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You Can't Force It

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sassylee posted 6/4/2019 20:09 PM

Except when a couple hasnít connected in a long while - itís always going to seem forced....because it is. I used to make lists of things to talk about before date night. Our first date night post dday, I had a panic attack. My H asked what was wrong and I told him ďWhat are we going to talk about??? What is there to say to each other? Itís going to be dead silence!Ē And we ended up sitting at the bar and letting the bartender do most of the talking. It was hard. Very hard. If you havenít connected about anything but kids and household responsibilities - you get desperate for topics.

In this sitch, and from what Iíve gathered from your posts here Cap, your wife has been delayed in the emotional connection department. Let her warm up with stupid topics until it begins to come naturally for her. She needs the practice.

Decode posted 6/4/2019 20:48 PM

I think many of you got really carried away with this post. I actually really hate when people try to make conversation with me over unimportant things that I have no interest in talking about. It almost feels manipulative. Iím not sure why. My FWH and I began reconnecting by watching movies or tv programs together. We didnít have to talk during, and afterwards if I wanted to chat about it we would.

truthsetmefree posted 6/4/2019 22:22 PM

I havenít read all of the responses...but enough to feel like I get the gist of the general perspective.

However, I completely get what Capt is saying. Itís not that the effort is not appreciated...but it can only be appreciated for the effort when the real purpose is lost. I think he is basically saying, hey...itís great that she tried but sheís so far out in left field that the effort itself actually only points out how disconnected she really is. He has given her three responses that clearly indicate it is not an area of great interest to him...yet she continues along that very same line. Because Iin the end, sheís not really understanding the concept of actually connecting.

I think what we are seeing here - or perhaps some responders are even missing - is this is what happens when you are essentially trying to teach a pig to sing. You may make some progress but you are a perpetually long way away from an opera. In that regard the real lesson (as it so often is) is for the one who is offering it. I sympathize with you Capt (and I mean that sincerely). Sometimes the moments of the simplest truth are the most painful.

secondtime posted 6/5/2019 00:30 AM

What if spouses don't have the same interests and really don't want to have the same interests? I'm pretty sure my husband has no interest in knitting, crocheting, or quilting.

I do not share his love of baseball (I know, bad me, right?). I'll watch games with him. But I also get stabby sitting through the same hitter hitting 345324532 foul balls when he's at bat.

Even with some DH loves all things scouting..his jam is boy jam is cubs. We prefer different age groups and activities in the programs.

I never wanted to marry a person who had the same interests as me.

Or who was like me. One of me, in my life, is enough. I don't need to contend with two of me.

Most of our conversations stem from one off things. Usually they topics meander, etc. Still lots of opportunity for emotional intimacy and vulnerability.

That's a reflection of how fluid our life and days are. Our days are not filled with everything packaged neatly and predictably. It's filled with a serious of one-offs...

LongSigh posted 6/5/2019 00:43 AM

.....She was trying to connect with you, using a convenient topic that could be twisted into flirty and perhaps sexually charged banter....

ouch.. that shut down had to hurt.

DIFM posted 6/5/2019 05:15 AM

I can't help but think that the most important lesson from this thread might be that context is everything. Without it, everyone fills in the blanks with their own assumptions about the context, then proceeds to offer insight and opinion that would very likely be different had the real context been provided vs their assumed one.

I think the extra dozen lines or so of conversation between you and wife might have made a significant difference in the value of the responses.

imagoodwitch posted 6/5/2019 10:30 AM

This is not the SI that I joined 2 1/2 years ago...

It sure isn't.

This post has brought me out of my lurkdom.

I left a while ago because I felt that I didn't contribute anything to the conversation, that what I said fell on deaf ears.

In the 10 years that I have visited SI, I've seen a lot a ebbs and flows, highs and lows. It's just a thing that happens.

Back to your original topic.

I totally understand what you are saying.

You can't force it.

You can't force a conversation.

You can't force a connection.

You can't force interest.

I give her kudos for trying, honestly I do.

But it did fall flat.

Now, what are you two going to do about it?

Do you have any shared interests? Any?

If you don't, and you really, really want to connect with her outside of house, work and kids. Find one.

But..... make sure it's a mutual interest. Whatever it is, so that resentments don't build up and to clear up any doubts about motivations.

ThisIsSoLonely posted 6/5/2019 10:37 AM

Except when a couple hasnít connected in a long while - itís always going to seem forced....because it is.

This 1000x over - my contact with my WH has seemed superficial for awhile now - since dday2 last October. Only recently, now that I have decide that I will be leaving, has the weirdness abated. I think the awkwardness is just one of the many things that are so hard about R.

Oh, and I hope you weren't referring to me and the jerk comment. I said I didn't want to sound like a jerk - not you!

Tigersrule77 posted 6/5/2019 10:52 AM

Captain, I totally understand what you are saying. I also agree that several people completely overreacted and attacked you. Their comments were in no way helpful.

Your WW made "an attempt to connect", but didn't seem to put much thought or effort into this one. I compare it to wanting to get rich, but rather than come up with a solid business idea, she went and bought a lottery ticket. It was very little work, and unlikely to produce.

