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Communication - urgh

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OktoberMest posted 9/3/2013 02:55 AM

It's been a while.

We're ok - In fact last night I'd have said we were really good. LH is being super supportive at the moment. I have exams for my masters like course next monday and I'm iff on srtudy leave, so he's been making sure I study hard, reducing distractions, making supper the works to maximise my time. this has take two years of our lives, a lot of our precious free time has been occupied with my studies. And I don't need to point out that this has all happened in the toughest 2 years we've had as my A coincided with the end of my first module. LH has been so brave, he really is my rock. And I told him so last night.

Something so small always kicks things off though.

I have in the past always been the person organising and putting the bins out for collection each week. Meanwhile LH has breakfast and sorts his email. We did have a no technology rule in the mornings, but that seems to have lapsed... I have mentioned this as a separate issue in the past and he's agreed, although there are sometimes when he really must go online, most of the time it's forum checking, which I can't say I feel is urgent. Somehow having mentioned it once I don't feel in a place to nag about it. So sometimes I just feel sad.

Anyway, last week we talked about him doing the rubbish instead of me once in a while. He said all I had to do was ask; I have in the past, but told him he's often sad he's too busy. Cue feeling a bit shunned, silly I know. So last night I thought I act on what he'd said last week, and well in advance I asked him if he'd help with the rubbish. OK maybe I wasn't clear enough, because I'd already bagged up pretty much everything and put it out the door, except the bins from upstairs; so it just need those emptying and taking to the end of the drive. So for me, "helping" was really just doing the last bits. I admit, I should have said can you do the bins in the morning to be utterly clear.

This morning comes and he duely got up, washed the cat's bowls and fed them. Cleaned their litter tray. Let the dog's out for a wee, and then took the bins that were outside the door to the end of the path. He'd said last night he'd do the bins after breakfast if I was ok with that. No probs I said. He chose not to.

I was disappointed. I know at first instance that might seem unreasonable, but here;s the thing. I just asked him to do the bins. That's it. I would happily do the rest as I know he's pushed for time. I didn't say anything to start with, but he probed me so I calmly said, I was just frustrated that it seemed that he had not really listened to what I asked for and done what he'd thought was important, and left half the task I actually asked to be done incompleted. He got mad. Immediately defensive, "nothing I do is right, I can'tdo enough for you...."
I apologised for upsetting him, but explained that although he'd done ALL these other tasks, he chose to prioritise other stuff in front of what I'd asked. I explained I understood the time limit and we're a team so I can do the dogs and cats as I'm at home...or if he saw this stuff was much more urgent then TALK to me and let me know why he'd decieded to switch stuff. I stayed calm and just said I was disappointed.

He got madder and wanted me to drop it. The he left for work slamming the door on the way out.

I get the repressed anger. I get that. I get that it might seem petty right then. I get he might not want to talk right now. I get that too. But here's the thing...
He won't want to talk about it at all. It'll be my fault for being too critical. I can't seem to explain right that I don't want to be waited on. I just want him to listen to what I need/ask for and do that ONE thing COMPLETELY if he can. Ask me for help with the rest. I get so down and disappointed with the half task thing. Let the dogs out for a wee, but no time to let them poop - well leave them for me so I can spend enough time to do both...i'd only be a couple of mins behind him. Time pressured? Talk to me and ask me to do the cats so he can get on with the one thing I asked him to do.

I only ask for stuff when I'd really like it done; then when it's overridden I feel shunned. Like me requests are to be assessed and overrridden. Not equal. Is that madness? Feeling sad now. I didn't mean to upset him, I really didn't. I feel he didn't need to get that upset, so I'm pretty sure the anger is not really to do with this scenario. I'm trying to communicate how our counsellors showed us - but right now it sure does feel like a one way street. I've changed my comms so much, and he's following the same script. Don't want to talk about it, get angry, leave. No resolution here.

Worst of all he doesn't see, or even want to see what's at the root of this, and how I feel it affects us both. I'm scared what happens long term with this same old pattern...any advice gratefully receieved. (Even if it's shut up and do all the chores!)

brooke4 posted 9/3/2013 03:47 AM

Unfortunately, I don't think there's any magic solution except to remind yourselves that this is the kind of conflict/resentment that occurs at times in all long term relationships.

Maybe the best thing is for both of you to agree to take a deep breath and then circle back and re-visit this. Defensiveness tends to be an in the moment response and sometimes it's easier to drop both the defensiveness and the resentment when not in the midst of things.

