Monday, April 11, 2011

another session of hashing it out

It seems that our lives are becoming more frequently peppered with exciting, intense arguments.  Sometimes, I feel like we don't even recognize each other, or who we have become during the past year.

All the things people warned me about the years of residency are coming true.

We are getting very good at ignoring things that are bothering us, stuffing them into a corner of our minds, and then bringing them all out at once - once there is too much to ignore.

We've always had, I think, very good communication in our marriage relationship.  But, during the past year, the healthy habits we developed as a couple as we improved our ability to communicate with sensitivity and love - during nine years of marriage - seems now like a faded dream rather than a recent reality.

Every comment my husband has made to me during the past few weeks was somehow, immediately turned into a personal attack.  We both seemed easily irritated and frustrated around each other, full of negative comments and dreariness.

Yesterday, finally, we hashed out things that have been weighing on our minds, heavily it turned out for both of us, for quite some time.

At one point, my husband asked, "Where is this conversation going?"

I said, "Probably nowhere... but we need to do this.  Isn't it nice to get this all out, and finally talk?"

"No!" he exclaimed, "I'm a guy!  We don't need to talk."

The discussion, ramped up with accusations and hurtful comments, (like, "...we have four kids, so we have to stay together..." - how helpful was that one?)

On the way home from church, I told him I wanted to make his favorite dessert and asked him what he would like.  (And you all know how I feel about cooking.)

He answered, "A hug and a kiss from my wife."

He looked at me, smiled, and said, "How about we go to that marriage class this Friday night at the church?"  To say that my husband has always had a strong aversion to marriage classes or marriage "help" is an understatement.

We both knew from these comments - immediately - that we were both intensely sorry, and willing to do all we could to work things out.  The kids had all exited our minivan.  We stayed, the garage door closed, talking, with an occasional visitor to check on us.

We discussed the need for a new perspective, along with a determination to prioritize our marriage and how we treat each other.  We discussed our commitment to each other.  We both have three things to work on, to remember - things that we know will help the other feel more loved and respected.  It was a conversation much needed.

And, I'm sure you are wondering where our four children were during all of these discussions?  They were destroying the house, yes, with cheerios, books, pretzels, legos, art creations, and toys.  But, it was so worth it.

Honestly, I do believe that we choose to be happy.  We choose our perspectives and our reactions to things.  However, during residency, I've decided, that communication is just as important as forgiveness, love, sacrifice, and perspective.  It is possibly one of the most important, because without it we will grow our separate ways and misunderstand so much of what we do for each other, and that just won't do.


Britt-Marie said...

Very true. Communication is vital. Your story reminded me of a story in the book Eating Chocolates and Dancing in the Kitchen called Practicing Diplomacy. Have you read that book?

lifeofadoctorswife said...

I'm so very glad you talked it out! It really is so hard, residency, and I'm sure made even harder with four children in the house.

Let us know if you glean anything useful from the marriage class!

Jamie Lamb said...

I can truly relate. I think this line insightful:

"Sometimes, I feel like we don't even recognize each other, or who we have become during the past year."

Residency is a refiner's fire, and you DO become someone new at the end. And you're right, it's your decision who that person will be, and how your marriage will emerge at the end.

My husband and I are completely different people 4 years into residency. It was a conscious decision to make that difference a positive one--it had to be. I forced myself to grow in ways that were uncomfortable, and so did he.

And even now, after all the progress we've made, we still reach new lows--and that's discouraging! We just recently "hashed it out" late at night. But one thing I find encouraging is how much better we are at it now! I wish we didn't reach lows at all, but when we do, at least now we can more effectively come to thoughtful conclusions.

...maybe when we're like 75, we will just have to look sternly at each other, and all will be forgiven and overcome. Right? Right??

Liz said...

Britt, I have read that book - after Sabe recommended it. LOVED it. I should buy my own copy and read it often. It was very nourishing.

I don't know if we'll head to the marriage class... since I realize how much he hates stuff like that and don't want to rub in my victory...? You know? We'll see.

Jamie, thank you so much for your comment - I always benefit from the comments you make. I feel like you are so much wiser than I am. Thank you!!!