Maybe we should talk about this? (Open communication in marriage)

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What is proper relationship etiquette? And how do know what is and isn’t OK in a relationship? There are millions of marriage self help books out there, and they seem to have one common theme: Communication.

As individuals we all have different ways we need to be loved, and different preferences when it comes to other humans in our lives. Much like parenting. We know as parents that each child is different and we strive to respond according to our children’s individual strengths and weaknesses. It’s the same with adults. The hard part is that as an adult we expect every other adult to ACT like an adult, and when they don’t, we are MORE frustrated. As adults we are just as stubborn as a willful two year old, but we have a lot more power. We have the ability to change things, and we have that innate need to push others to be what we think they should be, or act the way we think they should act.

Enter the balancing act. In a marriage our job is to be one half of a partnership. The hard part is that the other half is not controllable. It sounds simple enough to roll with the punches, but at some point it gets exhausting. Without healthy communication we are being constantly hurt by the one person we love most, and chose to spend our life with. Nobody hurts you worse than a spouse… it’s an utter betrayal. (I’m not saying other things don’t hurt, and I’m not saying your spouse will hurt you more than anyone, I mean, when you are hurt by your spouse it’s THAT much worse. It’s broken trust.) Part of the problem with putting all of your faith in another person, and not knowing how to communicate is that you both have expectations that are impossible to meet because you don’t know how to have that talk.

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My husband and I are the odd ones in our group of friends because we both are good friends with members of the opposite sex, and it’s not necessarily mutual. We have our own friendships. It’s always been that way. My married friends think it’s so strange. Some of them don’t allow their husbands to speak with other women hardly at all, only in group settings. Some of them know each others phone, email and Facebook passwords. Some share their Facebook page! You can see the extremes here?

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Personally I have always found it odd for people to be so enmeshed in their partners lives. But I see that for some of these couples it insures fidelity, and brings them closer. I think it would drive my husband and I bonkers. We both need our space. We have both been in relationships where our significant other took advantage and read through our emails, texts and for me, my journal. We chose to give each other personal space. However, we never discussed boundaries on communication with the opposite sex like certain conversations we feel are not appropriate and talking to a member of the opposite sex during “our” time. I think we both felt if we put restrictions on each other, it was a sign that we don’t trust each other. Which isn’t true. the problem with the way we do it, is, neither of us has a leg to stand on when it comes to one being upset about a friendship because neither of us know what kind it is. In the event that anything happened that “looks” wrong, either of us might jump to conclusions based on assumptions. Just like with children, boundaries protect us.

Communication is more than: “Suzie has softball and 4, Max gets out early today and we are out of milk ” Communication is being open about feelings and the things that matter. making your expectations clear. BONDING.

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Regrets

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Regrets. You know that feeling, that knot in your throat, the queasiness in the pit of your stomach, the ache in your heart. You fucked up. I am incredibly familiar with this feeling. I envy the people who say they will never regret anything. OK if you have no regrets, you must be an amazing person, teach me your ways! How can you live your life without doing something you wish you hadn’t? I feel like I have so many, maybe they are not huge life altering events, but there are decisions I have made that to this day haunt me.

I had a dream recently that I was waiting at a table in a restaurant for someone, I didn’t know who, when 3 people from my past walked in. They were shocked to see me, my heart started racing, having no idea how to react. Almost immediately one of them acted happy to see me, I knew she wasn’t, so I said, “It’s OK, you don’t have to bullshit…” Which probably made the situation worse. You know how it is, it’s easier to to be fake in an awkward situation. Especially when you know they way you really want to behave is like a jackass. My dream goes on with me alone at my table, and this small group sits at another, I got up to use the bathroom, and so did the girl who pretended to be happy to see me. Since we were alone, I asked her if she’d read any of my emails. You see, in real life I have written to her multiple times to apologize for the things I said to her, and she never acknowledged the emails. Since my subconscious mind seems to be aching for the opportunity to make things right, I apologized right there.

I woke up with that knot in my throat… that disgusting nauseating feeling. And I can’t fix this one. I want more than anything to tell her that I am so sorry I unleashed on her they way I did, that she didn’t deserve it. That I had been holding in hurt feelings for too long and had been fed a lot of negativity by someone close to us. I felt like a fish out of water, no- like an animal in captivity, with no control, and I lashed out at the easiest target. I’m sorry. No one deserves to be spoken to the way I ripped her apart. And I understand why she won’t accept my apology. I don’t deserve the validation.

