Marriage Mondays

September 18th, 2012 § 1 Comment

Indirect Run

Early in our marriage, I experienced that feeling. I’d walk in the door and something was off. She wasn’t exactly mad, but something had changed from that morning. “Hmm … what happened?” I was meant to feel bad, and I was feeling bad. And I didn’t like being made to feel like a child in trouble. It didn’t take me long – like five minutes – before I was resenting the punishment. My reaction was anger and withdrawal.

I think this is a common communication problem between husbands and wives. A wife is indirect and a husband withdraws; a wife nags and a husband runs. My guess is that it arises from the intense power dynamic that is at work between men and women.

Women in relation to men have historically and otherwise been relegated to a position of powerlessness. From this position, they look “up” at men who mostly look to them like overgrown boys and think, “Who put this guy in charge?” They are in the unenviable position of having to run things ’cause God knows you can’t trust this dude to run it, but having to do so through the dude. It’s like having a clueless boss who you have to move all the while making him think it was his idea. The only way to do it is to develop skills in indirect communication.

Men are in a fight. The world is in a unique way scarier for men. They have to overcome, succeed, be somebody, do something. We’re hounded by doubts and fears. At every turn, “Geez, I’m outta here” is at the tip of our collective tongue. The last thing a man wants is to find a fight with their wife. A wife in his mind is a home – a shelter from the storm.

In communication, we’ve learned that she has to try to be straight – tell me, don’t make me feel it. I have to stay in it; I can’t run.

§ One Response to Marriage Mondays

  • Mark says:

    The first paragraph quintessentially captures the feeling any guy who has been married for any length of time experiences–the infantilizing vibe that you are in trouble, and it should be obvious to you what you did to be in trouble. In such cases you may or may not know what you are did to be in trouble, but you do know asking is likely to get you into more trouble.

    I so appreciate your follow-up post as well. Marriages can go with tis cycle for years and years breeding more and more contempt. Unless the guy abandons the pseudo safety of passivity and steps into the fray or the gal takes the hit and directly expresses the hurt and forgives then nothing changes. I think Barb and I have gotten better over the years at leaning into the conflict so that healthy resolution and growth can happen. No matter what, real relating is the riskiest proposition on earth.

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