Parallels.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not I wanted to write this post, but I feel as though I want to, because I think it shows a different layer to my relationship with M, beyond the puppies and rainbows of love, to the realities of our past marriages and habits.

So, here goes.

I notice some parallels to our pasts that I wonder if these challenges fall more under ‘victims of circumstance’ or if they are truly challenges specific to just M and just me. (that will hopefully make sense in a minute).

For example, one thing M said contributed to the downfall of his marriage was his job.  Meaning, his hours, the demanding schedule, weekends being on-call (every 6 weeks or so, not every weekend, thankfully), and the mental toll his job takes on him.

Sometimes his mind isn’t ‘in the moment’ but thinking back to a patient he diagnosed earlier in the day (from ‘did I do the right thing’ to ‘I can’t believe a patient paged me at 3 am to have a prescription refilled!’). Sometimes these things make him anxious or stressed or annoyed. And once in awhile, that means I actually see him get short with me or be overly cynical at times and that’s hard to watch.

It happened this weekend. He got paged incessantly. More than I’ve ever seen. All night Friday, all day Saturday, several times last night. By Saturday afternoon, he was reaching his limit. And he got short with me when I called over to him to tell him his phone was ringing again (he was in the bathroom, I told him twice. He came out and said ‘I heard it!” and turns out, he already said that but I hadn’t heard him. Regardless, his annoyance was palatable, not that I could blame him.) What frustrated me was that his annoyance was rubbing off on me and he was allowing the fact that he was on-call ruin his mood. I let him be for an hour or so and then he asked if I was mad at him.

This is where my own past parallel comes in.

I instinctively said no.

Rather than tell him that I was frustrated that he was allowing work to put a damper on the weekend and our ‘making the best of it’ since we couldn’t go to Maine together since he was on-call, I kept my mouth shut.

That was a big downfall in my marriage, for me. Stewing. Not being honest with what was bothering me. It is something I work at constantly now, and perhaps not always in a good way…meaning, I then tend to overcommunicate sometimes and/or overreact when something bothers me, than to let it simmer and then regroup.

I realized what I was doing and as my mind was going wild wondering if this parallel – his job coming between him and his relationship in the past – was starting to surface with me – and my parallel – keeping my mouth shut when I should just lay it out there – was starting to surface as well.

To be honest, I think I was overthinking a bit on work coming between us. I firmly believe that we both have a good work/life/relationship balance and that we are nowhere near trainwrecksville when it comes to this parallel. I do, however, think that it is something M still has to work on, falling into old habits, as do I.

I also think this ties in so closely with allowing. Allowing M to find his path and his voice when it comes to saying no, and doing for him to find his happiness.

I can’t do it for him. I can only support him through it as he finds his path.

So, we aren’t perfect. Neither of us. Together, we fit so damn well. We really do. And the love is…just there. All around us. And I know that we can face these parallels head-on and work together to make sure we form a union that has that right mix of give-and-take, communication, balance, love and happiness. I sense our next challenge approach as we move in together in about 6 weeks, but I also sense the next phase of our love…and it will be epic.

This is all about exploration. Redefining. Moving past old habits. Making new ones. Figuring each other out. It’s a love-in-progress at its finest.

And I’m as committed as ever to put in the effort…because more than ever, this man is the man for me. In so many, many ways.

~~

PS – check me out!

I’m over at Divorced Before 30, talking about how divorce made me stronger. Emma is taking submissions for a variety of topics, so divorced (or soon to be!) friends, take a look and submit your stories!

I’m also at the barre n9ne studio blog, talking about why the barre n9ne challenge changed my perspective (and my life)!

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35 thoughts on “Parallels.