It does show she cares, however, a little more effort would really show she cares. It was a swing and a miss.

Perhaps people's reactions to your comment shows more about them and how they look at things, as they took the comments very negative.

CaptainRogers posted 6/5/2019 11:50 AM

I appreciate the input from everyone. I think my point is still being missed, however. Perhaps if I say it this way:

Over the last several weeks (few months), my wife has done an excellent job of finding things and ways for us to connect. We now do the work on our landscaping together. We now work together on interior tasks (it's not just MY honey-do list anymore). We sit or walk and have chats. We watch movies (she is becoming a fan of the Marvel series).

On Sunday/Monday of this past week, she tried to reach out and "connect" about the client BBQ and she did so based on what I was cooking (we had done a more traditional midwestern cookout in prior years with burgers, brats & hot dogs). It was a valid attempt at connecting (and over 2 days, we probably spent 10 minutes or so discussing it).

As I was reflecting on the discussion (as I typically do at the end of each day), I thought "This piece would make a good object lesson, especially for those who may be struggling and asking the question 'Why can't we connect?' So, I penned the post with that idea in mind. Yes, I chose a headline that should have grabbed some attention. That was totally on purpose. (Obviously, I wasn't prepared for the attention it grabbed.)

I was not here to bash my wife. I was not here to give 100% of the context because I wasn't looking for advice on what I should say/do or if I was overreacting or setting the bar too high.

Really, this had absolutely nothing to do with my relationship with my wife and was only supposed to be a teaching concept for those who may be struggling to find a way to connect.

[This message edited by CaptainRogers at 1:44 PM, June 5th (Wednesday)]

hikingout posted 6/5/2019 12:13 PM

I never thought you were bashing your wife, for the record. I might have believed from your other posts and your context here as a member that you might have been frustrated with her again. It would not have been hard from knowing your story to see how that would have happened. And you have been quieter since things took a turn for the better, itís not hard to see how other would take it literally.

But I think that I am in sassyís camp of it *does* feel forced when you work on reconnecting. I think the object lesson could be discouraging through the lens of a ws or a spouse trying to reconnect. I think people were disagreeing with the principal of what you were trying to teach. In a relationship you have to throw out a lot of stuff until it sticks. So it you take the personal part of your story out I still disagree with it.

I can see how a bs would be irritated in general with the ws and our bids to reconmect but in the same breath many would say to a ws ó-keep going, keep trying, they need to see you trying. And I think thatís why it resonated wrong. Especially in that first year, man I threw out a lot of darts that didnít stick. When he asked for a divorce, I was ready to give up. But I was encouraged here to ďtry againĒ and it was awkward that time too. Itís the overall message of the site for the ws to try and keep connecting. Your message was that there were wrong ways to go about it, and while that may be true the ďwrong wayĒ in your story was really pretty benign.

I have great respect for you captain. I know that it was your deep love for your wife that has gotten the two of you this far. I know you are a good man, and that you have been a patient man. You have me a lot of hope my first year here because you were one of the few men here at that time that I could see you still did love your wife despite what she did. So please understand that while I still think this story falls flat when weighed against what it takes for a ws to try to work at reconnection, I do understand your context. And honestly even if you were complaining- I am so happy to see that *this* is what you have to complain about. Thatís light years away from where you guys were six months ago. Thatís terrific in my eyes.

MySunandStars posted 6/5/2019 18:28 PM

This is a very familiar frustration that I have heard and felt from my BH. Grasping at straws doesnít feel good to anyone, it sucks to be on the receiving end of it.

I fall squarely in the trying to force it camp.
I want so desperately to connect with my BH about anything that I know my attempts are closer to trying to connect about everything.

I am learning that trying to force it makes it worse. But not trying at all feels even more badó but maybe it only feels bad for me and I have to learn to sit in it and deal with it.

So maybe you have some advice? Better questions to ask to find things to connect on? How to pick up on queues that an attempt isnít working? Or the big one for me... how to change course or pick up a different thread of conversation once itís clear that an attempt as fallen flat?

[This message edited by MySunandStars at 6:30 PM, June 5th (Wednesday)]

AlwaysOnEdge posted 6/5/2019 18:40 PM

I disagree Capn.

I think this is an object lesson in exactly what a WS SHOULD be doing. In fact I think that this is an object lesson in how a BS should NOT interact with their WS.

I give a big thumbs up and kudos to your WW, Capn, for making the effort. I am interested why you do not?

You have an interest in something completely outside your WW's sphere of life. It may be a fleeting interest. but enough of an interest that you obtained a book on the subject. Without "connecting" with you how will your WW know that it is a once only task or the start of a new hobby?

In fact, I think the subject could have been anything, the important aspect that I think has been missed is that she was taking an interest in YOU. She may never have an interest in smoking meat, may never understand it, but by trying to connect with you through the subject of smoking meat - she gets to connect to you.
It has been said on here often enough that during R we BS's have to get to know who our WS's really are, not who we thought they were. But sometimes the WS has to get to know who we BS's are, they had such a disjointed view of us. How can they get to relearn about us if we, as the OP seems to indicate, we limit the areas in which they can connect with us?

