It Takes Two to Tango
I learned something about myself this past weekend. I've been keeping little bits of myself from Michael. Okay, maybe not all of those bits have been so little.
If you haven’t read my last couple of posts you may want to do so before reading this. If you don’t have the time or inclination, that’s okay, I think this post will pretty much stand on its own.
Saturday night I shared with Michael that I’d been feeling really lonely. He got upset because he didn’t understand why I’d been keeping that from him. He wants me to be fully open and honest with him and he felt like I’d been lying to him because I’d kept that from him. If you haven’t read about it, as you can imagine, that conversation didn’t go well. He felt blindsided by my revelation and I felt attacked when he got upset. At first I couldn’t fathom what he was talking about, I couldn’t figure out where he was coming from.
Michael wants me to tell him everything, he wants me to share everything, he wants me to be open and honest and vulnerable. And I thought I had been all those things, but apparently that’s not quite the case. Of course I’ve told him before that I missed him or even that I was feeling kind of lonely, but there have been many times when I haven’t said anything. And I hadn’t really shared with him the depth of that feeling of loneliness when it hits me. But, it’s not something I like to dwell on and I don’t want to upset him either. Things are how they are right now and that means that he’s gone a lot. There’s really nothing to be done about it at this point and so I don’t want to make him feel badly by telling him that I’m lonely. I figure what’s the point? There’s nothing he can do about and it will just upset him. And I don’t want him to think that I’m just complaining, that I don’t appreciate him and all he does for me, for our family, and I don’t want to disappoint him either. I want to be strong for him. I want to be a good wife, for him to be proud of me. And I don’t want to be a burden to him, something, someone, he has to worry about. I don’t want to put extra stress on him. I want to be able to handle it, handle things, handle myself. I want to be here for him, keeping our home going while he’s off working. And so, I’ve developed a habit of keeping things from him, how I’m doing or how I’m feeling.
You know, I never thought of it as lying, keeping those things from him. But he saw it as me pretending to be happy when I wasn’t, pretending that everything was okay when it wasn’t. I was trying to protect him and not upset him. And, in a way, I was trying to protect myself as well. You see there have been many times when I’ve shared things with him, my emotions, how I’m feeling, and he’s reacted badly. There have been many times when I’ve been upset or worried or whatever and I’ve wanted to talk with him about it, but I haven’t because I didn’t want to end up feeling like my feelings were being invalidated. And I didn't want to open up to Michael about something and end up feeling attacked either, which has happened as well. When that's happened it’s like he’s on the defensive and thinks that I’m lashing out at him or something and reacts accordingly, rather than understanding that I'm just trying to share with him how I'm feeling. Sometimes when he's reacted that way perhaps it's been because of how I shared it with him, but other times I've tried to be gentle about it and it still didn't go over well. I know he just wants me to be happy, but when I'm not happy he seems to take it so personally.
Honestly, this is something that’s developed over the years, this negative pattern of behavior. And we’re both at fault. It takes two to tango after all. Clearly I should’ve have shared with him all along how much I was missing him and that I was having a hard time with it sometimes. And clearly I should’ve just talked to him to begin with Saturday night instead of retreating. I certainly made a huge mess of things.
Though we managed to have a pretty good day Sunday, in spite of the night before, I was still feeling a bit unsettled Monday morning. When I first tried to write about it I ended up just staring at a blank screen. I decided to email Michael instead. I still felt uneasy, unsure. I still felt as if I’d disappointed him, let him down. He had forgiven me, but I wondered if he would trust me again or if he’d be second guessing me all the time. I told him that I didn’t feel that I’d lied to him, just that perhaps I hadn’t told him the whole truth. I said that maybe that was the same thing, but I wondered if he could really say that he hadn't been guilty of it too. Somehow I think that he thinks it’s different for him though. I think he feels that he has to protect me from things and so he shouldn’t tell me everything. Somehow that’s okay for him, but not for me I guess. I’m still wrapping my head around that. I mean, I understand what he’s saying and how this issue plays into our different roles, but I’m still working through how I feel about it.
We realized that we both have some things to work on and we’ve come to an agreement. I’m going to work on being more open and honest with him and not hiding my feelings from him and he’s going to work on being more receptive and less defensive. It’s not going to happen overnight, but hopefully little by little, with some effort on both our parts, this is an area we will improve in.
I don’t ever want to have another night like Saturday night. I don’t remember the last time he was so upset or I felt so hurt. But, I know that if we do have another night like that, at least we have a strong enough foundation in place to see us through.
Oh, and Happy Independence Day! :)