Thursday, July 12, 2007

Not where i thought this was going, but probably more true for that.

Someone i admire did a post recently that has me thinking about the ways that the relationship between the Mister and me has shifted over the many, many, many years eons we have been together.

In the beginning, i was the one who was fiercely protective of the relationship, wanting to spend most of our time together. I felt that i was more committed to the "couple~ness" of us.

For example, if he was away on a business trip, i wanted him to call me once each day, if at all possible. I became anxious and unable to sleep if i didn't hear from him. He thought this was excessive and that the anxiety was my problem. I still don't have a clear answer on that one. Is it obsessive to want to know that my family is safe and where they should be at night?

Over the years, it now feels like he needs me more. Now when he travels on business, he will call/IM me sometimes up to 6-7 times a day to report on his activities. It can get a little annoying. I no longer wait up at night until he calls, telling him if he gets in past 11:00, to not call as i will be asleep.

I wrote this a few days ago, and whilst it has been sitting and gathering computer dust, i have been mulling it over in the shower, in the car, while listening to music. Just what has changed, and why?

I have always valued family very highly, probably above everything else. In the beginning, i felt that the Mister did not share this value. He was a young man, just getting started in the world. There were jobs to devote his life to, other men to impress with his business prowess, and money to be made. I often felt like an afterthought. I felt like that afterthought for many years. It didn’t feel very good.

(Caveat: these are my feelings, i make no claim as to the Mister’s feelings.)

After damn near dynamiting this family into oblivion, the Mister really does value me, and his family, his only family really. That feeling is what i have been seeking all along, someone who shares the value of a family with me, and understands that things need to be done to nurture this family. Now that i have that, i do not feel the need for hyper vigilance to protect my little corner of the world.

So it is much more likely to be me who is traipsing off into the world by myself on any given night, knowing that all will be well when i return.

Trust gives me freedom.


Princess in Galoshes said...

I think guys are creatures of habit, too. I don't have a ton of experience to speak from... but from my own observations guys are slower to let a new person into their routine, not out of spite or fear, but just the "routiness" of it. Hang around long enough, and you become a part of that routine, and it's suddenly very disruptive to their system if you aren't there.

ms chica said...

I don't think it is obsessive to be protective of your family. It suggest maternal instinct and protectiveness. These are good qualities. The rules about comfort levels aren't hard and fast, they are just different. When two partners have different comfort levels, compromise is usually in order...and I'm trying to give a little.

Trust also brings relief. I'm glad you made it here. Thanks for the compliment. You should know, I feel the same about reading here.

Mrs. Chili said...

"Trust give me freedom."

There is a SERIOUS depth of meaning to those four words - that's your answer, right there.

You trust your world and your place in it. Being able to let go of something and know that it's not going to drift away from you is really what it's all about - that's the holy grail we all seek, whether we're aware of it or not. You have it, and you should rejoice.

Liv said...

I felt very moved by both of your posts. Compromise is tough for the best of us. It's hard to move within relationships sometimes. Unfortunately I think I ended up writing a dumbass comment on the other post, so I'll just retract and remind both of you how incredibly insightful you both are on this subject.

TTQ said...

I was thinking about safety in marriages. I use to think everybody was always going to leave and never come back and in the first 18 years of my life it was like that. Now and I'm not sure when it happened, I don't have to worry about that. I have myself, I have my friends and I have my mom ( and other relatives out of state) all of whom I now have better relationships because I know they aren't going anywhere because of me or anybody else in the family. It feels good now.

Abandonment issue? Gone.

Knowing my mom has finally stepped down when I got married, I felt lost at first, but I didn't lose anything. I still have her and we still love to hang. And we both trust and love my husband

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

YES. Trust is freedom.

I spent many precarious years in relationships with guys I didn't trust and was ridiculed in one of the relationships for that lack of trust. Then, of course, I find out the lack of trust was actually valid.

I am incredibly grateful for my healthy marriage that is loaded with trust. And I do feel free, actually.

On a lighter note, we are a Velcro Couple when it comes to the phone. In town, out of town, we talk throughout the day about what's going on. :-)

urban-urchin said...

