“If our children had only the words we speak to each other, to describe our relationship, what would they say about us?”
I know you love me and today especially I appreciate that we usually connect in lots of little ways that remind us of our love and our care for each other.
I wish it was always as easy as it is right now, but we both know that sometimes it isn’t. I am writing this because over time I have come to believe that we struggle to have a mature difference of opinion, face to face. Often when we disagree, your response is not to engage me on the issue. You easily choose to make it a high risk discussion, with words like “So are you going to ruin the evening with this?”
The stakes often get raised like that – very fast and very risky – when we disagree with each other.
If we are going to risk a ruined evening every time we have something to talk about where you and I don’t agree, then I think it is safe to say we are not really capable of a mature difference of opinion. I am hoping that by writing to you we can both work through this stuff slowly without any defensiveness.
Anyway, the “thing” is…
This morning we had an out-of-the-blue confrontation. You really laid into me verbally. Although I hate it, I am, sadly, kind of used to it now. What really got to me, though, was that you got unkind, loud, and confrontational towards me in front of our children!
But you never tried to recover the lost connection, and you never dealt with what you said about me in front of the kids. And because they were there, I chose not to confront you back, straight away. But, if you remember, I went away to another room. I was hurt. I felt humiliated in front of my children and deeply upset that you think its ok to talk to me like that. If I spoke to you like you speak to me, you would instantly take great offense.
Our children see in examples like this, and more than a few others, that you believe that its ok for one partner to be ruled by their emotions, and treat people they love like dirt and it’s ok. Well it’s not, and I don’t want my kids learning that. Ever.
I love you more than I love life, but I am getting tired of being someone you treat badly whenever your world isn’t perfect. Whenever your world is not perfect, you make me wear it.
You say that you can’t trust me because I break my commitments, and that is true and I wish it wasn’t. But I can’t trust you because you do not manage your emotions and your attitude to me. If you are having a tough time, you think its ok to treat me like dirt.
You do think its ok, because you do it often. And either you don’t feel you need to change, or you don’t seem to know how to stop it. I may have tolerated it for a long time, but, my love, not any more. I am telling you that this part of our relationship is breaking my heart and hurting me deeply.
I am your husband. I deserve your best efforts. I had 3 hours of sleep last night. I woke up tired and sick and sore, and I still didn’t treat you badly. I do fail you in other areas, but I don’t believe I fail you in that. I never speak to you as poorly as you do me. And especially in front of the children.
You know that I speak of you as beautiful, as my queen, as kind and generous and loving. That is how they see you through my eyes, because that is how I describe you every day.
I wonder how they see me? They have heard you describe me:
– as a promise breaker, because I forget to do things
– as deaf, because I don’t hear you well sometimes
– as selfish because sometimes I don’t do what you want me to do
– as lazy, because I am slow sometimes to get up and do what you ask
– as aggressive, because I firmly call you out on your behaviour sometimes
I know, I am there when you do it. And so, sometimes, are they.
You call me out consistently on my failure to keep commitments. You should, because you deserve better. This is not a tit-for-tat, but in future, I am going to call you out consistently on when you treat me badly, and I am not going to stand for it any more. I deserve better.
We should call each other on behaviour that is destructive to intimacy and relationship. And especially that affects how our beautiful children will see marriage, partnership and parenting going forward. We carry a huge responsibility there, both of us in equal measure.
But. But, but, but. We must never do it in front of the children. Their view of you is too precious to me, and so is the view of marriage that we are responsible for giving them. And vice versa. We must always build each other up and speak of each other honourably and in the best possible terms. We must do our best to keep our disagreements and our personal challenges for private times.
We love each other, and we love us. And we love our kids. And that is why this is very important.
Photo by pinksherbet /flickr