Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate." ~Barnett R. Brickner

Sometimes we move along through life and when things are not going well and just as we would like, we ignore things and pretend they are not happening, and it's always easier to look around you for blame. It can be hard to turn inward and realize that we are a big part of the problem and unless we figure things out and work on our own problems, things are not going to get better.

I had realized that lately my husband and I had been "drifting" and things seemed different, but I wasn't sure what the problem was. I immediately assumed it was my husband, and I wasn't sure what was going on. So for the past couple of weeks I have been trying to figure it out... asking him questions, asking how work was going, how his day went, and more then usual. Although we weren't "fighting" or getting into arguments.... and things appeared on the surface to be normal to outsiders, there had been a shift and things were definitely different. He seemed distant and sad. Was he worried about the baby? Stressed about the new pay structure at his job?

Joe has always been very affectionate and caring towards me. He would always go out of his way to do nice things for me and to say nice things to me. He is also normally very laid back and passive. He has an incredible sense of humor and is always very good at making me laugh and forgetting everything else. But lately, he just wasn't himself. He was more quiet, kept more to himself and was missing that "spark" that I loved so much and could always see in his eyes.

Finally, Monday night, everything came to a head.

I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to figure out what was wrong. I hated to see him like this. I wanted him to talk to me, to tell me what was wrong. Maybe I could help. Something though, had to give.

So I spent a half hour talking and talking and talking while he sat there and listened. I talked about us and how he had been acting so different. I talked about how sorry I was that our sex life had been slacking with the pregnancy. I told him how I knew something had changed with us and I was very worried about it. I didn't understand why and I wanted to know.

Finally he started to talk to me. And I soon realized that things were much worse then I had thought. And most of it was my fault. It was hard to hear, it was hard to take, but it was the truth and there was no denying it.

I have been so caught up in the arrival of our baby, our financial situation, and everything else going on, that I forgot to keep up with my relationship with my husband. I'd like to blame it all on being pregnant, but this actually all started well before that. I had no idea, because frankly I didn't recognize a problem until it was almost too late.

I had been pushing him away. Not on purpose, but because of my actions (or lack of) and him not not being able to really communicate his problems with me, things got progressively worse. I have not always been the most affectionate and I took for granted his affections towards me. I didn't realize how lopsided things had been... Joe was giving and giving, and I was taking and taking, and not giving near as much in return. And this went on for so long that he had given up, deciding that this was who I was and that he couldn't change it. That maybe I didn't love him as much as he loved me. That for now on, he was going to try to look out for himself more and be more responsible for his own happiness.

When I fully realized this, I was filled with a sadness I had never known before. I was absolutely devastated. How could I let this man, who I loved more then anything else in this world, come to these conclusions and because of my actions? He had no idea how much I loved him and how much he meant to me and it was all a direct result of my inability to express to him how I feel and to show him how much I loved him. I wasn't always this way with him, but something changed over time, I started acting differently and expressing myself differently. I don't know exactly why or how this happened, but it happened and it has made a huge rift in our relationship and I didn't even realize it. How could I be so blind and insensitive?

And to top it off I can be controlling (or atleast perceived this way), and can be very particular about having things a certain way. Sometimes Joe is so passive he lets things slide and I don't even realize its bothering him. He has been feeling like he was just a paycheck to me and all I was concerned about was myself and the baby!

Ofcourse, all of these things couldn't be any further from the truth. But this is the way that he felt. And whether it was true or not, how could I ever make my husband feel this way? I had been insensitive. I had been taking him for granted. And I had been neglecting our relationship. How could I have not seen this? It was one of the most ugliest, most horrible realizations that I have ever had to come to about myself. I would never, in a million years, want to purposely make my husband feel this way. And yet, I had caused this, and not even noticed. What the hell was wrong with me?!

After he first told me, it took a minute to sink in. But once I heard him, really heard him, I could see and understand why he felt this way. I felt like the smallest person on earth. I had taken what was an incredibly giving and loving man and was beginning to change him into something else, as a reaction to me. I wish so very badly, that he had been able to express these feelings to me sooner, to let me know how he was perceiving me and how I was making him feel. Instead, he kept quiet about it and let things become worse without me even knowing. But I should have noticed sooner.

At first, after everything was out in the air, I tried to tell him how sorry I was. I tried to tell him how much I loved him and how much he meant to me. But they were only words, and as they came out of my mouth, I could tell they didn't mean near as much to him as I wanted them too. I put my arms around him and hugged him with all of my might. I cried. I told him how sorry I was. He put his arms back around me, but it was automatic and I could tell as I looked into his eyes, that something was gone and I could feel my heart breaking as I realized that I was the one who took it away. I didn't know what else to say. I didn't know what else to do. I felt like my whole world had been turned upside down. There was a whole side to me that I hadn't even known, but that my husband knew very well. I didn't know how to fix it. All I could feel was the sadness and the guilt.

He told me he was leaving shortly after that. I didn't know where he was going. I didn't ask. After he left I crawled into bed and closed my eyes, wishing it was just a bad dream and it would all go away.

