Men and women communicate differently. We don’t need the billion dollar self-help industry, the college classes or our own marriages to teach us this. It is a fact of life that no one can escape, nor can anyone truly get around. It is gospel. Doesn’t matter who we are talking about either; get two people in the same room and there will come a point when words won’t be heard, discussions won’t be resolved, and tone of voice will be misconstrued. I dare you to give me an exception.
My husband and I rarely fight. We aren’t the type the get into a drag down, no holds bar fight. Could be our personalities are such that we simply avoid all confrontation which isn’t necessarily a good thing in a marriage. Someone once told me that if you don’t fight in your marriage, than you really aren’t talking in your marriage. For me, I don’t like fights because I have a temper and I tend to get mean really quickly. I will say things in utter seriousness that I don’t mean two minutes later. And they will be things that are hard to take back either with actions or words.
I am the kind of woman who likes to hear herself speak. I need to speak, whether on paper or in person. I need to get it off my chest so that I am not thinking about it constantly. Once I write it down, I can begin to take the steps I need to fix it. But until I actually physically acknowledge the thoughts in my head, they stay there going round and round until I slowly go insane. I just have to say the words and I begin to work through them. By acknowledging that they are real I began to fight. I think this pretty much makes me a stereotypical woman. The only problem that I see is that I am a bipolar woman, so many of those thoughts, many of those words are not altogether comfortable for everyone else.
My husband will internalize everything until they eat away at his soul. He doesn’t sleep, and he wonders why. He has extremely high blood pressure and he wonders why. He just sits on things until three days later when he randomly brings it up and I either have forgotten why I originally said what he heard or I have moved on. When he is severely stressed he doesn’t mention anything to me, just expects me to understand something not said.
This is frustrating for two reasons: 1. I am supposed to be working on my communication skills but there comes a point when I just don’t want to. I am supposed to tell him what I need, what I want when he is in the middle of an internal battle – and he seems to always be in a battle. If I know he is stressed and in an internal battle, why am I going to add to it with my shit? He doesn’t need me; he’s got himself to keep him company 2. He will eventually kill himself with a heart attack or worse.
And even saying this, knowing he is reading this I am frustrated. Because he is going to acknowledge these points, or at least want to talk about these points and then it is going to fall back on me to fix our communications. The truth however is that I don’t believe most communications can be fixed. We want to, we all want to be able to talk to each other and be heard, but the problem there is history there. There is a pattern that I am coming to believe can’t be broken. We all have them, we all depend on them. And patterns are very rarely broken.
Patterns are the glue that holds us together. It is what we revert to when everything is going to sugar or shit. It is what we believe will work; what we believe is worth working towards. It is what we concentrate on, even when we aren’t thinking of anything. It is the behavior that defines us.
For instance, I will shut down when my husband does. I won’t push to have things changed mostly because a. I don’t have confidence that I should and b. I really, really, don’t want to hurt my husband. Therefore, I will sit, sometimes stewing, sometimes ignoring, but mostly going my own way because I figure that is what my husband needs. I will figure it out on my own, because I don’t believe that my husband wishes to actually do anything but fight his own battles. If he is going to fight himself, then maybe I should just concentrate on me. Easier, nicer, simpler.
There are times like this morning when I wonder if the status quo isn’t just that. If it isn’t all that we can truly ask for or expect. With the understanding of stress, hurt, anger and all the other dark emotions and the actions that come from those emotions how is it even possible to change? Because the truth is this life sucks, and it ain’t going to get better. I am a cynic, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I could have a literal lobotomy, and things are going to be the same when I go to sleep as they are when I wake.
We may go and try to change ourselves. But until we learn to acknowledge that there are things set in stone, that there are communications already written and spoken, happiness will be out of reach. This need to improve is righteous, the need to change is a good one; the truth is change isn’t something that comes in a cereal box. And without the world on board, the solo trip to improvement can’t be had. I truly believe in this world each of us have to improve ourselves. This need to improve relationships, this need to improve marriages is probably a pipe dream. It isn’t about the marriage or each other; it is simply about each of us.
And I am lazy and I am going to take the easy way out and fall back on patterns that make sense. I am going to retreat, find a hole to be in, and move on. I am going to conquer my own challenges, and most of them won’t be challenges that I speak to the world. I won’t tell my husband about certain things I do, because that is the pattern we have fallen into. I won’t try to be everything to my husband, because honestly, it is so much easier to go my own way.
I am tired today; and I know even writing this that I am going to have to “talk” about it. But I also know that my husband won’t get it. My husband won’t understand, nor will he really try. Instead it will be just another conversation in the pattern of our lives. I might even be able to recite it beforehand. And then we will go to some expense therapist and I will be told once again that the burden is on me, and that it is up to me to change, and I will once again realize they don’t get it at all. Although instead of an expense therapist, I suppose I could just go get one of those fourteen dollar books and get the same lessons. The good news is they will probably stay with me the same length of time.
Communicating is not seeing, it is not hearing. It is a series of words thrown out to the world that even the trees brush by as the wind passes.