The Manipulation Game

Hello, my name is Nathaniel and I have tried, in the past, to emotionally manipulate my wife, or at least the situations surrounding her and me.  I am certain that most men who may be willing to read further believe that only a wife is capable of emotional manipulation.  In the past I would have agreed with that assumption.  I am going to come out and say in light of recent events I have come to feel differently than the average regarding this subject.

 

I will attempt to pull thoughts together from an average day in our past eleven years of marriage to allow you, the reader, to see what you can and cannot relate to.  Keep in mind this relates more to the pre streak timing than the current timeframe.

 

Most days attempts at normalcy look something like this.  I wake up at 5am to shower, shave, start coffee, clean out the dishwasher (she hates this part of dishes, but I feel it’s the simplest J ), read my Bible, do some additional studying or read something else before heading to work at 6:30 or 7am.

Christina wakes up somewhere in the midst of my reading at 6am to get her day started with Bible reading, study and exercise before the children get up.   Our children used to get up between 7am to 830am, though this may be a changing circumstance, we’ll use this timeframe to estimate the history of me attempting to manipulate a day, or my wife, depending on how you want to look at it.  Yes, it’s extremely negative, but it’s also extremely honest.

 

Let’s call this past day Monday.  Everyone loves Monday, it really gets the blood flowing in a positive manner does it not?

 

Monday morning 5:45am and I thought about sex.  Like every other man on the planet who’d been up for forty-minutes already yes, I did it, do not judge me so harshly.  I thought about sex because it’d been a few days since we’d done it.  We’d been busy with family, friends, children, and church.  Sex obviously took and back seat, and rightfully so.  Since it had been a few days I’d thought early in the morning that today would be good, it’d happen tonight.  We’d both desire to join together after the enjoyable weekend.

 

Christina woke up at 6am and walked out to the living room to begin reading, groggy eyed yet optimistic with her own expectations for the day.  Whether or not sex was one of them wasn’t of concern at that moment.  What was of concern, to me, was whether or not I’d cleaned out the dishwasher and poured Christina’s cup of coffee.  Which I’d accomplished both already.  I appeared to be off to a good start and I believed all of it came from the heart because I love my wife and value her.   All I’d need to do from that point on is, ensure I protect her emotionally from any and all who dared to subject her to negative emotional frustration.  Then we’d have a half a chance at ending the night on the same page.  You may be thinking here that this page I speak of is only my own, and you may be temporarily correct, but at some point in the day I was optimistic she’d have this page, however brief, it may be for her compared to me.

 

At 6:15am I read from a book before I had to leave for work and I heard the door to our son’s room creak open.  I heard his footsteps in the hall and the endless sound of a young man that peed with the bathroom door open after a good night’s sleep.  I heard a sigh next to me and, from the corner of my eye, saw my wife’s shoulders slump.  Her multitasked, referee, mother side had been engaged whether either of us wanted it or not.  I sat straight up, closed my book and prepared to pounce.  Nathaniel the protector of the perfect emotional day was about to stand up and be the fixer.  The game of, conserve my wife’s energy for sex later had officially begun.  I was the quarterback or dance instructor of this game.  If a play or a move was not going to work for her or me I’d be prepared to make the necessary adjustments for us to succeed.

 

I shuffled our son into our room at the back of the house to watch a few cartoon reruns without disturbing his mother, and I returned to the living room.  Christina was able to continue her reading, study and relaxation time before she would begin her workout time, though in the back of my mind I knew she was already multitasking.

 

7:00am, I‘d arrived at work and began my own day of stressful situations.  I’d check on customers, orders, warehouse inventories and meetings.  Whether it was through a brief email exchange or a phone call I’d have contacted Christina, or she me, to check in on the other person.  It was during those times that I would gauge the day and relieve her of stress by supporting her.  I’d support her in loving ways and not so loving ways.  The not so loving part would be trying to fix her when she simply wanted to be listened to.  Another not so loving way would be having asked her to hand the phone to the most frustrating child and me taking time to tell that kid to, “STOP IT!!  NOW!”   Every parent knows this method works, right?  Wrong is the actual answer.  The children would test limits once or 100 times a day and there wasn’t very often anything she or I could do about it, because we were both inconsistent as parents back then.  That didn’t stop me from trying though.  I had to find a way to keep the peace, to have a shot at being unified as a married couple.  If the day didn’t go perfect then we’d not have the energy to pursue each other at the end of the night.  At least that was the feeling I’d had back then.

