I (Nathaniel) am working continually to be better today than I was yesterday. I refer to the emotional and spiritual more than the physical, though all three are priorities on a weekly basis.
Recently I gave my lovely wife a very difficult Saturday, emotionally because I couldn’t get my personal ship righted. I attempted all the various things to fix myself, or most of them anyhow. I attempted to think positively, I gave time and energy to my wife and children to get the focus off me. I watched a little television, read a book and even tried to twinkle my nose like the genie in Bewitched.
Nothing seemed to work for me, I was still frustrated with the world around me and I was an overall pain in the rear end to my lovely wife Christina. Why could I not stop the negative focus inside of myself? Where did it start and when would it end?
This emotional negative spiral, I believe, started the night before. My lovely wife and I were spending some time together after a really enjoyable day. Amid the time together she’d taken the time to do something for herself. She earns such time more than anyone I know and deserves it more than anyone I know. My positive thoughts towards her unable to stop me, I slowly became irritated that her thing seemed to last longer than I’d originally expected. Perhaps I’d set my expectation at five or ten minutes without verbalizing it and the longer her activity went beyond I began to stew inside into negativity. Why was I unwilling to ask her to finish up? Why was I unwilling to speak up for myself and why was I playing passive aggressive? There is more to the story than I could explain here I am sure, however I am going to do my best not to bore you with my own 18 page memorandum, blaming the other person that Rachel once gave to Ross.
That is not my intention, as much fun as it may be, no, never mind, starting a fight by pointing the finger not actually be fun at all.
My intention is to find out why I turned so passive during this brief interaction. Also why I felt slighted by Christina when there was clearly no intent on her part to hurt me or discount my feelings. It is obvious to me now, but not then, that this has been my behavior throughout our marriage; to stuff my feelings and not speak up for myself.
I feel the answer lies in; I am an extroverted person that gives until I am worn thin. I also make myself feel guilty internally if I want or desire something on my own timetable. I suppose it is easier for me to hold it in than to say it out loud. It is easier for me to wait for Christina’s timetable to meet up with mine than it is to ask her to change her schedule for me. I fear it is mainly because I do not want to bother her or interrupt what she is doing. I’d rather ignore my wants or desires and stuff them than talk to Christina and inconvenience her.
I give fairly naturally now days. I listen more than I talk, which was not always the case in my past. I find what needs to be done around the house to serve those around me and I do them. Laundry, dishes, children, dogs, cats, dinner, anything and everything my lovely wife does most, I will jump in to help with if she gets overwhelmed or I can see that it needs to be done. I most often don’t even have to be asked. I just dig in and do it. I suppose my problem, therein, lies. I, unfortunately, expect my wife to work like me in this way. I expect that she will essentially read my mind and know when it’s time to do something for me.
I have learned to read my wife’s cues. I must, on some level, expect her also to learn to read me and help me without me asking.
So I become very agitated internally when I have to ask for things or speak up. I know I shouldn’t, but I suppose it’s always come so naturally for me. I feel, in part, embarrassed to have to ask for something. Inside I find it frustrating to fear I will ask for something on my own timetable and am rejected, start an argument or make my wife uncomfortable or worn out. Some things are just going to cause a fight so they are not worth bringing up. Though to a degree that is true, but I am learning this is more about timing and expectations than stuffing.
Obvious to everyone but me, I stuff my feelings and expect Christina to read my mind. My wife is an introvert, so it is not natural for her to focus outward onto me and simply act. That is how I work as an extrovert. She turns inward, and this means I must learn to ask ahead of my frustration point. Even if, the answer will be no and I fear rejection I have to be willing to speak up for myself. Don’t get me wrong, with my old addiction I had no problem putting myself first at that time, but that was always alone. I’ve never been good at prioritizing my own needs with another person. I always default to caring for them first.
I make a very good and loving co-dependent, now if I could just balance that out a bit and find that more interdependent place I know it will help my relationships in and outside my home.
How can you find a balance between independent and co-dependent living? And can you give me advice on how to get there?
2 Corinthians 1:4