Sticks and Stones

“You like to be angry.  You do it with me, you do it with other people too.”

I don’t write a lot about my husband in this space.  I’ve definitely gone light on the troubles in our marriage.   I have never thought it really was appropriate for me to talk about truly publicly, and only a very few of my good friends and family know how truly fractious our relationship can be.  On the outside looking in, we are a model:  a husband with a high powered job who provides well for his family, a former teacher who stays at home and dabbles in part time work so she can still be completely available to her children.

Lately, I am struggling with the state of our marriage.  Like I’ve hinted before in previous posts, I often wonder if I am going through the classic mid life crisis:   looking at everything in my life and wondering if this is the way it will be for the rest of my life.   And when I find the answer to be yes, this is likely the way it will be forever unless something changes, I am starting to wonder:  can I really do this?  Forever?  For the next ten, twenty or hopefully fifty more years that I have left?

My mother died when she was fifty three.  I’m forty one.  If I died in twelve years, would I want them to be like they are right now?

And increasingly, the answer I keep coming up with is, “No.”

In the current iteration of our arguments, my husband and I are fighting our usual classic themes.  The same arguments we have been having since before we were married.  Over and over again.   It has been tense in our house since last week when I hinted that I might not be willing to keep going down this path forever and ever.  And the tea of anger has been simmering at a low boil for the last five days ever since, until tonight, when my husband agreed to come home from work by 6:15 to help with our daughter, who was feeling sick, so that I could take our son to karate without leaving her alone.

I was disproportionately angry at his phone call home announcing that he wouldn’t be home on time.  Why was I so angry?  Well, my answer would be because this same situation has happened a million times before, and it just adds one more time to the avalanche of other times when he’s let work interfere with a promise he’s made to the family.  But my husband?  He didn’t agree.  He had worked hard to get out of work to be home at that time.  He had turned down dinner with colleagues in from out of town to come straight home.  He told me I had no right to be angry.  He thought I was angry because I just “want to be angry.”  That I like holding onto my anger, that there’s some charge I get out of holding a grudge.

I told him that of course I didn’t want to be angry.  I want the things I am angry about to either be resolved, or not to happen again.  I don’t like holding onto my anger.  But it does happen because I feel as if it doesn’t get resolved, apologized for, rectified.  But as was the case this evening, and is often the case between us, neither one of us is very good at seeing each other’s side.  Arguments only seem to end in our marriage when one of us blinks.  Decides to not be silent or indignant any longer.  There aren’t really apologies.  There aren’t words of compromise or change.  There might be a few days of detente with nicer words or thoughtful gestures, until things go back to the status quo again, all ready to blow.

But what really happens is that anger never really goes away.  It still sits there below the surface, unresolved.  We just move on and away until the same argument comes up again.  And the next time, it’s a little worse, a little more intense, a little more caustic because we never really got over the first (or thirtieth) time.

I suppose I should learn how to let these things go.  I truly want to.  I just don’t really know how when it feels like the other person never takes responsibility for what might be their part in it.  Like tonight.  It wasn’t that he could admit the five minutes late was a problem.  It was that I shouldn’t have been angry in the first place, and the only reason I was was because I apparently “like being angry”.  I don’t know what to do with that.  So our battles are really all about me and my unresolved ability to process anger?  Where do I go with that?

I don’t have the answer.  And more and more, that is really starting to bother me.




5 Responses

  1. I don’t like this because I “like” that you are feeling this way. I like this because I am in the SAME situation. It’s like we need to bow down to them and their ability to have this high class job and be sole providers to their family (even though it’s not true) and have the ability to scream HALT when they decide to change their mind’s about something. My husband does this to me and it make my skin crawl. I don’t care if you need to work late. I don’t care that your meeting is taking longer. I care that you don’t have the sense to tell me what is going on or ask me what the plan is for the day so you don’t change your own plans & mess it all up! I care that you don’t think what I need to do is important, too. I feel your pain 😦 Hope it gets better!

    • Thank you for your comment….it does help to know that I am not the only one feeling this way or in this position. I just have to figure out how to not be….

  2. No. No one *wants* to be angry. That’s passive aggressive BS that puts the onus squarely on you, and effectively he’s absolving himself of any and all responsibility for your shared situation. He’s saying there IS no problem–only that you are looking for trouble. And that? That is crap.

    I know I’m usually a very quiet lurker on your blog…but today’s post had me talking out loud at my screen. Resentment builds when issues aren’t resolved. It’s like having a snarl in the back of your hair. Sure, you can brush over it and sort of ignore it, but it’s going to get worse and worse until all you can do is cut it out. It sounds like your preference would be to untangle it now, before it requires the harshness of scissors.

    Or is it possible that some small part of you is thinking that maybe a fresh new cut is really what you want, but you’re nervous about admitting out loud? I apologize for being so blunt (ooh, no pun intended there!) — what I really wish I could do is jump through the screen and give you a big, huge hug and tell you to keep on being strong.

    You are a reflective and thoughtful woman with so much to offer. You will find the right answer–for yourself, and for your family.

    As an aside–I saw Rick Springfield in a TV interview recently, and could only think of you and your stories about those days!!

    • Margaret, you give me much food for thought in your response. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me. I appreciate your support. It did feel pretty much like passive aggressive bs to me as well…..we are talking through it and trying to figure it out. I just wish I could figure out where the line is, you know? The point of no return. I just can’t figure out if I am there or not. Today, it doesn’t seem like it. But last Friday? I thought I was 50 yards past it. I guess all you can do is keep trying….and somehow, pray that when you know, you know.

  3. […] week of warmth, family and sun (hopefully).   R has worked hard in the last six months to address the needs that I laid out to him in our devastating fight last May.  It’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but I think we […]

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