Learning to allow and detach with love.

I’m continuing to struggle with M’s lack of openness when he’s had a rough day at work. It happened earlier this week, and it happened again last night (and another time, like here).

He greeted me at the door with flowers – swoon – for our ‘almost’ 8 months [insert mush alert!] – and was busily creating a delicious meal (low fat turkey meatballs made with ground turkey breast. Side note – he has begun cooking more towards me lately, less oil, less fat, it’s really quite wonderful…not that the meals he created before weren’t delish or like, super fattening, but he has a heavy hand with that olive oil!). He seemed in good spirits until I asked how his day was.

Then his mood shifted a bit and he was tense.Β  And I knew. He had another bad day and didn’t want to talk about it. I tried every which way to get him to open up. I’d ask in different ways. For example, his boss called him after dinner (M was on call last night, and sometimes his boss will call to check in) and I used that to ask, covertly ‘your boss called? what about?’ (*sneaky* so I thought). Fail. All attempts to get him to open up failed. He just plain didn’t want to talk about it. I started getting really frustrated and it was making me sad because I am a fixer, I wanted to fixfixfix and make him feel better, make the bad day vibes go away.

But I couldn’t.

But I wanted to.

And I was fixated on it, even though I tried NOT to be.

Later that night, when laying in bed, I tried to bring it up again, but gently. He apologized for being out of sorts part of the night and said that sometimes he just ‘gets down on himself.’ I told him that I wished he would talk to me and share what he is feeling and I just want to help. That’s all I want. I want him to be happy and know he can vent and not internalize so much. He told me that he would talk to me if he needed to, but that I already do so much for him and his life and have made him feel like the luckiest man in the world. (swoon) As much as I love hearing him say those things and know how much he means them, his opening up to me would mean so much.I told him that I felt like he was putting up a wall when he doesn’t talk to me when something is bothering him (that is bothering him unrelated to us, that is).

He told me he isn’t putting up a wall. I told him that it’s not that I think he is really putting up a wall but that’s how it comes across. I just wanted him to know, from my standpoint, what that felt like.

But why?

Why do I feel like I need him to tell me what’s bothering him? If it’s clear that he needs to decompress and figure his own shit out by himself, why do I keep pushing this? What works for me (sharing and fixing) doesn’t work for everyone. Nor is my way the *right* way necessarily, either.

I’m finding that I’m really not good at allowing him to have these feelings…these unknown feelings to me, these feelings that I just want to know and help fix.

Truth is, I can’t fix what is bothering him, nor should I feel like I have to.

It’s just part of who I am. I am a fixer. I do these things because it makes me feel like I’m helping. Like I’m being supportive. I fixfixfix.

But by constantly asking and re-asking and nudging him to open up isn’t going to make him open up. It’s not supporting him in his desire to figure his own shit out.

As T aptly said to me today. I need to ALLOW and DETACH WITH LOVE.

That is an entirely foreign concept to me.

I simply do not know how to do that.

I don’t know how to let him be to figure it out. To detach.

But loving him is worth learning how. Because he is worth learning how.

I think we’re entering another phase of our relationship, and while I know it will have some challenges and frustrations, it will be worth it. I am learning so much about myself, him, what our relationship is and stands for.

I will allow this. And detach…with love.

(Thank you T for such an inspiring g-chat conversation the last couple of days. Really couldn’t have come at a better time).

50 thoughts on “Learning to allow and detach with love.

  1. Interesting. I like to talk it all out when I’ve had a rough day. Jason is quite the opposite and I often assume it’s something I’ve done or said. Then when I realize it’s work, I just let it go. I have to. He will never really talk about it fully, but let it slip out in bits and pieces over the course of a few days.

    1. E-XACTLY! That’s how it makes me feel too. I almost take offense to it. I need to let it go more but then I just fixate on it and it snowballs.

  2. At some point, his talking about work *might* become necessary. It is hard to compartmentalize work vs home life sometimes…and when one bleeds over to the other too much, it can start to create that wall you’re describing.

    None of that is malicious…it just happens sometimes. And sometimes, you really do need to talk about it.

    Just my two cents…from past experience. πŸ™‚

    1. I agree with you. I think some of it will need some discussing if it DOES bleed over into ‘us’ if you will. But he needs to also find a way to figure it out, at the same time, ya know?