  1. You know what this tells me (and I could be wrong but hear me out). That you instinctively responded “no” because you aren’t used to having a relationship that is openly communicative and because of that, the occasional “fight” breaks out. Not in the knock down drag out kind of way, but an argument. Where yelling happens. Where you might stomp off to recollect yourself. Where conflict arises. I used to think that a “fight” like this one meant the relationship wasn’t solid. What I’ve learned is that the relationship actually IS solid when two people can openly communicate and can work through a scenario like the one you described but can show real feeling without fear of the “fight” that may happen. Sure, Scott and I have had these moments. They are few and far between. But guess what? They happen. And I am not ashamed to admit to that. Because it’s sometimes the best way to get your true feelings (hurt ones and all) out on the table OPENLY. That being said, I think you are both evolving together, working through some old habits, and are an amazing duo. Some of this stuff just takes time to learn, to adjust, to find a groove. Like you’ve said to me here and there, this is still a ‘new’ relationship – with lots more learning and growing to be done together. And whoa…this is the longest blog comment ever…I hope it makes sense!

    1. Thanks sis, I give that an amen, too. There is a smart way to resolve conflict…smart ‘fighting’ if you will and I am learning. It’s easier for me to cocoon and just drop it than deal with it, even if it’s minor. I just don’t want to go the opposite and just overreact to every little thing that might bother me (or vice versa) either, so I am trying to explore and balance that too. I think we’re getting there, and we are getting into a groove. Absolutely.

    2. Jess, you hit the nail on the head, I think. I totally agree. JOBO, I find myself doing the same thing with S. We are at that point, too, where we’ve had some not-pretty moments, and I wonder if I am falling into the habit of reacting in the way I have been used to. The difference is that now I’m in a relationship with someone who really loves me and wants to work things out. But I will say that no matter how stubborn he is in arguments, insisting that he is right and I’m misinterpreting things, I find him later quietly doing things that address what I’ve brought up. And it makes me love him even more knowing he cares enough to make that effort.

      1. Yes, it’s the quietly addressing the issues that have been brought up that show me that he cares, that he’s in it for the long haul and vice versa. I am working on my own not-so-pretty moments and habits too, and that’s the bottom line. If you are devoted and want to fix issues before they become issues, that’s a testament to the relationship itself.

  2. Ok, my first thought is… is she telling him all of this?

    Granted, I know it took you a few days to put it all into coherent thought but I think you should talk to him about, well, exactly what you wrote here.

    Next, absolutely, of COURSE, you’re going to react the way you used to in your marriage. It’s habitual. You’re aware of the habit now. So… break the habit.

    I’m not saying get all snippy back because he’s short. Somewhere in there, you have to realize it’s not about you. Even if you have to say, “I know you’re irritability doesn’t have anything to do with me so I’m not going to get upset. HOWEVER, I’d appreciate if you didn’t bite my head off.” Saying that you’re not biting back, you’re saying how you feel and asking him to consider treating you differently. You have a right to ask for that.

    Absolutely, of course you’re not responsible for his happiness. You do have to allow him his feelings though… however he feels. But again, as I said ^^ up there, you can allow his feelings and state your own as well. Speaking up doesn’t have to be a confrontational thing. And if it turns into that, at least you’ve stated your case and he knows how you feel. Then he’ll need to cool off and possibly you will too, then you’ll come back together with nothing left to say about it except, I’m sorry and I love you.

    Just as YOU’RE aware of your past habits, he needs an awareness too. You can help him with that. He may not even realize the affect it has on you.

    Speak up, even if you have to bite your tongue and think about it. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. You’re both teaching each other how you wish to be treated.

    1. Thank you T! You always know how to say what I need to hear, to push me to keep going, exploring, learning. And yes, I have told him this, for the most part. Not as straightforward as ‘our habits from our past are creeping in’ though he has said that…his job is coming between his relationship (he has some sense of control over that, not entirely, but he it is an area he admits to continually working on and I respect and love that about him). He is very self aware and knows his weaknesses, as I know mine, so I think that we are working towards where we need to be, communication wise. I love what you say: “you’re both teaching each other how you wish to be treated” <amen!

  3. All relationships have their challenges because we’re all in our own little ways a wee bit crazy. 🙂 I find myself overcompensating for things that I felt I did wrong in my first marriage–almost going too far in the other direction sometimes. Something I need to be more conscientious of!

