Friday, April 28, 2006

Mrs_C Gets Some Floor Time

I first began writing this post on April 12th. I did not finish it at the time.

Yesterday Signgurl said she wished she could hear the other side of the story - I decided to dust off the post.

** Really long post warning **

This is the spot where I give some floor time to Mrs_C, and I repeat her complaints about me. Why? Because she is wearing me down. Because I am an inveterate self-reflection kind of guy and I can't help but think that if I gave a shit about this lady's opinions for so long and I am married to her, maybe I should think about what she has to say.

Being the unfair bastard I am, and since this is MY blog, I get to addend a reply to each of the stated issues.

In no particular order:

1) Don't do enough around the house

Mrs_C says that she has to carry the majority of household chores. When asked for specifics she cites: laundry, cleaning baseboards and door frames, sorting and cleaning drawers (like kitchen and storage), sorting clothes on a seasonal basis, and going through the kids clothes to see what they've outgrown. She has cited garden work and painting on occasion, but has backed off when I point out that she has told me that my work sucks (it's not bad, it just doesn't meet "Mrs_C standards").

My response:

[from one of the earlier posts on this blog]
"My wife's sisters say they wish their husbands would do as much as I do. They base their comments on both observation and on what Mrs_C tells them I do. Mrs_C says I am only nice to her and do things when there is an audience. I tracked my daily activities for several weeks one time. Before telling her about the results I asked Mrs_C if I had been doing more than usual that period. She said that my activity level was normal. She blew a gasket when I presented the activity report and told her that I thought she was wrong about me only doing things for show. All I asked was that she stop accusing me of that. I was in the shithouse for weeks after."

I have also asked people who are in a vague position to observe. And just for the record, my mother (who has excoriated my Dad for decades for not doing enough stuff) would tell me if she thought I was slacking - believe it!!! My Mom is the person who impressed it into me to be both feminist in perspective and action. My Dad always left my Mom to pick up the slack while he went out and did "important stuff". I love my Dad, and he is a credit to humanity and progressive thought in his era, but I have told myself I would never be like that. Never.

Mrs_C and I agreed to an explicit division of some labour years ago - other divisions have grown from regular activity sets. The divisions have been explicitly discussed and are not just assumed because of pattern of activity or gender. I do most of the grocery shopping and taxi driving. I do more than half of the cooking. I did the vast majority of the cooking until about 2.5 years ago when Mrs_C said she was sick of me telling her I did most of the cooking when we had such discussions (she started the discussions and asked me to name what I did more than her, not me)... Mrs_C now regularly starts meals on the days I go to work out (I like to have a 2 hour workout and the facility closes at 9:30pm - I need to leave the house by 7 and don't get home until about 5:30pm), but not always - if she's had a tough day and wants to rest.

I do most of the dishes. Mrs_C clears the table and does dishes on the three evenings I work out (and other times on an ad hoc basis). I ask her to leave them for me on my workout evenings, but she does not (most of the time).

The kitchen and its cleaning are my domain. Dishes, dishwasher, counters, cupboards and other surfaces, floors, fridge, microwave - all are my daily turf. I rarely clean the drawers (I straighten and organize them though) or wipe the insides of cupboards.

I do most of things that require dealing with school/instructors/lessons and the kids friends and their events and logistics (driving, funding, permissions, arrangements, negotiations). I work most (but not all) of the fundraisers (bingo, hot dog sales, bottle drives, etc).

Mrs_C leaves for work before me 3 of 4 weeks. I get the kids up and off to school. On the 4th week she sleeps in. I get the kids off to school. I make the lunches (or supervise the kids putting their own together). I monitor lunch supplies and requests.

2) Don't do enough laundry

My response:

I do not do as much laundry as Mrs_C. We had a discussion some years back about splitting some of the work we do. Mrs_C didn't like the way I did laundry and didn't like playing taxi to the kids, so I picked up taxi services and she did laundry.

I have offered to do my own laundry for the entire period she has complained about this. She says if I really cared I would just start doing it and not leave it undone. I say I will, but on my own timetable, not hers. I have suggested she leave my stuff separated out if it's an issue. I have offered to iron all my own shirts. I now iron about 2 shirts a day (mine, hers, the kids - started about 3 weeks ago). I have done more laundry and gotten the kids to do more laundry, but Mrs_C always criticises the details of how we do laundry (haven't ruined anything yet...).

I asked Mrs_C to give me a detailed written description of how we should do laundry - I've even offered to tape her verbal explanation and transcribe it into a howto or Standard Operating Procedures document, but she refuses (yes, I can be a bastard at times...).

3) Disappear for too long a period while running errands

My response:

Maybe so. It takes as long as it takes to go do shit. Mrs_C generally approves my agenda before I go run errands. She has also been with me sometimes and always seems amazed that it takes as long as it takes.

She regularly says (during normal conversation) that she underestimates how long a job will take both at home and at work.

I admit to spending more time dropping the kids off at some of their activities and at their friends places than she does. I spend a general maximum of 10 to 15 minutes talking to the other parents and instructors and people so as to maintain good relations (schmoozing). Good relationships are important. To me at least. Mrs_C has no friends except at work, me, and her sister... Whose style works better?