This is the understanding I came to late last night. Just because we truly are sorry, and we want to fix something, just because our hearts are in the right place, does not give us the right to be forgiven. Not every mistake can be rectified. Sometimes people need to be bitter, they need someone to be upset with, not everyone is ready to forgive, when we are ready to own up to our mistakes. And that’s OK. Does it fit into my plan? No, I desperately need to deal with this situation. Whether she hates me and bitches me out, or accepts my apology and we never speak again… there are limitless outcomes, but it’s ME that needs this, and in this situation, I have no right to “need” anything. I should have thought of that before I lost my shit.

I should clarify, personally, I know a lot more was going on at this time, I know that I was feeling uncomfortable in my own skin because I was on birth control (from other blogs you know that birth control has had terrible effects on me, one of which is temporary insanity. Hormones are no joke.) which made me irritable and anxious, among other things. I also was going through a custody battle. For the first time in my daughter’s life, there was a possibility that I would have to split custody of my daughter, and I was flipping out. For months I couldn’t eat, in fact the day that I flipped out, I had not eaten anything, and we had made sangria. (Not brilliant.) As you know, I practiced attachment parenting, and the thought of being away from my baby was, and is heart wrenching. I cry every Friday when she goes to her dad’s and I spent all of last weekend in tears because she went to Sea World, and that was the first time she has ever gone far from me. You can imagine the fear in me during this time, and the discomfort, I did not know who I could trust, this girl is friends with my ex, which is not a problem, but it was a conflict of interest, and I did not know how to deal with it. I had never been in a situation like this, and for some dumb reason, when I am uncomfortable, I tend to react strongly, in an effort to find a safe or comfortable place. In this case, I alienated someone I loved dearly.

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I feel the need to explain all of this because it is weighing so heavily on my heart. I now can imagine how my mother feels, I have so much bitterness for my mother, and I love her insanely, but in June 2012, the same month I unleashed on my friend, I (verbally) attacked my mom. I was in Indiana visiting some family, and my mom offered to babysit my then three year old (need I remind you thatI was preparing for a custody battle?) and my mom of all people offered to babysit. My mom was the LAST person I was going to trust with my daughter. Not because I don’t think she had good intentions, but because she walked out on me and my little sister when I was Jo’s age. I did not think any of that through when she offered, I just knew that the answer was “No.” She did not understand why, so I had to figure out why this made me so uncomfortable. Jo doesn’t know my mom. We live in California and my mom had met Jo maybe 3 or 4 times her whole life. I was not about to leave my kid with a stranger, I meant, I wasn’t even comfortable leaving Jo with her own father! My mom insisted that she’s not a stranger, she’s Jo’s grandma, and I became more uncomfortable, I ended up screaming at her that she left me when I was Jo’s age, and I will NEVER abandon my baby, I will NEVER give my baby reason to think I had left her, I can’t trust her with the one person I love more than anything. I yelled at my own mother that she had no business having children, and what was she thinking? If she couldn’t stick around for 2 of us, how irresponsible was she to have more children? Clearly at this point I had lost my mind, a lot of baggage had been triggered, and I did not think before I said these terrible things. I said– screamed these things (and worse) in front of my younger sisters and brothers. You may have imagined that this is another one of those situations where I get that nasty knot in my throat. If I could go back, I would have held my tongue. Actually I would not have gone to Indiana that summer. I knew it was going to be too much for me, but I went anyway, and now I live with regret. I hurt my mom, and my little brother’s and sister’s.

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Luckily, my brother’s, sitter’s and mom all still love me, they were in my wedding about 5 months ago. I guess that’s a perk with family, eventually you’re more likely to be forgiven? Here is the thing, though, my mom has asked over and over for me to talk to her, and I never wanted to talk about all of the passed things, the abandonment, and painful memories. I could never understand why she just stood there and took it while I screamed at her. I get it now, when you fuck up, and you have regret, you stand there and take it when someone calls you on it, no matter how nasty they are, you don’t have a leg to stand on, you have no excused. It’s not your turn to talk. It’s your turn to listen, and let the person you hurt heal. With that, I am resolving to be patient, to understand that I am not owed any type of validation from anyone I have hurt, the ball is in their court, and if they are not ready for my apology, it’s OK, the apology is not about me, even though it would make me feel better, why do I deserve to be forgiven? I should hope that whomever I have hurt is happy now, and if it’s easier to never talk about it, I must respect that. I also need to keep these things in mind before I open my mouth, as to not have more regrets.

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