  4. oh I so agree with jess! and i can relate. Openness is so hard because it gives light to imperfection at times. but thank goodness for that because it allows us to grow!

    1. Openness is hard…but that’s what we are here for if we’re doing it right, right?? Imperfection is perfection in my book. Nothing is perfect, the beauty is in the imperfect. And all of the perspectives on this and the support is, as always, so helpful.

  5. I see this so often too. The important thing is, you BOTH recognize your top issues/things you need to work on or be aware of. You don’t just ignore and keep going. There will be bumps, I do the over communicating thing too:) But we couldn’t perfect our issues while we were single, these are things you have to do while in another relationship. As long as you are willing to address them as a team then you are fine.

    1. Yes!! Some things you can’t perfect (issues-wise) until you are in another relationship…so so true. And as long as we continue to work at it as a team and address stuff as it comes up, we’ll just get stronger and stronger. It’s always a work in progress but that’s what makes love so great, right?

  6. I get super annoyed whenever my husband is like “your phone is going off, your phone is going off!” It’s my FRICKEN phone–let ME worry about it. Maybe I don’t care to look at it right this second! (This is not a beat down on you, I’m trying to explain the other side of it…hang on) So, with my work, I was constantly getting texts & emails–I worked a lot. This cell phone/pager becomes like a tether, not a device for communication. It’s a lot on your shoulders. And then to have someone else just adding to that anchor is even added pressure to respond & take care of stuff right away. Sometimes, especially on the weekend, we need a break! However, I should explain this like I explained it to you…because I would probably snap like M did in real life 🙂

    1. That’s a good point too. The opposite perspective. I wouldn’t have said anything if he weren’t in the bathroom and his phone was downstairs. Turns out he missed 5 pages (was in the shower). So to me, I was just trying to be helpful, not naggy. But after getting paged a zillion times the last 24 hours, I can totally see how he’d be miffed (not AT me, but at the situation). Anyway, I am glad we worked through it, more so to the point of – yeah, you’re on call, yeah, it sucks, but don’t allow it to make you miserable either. Try not to, anyway.

  7. Friend, I constantly struggle with this same “be more present at home when home and try and leave work at work” thing with Eric. Unfortunately, with what our partners do, that is A.) Not easy and most importantly, B.) Not something they actively choose to let be a pain in the ass on the weekends/down time. It’s easy for most people to leave work at work. Eric actually asked me many times before we got married if I would be able to handle the “work thing” as it was a major issue in his previous marriage. I admit, sometimes it frustrates me and pisses me off that he is often thinking about work and is less present than I’d like him to be but I remind myself that he doesn’t choose to be that way, it’s just part of who he is. If I ask him to be more present, I can tell that he he is still thinking about work but just doesn’t say it out loud. Which, almost makes it worse. LOL. Sometimes I wonder if I can handle this, especially with a child on the way, and I know I can but I don’t like it. So, what I have learned (and in short, my message), if you love someone you make it work.

    1. I wish I could hug you, friend!! And even more reason why I reallyreallyreallyreally can’t wait to visit you. I know M and Eric have some similar tendencies…can we make them become BFFs?! 😉 Maybe they’ll learn from each other or er, maybe make it worse? Haha. Anyway, I think you are right, we can only do so much, and they don’t choose to be this way, it’s just the nature of the beast sometimes. You CAN handle this friend, for what it’s worth, you are the strongest person I know, by a long shot. XOXO!

  8. This post really struck home with me. I’ve been with my husband now for over four years, married for over three, and I still find myself reacting to things he says and does like he is one of the other not-so-wonderful men in my past. I don’t know why? I guess learned behavior is so hard to correct – even when you are concious of it! But being aware of it is definitely a step in the right direction. This post must have been awfully therapeutic to write!

    1. Thank you Amber! It was therapeutic to write and also step back and think about it even more. Part of my thing is this – I just don’t want to repeat past mistakes and then every little thing that slightly in any way reminds me of past ‘parallels’ I overthink. So I think part of it is that and part of it is stuff we are definitely working on. Steps in the right direction!