P.S. I don't stay and schmooze if I need to meet a deadline.

Also, we have the agreed upon division of labour and Mrs_C does not want to begin doing more driving and stuff, but she still tells me she resents me being "off gallivanting around having fun and visiting" while she does "all the work that keeps the household running".

I have offered to split duties with her - she does more driving, I do more of her stuff - but she refuses.

4) Emotionally unavailable/distant

My response:

2 issues

a) how am I supposed to get all kissy faced and huggy wuggy when I've just had a new asshole ripped for me? I'm gun-shy for a few days after being thwacked - I usually only get a few days reprieve between "discussions".
b) ok - so I'm a bit of a stick sometimes. Usually I'm quite funny. I'm very caring. But when I'm worried or emotionally unsure I become reserved and flat emotionally - it's a defense mechanism. See above comment about gun shy for a few days... so I'm edgy and careful for a few days between emotional thumpings and I usually only get a few days between them - so I'm uptight and nervous a lot - around Mrs_C. Yes - I have explained this to her. She says it's an excuse and if I really loved her I would be able to forgive her and move on. I say sure - but it takes a day or two for the emotional bruises to heal. And the tail-chasing continues...

5) Untrustworthy

1) I didn't tell mrs_c about the tax and client deal thing (see Thursday, April 27, 2006 Sucking Up and Kissing Ass for more information) until after the fact.

2) I did not express many of my negative emotions about her and kept it inside.

3) I prefer to avoid arguments than to have them - I will take steps to resolve issues outside of confrontations and not explicitly express the steps I am taking. This has been described as "sneaky". (example of this is: setting up written schedules for the kids to do some of their chores, and written lists of chores and household functions for myself as reminders. Mrs_C hates lists with a passion - she says we should be able to "just look around" and know what needs to be done. I make lists. My kids are kids - brain dead - they need both a list and a kick in the ass).

4) There have been a three instances where I financed a household project (a few thousand dollars) with a personal loan or with my credit card and did not explicitly explain that I had used debt financing at the time of the project. In the first instance I paid the loan off in 6 months. The two years and two projects after I used my credit cards and paid them off by September (expenditures started in May). Apparently Mrs_C made some assumption I had $5000 lying around to spend on each of these projects... even though she was explicitly aware I did not. She saw me use my credit cards to pay for stuff. I told her during the process I was using my cards.

Apparently not getting explicit and prior approval to use MY credit cards in advance for the projects is being untrustworthy... Remember - these are mutually agreed upon projects, all three of which were in response to Mrs_C's desire to renovate or upgrade.

5) I looked at some blogs and websites with nude pictures without Mrs_C being present, even though she had given me a go ahead. I have recently discovered there was an expiry on the explicit permission granted that ended with her interest ending. She never mentioned that, or that there was an issue until just a short while ago. Whether there is an actual current revocation of permission to view such or not is still pending. See post Thursday, April 20, 2006 Naked/Half-Naked Women Equals Infidelity.

6) Racking up several thousand dollars on my previously paid down credit cards over this last spring, summer and early fall is untrustworthy. Perhaps so, however, no credence or value is given to the explanation that I felt myself to be operating "solo" and operating in preparation for us splitting up in the inform/not inform cycle. I informed Mrs_C after we chose to stay together. FYI: charges were for: school excursion/trip with son, business trip, summer classes/activities for kids, family vacation, renovations, car repairs, school clothing needs for kids. I spent about $1000 of that on extra shit for my kids (clothes, games, dining and activities) in an effort to bribe them.

I also had a couple of thousand dollars worth of charges related to two leather coats and some clothing I had bought for Mrs_C (Christmas and Anniversary), but she will never learn that I used credit to buy those (unless she subpoenas my credit card records in divorce dispute)... Read the story here

6) Messy

My response:

Guilty as charged. I'm better now. Even Mrs_C says so on good days.

Now only my office is messy. My "clothes chair" in our room has clothes hanging off it.

I keep the rest of the house to Mrs_C standards.

But I somehow still always manage to miss wiping some top of the door frame, or window ledge, or making the stuff under the sink neat, or re-organizing the storage room. Each time I miss something I put it on my list of stuff (yes - a written list) that I need to do to keep up my standards.

7) Too ribald around my children

On some occasions I make sexually nuanced jokes around my children. Mrs_C does not think that I am setting a good example.

My response:

My kids talk about this stuff with their friends and schoolmates. They do. They will. No getting around it. The kids avoid anything like that around Mrs_C. She has a fit on them - she's a little uptight that way. Did I mention she was going to be a Nun when she was 17, but decided against it... (yes that was a comment designed to give you an impression of the style and source of some of her uptightness).

I try to be a little looser on the sexuality thing. My kids are bombarded with it every day - music videos and all. I want to maintain the ability to have a dialogue.

Perhaps I go over a line that I shouldn't, but I don't think so. My Mother and Father (two pretty uptight people that way) have said that they think the line that I walk is within the bounds of propriety. My mother-in-law says Mrs_C (her daughter) is being too uptight and that we need to relate not preach (BTW: the mother-in-law is a big part of the reason Mrs_C is so uptight... Mother-in-law has changed, some of her programming in Mrs_C hasn't)

8) Selfish

My response:

I dunno. Nobody else says I am. Only Mrs_C.

