The being happy TOGETHER is a really tricky thing to implement.
A bit of a novel, but if you bear with me, this goes back to another thread in General about glasses and how we filter each other.
BH wants to take a trip to either city 1 or city 2. We're looking at hotels and costs of both. City 1 is farther away (more gas), has a bit more expensive hotel, but has lower overall costs (taxes, meals, etc). City 2 has more affordable lodging, less distance to drive, but has more expensive food/taxes/parking than the other. Really the costs are a wash. Knowing he was leaning more toward city 2 (wants to check out watch stores), I worked hard to find several hotels that are nice, but less expensive than the one in city 1. I also came across some cool places to stay with the kids. I sent him the places to stay with the kids (via text- browsing on my phone) and then saved the other hotels for us to go over later. I didn't communicate that I had other hotels saved to look at later.
BH has been hurt before by me "steam rolling" him. He starts off with an idea, and then I quickly and enthusiastically take it up. when I do, I come up with a lot of options, ideas for implementation, etc. Thing is, I go so fast with the brainstorming, he often gets overwhelmed and can't keep up. He prefers a more measured pace where it can be a back and forth. In my enthusiasm (and ADHD), I often move too fast and use more "me" and "we" in my hurry. I'm working on changing my language to more of a "we" and "you" based conversation. It's difficult to break habits of hurrying ideas and throwing multiple ideas at a time at my husband.
My frustration came in a conversation I had with him last night. I had wanted to discuss hotel options for city 2 all day. He was cold and indifferent to me in church (shook hands instead of a kiss during "peace be with you" and wouldn't hold hands or touch me sitting next to him). He'd been putting me off and avoiding me. Even after I had been making efforts to put him first (more sex each day for the past 4 days, spending time and comforting/looking after him). I saw him on Instagram on the couch ignoring me and decided to push myself upon him as I was eager to discuss the trip. And frustrated at his avoidance all day.
Some background to the circumstances of the conversation:
-I had promised to work on the basement with him that day, in the morning. I worked out and then we were leaving for our errands, so it didn't happen THEN. He brought up his disappointment with the lack of follow through. I apologized, acknowledged his disappointment and promised to help him that afternoon instead. He responded that "he didn't trust me since I typically don't follow through."- fair enough. I did help him put up drywall, measuring it and moving it in place that afternoon. BH was disappointed that I didn't help him when I said I would- a broken plan. HOWEVER, he didn't take into account the fact that I made an effort to make it up to him later that day. I also apologized for the broken plan, knowing how important that was to him. I didn't want him to feel unimportant or blown off.
-BH had already been distancing himself from me, despite my active attempts to cheer him up, include him in things, give him comfort and in general keep a positive attitude in the face of his depression. All this after a few "good" days.
-BH wants another watch, a $7.5k watch to be specific. We are re-financing the house and have a few other expenses we need to catch up on first once that's pushed through. This watch is sold at a few stores in city 2 and he'd like to visit the shops and make arrangements for his dream watch (a $28k model- wayyy down the road).
-The trip was to be a celebration of refinancing and get some time out with just each other overnight (per our MC's assignment back in November).
-I am sensitive to planning vacations as time together doing something new is something I truly value. BH has made many empty promises over the years to take vacations just the two of us or as a family. He's worked hard over the last year to change that, but I still have baggage with that.
-BH has also claimed in the past week "I would rather have a watch than a vacation" adding "with you" at the end of it. He has often in years past gone hunting to far away destinations with friends while I have stayed home with kids, lonely, stressed and feeling uncared for. I could have put my foot down, but he was the breadwinner, made it clear that I was always unhappy and a drain on him emotionally and that he needed that time away to recharge himself in order to even stay married.
So, this conversation, a trip wrapped around his desire to shop for a watch, was already emotionally loaded.
I brought up all the different hotels, he voiced that he was confused with the multiple ideas and wasn't feeling listened to. I felt frustrated because all I was trying to do was listen to his desires for a trip to city 2 that would be less expensive than city 1. City 2 is where I could make appointments to the watch stores he wanted to see. Before I made appointments, I wanted travel arrangements finalized so I wouldn't have the bother of cancelling them. Again, I didn't communicate this at the beginning of the conversation. BH began feeling overwhelmed, pushed around and not listened to. He kept saying, "if you listened to me, you'd already know what I want!"
What he wanted at that moment was to go to a certain hotel we'd stayed in before. That was in direct conflict with a prior conversation that he said, "If you can find a less expensive hotel option in city 2, we can go there." The hotel he wanted to stay in was the same price as the city 1 hotel, so I looked for an equivalent kind of hotel in city 2 at a lower price. I was becoming frustrated by his mixed messages and by his insistence that I "wasn't listening to him" when I was doing all in my power to listen to him and fulfil his wishes. Overcoming my own hurt to do so.
