Thursday, February 19, 2009

Much to my wife's credit...

I appreciate that many of you are sticking up for me and even writing me letters with advice. While some of what you are saying is true, I felt that I needed to clarify the truth of things because I am not sharing all this with you so that I can have a pity party where I am the star of the show. My goal here is to get help which is to my being impressed is exactly what I have received from you, just as I have received really good advice from fellow bloggers back when I was dealing with issues back in law school, as some of you remember. However, I feel as your depiction of my wife is a half truth, and I wanted to correct that because in order to truly work this out, I need to be upfront and honest about both her AND me.

The me I'm pretty sure you know. I am a hard worker, a loving father, a caring husband. I let my work dominate my life from the hours of 8am-7pm every day, and I don't take my work home with me. Family is family, and work is work. For the most part I am not happy at my job because I am lacking enough work to keep me going at full capacity and thus I am often bored or I end up billing way too much time to a project just to make my minimum billable hours requirement. ...and when I bill hours, for the most part, I've done work to justify that billing. ...but that's okay because I feel that I am always one project away from being fired, so I do the best I can and I leave the rest of it up to G-d. Honestly, I would enjoy being home more than going to work every day, but the saving grace is my iPod with news videos which I listen to on the commute each way; it's my way of watching television since we don't have one in the house. At nights, I enjoy watching movies (Netflix/Hulu) on the computer, and I am taking electrical engineering classes to get an EE degree so that when I am fired (rather than if), I'll be able to get a job as a patent attorney without too much unemployment.

Those are my strengths. My weaknesses is that I have little self confidence despite the contradiction of being such a strong and commanding presence. I have an active mind that makes things up and that hears things all the time which often makes me think that something like wind batting the front door is someone trying to break into the apartment and attack my family, or that the pitter-patter of a dripping kitchen faucet are footsteps. I live my life very afraid that I'll get attacked or killed, but I keep it all to myself and I have learned over the years to stay calm so that when something freightens me, nobody around me can even notice that I've been startled (unless they have a heart monitor on me.) This is because I believe in things like angels and demons (or malachim and shin-daleds), but contrary to Jewish thought, even though I know mezuzahs on my doors protect me in theory, I'm always afraid of being wrong, especially from the many sins I commit against G-d. Now to the untrained or the therapist, I sound like I have OCD or some mental illness, but in truth, I am a realist and I know I've sinned and I sin daily and because I lack a fear of G-d I continue to sin. But I don't forget that one day there will be a reckoning for my sins, and I or my soul will get its butt kicked unless I figure out a way to change my life to act more in line with Jewish law. Bullocks, you say, but really, this is the way things are, and I'm not interested in being taught why I am wrong -- I have my mother who has more of a Yushka model of G-d then a Torah model. "G-d loves everybody for who we are, not what we do, yadda yadda, as long as we're good people, yadda yadda, he'll protect us." To take matters further, I've thought of not being religious to be more congruous with my feelings of apathy, but honestly knowing what I am supposed to do and be as a Jew, I'd be afraid to do anything else.

As for my relationship with my wife bless her heart, she and I have the same weaknesses with regard to religion when it comes to prayer and fearing G-d, but she has no secular past and I do. However, her personality is the kind of personality I've never seen until I met her. She is a kind person in that her heart loves, worries, cares for, and cherishes -- this I know because she's shared this with me telling me that she experiences this -- but I would NEVER EVER KNOW THIS BY LISTENING TO HER SPEAK OR WATCHING HER ACT. She is totally emotionless at the surface, almost as if her and Lillith (Frasier's ex-wife from Cheers) were sisters. On top of that, she has a mean and dark sense of humor where if I weren't paying close attention, I'd be hurt by her words. On top of that, she's not the best communicator out there, and being blatantly honest, her communication skills are quite poor and so she stays quiet for the most part which spooks me because the only way I know what she is thinking is based on what she says because I have a difficult time reading her otherwise. Me on the other hand, I am totally expressive, easily understanding of my feelings, and able to express them just as easily as I am able to feel them. I am in touch with my emotions, and my thoughts are crystal clear in my head. I might be a very slow thinker, but I am a very sharp thinker. Even in my wife's vocal inflections (the sounds of her voice), I can never tell what she is thinking because she's so well guarded. There is almost always ZERO emotion in her voice, and she doesn't show any interest when speaking to me (and I actually think she lacks interest because everything bores her) and so even speaking to her on the phone is painful and difficult. It always has been, even when we were dating. I just thought she'd warm up to me after getting married, and she has somewhat, but I still have a huge difficult time understanding and reading her, EXCEPT WHEN SHE'S UPSET. Then she breathes a certain way, she shoots anger in every direction (yes, I feel it), her tone is hurtful, and she might as well shoot fire out of her eyes because when she's angry it burns. The problem is that I have the feeling that she is exactly like me when it comes to anger, in that I find reasons not to be angry 1000 times before I decide that its appropriate to get angry. Then watch out because fire might as well be spewing out of my eyes as well. However, I've learned to short circuit this anger so I rarely lose my temper if ever, and she is the ultimate in controlling her emotions as well and so its rare that I see her anger until it has broken her down to tears. So I think you're getting an idea of who my wife is. Here's the contradiction.