We IM each other throughout the day but not totally neccessary. I trust him- but i told him the other day that i it bugged me somewhat that the people he goes out with after work are all unmarried and more than once he's ended up back at one of the girls apts. with friends.

meno said...

princess, you have all the experience you need for your observation. I just didn't want to be a habit, i wanted to be consciously wanted.

ms.chica, that's what we are both still learning to do at times too. Will it ever be finished? I wonder.

mrs.chili, i do rejoice, almost all of the time. Sometimes i forget though and have to kick myself in the arse.

liv, smartass is okay. I myself would never stoop that low, but... Oops, nose is growing. Compromise, but not giving up or in, it's a neat trick.

ttq, having felt like an afterthought most of my life, it's a great thing to have somebody who really notices me. You are lucky with your mom, Give her an extra hug.

cagey, HEY, didn't you, like, just have a baby? I feel honored that you came to visit whilst recovering from that. It's great that you have that trust now, and that you didn't marry one of the jerks. We usually communicate 2 or 3 times during the day too.

u-u, i will tell you right now that that would NOT be okay with me. The fact that it makes you uncomfortable is the only reason he needs to stop doing it. I ignored those little feelings for too long, but now when something makes me feel that way i speak up and tell him to knock it off. And he does. Appearances matter.

Andrea Frazer said...

We are smack in the middle of Rex working like a dog, doing meetings, working at night, etc. The difference is that now, for the first time in our marriage, he is setting aside time for the kids and me. He sees us as a priority, and it's very nice. Like someone said before me, your last four words say it all. You are a very strong woman. You deserve to feel that way. Congrats.

Lynn said...

Insecurity breeds 'neediness' and 'clingyness', while knowing that someone values you breeds 'trust' and 'security'. Having been in both types of relationships (and on both sides of each relationship), I know that I prefer the latter.

Girlplustwo said...

exactly, exactly this, isn't it. when we feel safe and held we are free to roam. beautiful evolution, Meno.

flutter said...

You know his love is there, regardless if you are there to remind him that he should love you.

Comfort, it's very liberating

Airam said...

Trust gives me freedom.

That really resonated with me. I think that when you step away from something ... the person who is left standing there realizes that the one who stepped away is ok and has not fallen into pieces.

I know that when I'm with someone .. if I show my independence and that I don't need to hear from them as often as they think, that they will want to call me or contact me more often. I think for men it's that they don't want to feel forced to have to stay in contact all the time. They want to and that makes them do it more.

I hope this makes sense!

Lisa :-] said...

Interesting how roles change in long-term relationships.

In almost thirty-one years, I've never NOT trusted my husband, but that doesn't mean I was totally secure in his love. It was the priorities that rankled. I knew that our relationship held a higher priority in my life than it did in his. Our relationship wasn't threatened...he wasn't going anywhere. "Us" just wasn't as high up on his personal food chain as it was on mine. Bugged me for years. I think I've finally learned to live with it, though...

Bob said...

When I travel I call home every day. As much as we talk when I'm at home, we never seem to have much to say to each other over the phone. When Laura was away for those 3 months last year taking care of her mother we would talk maybe once a week, and it was almost always me that called. When Laura went on her two week trip to Europe, she called home twice.

I don't really know what to make of that. Am I too needy? Has Laura always had more security in our relationship? ???

Anonymous said...

Nothing new to add, so I'll just join the choir. Trust IS freeing. Sometimes, like when you felt like an afterthought, trust can be a lot like taking for granted, so the added ingredient of nurturing makes a big difference.

And now a glimpse at my anxieties: My husband has a very regular schedule, so if he's going to be gone, he will try to call ahead of time. Sometimes he doesn't because he's working, and that's totally valid, but I say, who wouldn't give a guy a couple of minutes just to say, "I'm safe and I'll be another hour (or six)." if his wife is expecting to hear.

I do expect anyone who is travelling to check in with someone. My sister and her husband went backpacking in Arizona for a couple of weeks and we never heard a word. Other people's vacations are NOT relaxing for me. I can't reconcile the idea of "getting away from it all" with my (irrational)fears of not finding out something happened until days later.

karmic said...

The last line says it all really well.

Kellyology said...

"Trust is freedom." I always tell my friends that I knew I married the right guy because the minute we entered our wedding reception it hit me, "I feel more free than I've ever felt in my entire life." Whoda thought getting married and attaching myself to one person would make me feel that way. It didn't I guess. I guess it was attaching myself to the right person.