I don't know how much time had passed. I never opened my eyes. My head was aching from all of this. Finally he came home. I went out into the living room to talk to him. He pulled me really close, wrapped his arms around me and told me that he loved me. He told me that for once, he thought I had really heard him and that he knew things could be better. I can't even describe to you the feeling of relief and gratitude that washed over me.

Things are going to be better. And I am going to make sure of it. I am never going to take him or our marriage for granted again. I can't forget that everyone, man or woman, needs to be reminded of their importance in a relationship and that everyone needs to know how much they are loved and wanted. I have alot to work on. But I am grateful that I am able to accept responsibility, see my faults and can work towards fixing them. Sometimes it is hard to admit we are to blame and to look inward, but sometimes that is the only way to heal what is wounded.

Out of all of the things that have hurt me or caused me pain, nothing compares to the feeling I had when I realized that I had been the one to cause the pain to the person I loved the most. I am so very grateful that I now know, and before our baby arrives, while we still have some time to ourselves.

I have alot of hope and a renewed appreciation for my husband and our marriage. Sometimes we really need a kick in the ass to wake ourselves up!


Little T said...

I am so proud of you and Joe. When we reconnected for the reunion I knew you from high school but I didn't know Joe at all. He has become one of my best friends right along with you. I tell people all of the time that you are the only couple in my life that I am equal friends with both of you. I see the love that you have for each other. You compliment one another beautifully. Sometimes we all fall off of the communication train. Lord knows I have recently. It takes a lot to look within, especially when someone is saying things that you don't want to hear. I am sure it took a lot for him to say it too. You are one of the strongest couples I know and I feel very honored to be a part of your lives. This understanding is going to change things for the positive for you both. I love you guys!

Maggie May said...

What an awesome post. Marriage is such an amazing gift, when it's built on love and friendship. When you have two people who are willing to look at their part in things, the marriage can grow to amazing depths. The love keeps building. I totally know that feeling of being horrified at your own self, I've been there, and it does really hurt to realize you've been so blind to your own actions. Changing what is causing the pain is such a powerful act, and affirms to your husband how much you love him. You guys sound wonderful together.

Anrazel said...

Wow, you both have been dealing with a lot! I have known you for over 15 years, and there are things about you that are just Laura. You like to control things, you like things a certain way, and you tell it like it is. I always thought you and Joe are the perfect combination because he is so laid back, but I guess like anything else it takes a toll after a while.
I went through this recently with N about his drinking. I let it build up and build up and finally when I had enough I talked to him about it. He had no idea how I felt, just like you had no idea how Joe was feeling. It's definately a 2-way street and now that you are aware that it actually has bothered him, you can be more sensitive. I hope he also knows to come to you before it gets so bad that he is willing to give up.
I am so proud of both of you. This thing called marraige is a crap shoot, but as long as we care for ourselves and our partners, we might just survive it. I love you friend, and I am proud of you for your strength to accept things that need to change. I hope you and Joe continue to build with this new found communication and openness. Only good things can come from it!

Gina said...

Okay, seriously, it must be the moon phase, or the weather, or the water...because B and I have had a rough go lately too. Just today it came to a head for us too. But B said that sometimes in marriages, times are rough. Sometimes we have to work a little harder. Sometimes we both have to give a little more. And he's right. Just like in any relationship...friendships, parent-child, there are ups and downs and that's life. Plain and simple. Only not so simple. I am glad to hear that you and Joe made a breakthrough too. As you know, B and I are SO different from each other and have less similar interests than I would like, but I do believe opposites attract. It might take more work, but when you get it right, it's so good. :) This was a great post!

Myshka said...

Honey, marriage is an amazing gift, especially when we find our "puzzle piece", but it's also a piece of work. Try not to ever use the words "could've" or "should've". You made a mistake. Things happen. You shouldn't beat yourself up. Joe will do things sometimes that he will regret. And he will apologise and move on. That's the trick, you try and learn. Tom and I are still learning, and we will NEVER stop learning until the day we die. We communicate differently also- and some of our nastiest fights were bad and we thought we'd learned, but then we made the same mistakes again, just less painful. Nothing is ever perfect, but you just have to try and be there for eachother at the end of the day. But the most important thing you can do for yourself and eachother is just to draw a line under it and know that you'll be there for eachother no matter what- and that these are just little bumps that will make the road tricky, but no less fun. Breathe and start again.

Michelle said...

I found your blog through Gina and felt compelled to respond.

Great post. Best of luck to both of you. Good for you for realizing what you had done wrong.

There were so many things you said in your post that mirrored me and my husband's relationship. At times we think it is only us but I am beginning to realize a lot of newlyweds go through similar struggle.

The quote that you used as your title is one of the parts of our pre-martial counseling that the pastor said that stood out to me.

Brittany Ann said...

Laura, I cannot believe I'm saying this, but my husband and I had the exact same comversation a few days ago, too. These times are so hard, and I've been where you are. I'm glad you all worked through it. I know things are scary and hard, because our "fight" was horrible. I hated it the whole way through. But at least we had them and grew from them. Like you said, I guess we needed the kick in the ass.

Sarah said...

After reading this, I went and gave Jay a big hug and kiss and told him thank you for being a good husby.