9) Self-centred

My response:

I dunno. Nobody else says I am. Only Mrs_C.

10) Insensitive

My response:

I dunno. Nobody else says I am. Only Mrs_C.

Well... at work people ask me how it is I manage to be so calm when other people are completely flipping out or stressed. They ask me how I can remain calm all the time.

That same calmness carries through most aspects of my life. That might be insensitive - to not display emotion on the surface.

11) Lazy

My response:

Maybe. I dunno. I work hard, I slack. Outside observers say I am not lazy and that I do a lot of stuff. I work hard at work. I do lots of stuff at home. I do an incredible amount of stuff with and for my kids. I am active in my community and with my kids schools and activities.

I don't go out with friends very often (a few times a year). I don't go for beer/drinks. I don't play sports, though I do exercise now.

12) Leave her with all the work

My response:

See all the above...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sucking Up and Kissing Ass

Interregnum comments (I'm not feeling completely on top of describing Monday night yet).

So we had another discussion in the garage while mrs_c smokes yesterday.

I come home. I tell a funny story (yes, it really was funny) and mrs_c doesn't even attempt to laugh - she then gives me this faked smile she gives when she's trying to tell me that she's being nice, but is actually mad at me. I want to go exercise, and I know it will blow up before I leave, so I figure if I just drag it out of her immediately maybe I'll get to exercise on a timely basis (interesting how the problems always seem to occur on my exercise nights...).

So I just ask. And ask. And ask. And ask again.

Finally she says to come out the garage while she smokes and she'll tell me what it's about. I dutifully follow and she tells me. She's been thinking about this time she phoned me at work last month and told me about something she was mad at me about. I don't remember exactly what it was just at the moment - it was something about how I've failed her throughout our entire marriage and if I really loved her I would show her that I did. I said to her "Well, I'm at work right now, and I'm meeting a deadline, so, I hear you and agree that we'll discuss this later, but I don't have any magic words right now to make this better." She says "well this is another indication of how much you really care." I respond with "As I said, I have no magic words to make it immediately better, or are you just looking for a way to get me to spend all my time kissing your ass?"

(I didn't used to fight like this - only the last few months since I decided I didn't really have to take it any more)

She hung up on me and I went back to my work. She called back a little later to tell me that my response shows how much i care. I tell her that it seems OK for her to call me at work and yell at me, but that she seems to not think it's OK for me to get a little testy and let out an intemperate remark. I say that we will discuss it all later, and that I'm sorry i became angry, but i really couldn't have this discussion from work. I then said i would take the rest of the day off from work if she wanted to discuss it - but she'd have to as well. She backed off and said it wasn't neccessary, we'd talk later.

Back to yesterday.

She tells me that she has been thinking about things and that her problem is that she is resentful of all the time I've let her down. She says to me that the reason she "bottom feeds" during our fights is because she can't elicit an emotional response from me. She says I go poker faced and reply in monotones and don't show that I am emotionally engaged with the discussion. My response was that I go there because emotional reponses during such situations have always had a negative outcome, so why the hell wouldn't I hunker down with a stone face?

So she starts going on about "If that's the way I want our marriage to be, is devoid of emotion, then [she'll] just have to learn to remove all the emotion from her life if that's the way I want it" and so on

Well it went this way back and forth for a bit with me justifying why it's OK to remain rational and calm, and her telling me I'm an emotional stone.

She went back to the issues around my business and the deal I cut with my clients and the tax people and said that this was the beginning of the problem, and that she thinks I have some making up to do and some apologising to do for that whole set of circumstances that she thinks I haven't done yet (I've been apologising for years).

Apparently I'm supposed to show her I'm sorry about this set of events in 1997 by doing nice things for her now. A set of events she has said was in the past behind us.

I also find it convenient because it's the one thing that I have done that could be called questionable (beyond regular day-to-day dumabassed shit). For those who haven't read that post - I cut a deal with clients and the tax people to get myself and my business out of some problems caused by my partner failing to complete some of his work read here for details. I didn't tell mrs_c about the situation until after the deals were cut. It left our household income at the level I had committed to, but left me(us) with a set of obligations which had to be paid down after the fact.

Yeah. So I look at my words here on this blog - not just this post, but all of them - and realise that her attacks and style have remained the same all through our marriage, just the subject she pummels me with changes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Where Do I Begin?

This post starts on Saturday. I could feel something starting to brew. I just know when the "mood" is starting to rise.

I decided that since it was inevitable, I would play a game (yes, a game). A game with myself to see whether I could spot any specific cause before she could blow on it and fix the issue - pulling the rug on the excuse to blow.

The signs of her getting toward needing to kick me one (figuratively) are there in posture, turn of head, tone of voice, the way she holds her head, the length of her answers or the stories she tells me. It all gives sign. I can smell it a ways off, but can never quite figure out if there is a root cause, or if it just happens to be whatever issue is handy and then she rationalises her outburst and uses the issue I didn't see coming as an additional cudgel.

Well, I sopped every spill and soothed every frayed nerve all day Saturday, and all day Sunday. I could actually see her irritation building with these issues disappearing from under her.

Little did I know I would play myself. But, I'm getting ahead of the story.