  3. the man never talks about anything, ever. he’s like this with everyone. once, his roommate, a guy with whom the man has lived in one configuration or another for a decade, asked me, “does he ever, y’know, talk to you? sometimes i feel like i barely know him and he’s one of my best friends.” sad thing is, i know more about the man than anyone, and there are entire chapters in his life that are just sealed off. completely.

    i knew this about him all along. but now that he and i are an “us,” it’s starting to bother me. i can’t change him, and i know it, but my lord, i just wish he’d SAY SOMETHING ABOUT IT. it’s hard as hell, but being loyal to him means respecting his need to manage his emotions the best way he sees fit.

    ugh. it’s frustrating, isn’t it?

    1. VERY frustrating. I just want to help and when I can’t, well, duh, I feel helpless. I can imagine the same holds true for you. Wow. Your man is locked up tight, huh?

      1. tighter than a drum. but he likes it that way. he’s not depressed or anxious. he’s just private. it’s weird, and i don’t understand it at all. but as much as i ask him to respect my gushing all over the universe, i’d be a hypocrite of the first order if i didn’t respect his need to be quiet and still. he’s plenty affectionate and kind, and he’ll spill it if he really needs to. but more often than not, he’s just… quiet.

        1. I would say the same for M. Quiet about that sort of thing. He isn’t depressed either (that I can tell anyway!).

  4. I used to pry about my bf’s bad days. He eventually got into the habit of talking about them…but he now gets fixated on it and stuck in a loop. He can talk about it for hours…kinda wish I didn’t open that box! LOL, seriously, he will talk to you when he’s ready or wants to. Sometimes just spending time with you may be enough to relax him from all the stresses of the day, if you can stop yourself from prying (which is HARD, I know). Guys are typically fixers themselves, and it just may be that he wants to handle it himself, that he should be able to do it himself. Nothing personal or worrying at all. πŸ™‚

    Good luck with detaching.

    1. It is SO hard not to want to pry. I know that he will eventually open up more. I am confident in that, but I also know that he is accustomed to dealing with this stuff on his own too. I just have to be okay with that.

  5. Hmmmmmm. I think that it would make YOU much happier if you learn to detach and let go of trying to fix things for him, or your friends, or your family. You should empathize with the people you love, but when them having a problem becomes your problem, that’s when it leads to not so fun relationship dynamics.

    That isn’t to say that I don’t agree that he should be more open with you, but it seems from what you said that he imagines that it would somehow burden you more. You mentioned that he already thinks you do so much for him. Perhaps it is healthy that he wants the work issues to be his own thing to solve. Maybe he is worried about you becoming some kind of a crutch for him. I don’t think he’s pushing you away, it sounds like he is trying to be strong on his own.

    I know a great author who writes about these issues, email me if you want to know about it.

    1. You bring up some very valid points, Marisa. I do think part of why he doesn’t open up about the work stuff or stuff that bothers him that is unrelated to us, is because he doesn’t want to be a burden. Not that he ever would. And yes, this is also very much my issue…I need to let go of this fixing problem, because it’s obviously impacting me more than it’s helping anyone! I’d love to know the book for sure. Will email you!

  6. Oh, Lord. Do I know a thing or two about this. I am married to a man who internalizes his frustrations. And he truly does not want me to dig them up or try to fix them. And I’m okay with that now because I know that when he really needs me, he’ll come to me (and he does). When he asks for my help working out a work problem, it feels great, and I know that I’m actually being helpful. But, it doesn’t happen very often!

    1. Phew. Okay, that actually makes me feel better! As long as he comes to me when he DOES want help or need advice. I will be good with that. I guess it’s too premature to know whether he will, since this is just one of a few times where this has happened. Ya know? But thank you, this is encouraging!

  7. I’ll be honest, I would have a hard time adjusting to this too. Thank god for smart bloggy friends, huh? It’s just SUCH a different mentality to get used to…plus, it’s really sad that M clearly has never felt such love and support like he has from you. He deserves that, so much…so to know that he’s clearly NEVER had that before, at ALL? very sad. I’m so glad he has you. πŸ™‚

    1. It IS hard to adjust to that and learning how best to cope with his style of well, coping. I hope eventually he knows that he can come to me with anything and everything, but I guess it takes time to develop that, too. We have plenty of time.