I wouldn't wait too long though, as I think you're absolutely right in thinking that it's this kind of small resentment that builds over time if not handled. I also think you need to agree to re-commit to the no-technology in the morning rule if you both still agree. That's one that we seem to need to do a periodic vow renewal on in our house, but we can both be guilty of letting those blackberries creep back in.

It sounds like you guys have the tools to do it, you just need to be willing to step out of old patterns.

WalkinOnEggshelz posted 9/3/2013 16:11 PM

We have a saying in our house: Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

Sure, you asked him to get all if the trash out. Sure, he missed some of it. But as you said, he has been doing ALL of the other chores in support of your studies. He has taken on a lot of extra tasks. You might be disappointed that he missed something you specifically asked him to do, but in the grand scheme of things how big a deal is it really? Is it possible that he had the best of intentions? I'm thinking that if he is doing so many other things the answer is yes.

Did you hold onto a lot of resentments to justify your A? I know I did. So anytime it may appear that I am nit-picking or resenting HT for any reason, he gets defensive too. Anytime I show any sign of pre-A or A behavior HT nips that right in the bud. So if you were a resentment holder of any sort during that time, I can see how he might be triggered by your conversation and take that as a criticism.

It's important to see his perspective so that his reactions don't seem unreasonable. He is scared. Scared that your positive and proactiveness are temporary. He still can't trust the changes you have made, not entirely. So any signs of 'old' behavior can set him off. That doesn't mean you can't express your feelings. If you really are disappointed fine. Just don't always expect him to have a positive reaction to your feelings.

But really, in the grand scheme of things, if trash is your problem you are doing pretty well. Wouldn't you say?

Brandon808 posted 9/3/2013 16:40 PM

I get that frustration. I used to experience it too but sensitivities were such that I was not free to address it. So I encourage you to sit him down and tell him that 1) you do appreciate what he does for you, 2) you''''re not saying he did anything wrong, but ultimately 3) he helped you the way he decided to help you and not the way you asked him to help.

Now WOES is also right. In the grand scheme of things it is not earth-shattering and hardly amounts to more than a disagreement or squabble (admittedly I was hoping for a chance to use the word squabble ). So I would suggest that no real transgressions occurred.

It was, imho, simply a case where you felt you were not heard since your concern is not with the amount of help he gave but the manner with which he gave it and how he complied with your request.

[This message edited by Brandon808 at 4:42 PM, September 3rd, 2013 (Tuesday)]

TxsT posted 9/3/2013 16:54 PM

No stop sign so I would like to post. As a RBS the single hardest thing for us to developer was complete and good communication. Our FOO issues, walls and adaptive behaviours never allowed us to communicate properly at all throughout our marriage before the A. ( this is not to say we fought, we didn't much but we also didn't talk so the other spouse understood)

Communication is the single most important trait to develop after honesty in post A R. You are still learning that there is room for improvement. The last time I had an issue such as what you described I took it directly to IC to try and figure out how to handle the situation. My IC reminded me that I not only needed to hone in my exact message but I also needed to acknowledge that my RWH had tried very hard to fulfill my request for which I was grateful. So now we communicate and then regurgitate to each other often so we know the entire message had been delivered and understood in its proper context. Yeah this is a pain in the butt but it is also helpful to us. It is moulding our communication skills into something more positive. Eventually we will start to say the entire meaning right the first time and might not need to regurgitate so much.

Don't read so much into this. It may have looked like a big step back but I don't think it was. You need to honestly tell your H your feelings on the issue and acknowledge his contributions. You both are working too hard not to.


[This message edited by TxsT at 4:55 PM, September 3rd (Tuesday)]

20WrongsVs1 posted 9/3/2013 16:55 PM

Communication. Urgh. ICR. As an objective third party, may I say you seem to be doing a bit of mind-reading here? You said LH had...

done what he'd thought was important

How do you know what he thought was important? Not judging you, just honestly asking: did he volunteer that information, did you ask LH, or are you mind-reading?

Mind-reading got me into heaps of trouble. Reckon it still does, but I'm working on asking BH what he meant, instead of interpreting. Cuz quite often my interpretations are negative, when BH's intent was positive. It's heartbreaking to realize how simply asking this question: "What did you mean by that?" could've spared me months/years of bitterness.

Worst of all he doesn't see, or even want to see what's at the root of this

LH said that, or are you guessing?

