I can't remember when it was... Saturday night, Sunday...? but in a recent enough period of time we have had a succession of fairly horrible fights. They are about so many things, but really what they all boil down to (prepare for completely unoriginal thought here) is that we communicate our disappointments and unmet needs differently. It's like there are love languages or something...
While I do care, very much so actually, when the house is a mess, the bills are piling up on the dining room table, and the dirty laundry outnumbers the clean by a daunting ratio, I can still look at my husband and feel the desire to love. When the environment around me is unsettling, I seek him out, enter the mancave, and kiss the freckle at the back of his neck. It's soothing, and it's a moment I can steal before the inevitable.
Then I feel him recoil. I come around to face him and see him looking at me with eyebrows raised... What are you doing here? And further still... What are you doing in here when there is so much to do out there? And my comfort spot is gone, hurt and confusion, sometimes even desperation, fills the space.
He's not wrong. I did promise I would tackle the laundry after I was done studying for my next exam, and I sat here in this same spot last Wednesday swearing to the moon and back that I would clean the bathrooms and organize my make-shift office on the coffee table by sundown Sunday evening. In my breaking heart, I wanted to. I wanted to make things right in this house.
When the situation is as described, house = mess, bills = piling, laundry = undone, my husband does not feel the desire to love. He feels the weight of being the sole income-earner, the refrigerator that needs filling, the gas and electric bill that doubles seemingly without cause. He may recall the time I told him that his methods of cleaning were hardly even, and that I would much prefer if he never scrubbed the toilets again. I may have added that if he dusted the furniture like he detailed his car he wouldn't even need a wife. Those criticisms were a promise, now broken. Like I said, I'm not innocent.
Transitioning from a full-time employee to an overtime student never happened. I never figured out how to balance eight-hour days in the classroom, two to three-hour (and some days, till dawn) evenings of school work and studying, sleep, and hospital rotations with continuing to be a partner, as well as a wife.
So I've basically just been promising, and promising and promising and promising.
We had our huge fight. It went on for hours, turned into a heated discussion, which was actually worse than the yelling. Take it from me - calculated responses delivered to a listening and attentive ear can be crippling.
Towards the end, my husband said that what he wants is simple. Don't tell him I'm going to do anything, and just do it, or don't do it, but don't tell him either way because he won't be expecting more than I can do. Do yourself the favor, he said.
It made no sense to me until today.