Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fears of marriage falling apart -- after the Purim events.

The Purim weekend ended gracefully with me returning to shul and davening Mincha and Mariv and catching a ride home. We ended the evening with me not doing any work as we planned to (that I needed to). Instead, I spent the night exclusively speaking to my wife and paying attention to my wife and her needs. She appreciated that.

This morning, I woke up on time for Minyan. When I got home, my wife and I spoke the night before about how important it is for us to do some research and decide whether we would like to sell our new car (which isn't serving our needs) and to buy two older used cars so that my wife can have freedom to move around because right now she is confined to being stuck in the house all day when I am working during the week or that she can only go places on foot.

So I was doing nothing personal and I was focusing my efforts on doing the research to find the proper car for us; she was reading a mommy magazine. She sent the baby over to me and for around fifteen minutes (she will say it was only ten or five which I disagree with), I was playing hard with the baby -- lifting him up in the air, biting at his feet, laughing with him, etc. When the playing was over and I returned to work, still interested in me and what I was doing, our son started grabbing at the laptop that was near me, and I asked my wife to please take him so that he doesn't break my laptop by breaking off the keys on the keyboard. She refused and said, "he wants to play with you -- let him until he's finished." Seconds later, he broke off a key from my laptop and I got annoyed at my wife. She was surprised that I was upset at her, but I was because I asked her many times to keep him away from my computer because I was doing this research for BOTH of us, namely for HER. I told her that this wasn't fun and I wasn't having fun or playing games on the computer. So I stood up from the couch and moved over to the dining room table to continue the work and to look up how to re-attach the key that our son ripped off onto the keyboard. My wife was throwing noisy toys in my direction and distracting me trying to get the attention of the baby. When she went to feed him a few feet away from me, she was singing songs and was making loud noise and I couldn't focus so I took the computer into the bedroom. Within a minute or so from exhaustion, I fell asleep on the bed.

I awoke to find my wife dressed and not talking to me. She was leaving with the baby, and while she pretended to not be angry, I could tell from her voice that she was angry. I asked her if she would like me to join her, and she didn't quite answer a yes or a no, so I waited to hear more from her, but she took the baby and left.

Reflecting on everything that has happened, I feel that there is a problem here and that my wife is not communicating her feelings to me. I feel that she is expecting me to be a mindreader and I am not one.

Further, I feel that each of us has our responsibilities, and when she is making her calculations as to what mine are, she is expanding hers out of proportion making them great and minimizing mine. I feel she minimizes the fact that I work during the week, and that I cumulatively drive over two hours each day to and from work which is quite exhausting. I believe she minimizes the fact that I often run errands for her and for us on the way to or from work often adding hours to my weekly commute. I think she minimizes the fact that I wake up significantly before she does every morning before work and that I attend a minyan which often takes over an hour each morning. I also run to shower and do my daily activities before each minyan at 6:25am which means I am up and about around five-something each morning. Then in the evenings, while she may deny this, as soon as I get home, I spend usually under an hour focusing all my energy on her and the baby before getting to taking care of the bills and the things that need to get done, often over the computer. Further, often during the week, before I get home, I drag myself to minyanim for Mincha and Maariv, and once a week I have a Gemara chevrusa -- all of which are exhausting events. These are my weekly duties and what I believe should be expected of me. On top of these, I work hard to be a good husband, to pay attention to my wife and my son, and to pick up where she falls behind in chores (again, something that goes unnoticed and she would deny).

My expectations of her are that she take care of the baby which I know is a colossal responsibility, and that she maintains the cleanliness of the house, does the laundry, and makes sure there is food cooked for all three of us. That's not much when it comes to space on a page, but I know it is very time consuming.

Anyway, she just walked in with Slurpee, and she got me one too even though she is angry at me. Why did she get me a Slurpee? She *is* angry at me "for isolating myself the whole day" (her own words) when in reality I fell asleep from exhaustion which is no crime. I am feeling angry at her for not expressing herself and for hurting our relationship. She has no right to play with our relationship as if it is something to be manipulated.

Fears of marriage falling apart -- recounting the Purim event.