Now I've gotten a little too trusting. I don't even know most of the time where my husband is when he's on a business trip. He leaves me an itinerary on my desk before he goes. So if I really wanted to know I guess I could. But most of the time...I haven't a clue! Is that bad?lol I hope it doesn't bite me on the butt one day.

thailandchani said...

Maturity brings that about... and security. When I was married, I was more like your husband used to be. He would smother me when he seemed overly present in any way. Now I recognize that it is a stage of relationship development.. as you said.. trust.

I'm not sure I'm capable of that kind of trust any more.. but there are also things I'm concerned about less than when I was younger.



Anonymous said...

Trust is freedom. Jealousy is another question. As long as you can keep the J-word under control, trust is a lot less of an issue. For me, anyway.

QT said...

What a great post, meno. I am not even close to being with my BF for as long as you and the Mister have been together, but he trusts me 1000% and lets me do pretty much anything I want. It goes both ways.

The BF and I talk 3-4 times a day usually. It is not expected, it just happens.

Having been in relationships where I was POSITIVE someone was cheating, was ridiculed by said cheater, then caught them in the act, I don't ignore gut feelings or things that seem "iffy".

I remember waking up one night after a party in college at about 3 am. I lay there, wondering why I was awake. It was not unusual for my BF at the time to pass out watching TV, so his lack of presence in our bed was not that strange. But something literally compelled me to get up and go in the living room. There, just like a bad dream, I walked in right as my BF leaned in to kiss some girl that had stayed after everyone else left.

I always trust my gut now!

Lynnea said...

While I agree with the things everyone else said, my little brain honed in on something completely different in this post. See, I often feel that I don't matter to my husband right now. That he takes me for granted. But when we're together and all is quiet enough I sense that he truly cares. The problem is that I just don't get the words or actions from him to indicate that enough. BUT - here's what I learned from your post: he does care, but he's busy making his way in the world. This makes so much damn sense. I know that when we had me stop working to be home and then the twins came along, the magnitude of providing financially for us became a big stresser for him. Now I can see why he seems so distracted and so intent on his job to what felt like the detriment of me and my point of view. But the good news is that it seems from your experience I just need to exercise a little patience on this score. And of course, for me patience is the thing I most need to work on.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is a big humungous cyber-hug filled thanks for opening my eyes and giving me a little something to calm my fears.

TTQ said...

I was an afterthought and so was my husband.. our siblings are scads older than us and while they grew up together both of us grew up alone. Guess we kinda bonded over that mutual feeling and then it resolved itself.

meno said...

mamap, it's so important that your hubby mekes the time to be with you. Otherwise you just grow apart and wake up one day and wonder "who is this guy?"
Good for him!

lynn, that the truth isn't it? I hate having drama in my personal life, so trust is important to me.

jen, i see you know too. :)

flutter, i know it now, that's why i feel safe.

airam, i think you are saying that neediness is not attractive, but security is.

lisa, it bugged me for years too. I think we've both moved from where we were. He ranks me as more inportant than in the beginning, and i rank him as less important. It's more even.

bob, as you probably know, i cannot answer these questions. If it works for you and you are happy, then it'a all good. Every couple is different.

de, oh my god, you just hit on a MAJOR hot button for us. He calls and says he's coming home. He gets delayed. I worry, then i get mad. Why the hell can't he take 30 seconds to call me and tell me that he's been delayed? The resolution of this is that i had to change or be mad all the time. I just go on about my business, if he misses dinner, then so be it. I just learned not to care. So of course, now he calls. :)

sanjay, thanks!

kelly, wow, that is a really nice story. I used to wake up in the middle of the night for a few years after i got married in a panic, wondering what the hell i had done. As you may know, the road has not always been smooth for us.

chani, how much easier it is to see what happened from the perspective of the future.

ortizzle, i am not too much of a jealous person, but i have my limits too.

maggie, years ago, when i was complaining about the Mister's priorities and feeling alone, someone suggested to me that his way of taking care of the family was to get out there and make money so we could be safe. It helped me to see things a different way, but there still has to be balance or you'll become strangers. I was always fighting to keep that from happening. I wonder what would have happened if i hadn't.

ttq, what an nice thing for you to have in common so that you can understand one another.

Lynnea said...