  8. I love T’s advice. So often, as women, we want to talk things out. Men, they just need to decompress in silence (well most men). I think just being there and hugging him is the best.

    1. Thanks Lindsay. That advice is pretty damn good, isn’t it? I *spose* I’ll have to just hug him a lot πŸ˜‰

  9. Y’know, sometimes it’s helpful to someone to just give them the space that they need. “Help” needs to be about what the other person genuinely needs, not what you think they should need, or what you want them to need…

    1. You are so right too…man, you and T are seriously my personal confidantes, I’ve decided..you both rock in so many ways πŸ™‚ Just sayin.

      1. I love this. YES, exactly. Respect his “no” and you are validating his feelings. Even if it isn’t what YOU think he needs.

  10. Sometimes I prefer space to talking too, mostly because at that point I don’t have a clue how to articulate my feelings and thoughts. Just trust that he’ll talk to you when he’s ready or when he needs to. I don’t think forcing the issue is a good idea…. obviously! lol

    1. Right, no. would never force anything. As much as I want to know what is bothering him, I wouldn’t do that. I need to just adjust to the way he prefers to cope with a crappy day or whatever is bothering him and eventually, hopefully, he’ll open up more when he wants to.

  11. I really wish I could help here but I’m like M. Today…oh today was the day of hell. I got home and just screamed a little about the door being locked & my hands full and when DH asked I didn’t want to tell him. Mostly b/c to explain the tense of my job/day (for the past 6 months really) is IMPOSSIBLE. No one can get it unless they’ve worked at a daily newspaper…it’s just not possible to explain. I tried but cried the whole time. Right now it’s easier for me to retreat within. He was at the point of me quitting … but I can’t. I can’t go back to relying on a man for everything even though I make crap and could make as much working part-time at Walmart. He has to let me be sometimes…and he finds it nearly impossible. It’s hard to do that but you have to…just be there if he needs to let off steam.

    1. Aww, I am so sorry you are having such a rough time at work!! Sounds pretty awful and if shutting down into yourself is the way you cope, then go with it, right? I guess I need to realize that maybe that is what M does too. And be okay with that.

  12. I definitely experienced this in my first marriage and learned that I process things differently than he did. I wanted to talk and couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t and felt shut out if he didn’t. But perhaps it’s not that dynamic at all for him. Maybe he “processing” by thinking not talking. Maybe that is healthy for him cause he can work it through and not a negative. Maybe instead of talking all he needs is a hug and a few compliments or rent his favorite shoot him up kill him type movie, or something else that is a great release for him…so he doesn’t get too down on himself. Cause when he already feels that way and you are telling him inadvertently that he is doing something “wrong” that just compounds his feelings of being down on himself? Just a suggestion. Sometimes we women can fix things indirectly πŸ™‚

    1. That’s a good point, Livvy. My continuing to force the issue may just make him feel worse. I need to do so through actions more than words I guess. Thank you for your feedback!

  13. It’s a hard one, I totally get you wanting to fix it and for M to talk more about his day etc.I’d be the same with a guy. Maybe the best thing is sometimes the silence and by not talking about it, he can unwind,reflect and de-stress about work in his own time. Maybe it’s a guy thing too, guys just don’t talk about things the way we do.

    So romantic that M brings you flowers, I love that.

    1. It is hard to NOT know and just WANT to help, ya know? Hopefully he’ll slowly open up more. And yeah, the flowers on random occasions are the best kind, if you ask me πŸ™‚

  14. It’s hard to let them sort through things sometimes. I am a nurturer and just want to take care of things, make everything better. Oh, but if you manage to learn that detach and allow with love part, tell me the secret. I watch T and marvel. I have much to learn.

    Big hugs!

  15. This post makes me laugh just a little, because I’m the worst example. I’m a fixer! I want to make things better and happier.


    I need my space. I need to be left alone until I sort things out in my head. I need K to understand that the best thing he can do is silently make me tea, kiss my forehead and walk away when I’m having a bad day. When he does that, I open up so much faster.

    I’m weird. But yes, learning to allow and detach with love part is healthy and wonderful!!

