Patterns of Behavior

This weekend was an interesting one, a bit different from the norm.  Our daughter was away for the weekend and Michael was gone most of Saturday.  That left just my son and me at home. 

We slept in late and then lazed around in our pj’s for awhile.  I got caught up on emails and blog posts and chatted with a friend.  He played and watched cartoons.  I didn’t really have anything planned for the day, unless you count relaxation.  By lunch time I decided that a shower sounded really nice.  When I came out of the bathroom my son said that I’d received some text messages.  You see, I don’t take my phone into the bathroom when I’m taking a shower…anymore.  I like to soak up the hot water and even with the exhaust fan on, the room gets quite steamy.  I learned the hard way that cell phones don’t like to be in such conditions, that moisture can seep in.  Anyway, I checked my phone and saw a few texts from a good friend of mine.  She wanted to know if we wanted to join her and her family that afternoon and see a movie and then get some dinner together afterward.  As much as I’d looked forward to just lying around all day, that sounded really nice and I figured it would lift my spirits too.

We decided to see Mirror Mirror.  It was cute, a light hearted comedy, and family friendly.  I will mention that there was a spanking reference in the movie, which certainly caught me off guard.  I’m not going to say anything further as I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet and wants to do so.  The spanking reference was very tame, but amusing.  As it turned out, the timing worked out so that Michael was able to meet us for dinner after the movie, which was really nice.

When we got home Michael shared with me about the conference he’d attended most of the day.  It was a Christian men’s conference.  I guess you could call it a leadership conference…kind of building men up and empowering them to be leaders in their homes, their churches, and their communities.  (Now, don’t be tempted to get carried away, there was NOT a seminar on DD!  lol)  Anyway, it sounded like he’d gotten a lot out of the conference and certainly the topic of men being leaders in their homes was a timely one.  Later that night, after our son had gone to bed and we were cuddled up on the couch together, I asked him if he’d had a chance to think about things, if he’d made any decisions.  He said that he had.  We didn’t talk about it, about things, about us, then though.  We left it at that for the night and just enjoyed one another’s company.

Sunday we went to church and then out to lunch with some friends afterwards.  Our daughter was back from her trip and we heard all about it.  She had gone to a conference with the teen youth group from church and had a wonderful time.  We were so thankful that she’d felt up to going, as she’d been really looking forward to it.  Sunday afternoon was spent with some family and friends and then we finally headed for home.  Michael still needed to finish our taxes!  I’m sure that was the last thing he felt like doing at that point, but he really had no choice.  Something you may be amused by…I’ve never done my own taxes.  When I was a teen and started working my mom did them for me.  And then I started dating Michael and he did them for me, and he’s done them ever since.  That’s okay; ask him who wrote his English Lit papers for him in college.  It all balances out.  ; )

Once the taxes were done and the kids were in bed Michael and I relaxed together for a little while.  Earlier in the day I’d asked him if we were going to talk that night and he had said that we would.  I knew he was tired though and I wondered if that talk would really happen or not.  And I knew if it didn’t I was going to have a hard time dealing with that.  It wasn’t like we could just talk the next night, not in person anyway.  But, after a little while we went upstairs, closed ourselves in our bedroom and lay on the bed, side by side, face to face.  It was time to talk.

I guess I’ve been taking my time in this post, writing about other things, working my way up to sharing what I imagine you’re really curious about.  It turned out not to be as simple as him sharing his thoughts, his decision, and me accepting it and us moving on.  There were some things that came to the surface.   He wasn’t feeling as confident as he’d been feeling the night before due to some mixed signals and poor communication between the two of us that evening.  But he shared with me what he wanted, which was to get back on track with DD, with ttwd.  And yet, though he was saying all the right things, he didn’t really seem ready to step up.  Actually, he came across a bit wishy washy.  I call him Charlie Brown when he gets like that.  Generally speaking, I react in one of two ways to wishy washy Charlie Brown, either I step up and take the lead myself or I poke and prod him until he does so.