 

4:30pm, I’d get home from work and be worn out.  Unfortunately my lovely wife was worn out too.  She’d homeschooled, played referee, and worked around the house all day.  I’d gone to work and done similar things with myself and other adults all day.  After my arrival home I’d make a snappy comment to something she’d said or done and we’d both get defensive with each other.  I would not want to play with the kids since I was cranky and she wouldn’t want to be around me, let alone affectionate.  I certainly couldn’t blame her.

 

5:30pm, we’d sit down to dinner after I’d eventually played with the kids for a bit and she’d been awesome enough to make some dinner.  One of the boys would complain about all or a portion of the meal and make Christina defensive after she’d worked in the kitchen to feed us all.  I’d try to defend her and sound snappy, she may do the same, or worse if I wasn’t cordial towards the children she would snap at me, as any momma bear would do to protect her cubs.  After dinner was over I’d, perhaps get a call from a creditor for a bill I’d forgotten to mail a few days prior.  I’d avoid sharing this with Christina for fear she’d be frustrated with me or it would stress her out.  I was already stressed out, but if I’d shared it out loud I feared I’d get depressed or embarrassed and then I would lack even, my false, confidence and I’d no longer appear attractive to her.  If I got off my game I’d risk losing my mood and suddenly she’d be in the mood at night’s end and I would not.  That’d be beyond irritating.  So I told myself on the inside.

 

7:00pm, we’d begun our attempt to get the children to brush teeth, change into pajamas and read stories.  The boys resisted; they’d wander around the house trying to find other things to do, they’d whine about being hungry and need a snack, they’d push or punch the other and cause an argument.  There are four of us so it’s likely someone would yell about something.

 

By the time bedtime finally arrived either or both of us were so exhausted sex would be the last thing on either of our minds.  In the back of my mind I’d still hoped that something would happen.  We’d both fall into the couch to veg on some television to unwind after the up and down day we’d both had.  The boys would attempt to come out once or twice, stay up and play in their room or hit each other and cause us to play referee instead of relax.

 

By the time we’d both finally felt relaxed after 930pm, one or both of us was ready for bed.  I’d probably be resentful of all the events of the day; I’d also likely avoid asking for sex because I was very passive- aggressive.  I also cared about Christina’s feelings, so I’d avoid frustrating her with my personal request.  The night would very likely end without sex again, not because she didn’t love me, but because I didn’t ask.  My unfortunate expectation that the day wasn’t perfect also affected my thought process.

 

Have I learned anything since then?  I’d like to think so yes.  Am I still a, complete, moron at times?  Yes, but I’d like to feel that it’s not all the time.

 

The reason sex appeared to be the goal for me was security.  Sex secured one on one time with the one person that I’d desired it to be with.  Plus she’s hot, but that’s more a bonus.  Sex was the time that her affection would be generated towards me without life getting in the way.  We’d connect no matter how brief a time because sex is intimate physically.

 

Sex has gone down on my list of important things because I have learned to have a genuine love and affection for my wife.  I’ve learned to work on my emotional connection by chasing after her heart and mind.

Working together to overcome rough moments in the day, rather than try to control and perfect those moments has helped me to connect with Christina and her with me more often emotionally.  The more often we team up and conquer things together with grace, consistency and love the more we stay connected and the more often sex is a possibility.  Also the more often she displays affection towards me, not because of perfection, but because of our consistent connection.

 

In a similar way to Christina taking both our life jackets and running away a few weeks ago, it is not possible for me carry around the tool box and fix every moment of the day to perfection for either or both of us.

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