    1. Glad you can relate, even if you fall more into M’s camp πŸ˜‰ It’s so interesting that you are a fixer YET you also need your space to be alone in your head. I am learning, one day at a time, right?

  16. As someone who consistently struggles through the work day, venting is tantamount to reliving it. Having to explain nuances with office politics, work loads,or crappy co-workers is very draining. It is easier to just say “it sucks” and move on.

    If it is a situation that he can’t fix just yet (whether he is not ready to or time will fix it), if you ask once or twice and he doesn’t want to talk about, that might his coping mechanism. God knows it is mine.

    1. Ya know? GOOD POINT. Coming from you, going through it right now at work, I can imagine the last thing you want to do is rehash it. I didn’t think about it that way either. Thank you for your perspective my dear!

  17. I have a REALLY hard time opening up about what’s bothering me too. I think it’s because I don’t want to burden anyone else with my problems. Why should anyone else be upset on my behalf? And a lot of times I just want to deal with it myself. That doesn’t mean it’s right. I’d love to be someone who could talk about their feelings more.

    I also think it’s a great thing that you are writing these issues out. You are recognizing what’s bothering you instead of just ignoring it. To me, that means your relationship will go farther than so many others. You care enough to be upset.

    I hope eventually you two can come to a happy medium where neither one feels uncomfortable.

    1. Thanks…the burden thing I totally ‘get’ but I also WANT him to open up so he doesn’t carry it all himself, ya know? But I get why he might hold back too. We’re working at it, one day at a time, right?

  18. Wow, this post is awesome. And these comments are awesomer!

    I love reading that so many of us struggle with how to relate to each other…and so many of us are trying to be better at it. We’re all creating more beautiful relationships because of it, aren’t we?

    Also, remember that you and M are still only 8 months into this. There are MANY fears and past patterns that are rearing their heads here. He’s used to not talking about it and you’re afraid if he doesn’t, he’s not connecting with you. Eventually you’ll both trust each other enough to where he’ll share. And you’ll hear him say, “I don’t want to talk about it” and still feel silently but strongly connected to him.

    Just keep on keepin’ on. You’re both doing great.


    (thanks for the link love!)

    1. I am so glad you liked it! All based on what we talked about, for the most part. I love it. And you are right, we are only 8 months in, there are so many things we still have to learn and experience together. I need to remember that.

  19. HIPPA, honey. We have to respect that medical professionals have taken an oath and CANNOT talk to others about what is brewing with a patient. I think that will help you detach with love and with respect for his constraints. He would not be true to himself if he did open up and he may not have made that clear, it is not that he would not like to share his burdens, but he cannot.

    Similarly, in my case, I have to just let it ride that I will never know what may have happened in long ago military exploits. I cannot be curious, I WILL not ask questions, because it would not be appropriate.

    Some things cannot be shared, and your loving support and silent acceptance that this is the case means the world to someone like M. I know it. He loves that you can accept that, and leave him be. He will be silently strong with his thoughts about what he can do better for his patients and bear their travails with his own sensitivity. That is commendable about him, but it IS hard to step back and let him deal with it, when you just want to be helpful and supportive. But just being YOU and and being strong with NOT having to know means a LOT to him. You will find the right balance, because you love him.

    1. Thanks mom, I appreciate your perspective so much on this! I know, a lot of it is HIPAA of course, but I know every job has office politics and that’s part of it too. I’m going to just have to try to accept when he won’t and can’t tell me things and support him in other ways. Always striving for balance, I know we’ll find it.

  20. I am very much like M in this way. If I’ve had a bad, rotten or tough day, the last thing I typically want to do is talk about it. Even though I should talk about it with my significant other, sometimes all I want is to laugh together, drink wine together, eat together and just – be. But I can certainly understand how it would be frustrating on your end. All I can say is that when I’m ready to open up and discuss – I always will. And maybe M is like that too?

    1. Since this post, he has opened up more, little by little. I think he’s similar to what you describe here – when ready, he will. It’s hard for me to be patient! I have to allow it!

  21. T is a wise, wise woman, although her advice is easier to hear than implement. I also think that it has something to do with how men typically view work (and the unspoken pressure of providing), and how men aren’t socialized to share their feelings the way women are. It doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to want to fix things, but maybe things don’t really need to be fixed. xoxo

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