He then went on to say that I'm always quick to jump on my interests (travelling) and not on doing anything for his interests (watches). Which was absolutely unfair as I was going to schedule the watch store appointments AFTER I got the hotel lined up. I got angry and told him he is not appreciating the efforts I am making, not seeing how hard I'm trying and not being clear in his requirements. I then talked over him in his laundry list of things I was doing wrong in the past 2 days he's been distant and cold. I explained to him about making the appointments at the watch stores after the hotel, apologized for confusing him with the other hotels he's not interested in. Then I explained that I was given mixed messages when he wanted a less expensive trip to city 2 than to city 1. He said I was steam rolling him again (which at that point I was- I had had enough), what did I want from him, "a thanks honey, you're doing everything ok?" (Which, when he says it with an eye roll and a sigh is absolutely BS coming out of his mouth). He then said, "I'd rather not go on the trip with you now at all!" Which is, sigh, what ends up happening. A trip and time together just the 2 of us bonding together dangled, and then, denied.
In the end, he didn't feel listened to as I didn't frame the conversation properly. I don't feel respected or appreciated. Again, I'm left feeling demeaned, disrespected and again, that whole "I'd rather have a watch than spend time on a trip with you" thing hanging around.
Our communication still stinks and needs work. There's progress, but then we have these arguments just about every week. Usually after a few good days. I'm starting to see that it's not me that's distancing myself from him. It's him distancing himself from me. He gets disappointed in me over a modified plan (doing drywall in the basement). I did my best to make up for not helping him in the morning by helping in the afternoon, but I didn't point that out to him at the time. He didn't let it go. He let some other things fester (I got a carwash without asking- just did it) and now it feels like he's looking for a reason to argue with me.
It's like, the harder I try to be closer to him and more intimate emotionally with him, the harder he pushes back.
I started the conversation out without the proper framing ("Hey, I'd like to talk about the trip, are you game for it? I found some lower cost hotels that are still really nice and I want your input. It would be really nice to get the hotel lined up soon so I can make appointments at the watch store for you."). Instead I jumped right into it. I didn't take into account that he was likely tired and worn out from the day. And also the fact that I had texted him stuff that didn't have to do with his interests that morning and got the car wash later that afternoon without consulting him.
Here's where the lenses come in:
The lack of grace involved in our interactions from his side. I tried to get the conversation back on track a few times during it. I wanted to clarify the mistakes in my framing. All I wanted to hear from him was, "Thanks for all the work you put into this. Really though, I would just like to do xyz at this hotel instead of checking out the new one you found. Thanks for the thought you put into it."
Instead, I got an argument, belittled ("You always steam roll me, you always take an idea you like and run with it. You never show interest in my things. If you had only listened to me you would know xyz") and really unfairly misinterpreted.
I was careful to watch my own misgivings about him wanting a watch more than me (I told myself that he wanted to go WITH me to look at these watches, not by himself). I was careful to remind myself that we're different and that he feels the need for the watch as a concrete sign of my love and sacrifice for him. I have been very careful NOT to be sour about him wanting the watch more than my company and reminding myself constantly that this is the way he is wired and not a rejection of myself and my company.
I still feel rejected. I still feel like the watch is more important to him than I am. I feel punished by him with him wanting this watch (THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS) as an atonement for my failures in the relationship. I feel like it's never going to be enough (I got him a $5k watch just last year). Like if I get him everything he needs/wants, there's always going to be another hoop for me to jump through for him to feel loved by me. That I'm always going to have to do extravagant things to prove my love to him, to validate his importance to me.
I cancelled a business trip I needed to go on for him. I did it willingly, cheerfully and came to him with it and proposed it as a sacrifice for him. So he could feel more important than my job. I am working on this trip to get him a watch, despite my own pain in feeling like 2nd rate compared to a cold piece of metal he can wear on his wrist.
I AM WORKING SO HARD TO NOT FEEL REJECTED. TO NOT FEEL BROKEN DOWN BY HIS REJECTIONS. TO VALIDATE MYSELF THAT I AM DOING MY BEST AND THAT I AM WORTH BEING IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH JUST FOR BEING WHO I AM AND FOR MY OWN SAKE. Not for what I can buy/get/do/prove to anyone else. I AM WORKING SO HARD TO VALIDATE MY SELF AND NOT NEED IT FROM EVEN MY OWN HUSBAND.
I'm just so mad, sad and hurt at a deep level. This has been going on for years. BH justifies his extravagance because of my behaviors. He inflicts more pain on me and then, when I lash out, uses that as an excuse to be selfish and inflict more pain in his selfishness. Then he can blame me some more and justify some more. Justify his spiritual and emotional A with my friend. Justify his near bankrupting of our family. Justifying his cruel behavior in baiting and switching time and bonding and intimacy with me. Justifying his emotional shut out. Justifying his contributions to our situation.
I'm owning my shit- I'm working VERY hard on not lashing out. I still have work to do on that and I failed last night. I still have work to do on enabling him and speaking up for my needs. I've come a long way with that. This trip was supposed to be 2 birds with one stone. The watch was going to be bought with our bonus money and not incur more debt on our budget. I have sacrificed a purse and nice bday party to make up for my traffic ticket. I AM DOING MY WORK AND I AM MAKING IMPROVEMENTS.
It's been going on for years and on days like this, where I'm hurting and angry from the hurt built up over the years, I give up hope of making the relationship work.
I worked so hard to have him feel important, loved and cared for. I failed on a few occasions. I'm just not sure that me scrambling so hard to show/prove/sacrifice for him are even worth it any more if HE DOESN'T WANT TO SEE IT AND CHANGE HIS OWN LENSES. When am I ever going to be allowed to be enough?