Monday night. I return from exercise. I know there's a problem. I'm doing dishes and such trying to figure out what has caused things to bubble up. I ask her a couple of times what is on her mind. She says "Nothing! Should there be?" It's an old routine - I get to beg until she tells me... After a fairly short time she tells me that she's going to bed and she doesn't care what I'm doing. So I ask her to please sit down and talk. She does.

After some initial quizzing and soothing on my part, she asks me "When have you ever asked about my fantasies? We talk about yours and we do yours, but what about mine?"

I'm like, huh?

She continues "I can tell you all about yours, but when have you ever asked about mine?" I try a few times to identify the various times I have asked about her fantasies, but get cut off.

Well, it goes like this for awhile, I try to say something to respond to her comments and she cuts me off. She tells me that everything in our marriage is for me, and I get everything I want, and the only recourse is to end our marriage or just shut up.

I say "And when has either of those things happened?" (bad choice of words, fighting words, but I had been taking it for about an hour by this point).

Well all hell breaks loose and a litany of everything I have done wrong since we met gets expurgated in about 20 minutes. I say something to the effect of "I am sorry if I have not met your fantasies and desires. I am aware of some, but not all of your fantasies. [I list some] Is there any in particular I should note or learn?"

Some discussion later and I find out she took a relationship quiz on the internet and it came up with and answer of "You could use a little love from your partner too". It made her sad/mad and she began to think about each of my failings.

Yesterday I couldn't take it anymore and I did something I never have before. I looked in her computer's web history file for any obvious quizzes. I feel bad, but damnit - if I have to answer for it explicitly I should at least know what the hell I'm answering for. I had no desire to look over all the sites, but saw one URL that looked likely in the list. It turned out to be it. I did the quiz from her point of view and boy, do I suck!

I present it here for your interest.

More on how Monday evening ended in my next post... (much worse)

Friday, April 21, 2006

And All Of A Sudden Everything Is OK?

Yeah. So now everything is luvvy?

Last night was really nice. Today is a completely normal and polite day. A nice day. She phoned me at work with good wishes.

My Dad came by to visit after the conversation I had with him and my mother yesterday. He said they had been discussing things and they were wondering if Mrs_C actually had real live mental problems.

They discussed the recent highly erratic behaviour of Mrs_C and how it did not match up with earlier action sets. I told him that my kids had already told me they believed she was losing her mind.

I'm thinking about how to get her doctor to make an assessment next time she goes for an appointment (without telling Mrs_C my concerns straight up).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Naked/Half-Naked Women Equals Infidelity

This may be only semi-coherent. It was another 3am night...

Looking at naked or half-naked women on Voyeurweb is infidelity. Or so I have been told. I can understand the logic, even if I don't agree with it. To me infidelity is something that occurs in the physical world.

Also, according to Mrs_C, apparently having fantasies about someone else is not infidelity, that's just human. But if there is a picture involved that's infidelity.

I'm not so sure about the logic of that when placed beside the original assertions about infidelity being in the mind.

Also, taking nude photos of Mrs_C and looking at them is sometimes OK, but not always. Even if express permission was given at the time of the photo taking to take them, save them, and look at them, and it was an entirely mutual event or even suggested by Mrs_C. But there is not hard and fast rule about when it's OK or not - it is a "feeling" thing. Sometimes it's hot (sexually), and sometimes it's degrading and objectifying, even if it was hot during the photo taking session... In fact sometimes it's OK for Mrs_C to email naked pictures of herself to me, but other times it's not OK to look at them.

Is this making sense to you?

Voyeurweb used to be OK. Ok enough to post on. Ok enough to look at before, but not now. OK as long as there was no question in Mrs_C's mind about the longevity of our relationship, but now it's not OK. No mention of this before a month or two ago.

But as of last night it might be OK if we looked at it in the future, but together - not me by myself...

So, to review:

  • Looking at pictures of naked women is bad if it's not Mrs_C, but sometimes it's bad even if it is her.
  • Sometimes looking at nude pictures of Mrs_C is OK
  • Sometimes it's OK to look at naked pictures Mrs_C took of herself and emailed to me, but other times not
  • Looking at Voyeurweb used to be OK, but now it's not - except for if we're looking at it together, maybe.
  • Looking at naked women other than Mrs_C is infidelity because infidelity is in the mind not the body...
  • Fantasizing about having sex with someone else is bad, until Mrs_C is reminded that she talked to me about her own masturbatory fantasies (and even during sex fantasies) involving people other than me. Then it's OK as long as it does not involve having looked at nude pictures. Because to fantasize "is just human", but to look at nude pictures is "sick" and "degrades" both the pictured person and the viewer.

Also, I am now cleared in Mrs_C's mind of all charges of ever having a physical affair - for the moment.

Trust and Lying

Apparently it is the case that I only describe the good things about me on this blog, even if Mrs_C has ever seen it (she is aware that I blog, but has no interest in doing so herself).

Mrs_C time:

I (Cadbury) am a liar for having not told Mrs_C about racking up my credit cards during the period I expected to be leaving her. When we decided to stay together I outlined my situation and the steps I was taking to clear them up. Now I've been asked to provide a new detailed accounting of how they will be paid down even though I already provided one in writing (I suspect it is mostly an excuse to flagellate me for having rung up the debt). Fair enough request - but I don't think decisions made while I was operating witht he intention of "going solo" can be declared lies. They can be called bad decisions, but lies - I don't think so. Your take may be different.