This is a pattern of behavior that’s been a part of our relationship for a LONG time actually.  He will talk about doing something, about stepping up, talking a good game essentially.  But, then when the time for action comes, when it’s time to actually make the jump, the leap, he halts.  Then I step in and either take the reins or give him that little nudge (or perhaps a big shove) so that he steps up.  In truth, that dynamic, pattern of behavior, whatever you want to call it, has been a part of our relationship, well, pretty much from the beginning…and we’ll celebrate our 19thwedding anniversary next month.

And so, I found myself faced with a decision last night.  Should I step up and take control or should I poke and prod Michael until he did?  I found that I didn’t want to do either.  And yet, I didn’t want to leave things where they were.  I didn’t want to go to sleep feeling like I didn’t really trust what he was saying to me.  I wanted him to either truly step up, on his own, without my prodding or I wanted him to concede that he wasn’t prepared to do so. 

By this time I was sitting up, while Michael had lain on his back.  He looked defeated and I looked like I was ready to take over.  I told him that I felt like poking him, pushing him, doing something to him that would get his attention.  He wanted to know why.  And so I started to explain all that I just shared with you.  I just laid it out there, not sure how he’d feel about what I was saying.  He leaned back up onto his side, pushing himself up onto his elbow.  He was listening intently to what I had to say.  I think it was hard for him to hear, but the truth of the matter is, we both have played our parts in that dynamic.  It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.

We talked for a little while and decided that this pattern of behavior is one that we have to break if we’re going to move forward with ttwd.  He’s going to have to learn to take that step, take that leap, and lead without my prompting him to follow through.  And I’m going to have to learn to let him lead without trying to take over or push him in the right direction.  I think it’s going to be challenging for both of us, but I think, not only will it be a good change, but it’s a necessary one.

Eventually the talking led to other things, pleasurable things.  And I could tell that Michael was finding his confidence again.  The way he was handling me, he was very loving, very gentle, but also very much in control.  We danced a really lovely dance together.  With the distance between us emotionally speaking, with the walls that I’d had up, with his confidence down…well, it had been too long since we’d really connected in that way, at that level.  After basking in the afterglow for a bit, I asked him where that had come from…meaning, where had he summoned up his confidence from.  He said that he didn’t know, but that he was ready to lead.  He said that he knew my confidence and trust in him had been shaken, and that his words wouldn’t serve to win that back at this point, but that he was going to show me that he means what he says.  I told him he was off to a good start, the smile on my face spreading to his face.  We agreed that there are things that we both need to work on and that it will undoubtedly be challenging at times, but that it’s worth it, we’re worth it.

So, I guess we’re back on track, or working our way there anyway.  There’s much work to be done, challenges to overcome.  I feel good about it.  Ttwd has a way of bringing things to the surface, doesn’t it?  It’s quite a relationship tool.  

Oh, one thing that I just realized I neglected to share…Michael has decided that we’re going to do maintenance once a week.  I asked him if a week was Sun-Sat, and he said no, for this purpose it’s Mon-Sun.  I’m curious to see what will happen, if he’ll follow through, and if he does how long it will last.  I’m trying not to think negatively about it, but inconsistency has been a big issue in the past.  I think I understand why better now though.  It goes back to the discussion of the pattern of behavior we’d fallen into in our relationship in general.  He’d talk a good game and then not follow through when the time came and so I’d get upset and either have a meltdown or start acting out or something that would push his buttons (intentionally or not on my part) and that would kind of force his hand.  But, we’re not going to do that anymore.  I’m not sure how I’ll react if he doesn’t follow through on his own now, but I’m hoping not to have to worry about that.  Neither of us is perfect though, and that’s something we both need to keep in mind.

Wow, this post got really long, didn’t it?  I want to thank all of you who have been so encouraging to both Michael and I.  Things have been hard at times lately and your care and concern, insight and compassion have really meant a lot to both of us.  So, thank you my friends.  : )


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