to get to what I think the root problem is.
For example: Last night my bride and I started with a really nice talk. As it progressed, feelings became strained. Things became worse and worse. I wanted to tell her why something upset me. When I told her, she became defensive (natural reaction) and shot back. As the back and forth continued, she became less and less involved. Eventually she became a passive participant. I would talk, she would listen and occasionally fire back. And then the line came. “I just want to go to sleep.”
It’s as if sleep is her trump card. It appears to me that whenever a conversation turns far south, she immediately becomes too tired to discuss it. “Just let me sleep” is a frequent request.
I understand being tired. But I do not understand becoming so tired you are unable to discuss something every time a discussion becomes difficult. To me, it sounds like an excuse to avoid the conflict.
Last night she talked about waking up every day with knots in her neck and back and having headaches. Today she took the day off of work. Same result.
This morning we began right where we left off last night. Arguing. We do most of that arguing over text messages since I’m at work. A little while ago, she texted me to say she had just taken a muscle relaxer to deal with the cricks in her neck, the headache and knots in her back. She’s totally stressing out.
Stress is a killer. She told me, right after she said “RED LIGHT!” earlier today, that she just wants time to herself; that she wants some time to not discuss us. I get that. However, she also tends to forget one of the most important parts: We don’t ever really finish the discussion.
If you begin a disagreement and it remains unresolved, it will continue to grow. I mentioned that to her last night. “Yep, that’s exactly right.”
So are we going to finish?
“No, I’m tired.”
So the issue will continue to get worse and the bitterness and animosity will continue to grow.
So what is a husband to do with that?
I am already on incredibly thin ice in our relationship. I do to want to push her too hard. At the same time, pushes are needed.
I continue to remember an exchange in my last therapy session.
Dr- “Why is it that you are wanting marriage counseling so bad?”
Me- “Because I’m horribly afraid that if we wait too long to address the problems, they will have gotten so far out of control they become impossible to heal.”
Dr- “That’s a definite possibility.”
I mentioned that to her last night. Zero reaction. As in, there were no statements like “That’s just silly” or “don’t be ridiculous, of course we’ll take care of them.”
Instead there was virtual silence. That silence puts very negative thoughts into my head. Things move back toward hopelessness for our relationship.
When she doesn’t address our problems, I see it as her not taking our relationship seriously. This doesn’t seem to be any kind of focal point for her. It’s always, “you have to get better” or “let me deal with me.” It has NEVER been “we need to…” Or “let’s go…” Everything is always couched as individual needs.
Don’t get me wrong, we both have massive individual needs that must be addressed. But we are also supposed to be a team. The team is being ignored. It’s kind of like watching Kobe Bryant play basketball. It’s very important for him to score as many points as possible. “Screw you teammates, I’m not passing the ball. I have to score.” After the game, he talks about how important the team is.
It doesn’t work that way. Some people will certainly like it. Kobe fans cheer in delight. Laker fans are pissed off that the team isn’t involved.
That is a fairly decent description of my marriage. We’re both ball hogs, unwilling to help the team. Only I’m starting to see that it’s a team sport. My teammate is trying to play the game alone.
She will say she has done nothing but bust her ass for our marriage. Why is it never good enough?
Because there is so much to be done. Because we go up to a point and realize that it’s about to become REAL uncomfortable and we get scared away. There are really painful things that must be addressed. If we continually ignore them or brush them aside to be dealt with later, they get worse and worse.
I do not WANT to be in therapy. I sure as hell don’t want to go to an SA meeting and reveal my most personal dirty laundry to relative strangers. But I have to do it. I’m tired of the shite that has been going on. I have to kill it and recover.
I do not want to have tough conversations with my bride. I really don’t want to discuss my shitty behaviors of the past. Being the guy that caused the mess is an exquisitely painful and uncomfortable place to live. I have the misfortune of hearing some incredibly terrible things said to and about me. I have to say some very uncomfortable things. I have had to apologize for unspeakably terrible things that I have said and done; and it will never be enough.
I was told that it is a function of my addiction that I want action immediately. I want answers right now. I want healing right now. I want maximum effort by all involved right now. I’m less than patient. But is it a bad thing to want those things? I don’t think so.
I do think it’s bad of I can’t back off. I think that of I were given something to hope for, I could deal with my impatience much more effectively. Let’s pretend she were to say, “Let’s have a look to see where we are on 6 weeks. Maybe we can start thinking about counseling then.” Instead I always hear, “I’m not able to think about that right now.”
I truly understand that sentiment. I really do. But I would like to have SOMETHING, ANYTHING to look forward to. I’d even take a lie at this point.
“Uh, yeah. We’ll talk about it on a month…”
I would be happy about that.
And if that month came and she were to say, “I’m still not ready…” that would also be fine. I just need a target to shoot toward.