Friday, September 05, 2008

Confessions of Irritable Wife

Something happened post-debt-confession: I stopped being a grown-up. Or something.

It's little things that have been going on for as long as I have known him and that I had pretty much given up being angry about. Like I say, "I wonder if we should do X or Y" and he responds by saying, "That won't work for me because I have to do Z." And then I have to ask which won't work for him, X, Y or both? He will sometimes respond by explaining how important Z is. (Are you following all this?)

For about a decade my response has been to take a deep breath and say carefully, "Sweetie, do you mean that you can't do X because of Z or that you can't do Y because of Z?" If he is very distracted he might get frustrated because I apparently don't understand how really, really important it is that he do Z. It isn't that he doesn't want to do X or Y, it is that he has to do Z. And then I begin to figure out that he can't do either, or more likely, can't think about which he has to do. I then decide whether it is important to make him hear me or just let it go for a while. It annoys me, but it is something I have learned to "let go."

Recently we have these sorts of conversation and I get pissed and say something like, "Dammit! Will you listen to me! I get that you need to do Z. I have no problem with you doing Z. Go ahead. Do Z! Just tell me whether, when you have finished Z you would prefer to do X or Y!"

Or this morning. We were sitting in the van waiting to be sure that the public bus showed up to pick up Brian and I said, "My sister called yesterday. Her husband is going to be deployed to Iraq."

(Now I will admit this isn't the best time for a serious conversation, but it really is difficult to get time with him. He is usually sitting at his computer working with head phones on.)

He said, "Is that a good thing or a bad thing."

I said, "Well, on the up side he will get more money, Sis might get help with school, and he is going as a cook so it is a bit less dangerous than other positions. Still, Sis is pretty anxious."

He said, "Wow. There's the bus. I guess we can go." And then he pulled out into traffic and turned on the radio.

And I sat there and thought evil thoughts. Gary was in the back seat. When he got to my work he pulled up and said very nicely (he knew something was wrong but not what), "Is this good or do you want me to drive you around the building?"

I opened the door and walked away without saying anything -- just like a pissy teenager.

I don't know exactly what I wanted him to say about Sis's husband being deployed. I really don't. I just wanted him to say something. I wanted it to make some sort of impact on his psyche.

And a month ago I would have handled it differently. I would have told him that I needed more from him. He would have apologized and asked me what else I wanted to say. I would not have been able to think of much else that I wanted to say. I mean, what else is there to say? He's going to Iraq in Feburary. She's nervous. I feel for her.

That is a pretty dramatic example, maybe one in which I come off looking like the sympathetic one and he is the insensitive heel. The truth though is that he is a very nice guy who sometimes needs to be told what I need from him. And this is a confusing situation since my sister's marriage has been not good for a while. She is has said that there isn't a reason to get divorced, but particularly since she started going back to school, she just doesn't have anything to say to him. I did, months ago, make a tasteless joke that she would probably make a good widow. (I did say it was tasteless.) Actually she joked that maybe it would be a good thing if he was deployed since they don't talk anyway. She didn't mean it though. Not in the way where you are happy if it happens.

So Roland really doesn't know what I think or what I need.

And I don't like having so little patience or tolerance for him.

It's like I forgave him for this really big thing and that used up all the forgiveness and understanding I had. When I think about the debt, I am not mad. I feel sympathy for him and understanding. At the same time though, it is like he has used up all his credit with me.

I don't want it to be this way. I'm not saying that I don't have any control over my reactions and choices, but this unforgiving response is something that is coming from somewhere deep and I don't know how to make myself get over it. It isn't something that I have direct control over. I find myself hoping that the raise he is getting will make that part of my lizard brain will really get over it.

The most loving thought I have for him these days is a deep conviction that he deserves better treatment than he is getting from me. I have faults and I wouldn't want someone to have no acceptance of mine. What if he got angry at me for everything little thing?

And I have deeply mixed feelings about this post. On one hand, given the way I work through things, I feel like if I write about it to people who might have insight, it might help me move on. I want to have a different attitude toward him. On the other hand, writing this post and talking about him feels like an example of the sort of behavior I want to stop.

I want to be the person who doesn't need to write this post.

Maybe I will delete it later.


  1. Remembering that we all replay our formative relationships, does this dynamic or the feelings you are having remind you of any other, earlier dynamic or feelings you had in a relationship?

    Once I answer this question for myself or otherwise figure out what's going on, I can usually change what I'm doing.

  2. Boy, do I understand feeling like someone has used up all their "credit" for forgiveness with you.

    I feel like that with my kid right now.

  3. I could have written a different post of the same title a few years ago. If its any consolation, we muddled through it and things got better. Hang in there...

  4. I can so relate, I sometimes wish I had another blog to post my feelings that run like this towards my husband. Sometimes I just want to slap him! I have that same thought 'that he deserves better treatment than he is getting from me.' I ride my husband alot and he never points out my faults or what I should be doing. I don't like how I feel when I am choking on resentment. Resentment is alot like a cup of poison I drink hoping the other person will die. It just hurts me too much so it is in my best interest to get over it! They say to pray for the other person. I am doing that alot right now with my husband and my boss.

  5. Sounds like he is making you relive your uncertainties with your father. He needs to understand that children of alcoholics have a profound NEED for safety. Which running up debt takes away from you. No wonder you're pissy!


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