I suppose my blog is pretty much like my real life... eventless. I do what I am supposed to do, and that takes up much of my life. ...Minyanim, Torah learning, spending time with my wife and my family, work, etc. There's not much time left for excitement.

One thing that has been troubling me recently is that my wife is a bit on edge. While being slightly stressed out is one thing, and losing one's temper is another thing, she does neither. She pretends to be very cool, then today she takes the baby and walks out on me again. This freaks me out and I have spoken to her about it before and she denies its existence.

My biggest fear is that my marriage will fall apart and that I won't be able to stop it. I suppose because it happened to a close friend of mine and because it happened to my parents, I am sensitized to signs of it. I have told my wife on many occasions that I am not a mindreader and that she needs to communicate her feelings to me but she disagrees and feels that I should know how she's feeling when she is feeling it.

Over Purim, I made a few mistakes which in my mind were not mistakes (and I still believe they aren't) but to her, she felt I was not taking care of her. Before the holiday, I asked around (we are new to the community) and learned that there would be 1) a Purim party (from a conversation a few weeks earlier from one of the community members), and 2) that there would be two Megillah readings -- first for the general public and second for those that missed the first one. I did this research before the holiday to make sure that if my wife misses the first one because the baby starts crying, etc., that if she'll have to take him out, she'll have a chance to hear the Megillah on the second round while I take care of the baby. I even spoke to her about this and my findings. When we got to shul, there was only one Megillah reading, no party, and no food (I was surprised that there was no food because the shul usually has lots of food for the various weekly Kiddush, so I was sure they would at least put some of that out, but they didn't.) I was surprised and she was livid. I asked the Rabbi when the second Megillah reading would be, and he said that he's making one for his wife and a few women at his house, so I felt good that my wife would be able to attend that. My wife was upset by that and her reasons were understood to me. Either way, when we got back to the house, she got out of the car and in anger and without saying goodbye, she walked off to the Rabbi's house and left me with the baby, whom I then put to sleep, heated up food, and waited for my wife's return.

The next day was the Purim seudah which we were invited to the Rabbi's house for the meal. I was sure that the other community members would also be there so that we can farbreng and drink to fulfill one of the Mitzvahs of Purim. When we got there the only people that were in attendance other than us were old people and slightly-crazy people (it doesn't matter to me that they weren't religious). I made the best of it and later when we spoke about it, my wife told me that in Chabad communities, only rejects who don't have a place to go end up at the Chabad Rabbi's house.

That night was Shabbos, and I arranged for us to be invited over to my friend and chevrusa's house. The company there was good and the people were our age. One of the guests was my friend's neighbor who he had befriended and was trying to convince him to start putting on Tefillin every day. While I usually have stayed far away from the Mivtzoim effort of bringing Jews closer to performing the commandments (Mitzvahs), this time after a few drinks, I joined in. Earlier when I noticed that our son had went to the bathroom, I alerted my wife about it and she said she didn't want to change the diaper. I asked if we need to do anything and she said no and resumed the meal. I was thinking that maybe we should leave, but if my wife was okay with it, so was I. Keeping an eye on my wife for some time longer, I saw that my son was playing with the toys or that my wife was holding him, but either way, conversation was happening amongst the women and my wife was a part of that so I didn't mind resuming conversation on the men's side. I engaged the guy in what my wife describes as being a 1.5 hour discussion on why he should be putting on Tefillin, and among other conversations which included laughing and even crying from laughter in conversations that permeated the whole room, my wife was livid later because I didn't read her mind that we should leave. We left with everyone else when the meal ended and while I was glowing that we had such an "atom-bomb" kind of conversation that surely changed this man's life, she was upset that I wasn't paying attention to her during this last conversation and that I should have sensed that she wanted to go home.

The second Shabbos meal by day was by another friend of mine (all of the people we go to are people who I befriended because my wife has not made much of an effort to be part of the community or to make friends) where my wife had a good time. The people were our age, and our son got a chance to play with people his own age. Everything went wonderfully and I believe my wife even could have made a friend.

...I will continue this story in the next post.