I am a liar for not having told Mrs_C I was thinking about leaving her until I told her.

I am a liar, untruthful, and was unfaithful for not having described in detail what/which nude women I was looking at in the last year - even though I had prior permission to do so without discussion. In fact I was unfaithful just for having looked at them

All of this was told to me in a 5 hour session last night. She decided about halfway through that she needed a drink and and several stiff whiskies later proceeded to get mildly stumbly drunk.

The discussion went 'round and 'round over all the usual subjects. During it Mrs_C told me that she wanted us to split - this crescendo'd around 2:15 am and then she refused to talk about it and told me to stop bothering her while she slept on the couch (this was about 2:30 am). So I went to bed and to sleep (I had to work at 8 am [6:30 awake] - her at 1pm). About 3 am she stormed into the room and hit me several times through the covers while yelling at me that she had begged me to stay when I said I was leaving but now I found sleep to be more important than her.

I assured her that was not my intention, and that I had been trying to talk to her but that she had rolled away from me, covered her head with a blanket and told me to go away, and then refused to answer for several minutes as I asked repeatedly (politely and evenly) for her to answer me. She said "Well, I was angry, but you shouldn't have left anyway."

I said that if she didn't want me to look at Voyeurweb I wouldn't. She said "Well, not for now, and if you are going to the you can do it with me there." She said we would talk more about it later... and maybe it would be ok, but she's not sure.

She said she forgave me, and asked me to forgive her for spazzing.

I said OK.

Everything now sits in a limbo.

We'll see when she gets home tonight.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Desperation and Objectivity

Many of you have commented on the stress of the emotional yo-yo I'm being strung on.

The trigger for this post is comment made by Pissy on The Day In The Park. A number of you have previously made similar comments about manipulation, button-pushing, and hoop-jumping.

One of the reasons I keep my personal journal and these blogs is to be able to look at my own feelings and experiences from a more objective standpoint. I am aware of my own desperation to fix things in my relationship and my propensity to sublimate my own needs at the first sign of hopefulness.

In one of my earlier posts I made reference to Stockholm syndrome. Today I intended to make a more full reference to abuser identification. I found a great reference on Stockholm syndrome on the Wikipedia. I followed some of the internal references in that article elsewhere including battered woman defence, battered person syndrome, Emotional detachment, learned helplessness.

I do not claim to be battered in the physical sense. I have some suspicion that I may qualify as emotionally battered, but I'm not fully comfortable with jumping onto that bandwagon because of not wanting an "easy excuse" and for ego reasons (remember - I'm a guy - how could I be battered? I'm perceived by most people who know me as being one of the strongest personalities they know...).

Here are some interesting excerpts from what I found:

battered woman syndrome

[subsequent edit: i am looking at this syndrome from the perspective of me being abused and controlled]
The term "battered woman syndrome" was coined by American feminist and psychologist Lenore Walker. In 1978-1981 she interviewed 435 female victims of domestic violence. She concluded that the violence goes in cycles. Each cycle consists on 3 stages:

  • Tension building stage, when a victim suffers verbal abuse or minor physical violence, like slaps. At this stage, the victim may attempt to pacify the abuser. However, the victim's passivity may reinforce the abuser's violent tendencies.
  • Acute battering incident. At this stage, both perceived and real danger (of being killed or seriously injured) is maximal.
  • Loving contrition. After the abuser discharged his tension by battering the victim, his attitude changes. He may apologize for the incident and promise to change his behaviour in the future.[subsequent edit: mrs_c does this a lot after she drives over me]

Walker used the Martin Seligman's theory of learned helplessness to explain why many battered women do not leave their abusers. In Seligman's experiments, rats repeatedly suffered electric shocks without being able to escape them. After this, they did not attempt to escape a shock even if they had such a possibility. According to Walker, females who are repeatedly battered produce similar psychological responses.

Learned helplessness
Learned helplessness is a well-established principle in psychology, a description of the effect of inescapable punishment (such as electrical shock) on animal (and by extension, human) behavior. The theory was developed by Martin Seligman through experiments going back to 1965.

""Learned helplessness" offered a model to explain human depression, in which apathy and submission prevail, causing the individual to rely fully on others for help. This can result when life circumstances cause the individual to experience life choices as irrelevant."

"...people in a state of learned helplessness view problems as personal, pervasive, or permanent. That is,

  • Personal - They may see themselves as the problem; that is, they have internalized the problem.
  • Pervasive - They may see the problem affecting all aspects of life.
  • Permanent - They may see the problem as unchangeable.

I have written previously about my detachment in my relationship, or at least Mrs_C's perception of me as being detached. Even just the other day on Nice Things To Do To Make My Wife Feel Special I made the following comment:
I'm an emotional and sensitive guy, just not very demonstrative - lots of times I think something, or feel something, and then neglect to inform Mrs_C of the thing I think or feel

she thinks this is being distant. Me, I just completely [go] "doh!" I meant to say something there.