  9. I have to agree with Jess. But also just b/c you might be falling into some pattern, it’s with a different person and under different circumstances. He’s not your ex and you’re not his. So how you deal with his work may be very very different. And not saying no, doesn’t mean you’re necessarily falling into old habits. Think about your reasons for not saying anything now vs then. I would venture to say you were not wanting to add any additional stress on M at that moment. Not so much you were just not willing to stand up for something. If that makes any sense.

    1. Thank you friend! It does make sense. I think it is a mixture of what you just said, not adding more stress moreso than not wanting to stand up and say something. I mean, I eventually did. That’s what matters, right?

  10. Man, Jo, this post is full of so much great honesty. I’m curious…I’m assuming you told him how you really felt after that?

    Herrick and I have these moments…a lot. I think every marriage does…every relationship does. No one is perfect, but a lot of times you’ll find that the flaws of two people mesh very well. (As you have seen with M.)

    I’m like M in that I find it so hard to say no. And I’m like you where I stew. And then sometimes I over communicate…and that digs a hole. I know both ends very well. Herrick and I have had to work on our communication so much. It’s getting better.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, though…you’re in love. THAT is what matters.<3

    1. I did tell him, yes. I think to T’s point though, it’s more than just telling him that I was irked, it’s telling him my fear of repeating past mistakes. He’s uttered this to me before, so I know it’s on his mind too and the last thing he wants to do either. So it’s balancing overcommunicating (where I am heading!) and just working on the little bumps along the way. And thank you for calling this honest. I do try to show both sides – the lovey dovey and the ups and downs 😉 XO.

  11. If you haven’t already, I think you should be open with M about your thoughts on this- because that small conversation now could make a big difference later.

    1. Yeah, I was (and maybe it didn’t come through here that I was honest with him after it happened, but not to the directness of the parallels to past marriages on both of our parts). But yes, now, we have talked and I am feeling good.

  12. Hmm … this was an awesome post for me to read. I’m going through something similar at the moment, and for me, it’s having the TRUST that I need in him to be able to open my mouth and say something. Because as you know, if I just said no, I avoid all issues, right? Except, no. Cuz stewing sucks. It sucks big time.

    The good thing here is, my pretty lady friend, you have the trust in M to say something, yes? And that is something to be cherished.

    1. I am so glad it helped you to read this. And that is a huge point – trust to say something. I do trust him, with all of my heart, so I know when I need to speak and share what is bothering me, I absolutely can. I hope you find the trust you need and want to do the very same. Stewing sucks. Big time. XO!

  13. I’m late commenting but…as for work and M…

    Tim has a super demanding job and, like M, the weekend doesn’t mean he can tune out and turn off “work.” The thing he has worked on and tries to continue to work on is compartmentalizing. This isn’t to say that work stress sometimes bubbles over and ends in a tiff, but to Tim’s credit, he’ll usually realize what happened and apologize for letting that stress interfere with us. Granted, Tim offloads his daily stresses on me each evening, so that may help keep it under control.

    THEN, on the flip side, I am not shy -at all – in telling Tim what’s bothering me. Sometimes it may not be the best thing to do and sometimes I simmer, but I’m not afraid to tell him how I feel – which wasn’t always the case. I used to be more of the, “everything’s fine” mentality when it really wasn’t.

    Whew. Point is: you’ll get there as long as you both keep working together 🙂

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful and relatable comment! Obviously you have years and years of togetherness on your side compared to me, with M, but much of what you say is exactly what I do need to take into account…part of it is me needing to accept that he HAS a demanding job and it doesn’t just end on weekends or 9-5. It’s adapting and adjusting to that while ALSO not being shy in opening up when something bothers me. So, long way of saying…thank you, so right!

  14. What a poignant post! I’m glad you wrote it since I’m sure it helped you process. We all have our default modes, but you and M communicate, talk through your problems and are committed to learning from your mistakes and growing together. That makes up for not being perfect ;). xoxo

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