I've found that she is happiest when she laughs, and she only laughs at sarcasm. Meanness calms her somehow, and so I've learned to go against my nature and to match her in her level of sarcasm, and when she's in a good mood we're perfect together. When she's not fully up to speed however, my sarcasm (which really is a mirror of her sarcasm) hurts her and makes her feel as if I'm being critical of her. But this leaves me confused because when I'm interacting with her, I'm interacting with her at her level, not at mine. This is not to say that I am not being myself, which is not true. I am myself. However, I am not my calm, friendly, and cheery self -- not with all the pressures I'm going through on a daily basis both at home, at work, and spiritually. Each is a huge burden to bear. But I do my best which is everything I can contribute emotionally and physically.

Here's the kicker. While I know she loves me, it drives me nuts that I can't see it, hear it, or even sense it from her. The only reason I know she loves me is because she is still here. I would not know it otherwise. She doesn't confide in me. She doesn't open up her feelings to me. She doesn't have conversations with me (it is usually me that has to start the conversations or else there's silence) and even when I start conversations, she's not only not interested in continuing the conversations, but she is DIS-interested in them and apparently gets annoyed by talking to me. Honestly, I often feel alone and unloved in this relationship because I get none of that from her. And when we are allowed to be physical with each other, it is rare that we are physical. I have my own bed (and might as well have my own room) which I sleep in even when being physical is permitted. While I'm sure there are exceptions, she is just not interested in me physically, even though she claims otherwise when I confront her on it. Anyway, most nights I sleep alone, and I don't even get a touch on the shoulder when being physical is allowed. I think I'm being complete in this statement.

But picture this. Under that hardened exterior is a woman who is completely in love with me, and who has committed fully her life to being in a relationship with me. She has mothered my children, and has an undying concentration and stamina to mothering our children. She tries her hardest to be a good wife and a good mother, and she also tries to do housework, although she often feels as if the attention given to the kids detracts from her interest or attention to taking care of anything else. She loves me and she can't wait for me to come home each night. In anticipation of my arrival, she often has dinner prepared (and often not too *evil grin*). She is for the most part frugal, and she's on board with our goal of curbing a lavish lifestyle for a few years so that we can get out of debt. She doesn't demand earrings, diamonds, or lavish gifts (although she certainly admits that she wants them), and she doesn't ask anything of me except for my attention, my help, and my time. She wants to be loved by me, and she wants to be shown she's loved even though she rarely shows appreciation of anything with regard to emotions in return. She treats me like a friend or a brother, but not like a husband. She doesn't lean on me, she doesn't pay attention to my feelings or even wonder how I am doing, and if she is, she doesn't show it. Since she's overburdened with the kids, she wants the paycheck, but she wants me home full-time as well.

This is my wife in a nutshell. In short, she's Olive Oyl and I'm Popeye.


Meir B said...

It sounds like you married an interesting woman. I'm beginning to appreciate her character more.

As far as I can tell, it doesn't sound like the emotion or talkative part will ever change. That's her personality. But it's not bad. Think of the heroic stone-face American Indians. It might not be your type of character but it's a type of charcter that can be admired in its own right.

You may be disappointed, but this is the woman you married. She will never be the communicative and emotional type person that you are. Learn to appreciate her for who she is. Silent women are to be admired in their own right and there can be something endearing in it if you learn to accept it.

I know it must hurt that she isn't like you and that even physically she seems uninterested. But she isn't. She's just different. Respect that and let her be. Eventually on those rare occasions when she does want to talk or be physical, it will be that more meaningful for both of you.

Anonymous said...

Oy vey!

I've been following your blog for years. There is no question that you are expressive. You also sound emotionally deprived and your wife sounds emotionally withholding. From your perspective.

If, indeed, you are two very different personalities, this does not mean it's acceptable for your needs not to be met by each other. It's as if you both were starving in the midst of plenty.

I'm only hearing one side of the story but it's best to hear two. Why don't you both go to marriage counseling so that you can learn about each other and your marriage? Make this singular commitment. What have you got to lose?

It sounds as if you both are miserable, and love is not enough just because people speak the words. Counseling will give you both an opportunity to learn about each other, reinforce your shared vision, and find more nourishing ways to meet each other's needs. Sometimes, we don't see how we are behaving or how we are perceived and it's a good reality check. (I speak from experience.)

If you both agree on this, it is a sign and a signal, also, that you both want to make it work. As it stands now, it sounds as if you both are at a frustrating and sad impasse. I hate to see good souls go to waste and it's tragic when people feel unloved. You both can make the commitment to get on a better track. Together.

Good luck!

Barefoot Jewess

Ahuva said...

I have a question for you...

Is she happy? I keep saying that she sounds like she's miserable, but I didn't realize that you'd married a Stoic.

Does she say that she's happy? Do you think that she's happy?