I have no current conclusions, I just thought that I would put in words what is swirling through my head. [subsequent edit: i am using the above theoretical lenses to examine why i am staying]

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Day In The Park

The day in the park starts the night before (this past Thursday). We were discussing plans for the weekend and scheduling. Now in last week's post Love and Anniversaries I discussed Mrs_C's suggestion of a day together. She had talked about Friday (Good Friday) as a day we both had off as a possible time/date. When we were discussing scheduling I happened to say that I would go work-out on Friday. OOPS. Bad move. Inadvertent bad move, but bad move none-the-less. Mrs_C froze at my comment - I realized what I'd said even as the words escaped my lips and immediately said "No, that won't work, we're going to be spending the day together." But the damage was done. Apparently if spending Friday together was not at the top of my mind, then I didn't care about it, and didn't care about her, and so we wouldn't bother spending the day together.

Much verbal dancing later I convinced Mrs_C of the truth of the matter. I had been working the days in reverse from Sunday - a day fully booked with family visiting. You see when I build a timeline in my head I always start from the time I have to be somewhere and reverse out all the activities that have to be done prior to it in order to come up with an accurate estimate of when I have to do or begin preceding activities.

I had made the assumption that Sunday was full with visiting already. On holiday weekends Mrs_C likes to visit with her family, so I made the assumption that Saturday would be fully occupied with shopping and visiting as well. I didn't want to interfere with that, so I plopped my workout on Friday in the reverse schedule. Had I been going forward from Thursday, the day together would have been item number one.

Did that make any sense? I then described the details and various plans I had made in my own mind for how the day would work. Anyway, after awhile she believed me. I suspect because the bizarre explanation (short form above) was just so me that she couldn't help but believe it to be truthful...

We went shopping on Thursday night for the various grocery items required for the weekend.

Friday was a warm, bright, and sunny day. We slept a little longer. Took the morning relatively easy. I made the items for our lunch. We left.

Some of the day is described here.

The day together was idyllic. Couldn't have come together better. And only thought about our troubles a few times - I tried hard to banish and ignore such thoughts. At one point things got tense. The park is near where I work - you can see the building from the park. That started a conversation about my career and some opportunities for advancement and a change in position. We discussed that for about an hour of the walk.

I realised that it was rude to be yammering on about me for such a long period during a "togetherness" day, so I asked Mrs_C about some of the things she had said she planned to do. I asked her about the art classes she said she wanted to take.

She got really mad at me. I had no clue as to why. 20 minutes later and much discussion and delicate handling, she apologises and tells me that she felt insecure when I asked her because I had these exciting job prospects and then when discussing her, I chose only to ask her about her "self-improvement" activities and there was apparently some underlying implication of inadequacy on her part.

I still don't quite get it, but she said that she apologised and asked for my understanding and forgiveness of her feelings of insecurity in our relationship.

We went out for the evening as well and had a very good time - no hiccups.

It occurred to me along the way, that I have done the "special things" deal before and it worked for awhile. But as I note in the other blog - I worry about it becoming stale.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

New Blog: Nice Things To Do To Make My Wife Feel Special

Help me out folks. Full explanation at Nice Things To Do To Make My Wife Feel Special

You can find the other part of the explanation below in the post: Love and Anniversaries

Love and Anniversaries

I'm ready to hurl. Whether into a toilet or off my building, I'm not sure (don't worry, I'm not really at risk from myself).

'Tis arriving the season for our anniversary. I've discussed how much I was dreading how I was going to deal with it. How to be sincere without being artificial. How to express love and commitment, without lying or glossing over problems, but leaving them behind or aside long enough to at least reflect on our lives together. To spend a little more time thinking about the good, than the bad.

I was clueless, and still am, about how to deal with it.

Yesterday Mrs_C began a conversation asking me about what days I would have off around Easter. I could tell the edge in her voice instantly. I could actually sense the problem when I walked in the door - her posture, facial expression, how much she turned when she faced me (or rather didn't face me), not looking me in the eye, tone of her greeting, quickness/brusqueness of motion.

As you can expect, the conversation spiraled downward quickly.

You see, while I can easily sense her tension, I rarely have a clue what it's about.

I tried to answer the questions about days off. She moved quickly from my factual response to "Well, I just figured it would be good to know because you never tell me about your schedule". For the record I discuss the minutiae of my schedule on an almost daily basis. I had reviewed my days off only 3 days previously. She went on "Because if I had known you had time off I could have gotten the same days off as you, and maybe we could have spent some time together." I just found out what my assigned days off would be on Monday - the same day I discussed it with Mrs_C.

You see, because of the specific period we are in at my workplace, our scheduling depends entirely on the schedule of those we provide service to. When we find out their schedule, we find out ours. Sometimes that doesn't happen except on a short timeline basis. We found out we had the opportunity for a couple of days off in there where we could use banked time and so forth.

I was going to work the days and bank more time for summer. My boss decided I needed to sleep, knew Mrs_C was working, and told me I was taking that day off to sleep. I couldn't exactly explain that to Mrs_C...

But, back to regularly scheduled programming.

It turns out that Mrs_C was upset because I hadn't arranged anything special (so far), or suggested we take any time off around our anniversary. She is working a later shift on our anniversary so we had some discussion of shifting the date we "celebrated".

