Friday, July 8, 2011

Different Battlefields

FireMan & I had a mini-argument last night. I don't know if it really classifies as an argument when one person just rolls over & goes to sleep. Which is what I was upset about anyway, so you can guess how happy that made me.

And it's one of those repeat arguments. You know, the ones you have over & over, about the exact same thing, because both of you believe you are right.

And because I don't understand why everyone doesn't agree with me, and because this is my blog so I get to be right on my blog, I will tell you about the moment last night when I think I realized why he doesn't agree with me.


See, the repeat situation is that he wants to go to sleep, I want to stay up & talk.

Now, it's important that you remember that he's gone. A lot. So we don't get that many occasions for conversation.

Back to yesterday. He was off, but got called on a water rescue detail. Followed by a scheduled diver training session for the new divers. So I kissed him goodbye in the morning when I left for work, and then he came home at 9:15pm. FireGirl didn't get to bed till 10pm. He starts flipping thru the channels, and we watch 10 minutes of television, before he feeds the dogs, then announces that he's going to bed.

I really wasn't ready to go to bed, but believing that couples should go to bed together whenever possible, I follow him to bed.

*this is a point of irritation also, because he always decides when to go to bed. If I want to go to bed before him, he just stays up. If I want to stay up, he'll go to bed alone. Could care less, but if I say something about wanting to go to bed together, insists that it's my own fault because I didn't conform to when he wanted to go to bed. Grrr.*

So we go to bed and start talking. He's actually improved vastly in this area, and doesn't complain until much later in the conversation than he used to.

But he also still watches the clock. Grr.

So about 45 min into the conversation I get the first complaint. The first roll over, "I'm tired, I'm going to sleep". I manage to tickle him out of it.

I know, 45 minutes seems like a lot. But keep in mind that I've seen him for a grand total of about 5 waking hours in the past 3 days, and beginning the next morning am not expecting to see him again for another 5 days, although we might get "lucky" and get an hour here or there over the weekend. So in 8 days, I'm gonna see him probably less than 8 waking hours.
And he is my best friend. And my husband. So 45 minutes of face-to-face talking in 8 days... not so much.

But that action, him doing that, him deciding... initiates the situation.

Why does he get to decide? (are you getting the feeling this is more than just about talking, or sleeping?)

So he gives in and talks for a bit, then repeats his complaints, rinse, repeat.

The thing is... I was tired. Really tired. Had I been allowed to talk myself out, I probably would have stopped after maybe another... say... 20-30 minutes after his first complaint.

But I wouldn't let myself. I wanted to decide.

So badly that several times I actually caught myself nodding off, and then forced myself to start talking again to keep it going. For a loooong time.

As if it mattered. Because he's decided to go to sleep, and has rolled over and gone to sleep. I can hear is breathing getting deeper and regulate into the slow steady pattern of someone sleeping comfortably.

Which upsets me even more.

Because I am so upset, that my mind is spinning, and there is no way I can sleep now. But he's sleeping soundly.

This, to me, translates to someone that isn't that concerned, doesn't care. He got what he wanted, and that's all that matters to him.


So... you're still waiting for my revelation, aren't you?

Well, first you need some background info.

You need to know what always gets brought up during these repeat situations: water rescue.

Why is it, I ask, that he can & will happily stay up for 36 hours on a detail for water rescue, but won't stay up until midnight to spend time with his wife?

This angers him, and he accuses me of laying a guilt trip on him.

I don't say anything this time, because I've explained a thousand times in the past that I'm not trying to make him feel guilty, I'm trying to explain to him how his actions affect me, how they make me feel, how his actions translate to me. I've asked him a thousand times that if it doesn't mean what it seems to mean to me, then tell me what it does mean. And then he accuses me of twisting everything, and I ask him to set me straight because I'm just trying to understand, and he says "I don't know", and I say "If you don't know, then who does?", and we end up fighting.

So I don't even bring it up this time.

Because, even though I know he wouldn't believe it, I really am not trying to fight. I just want attention.

But now I have a new frustration. Because I am not the kind of person that plays games, that intentionally tries to lay guilt trips on people. And if he hasn't figured that out in the 5+ years we've been together, then me telling him one more time isn't gonna set him straight.

Me trying to explain to him how his actions affect me, and/or affect FireGirl, does not mean I'm trying to play a head game. It means I want him to understand that his actions affect us. That's it. And the fact that he refuses to learn that lesson tells me either he doesn't believe it, or doesn't care. And since I know he's a smart man... I'm left with one reasonable explanation: he doesn't care. And that is hurtful.


So anyway... back to my story of last night (man this is getting long!). Sometime after he had gone to sleep, and I had gotten up because I couldn't sleep, it dawned on me.

It's not about the talking at all. Or the sleeping. Not. At. All.

Are you ready for this? Because this is big.

I want him to show me, and FireGirl, that he will do for us what he does for everyone & anyone else. And more.

I want proof that we are his top priority.
I want his actions to prove that he loves us more than anyone else.

Told ya it was big.

Of course, when I had that revelation, it snowballed into a hundred other examples, other repeat arguments we've had, etc.

I guess with everything that has happened the last few years... I'm left wanting proof. And when his actions seem to prove the contrary, it strikes a hard blow to me, and becomes something that I just can't let go.

So when he voluntarily goes on a water rescue detail from 3pm until 4:30am, and goes on boat patrol until midnight, or until whenever they need him to stay, and does so gladly, because water rescue is something he loves - but won't talk to me until I'm ready to let him go... it sends me the message that he loves water rescue more than he loves me.

When he gladly volunteers to work on the water rescue building, instead of working on the much-needed renovations at our house... it sends a  message.

When he makes plans to spend the evening with FireGirl, for a much-needed daddy/daughter night, and then plans get changed, rearranged, and finally cancelled, all to accomodate an unexpected water rescue request... it sends a message.

When he's known for helping everyone else, but I've learned I'm better off not asking, because asking him to do something is a guarantee for it to not get done... it sends a message.


Things have gotten better between us the past few months. Much better really. But there is still some healing to be done. Some wounds that are still open. And words aren't gonna cut it. It's gonna take actions. Repeated, consistent actions. Proof. Repeated, consistent proof.

And as with all major injuries, it doesn't take much to damage the site of the trauma again. Especially if the healing process isn't yet complete.


So that was my revelation. That, is why we have these repeat arguments.

He thinks he's right, because he thinks he's arguing about sleeping & talking. Or hanging out with his friends. Or doing a load of laundry. Or spending time with FireGirl. Or finishing the darn kitchen already.

I think I'm right, because I'm contending about the deeper meaning behind his actions. Or lack thereof.

We're having the same argument, but we're bickering on completely different battlefields.

1 comment:

  1. Now this one I totally understand. When we were first married, we moved out of state for 2 years, it was a wonderful honeymoon period for us! Then we moved back and we were within minutes of his ex-wife and kids' house. She called constantly "needing help" with anything and everything and he would go. When I asked for something to be done, it rarely got done and definitely not with the same urgency. When I questioned him about it, I was told it was because his kids lived there, it wasn't for her. I didn't even care who it was for, I just wanted to matter to him as much as them!