My survivor husband and I had an "AHA!" moment today, wherein we recognized a deep-seated, destructive auto-response of his coupled with my fatal ignorance of the behavior!
We'd bought a few trees to bring home and were loading them into the truck. My beloved was in the truck bed with the trees laying down and was starting to secure them with rope. I said, "Oh, hon...you can't lay them down to get them home! All of the dirt will come out of the pots"! He said, "What? You want me to stand them up for the drive home"? I said, "Well, yeah, don't you think so? We'll just have to go slow...", and I proceeded to load other stuff into the truck cab. When I finished, he was just finishing up securing the trees, which he'd stood up in the bed. Off we went.
After about 1/4 mile drive, of like, FIVE MPH (!), he said, "There aren't going to be any buds left on the trees by time we get home". I said, "Well, should you lay them down like you were going to do"?, and he said, "Yeah", and pulled over, laid the trees down and secured them.
As he did this work, I thought how I should have kept my mouth shut; that he had been right, the trees needed to be laid down. Then I thought, WAIT A MINUTE! He KNEW the trees needed to be laid down, so WHY did he stand them up without a whimper of protest? He just made extra work for himself by not doing it the way he'd wanted it done in the first place! WTH???
When he got back in the truck, I asked him why he'd stood them up, that I wouldn't have thought twice about him ignoring my thought, or telling me he preferred doing it his way, etc. I went on to tell him I felt bad that he'd just done extra work, when he had been right all along. I asked did he think I would be angry for not having him act on my suggestion?
And he replied, "Old habit...I've always just complied". WOW!
I asked if that didn't make him mad, especially when he knew that what he was complying with was the wrong way/wrong thing/wrong suggestion, etc. He said he just figured that when it was shown that the other person had been wrong, that that would show 'em!!!
So, I thought to myself, exactly how long can a person "comply" before he explodes OR implodes?
Today's event was a perfect illustration of how he's "complied" in our marriage. In my defense, just like today, I've never barked orders or whined to get my way- typically, I just voice an opinion or make a suggestion. In ten years of marriage, I don't remember him ever challenging me on anything! Things just kind of got done the way I'd suggest. I NEVER sensed anger or frustration in him over "complying", so I came to see the dynamic as just the way we worked together. I didn't particularly like or appreciate it.
Now in hindsight, I see how I got to a point where I was the only one ever making plans for us, or speaking for us or deciding how to pay the bills, etc. I've resented him not caring enough to voice an opinion on anything. I've resented feeling like I shouldered the responsibility for disciplining kids, how we set up our home, if we get a pet or not, where we'll go for a holiday or who we'll have over for a party we'll host, etc.
Once, I was complaining about the horrible mess that was our 16-year-old daughter's bedroom. I'm the step-mom, which means my orders to clean a room are met with frost and darts. I wanted my beloved to instruct his daughter to clean her room. Instead, HE CLEANED IT! I was so upset that it was easier for him to do the work himself than to "make waves" by telling her to get the room cleaned up. This left me feeling like a b**** because I felt guilty that my complaining caused him to do more work. Then I got angry because my expectation that our daughter should clean her room wasn't out of line, but was actually responsible parenting.
And the biggie: he made a comment (just one!) that he didn't want our grandson's mother moving back in with us, but when I pressed the importance of helping her, he fell silent and said nothing more. Before she was back here for a week, they were inappropriately involved. (Stomach churning, chest tightening, heart heaving, hate myself for being so stupid...).
Wow! So, what have I learned?
I will not allow him to just "comply" with me on anything ever again until I've reminded him of his tendancy to be passive. I hope he will remember that once his "compliance bank" is filled, he will act out...and it will NOT be good. I will encourage discussion about the subject at hand; maybe my idea is good, maybe his is better! I see that we need to ensure neither of us just "roll over" because the other one will wind up being "rolled over"!
Wow! Regrets, but learning...!
Does this speak to anyone else, survivor or supporter??? Does anyone have any additional insight for us?
Wishing us all wisdom...and the patience needed when wisdom arrives a wee bit too late! >.<
For I know the plans I have made for you. Plans to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11