I felt when I was reading the OP that the WW was almost being put in a no-win situation, a kind of damned if you do and damned if you don't deal. "I want you to learn/relearn how to connect with me, but only on my terms with my rules".
And what are the rules? if one activity one day once a year is unacceptable where is the line drawn? Does it have to be a minimum of three or five days every six months? What happens if it is a three day activity but never again?

I'm genuinely interested in why this is being used as a "forcing it" issue, why this is a, albeit minor, issue at all?
My question would be is there a sense of resentment; "Oh NOW your interested" kind of thing. Or a "This is my ballgame not yours", or a "This stuff doesn't interest you so this interest must be false" premise.

I know how weird it is when someone who has made little to no effort for years turns around and starts "connecting" through stuff they have little wonder or knowledge about. Prior to DDay I spent 7 years building a model railway layout, never once did I have any connection with my WW through it. Yet only the other week my WW was connecting with me over a 3mm footstool I had spent all day making for the captains cabin of my model boat - not because she gave a shit about the footstool, but because she gave a shit about me, and why I gave a shit about the footstool.

If a WS "tries" to connect but then their eyes glaze over and its only done just for show then rightly give em hell. But to make an issue from someone genuinely trying to connect, then yes, that is a jerk move and I'd question the BS's motive every time.

Just my tuppennys worth.

truthsetmefree posted 6/5/2019 20:27 PM

So maybe you have some advice?

By no means an expect on this, but to answer it in a nutshell...

I think making genuine and intimate connections starts with a perspective of less on the ďwhatĒ and more on the ďwhyĒ.

I would bet that Captís reaction to the questions would have been entirely different if his WW had not been asking him questions about his plans (the ďwhat are you going to doĒ)...and more about why he had chosen to do this seemingly atypical thing. Questions like - What made you decide to take this on? What are you hoping you will come of this? The deeper questions that get to the heart of the person...not just the particular topic. Connection questions are almost always about feelings.

As an aside...there is an art form to this so that such questions donít come across as cryptic judgement. The best way to counter that is to express upfront why you are asking...or even open acceptance. Ie, ďThis is really inspiring that you are trying something new and Iím excited for you. I am interested in what has motivated you.Ē

66charger posted 6/5/2019 20:37 PM

The first post and his last post are so far apart it doesn't come close to a teaching lesson. No facts at all.

That wasn't a lesson. That was a waste of her effort. The conversation could have been turned into an entirely different direction. Instead you focused on the actual task of smoking meat...and told her the attempt (which is now turned in to one of many) wasn't good enough.

Didn't see that coming. Nice Dr Phil responses though.

let's try that again.

"Honey, I want to come over and learn how to smoke your meat"

Your reply is.......


[This message edited by 66charger at 10:47 PM, June 5th (Wednesday)]

66charger posted 6/5/2019 22:51 PM


[This message edited by 66charger at 3:53 AM, June 6th (Thursday)]

Striver posted 6/5/2019 22:54 PM

90% of life is showing up. Many spouses in a long marriage would be thrilled that their other half showed an interest in something. No, I do not think showing interest is some sort of art form and worthy of critique and reproach. In a normal relationship this is a huge jerk move by Captain.

I get the context. Captain has always wanted R and dealt with much recalcitrance by WW. Finally he has movement over years. It is actually understandable that he actually, finally feels safe to move into anger mode. Very understandable. I empathize.

In the long run, though, we all want to get to where normal, everyday, positive gestures are treated well.

swmnbc posted 6/6/2019 08:29 AM

Striver makes a good point about this finally being a safe time for anger.

I don't know that SI has changed that much over the years except for the loss of a few distinct voices. Cap, I think that in your specific situation, your awareness of your situation has evolved, and so people's advice to you has evolved.

Jorge posted 6/29/2019 12:56 PM

A word to those (BS/WS/MH) that want to connect with your spouse. Don't pick the most insanely obscure thing that may happen only once in a year to connect. Just like connecting with your kids, connecting with your spouse needs to happen in (A) their world; or (2) in a shared world. If your spouse likes putting together puzzles, ask if you can sit and work on it with them. If your spouse likes "antiquing", plan a time to go do it together. Or perhaps you are "foodies"...find the opportunity to cook together a time or two each week.

A word to Captain. Don't make it hard neither. While limitations exists over what subject matter one can really gain a connection, you can expand the small talk communication and it can lead to more substantive discussion also. Give her and yourself a chance.

It's not much different than two people who are just beginning to date. It's light and shallow with both people trying to get to a common ground. Eventually at some point, the shallow stuff leads to something more meaningful and the sharing becomes more intimate, which in turn, leads to a connection of some type.

I haven't read the responses to your thread here, but I think you're being difficult to be honest. Meet her half way here man. She's olive branching and you're seemingly denying her efforts by saying, the branch isn't straight enough or wasn't extended within the desirable time period that suits you. Gotta poop or get off the can here.

I've followed your story and recognize the time she's taken to get to this point and you might harbor some resentment because of it.... I get it and I'd be ticked also. But you got to check yourself here.

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