I feel he didn't need to get that upset

So, gently here, LH's feelings were invalid? IDK about you, but I hate being told how I should feel. Worse yet, I hate being told how I "do" feel, or what I think.

I'm learning a new method of communication too, and it's hard. Really hard, but I think the payoff is going to be fantastic. For example, instead of telling my kids outright what to do, I am using this construct:

When you ___, I feel ___.

For example, I have said 14,000 times to my children: "Eat over your plate so the crumbs fall onto it, instead of onto you and/or the floor." So now instead I am saying: "When you eat like that, I'm worried that crumbs will fall on the floor." And do you know how many times they've shrugged and continued to lean back? Zero. Because they care how I feel. Same applies to potentially dangerous situations. "When you sit on that railing, I'm scared that you'll fall backwards and break your head open." Instead of barking out an order, I'm giving a reason and expressing loving concern for their safety.

Because ultimately, we can't make anyone do anything, can we? You can tell LH, "I thought we agreed to no technology at breakfast, but that seems to have lapsed." In other words, "You're breaking our agreement," and naturally we're inclined to react defensively when we're told we're wrong. Or, you can say, "I feel sad when you're on your iPad during breakfast. I'm wanting a few minutes of connection with you before you leave for work." You're not nagging, you're not making him wrong: you're stating your feelings in a blame-neutral way. Better yet, recognize him when he eschews the technology one morning. I'm getting pretty good with the former, but monumentally failing at the latter, admittedly.

TxsT posted 9/3/2013 16:58 PM

20 wrongs....,we must have the same MC/IC....working on the exact same thing. Isn't talking in feelings so much better a way to communicate??? I often think this alone would have stopped so much of the pre A stuff.

Hind is almost as bad as Karma


[This message edited by TxsT at 4:59 PM, September 3rd (Tuesday)]

OktoberMest posted 9/4/2013 04:17 AM

Thanks to everyone for their insight. I rang him sometime after I wrote this and we talked briefly before work. He immediately apologised for getting so worked up and I apologise for forcing the issue. As WOES pointed out it's not the hugest of issues.

However, although it wasn't the issue that worried me...more the reaction to presenting him with my negative feeling to something he's involved in that upset me.
To answer a few questions:

Did you hold onto a lot of resentments to justify your A?
No I don't think so. It's not really pre-A behaviour for me. The anger trigger comes partly from me being the WS and the A stuff, but there's quite a lot of other anger triggers relating to non-A stuff he's working on too...being humilitated's one and I think feeling like you're being told off for not doing you chores right is probably there...

It was, imho, simply a case where you felt you were not heard since your concern is not with the amount of help he gave but the manner with which he gave it and how he complied with your request.
Yes Brandon, exactly. I have spent a lot of time working on my listening...not a skill I was very good at in all honesty. Sometimes I don't feel that's equally returned. If something I ask for isn't fair or practical in the time allowed, then say so. It's no biggy, I'll happily do it. It's just frustrating when you either end you watching someone do everything else BEFORE what you asked for, which leaves two feelings: frustration and annoyance that he CHOSE to overrule my request, and annoyance and frustration that I end up doing the chore over again anyway. I'd rather it was not done, or done...not sort of done, but between us we end up doing it creates unnecessary bad feelings, upsets two people and wastes time.

LH said that, or are you guessing?
No I didn't guess. I don't spend time mind reading anymore (rarely anyway and not with LH!! :grin). All the comments I made, he said, and that's what hurt me. Particularly this
Worst of all he doesn't see, or even want to see what's at the root of this.
He apologised for that specifically, just lashing out...thank goodness, or we'd have a real problem.

So, gently here, LH's feelings were invalid?
No definitely not. Of course they're valid. I guess I was writing here what he's told me in the past about's transferrance of anger. You know when you're not really anger about the actual thing your talking about right then, but it trips you off because it trigger's you about something else? He has that problem to deal with at the moment, and I try to suck up a lot of the "disproportionate anger" because I understand that. Sometimes it's hard, especially when you've raised an issue you feel down about already, you know? He has every right to feel how he does, I just know (because he tells me) it's not really to do with that issue directly. I guess rightly or wrongly, sometimes I think he also has to learn to control that, rather than me always sucking it up...that the two street I sometimes feel is busier one way.