It turned into a terrible rant on how I never do anything special, show my affection, or take time for her. Apparently I have time for everyone else, but not her.

After some period things got settled down. I had a meeting at 7pm of an organization I belong to (I'm the President and was Chairing the meeting), and was late. The meeting ran late (because I was late) and it cut into my exercise last night, so I had a short exercise session.

(I believe it was deliberate sabotage. I have confronted Mrs_C about her screwing stuff like that up for me in the past and she has admitted to it. Just like in arguments she will ask a question, I will take a moment to think about my answer, and just as I'm about to open my mouth to speak she'll throw a little bomb out to rattle me - She did it all through the conversation last night. I confronted her about it on the spot last night and she admitted it and said sorry...)

When I got home she called me to the bedroom and gave me a written sheet. It was meant for me, but I am reproducing it here. It provides context and is not that personal.

"Reasons I love you. One for each year we have been married

1. You're my greatest joy in life. Knowing you love me is my second joy.
2. You love your children so much.
3. You're intelligent, witty, fun to be with and talk to
4. You have insight about life and things that I find interesting (never boring)
5. You're a great lover, you fill me with passion of all kinds'
6. You are attractive with beautiful eyes, tall dark & handsome
7. You have a sense of fairness and justice
8. You're gentle and kind almost always (with some exceptions)
9. I'm lucky to be with you and proud to wake by you
10. There is nobody like you (you're special)
11. You are a dreamer
12. Your courage
13. You're not afraid to speak in public & talk with "important" people
14. You're a good cook
15. You care about the world and others
16. You need me too (I hope)"

There was an additional short note (that I will keep private) that asked me to celebrate our years together and grow old with her - "the best is yet to be".

We talked awhile longer and she told me that she really needed me to make her feel special. I asked her to not rant at me - that if she were to quit attacking me, that I wouldn't pull back from her - and that it was hard to be loving a mooshy if I felt under fire. That if she were angry, emotional, or upset she could maybe write it down and the we could discuss that one issue (or more) and avoid pulling everything into every fight. She said OK. We agreed to work together, and agreed it would take time and effort on both sides to move to where we wanted to be.

We were settled down by the time we went to sleep.

This morning the alarm went off - I kicked the boy out of bed to go shower, hit snooze and plopped back into bed and to fall asleep. Mrs_C spooned me and put her arm around me. I groggily took her hand, held it, and put it to my heart. In a matter of seconds she angrily pulled her hand back and got out of bed and stormed out of the room.

She started ripping into me within minutes after. Hadn't I heard a thing she'd said? Wasn't I prepared to do anything. Even some small gesture? Anything?

20 minutes of my tight timeline for morning wasted. Anytime I tried to say anything - literally open my mouth - she would try to push past me and leave, and I would have to ask her to stay to listen.

Finally I just said I had to go, and that she didn't respect my job and that she had made me late.

She drove the boy to school and as she arrived home I was leaving.

I hugged her, kissed her, and told her I loved her.

She said "Thank-you for that" as I left.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

On Affairs and on Fear

Mrs_C has accused me of having an affair when I was on my trip in Asia/Pacific this summer.

It is a false accusation.

She has begun accusing me of having other affairs.

Never happened.

In her more lucid moments she says she doesn't really think I have had an affair. She then justifies it by saying she is just exhibiting her anxiety.

I have said it is a piss poor method of communication.


Mrs_C says she is concerned that because I am slimmer and fitter that I will have more motivation and opportunity to have affairs or to decide to leave her.

I am also younger than Mrs_C (6 years) and she has always had some insecurity about that.

She keeps referencing some study she heard somwhere about people splitting up after one partner loses a lot of weight.


She has accused me of hitting her more than once. I asked when. She referenced the recent incident and the time I moved/pushed her aside from the door when she tried to block me from going to a business meeting. She said "There were others times too!"

I asked her to tell me what those times were. She said she didn't want to be dredging up the past. I said that it was important to me personally to know what she was referencing, because I do not recall anything even remotely physical other than those two incidents. She refused to say, I said I thought she was making shit up.


She said that I was insensitive for only referencing my own reaction to what I had done immediately after I struck her. She said I was only concerned about my own fellings, and not about hers, and asked why I didn't ask her about her feelings. I referenced the three times I raised the issue (immediately after the incident, a couple of days later, and a week later). I asked her how she was feeling about it each time.

In a moment of tit-for-tat I asked her why she hadn't asked me about my feelings any of the 3 times she has struck me repeatedly with closed fists... She said that it was typical of me to dredge up the past and how were we going to move on if I just kept on bringing up every negative moment in our marriage.


We had a "discussion" Friday from 10 pm until 3 am Saturday. We agreed to talk more the next day. She awakened me at 4 am by yelling at me and hurling her pillow at me as I was sleeping - the impact is what woke me up - I guess the yelling too.

She was mad because at 3 am, after a 5 hour rant, we had agreed to sleep because I couldn't stay awake anymore and we were going in circles in the conversation, I had not kissed her good-night.

I now dutifully make sure I kiss her good night each night.

I am not very proud that fear motivates me to kiss my wife good-night.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

And Two Days Later

There are many days that I ask myself why I bother.

