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.


Ahuva said...

She refused and said, "he wants to play with you -- let him until he's finished."

If you were doing that research *for her* then would it have hurt to put it off and play with the baby like she asked? You could have said "If I play with the baby, that means that I'm not working on getting us two cars-- which would you rather I do right now?" That would give her a measure of control and would probably have made her feel more appreciated/valued. It would have also driven home the point that you can't do *everything*-- she needs to decide what is more important to her right then-- your playing with your child or finding a solution to the car issue.

I'm not trying to pick on you, but from what you've posted-- the lack of communication goes both ways.

"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."

I'm going to guess that she thought that you were mad at her and that's why you went into the bedroom (particularly since she thought you were "isolating" yourself). You could have said "I know you like singing to the baby, but if you want me to do this, I need to go into the bedroom where I can concentrate." Then she wouldn't have misunderstood your actions.

"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? "
Maybe it was a peace offering?

Problems are almost never only one person's fault. If you're really worried about the marriage falling apart-- have you talked to her about marriage counseling? Your rav might be able to provide that.

But, even if you don't go that route, assumptions are deadly. One way to get a person to communicate better is to communicate everything to her-- over communicate-- explain why you're doing everything and, if it's something that you're doing for her, ask her what she wants at each decision point (such as play with baby/work on computer). If you're explaining everything to her, she just might fall into the same pattern and start explaining everything to you (which is what you want).

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I spent all day yesterday reading your blog. I'm not really sure how I even found it, just followed a series of links and there it was. It captivated me.

I hope you guys are doing well, it sounds like you've had a great deal of changes and pressure, both of you. The first year of parenthood is not an easy thing, remember to cut each other some slack, okay?

Honestly, one thing that helped my husband and I was getting a cleaning person to come in once a month or so. It's hard when the petty details of life get overwhelming, and I can understand where both of you are coming from with that, but don't lose sight of the bigger picture. You guys are doing great.

~Goyishe mom

Zoe Strickman said...

Thank you for commenting. I'll be posting more soon.