Meno, I see what you mean. I still fight. Like last year when he was gone for pretty much five or six months and then we had that melt down in the grocery store. I told him I didn't think our marriage could survive another episode like that. I was so desparate for him to see that making money is important but not if we become strangers. Even the babies were shy around him then. But now, since we talked he really has given a lot of effort to make sure he is home more or to at least inform me better of what is going on. Which helps me feel more secure. But its still a work in progress on both sides. When people tell you marriage is hard work, you never really know the extent of it - at least I hadn't realized.

Schmoopie said...

When you can let go of any anxiety about anything, it empowers you. You really start to live and enjoy everything so much more.

Sienna said...

Me too Meno, me too... (trust gives me freedom).

It is a great feeling (place) to reach, never thought I might make it there for a while, but I did and it feels mighty fine.

Mt Rainer is so beautiful, everything there is just picture book stuff...dreamy!


Unknown said...

"I just didn't want to be a habit, i wanted to be consciously wanted."

That sums up everything I have been looking for for SO long. Freedom in trust, and knowing that someone is thinking about you. Very specifically you. Does that make sense? I am at the very beginning of soemthing, but it is something that feels completely different than any previous relationship and I think the reason why is that I do feel consciously wanted AND like I can trust him. We're building the trust day by day and hopefully one day we will be where you are. Thank you for your honesty and eloquence.

meno said...

maggie, i know, people who don't know look at you like you are a sad pathetic woman when you say how hard it is being married. But i know. :)

schmoopie, because i don't have to be on guard all the time against having my life and heart ripped to shreds.

pam, it sure took me a lonr time to get here, with some major detours along the way.

wng, to me, that's the very definition of being a couple. I sure hope it works out for you.

Anonymous said...

(yes, the trusting is the thing I think I really have to work on the most. . .)

Dick said...

I think your last line is right on. But it is also important to be able to communicate with each other. And that means more than just talking.

Susanne said...

I too loved the trust is freedom line. And it's interesting to see how dynamics can change. In our marriage the patterns has been quite stable. Only that we recently found out that our needs are much more similar than different. Our roles prevented us from seeing that.

To the calling thing, with my parents it was a rule that the one who went off phoned on arrival and on coming back. Only when I married my husband did I found out that there are families where people go off on vacation, sometimes for entire months, without calling anybody. I still find this weird.

Marshamlow said...

My husband has never given me any reason to not trust him, he is a great husband. I still feel jealous and insecure a lot, especially in the beginning. Sometimes my feelings are justified, as in he works a lot and takes on a lot of extra curricular activities and need to spend more time with the family. But, I had to learn how to communicate these feelings to him properly. At first I would say, you don't love me or you like your friends better than me, and he would dismiss my feelings because this was obviously not true. I am learning how to communicate that I need some reassurance right now. Most of my neediness comes from life prior to my marriage and has nothing to do with him, still this is who I am, sometimes I need reassurances. Even though we have trust in our marriage, it is still a ton of work. Maybe it will get easier with time.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Beautiful post, and the last line is a kicker.

I have been in relationships in which I was being cheated on and lied to, even ridiculed for my suspicions, which were valid.

Flip and I have complete trust, and when we are apart, we talk many times a day, just because it seems unnatural not to. Such freedom is not lost on either of us because of our former poor choices.

Mother of Invention said...

Well, that sounds like a muck better and relaxed relationship to be in that in the beginning. At the start of the marriage, we are defining it for the first time and it takes a lot of wiggle room to negotiate and do trial and error. I'm glad you've reached what you both find works best.

I am still, and will always be more communicative than my husband. He has a somewhat loner frame of mind and I still have to remind him to touch base with me more. I have come to know that this is just the way he is, it doesn't indicate any lesser feeling or concern for me.

meno said...

popeye, you can work on trust, but the person you are working to trust must be trustworthy.

dick, like listening.

susanne, i go off for weeks and don't tell/talk to/call my parents. But i don't feel close to them. That would not be okay w/the Mister.

marsha, yep, learning how to speak our needs in such a way that they are likely to be taken seriously rather than as ridiculous whining is quite tha art.

hearts, it can still drive me into a small fury to remember how i was told i was crazy when i had suspicions, which were of course true.

moi, we were so young when we got married that we had no clue how to really talk. Imagine the shock that came from that?