Why don't I just get it over and done with. Spare me the pain of going through it, and you the pain of reading it.

So last night Mrs_C says she's going to this seminar thing. She tells me her sister is dragging her to it. That she isn't really that interested in it, but she's doing it for her sister. Some religious Christian thing.


I go work out with the boy (daughter is not old enough to use the facilities yet - she goes to grandparents).

When we are all back at the house later in the evening and we're trying to get the kids to go to bed (always a trial), Mrs_C begins telling me about the thing she attended. I listen while I am bagging at the kids for the fortieth time to get the hell to bed.

She tells me some things and then trails off about it. I figure she's finished the description of events. We go watch Star Trek re-runs and I ask her more about the event. She all of a sudden blurts out "Well if you weren't interested then, why should I talk about it now?"

I'm thinking "What the hell?"

Something around an hour and a half later I have an idea of what's up. Without a moment by moment commentary, here's the gist of things:

- she actually did want to go to this Christian seminar thing. She just thought I would pooh-pooh it, so she tried to put it onto her sister.
- she wanted to go in order to do something new because Mrs_C believes that the criticism of her that she doesn't have outside interests is accurate.
- she was excited about telling me about it, but when I didn't pay full and direct attention to her she felt rejected

The conversation leading to all this ran from "You don't want to listen to me", to "You are only still here [in our marriage] out of committment, not out of love" (yep, skirted that one with a brilliant verbal piroutte and diversion), and "Because you once said that you wanted to leave me, and I didn't know that - you are hiding things from me, and I don't trust or believe you".

We worked our way through by 2 am.

Did I mention that the next day (that would be today) I have just about the biggest day of the year at work? And she knew it. And I'm up until 2 am soothing her troubled brow. And Mrs_C stays home from work sick, but I still have to go in sleep deprived, groggy, and bitchy...

Yep. Pretty much biggest day of the year. Meetings - with large groups, question and answer sessions (being grilled hard), briefings, presentations - very much the need to be in top form.

I did OK. I sloughed some of the stuff to some of the new guys under the guise of giving them floor/air time and stood in the background. My boss cut me some slack and picked up some of the harder sessions.

But I shouldn't have to do that.

I'm pretty resentful right now.

It's not fair.

I'm trying so hard.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Self-help, Self-awareness, and Enlightenment

On Friday I asked Mrs_C if she wanted to accompany me to my exercise session. I prefer the notion of going without her for of a number of reasons, but I am trying to be decent and giving.

I go with my son because he just does his thing while I do mine and we just walk in and out together with a little goofing in between. Otherwise it is like being solo.

Going anywhere with Mrs_C is usually a high maintenance event. When I'm exercising I want to be only in touch with myself and my own body - focus.

As we were getting ready to leave, I said something I shouldn't have. I said, "You know, you can be a competitive person at times, so don't feel that you have to keep up with what I'm doing - I have been at this for awhile and you haven't."

Oops. My Bad. Really. Shouldn't have said it.

This launched a speech on how I unfairly characterise Mrs_C. She then says she's not going with me. I apologised and said we should just go anyway and she should please forget that I said what I did.

No go. 2 hours later (no exercise session...) things had calmed down. I had explained why I said what I did, and why competitive was probably the wrong word.
(you see, Mrs_C, as I talked about in previous posts, has a tendency to match any work anyone else is doing [and do a little more] just to prove that she can match anyone. Not really competitive, but close.])

We actually ended up going for coffee and talking through some of the issues we rub each other the wrong way about.

Mrs_C has been reading a self-help website and suggested I was doing the following (from that site):


The set up: a touchy or explosive topic is brought up prior to going out for a nice evening or doing something important.

The ulterior motive: to avoid having a good time and becoming more intimate with the partner (because you are mad at him/her and/or are afraid of being in love and then getting rejected and/or are too insecure to leave an unhappy relationship).

The pay off: a good fight that reduces the closeness and intimacy in a relationship where intimacy makes us uneasy."
Psychological Self-Help

I don't think I was doing that. I could have been, but i don't think so.

I explained to her that my motives (as I am aware of them) were more directly selfish than that. The logic train:

I like exercising. I want to continue exercising. Mrs_C has a tendency to try to match people and more. If she came exercising and got a sore muscle or didn't enjoy herslef, then she would denigrate my activity (insert various examples of this behaviour from the past here [she did not dispute my examples]). It will make it more difficult for me to continue, and reduce my enjoyment of the activity. If Mrs_C does not overdo her first day she would be less likely to hate it, and I would be more likely to be able to continue doing what I want to do.

Mrs_C had some problems wrapping her head around my assertion that it was not a game, but was the selfish logic train above.

But she said she would accept that explanation.

The two hours spent talking were not wasted time, this time. Less efficient from a problem solving standpoint than I prefer, but being as it was a discussion of many mushy emotional issues without a huge amount of common terrain/language, I can/could easily accept that things were bogged down here or there. Mrs_C found the site listed above - finally found a some language that appealed to her - and had showed it to me when I got home (before supper and plans to go exercise).

She told me that she found herself recognising a whole series of games she plays.

She says she is going to try to be more self-aware of what she does.

She asked me to be patient as she tries to stop playing games.