...acknowledge that my RWH had tried very hard to fulfill my request for which I was grateful
When you ___, I feel ___.
I did do this at the outset. I'm not all insensitive. I started talking to him by telling him how much I appreciate all his help and know how much he's doing for us. I also went for the "I felt disappointed and frustration when only half the task is completed...." and there in lies the problem. I've got much better (albeit not perfect) at raising things non defensively. Trouble is sometimes when I give a positive he's just waitiing for the negative or criticism (he calls it the shit sandwich! - say something nice, then the problem and then something nice)

In this situation before I'd have got all heated and what not, but yesterday it was all him raised voice and slamming doors, stalking out. I was just left sad and quiet, watching this all go on around me....feeling bad for upsetting him, knowing you much he's doing.
Now don't get me wrong, he cooks, I washup; he does hoovering, I do laundry and change's far more equal. And I do that deliberatly because pre and during A I didn't. I just sat in the study, working and wokring, let him go to bed first, then joined him once he was asleep because I was still studying late. I don't do that now. BUT I do apprecaite that by suggesting he should do a chore, might be a trigger back to the bad old days.

My biggest frustration was not and is not the damn chores. They suck, we do them together. We divide them up. It's just that we need to be better at listening to each other. Fulfilling needs isn't all about sex, buying gifts and telling someone they're appreciated. It's also happens in the mundane of his needs is to be heard, just as one of my needs is to be heard. So this got to me.

We talked it over, and we're cool. I just hope we can deal with the latent anger that's floating around without stuffing up!

Ultimatley this is a small issue. Real small. We're doing pretty good. As a WS reconciling (once you eventually get your arse into gear ) I have done a huge amount of work on myself. My BS was just trying to hang in for a really long time. He did so much work to hold us together at the start it took a long time for him to recover from doing all the heavy lifting, I should have done. I thank him for that, because without we'd not be here now. Now we're ok. Trust is rebuilding, he rarely verifies...he rarely has too. He says he feels safe for the most part. He's in IC and has a lot of other stuff to work through. I guess I've just been able to actually work on myself for around 18 months and huge changes have happened...he's only just started to be capable of really changing himself and applying the introspection in the last few months, so he's way behind. Even in MC, I was really the person changing as I was the one who been wayward, he was just surviving and seeing what the change would be like. Trouble is, some of the stuff we learnt in MC, primarily about communication is looked for by the BS, but not necessarily used by the BS.
I feel like I'm on thin ice here - I hope I'm explaining this well enough not to upset too many people. I understand why there's such a lag in working on yourself between the WS and BS. And I accept that. I still feel strongly that if the BS also has similar flaws in their skill set, it their responsibility to work on them too. There in lies the opitomy of it taking two to make a marriage work.

[This message edited by OktoberMest at 4:18 AM, September 4th (Wednesday)]

20WrongsVs1 posted 9/4/2013 08:06 AM

I'm not all insensitive.

Sorry if I implied that; it wasn't meant that way.

ICR to so much of what you wrote, and you're much further down this bumpy road than I.

I feel like I'm on thin ice here.

We're all skating on it together, sis. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us.

lieshurt posted 9/4/2013 10:40 AM

OK maybe I wasn't clear enough, because I'd already bagged up pretty much everything and put it out the door, except the bins from upstairs; so it just need those emptying and taking to the end of the drive. So for me, "helping" was really just doing the last bits. I admit, I should have said can you do the bins in the morning to be utterly clear.

It's just that we need to be better at listening to each other

Based on what you've posted, is the issue really about listening better or is it about you clearly communicating better? It seems that you assumed he knew what you wanted him to do instead of being specific about what you were requesting.

OktoberMest posted 9/4/2013 13:30 PM

It seems that you assumed he knew what you wanted him to do instead of being specific about what you were requesting.

I already acknowledged this, however, I did think that spelling out what contitutes taking out the trash was a little patronizing in this case.

lieshurt posted 9/4/2013 14:33 PM

I already acknowledged this, however, I did think that spelling out what contitutes taking out the trash was a little patronizing in this case.

Did you ask him if he would feel it was patronizing for you to be clear about what you were needing him to do? Or, are you assuming he would feel that way?

OktoberMest posted 9/4/2013 15:53 PM

To be fair I assumed then. But I have asked him right now. He said this. "yes darling, I would feel patronised" (in a british humourously sarcastic tome).
For the most part mind reading is not to be advocated, however, I'd feel patronised if he told me how to take out trash. He's my 42year old husband, not my child.
Sorry, I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just injecting some reality into the situation.

[This message edited by OktoberMest at 3:54 PM, September 4th (Wednesday)]

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