Monday, December 27, 2004

Why Am I Single? Let Me Count The Ways

Sixteen: Outside Looking In

If a person is smart enough, they will look around at all of the people around them and watch what they do, see what looks right, what doesn't work, what pitfalls to look out for and hopefully figure out how to avoid them. I talked about the voices (not literally mind you) that are in our minds warning us or urging us on and how we are just as apt to follow the wrong one as the next person. There are no perfect solutions. I sometimes think that we get, what amounts to, the luck of the draw. And, sometimes people get what they deserve from a relationship based on either their self delusions or the way they treat their spouse/significant other. Even the nicest people sometimes get what they deserve, good and bad.

I guess this leaves me wondering if I've gotten what I deserve: singleness?

I've noted also that there are no perfect people, only the people that we fall in love with. Since we are imperfect, it stands to reason that our opposites are imperfect as well. Sometimes though, they are perfectly imperfect. Not just a little imperfect with little habits that annoy us, or idiosyncrasies, but people that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Or, maybe people you would wish on your worst enemy. I have been left wondering on many occasions how it is that I am single and some people that I wouldn't trust with my dog are married or in a relationship. Have you ever looked at people that you know and wonder how they ended up together? Or maybe, see couples walking down the street and wonder how exactly they met and came together? Maybe it's just a couple at a party or social gathering and you notice how they behave together and wonder how their relationship is behind closed doors?

Do they really love each other? Do they really care if their words hurt and sometimes destroy the other person? I guess it's similar to asking if an alcoholic or drug addict can really care about somebody else because these kinds of addictions are the ultimate selfishness. It is always about the addicted and never about the people around them. Not that you can always convince the significant other of that person of that fact. It's why we have invented knew psychological words like "co-dependent" and "enabler".

I've wondered, sometimes, seeing people who have been married for several years, maybe seven to ten, if their relationship started out the way that it had become? Was one of them always too busy? Slightly neglectful? Nagging? Hateful? Abusive? Do most relationships start out with some sort of rosy glow that wears off in short order?

I think, from my perspective that beginning a relationship is one part, building on a commitment is a second part and making that commitment stand through all sorts of trials, tribulations, daily life and just plain changes through growth of the people and the changing world, is the last part. That last part never ends, of course, and it would be nice if one could occasionally reflect upon that beginning, that rosy glow period and remember what it was that drew the couple together. I think it is all too easy for couples in part two and part three of a relationship to lose sight of that first rose glow. It gets buried somewhere deep underneath all the trauma, the daily life, the little things like paying the bills, running the kids to school or soccer practice, working to try to make life better for the family, sometimes people seem to lose sight of the people within their family, lose track of what is really going on with that person and they wake up one day to find a complete stranger sleeping beside them.

Lots of relationships end at that moment if the people can't remember part one of their relationship. It's like angst induced amnesia. Some couples can get it back. Some couples can start their relationship anew from that point on. And, others end up scrapping it out in court or over packing crates. God forbid that there are children involved. Children, rightly or wrongly, purposeful or inadvertently, become an emotional weapon between the parting couple. They forget sometimes that the most important part of having children is to love them unconditionally. But, in parting, there can be no way of totally keeping the children from the pain of the separation, from feeling slightly less important in the whole scheme of things, no matter how many times somebody tries to assure them differently. However it comes about, the parting of ways is automatically cutting the children's base in half and there is no way that they can be kept from feeling that pain.

In the relationships I've witnessed, I have seen complete devotion, which can be in itself destructive and total neglect. It is a tricky business to balance between them. It's like standing on a teeter-totter, balancing between both ends and trying to keep one end from touching the ground while not knocking your significant other off the other. Those who commit and can make a relationship work understand that the balancing act between the two ends of the teeter-totter are not always equal. Sometimes one end is down while the other is up and then it reverses. Sometimes, one end is just heavier than the other and is always the one hovering nearest the ground. There is no perfection. At best, one could hope that the person on the other side is doing their best to keep the teeter-totter level. Not that it ever will be perfectly level. It's physically impossible. But, if one pays attention to their partner enough, they'll realize when they are bringing the teeter totter down and will try to fix it.

The best method is communication. I know, it's a badly over used word. It's been used so much, it almost became a dirty word. Of course, if one is communicating ALL the time and not listening once in awhile, talking is not going to get you anything, but done.

Being on the outside looking in, I've noticed a number of things, seemingly silly, simple things that seemed to portend another problem in relationships and one or both people in the relationship are completely oblivious. So, here I am, ready to give some advice to any couple that would listen. You know how the saying goes? "Those that can, do and those that can't, teach."

Without further ado, three lessons in relationship building:

Shut Up and Listen

Shut up. Shut up and listen. Sit still for ten minutes or so in the other person's presence and just listen. If you're really interested, I bet you'd learn all kinds of good things in ten minutes that you couldn't learn in an hour of "talking". Let's face it, in our growth as humans with speaking and language being our main communication device, we've learned to make all sorts of words and phrases actually mean something completely different.

Like the all time favorite of somebody complaining about their job. Maybe it is just their job. On the other hand, if your spouse is complaining about their job, don't pop off with the infamous, "Well then, change jobs." Survey says....bbbzzzzzzzzz, wrong answer. You pretty much just admitted that you aren't paying attention to their life, their woes, you don't care, you don't have time for them, you don't want to hear their "whining", there are more important things to worry about. I don't know what that something important is when you are trying to make a relationship go, but there you go. That's what it sounds like.

I can tell you from personal experience, complaining about the job is about 4 out of 10 times about the job and about 6 out of 10 times about needing to make some sort of other personal change. Like they are missing something. They have lost track of themselves. They want to be something else, not just job wise, life wise. Your best bet is to avoid the over simplification of "change jobs" and actually ASK them what it is they want to do. Tone and inflection is everything. Exasperated, annoyed, irritated, hurried or "let's talk about this later" still says, "I haven't got a clue what you are talking about and haven't been paying one iota of attention to you for the last XXX months".

If you're in a hurry right that second, tell them you'd love to hear what it is they want to do that evening during or after dinner. This puts the ball back into their court and makes them think about what it is that is actually bugging them and makes them tell YOU what they want instead of you trying to make some fallible conclusions and saying "the wrong thing" at the "wrong time".

If you tell them that, be prepared to talk. By the way, a simple failure in communication and listening skills is the appearance of not paying attention. If you are giving that appearance, you aren't paying attention. So, stop what you are doing, put down the paper, the grinder, the remote control and look at the person. Men who have been in a long term relationship know that this is the most common complaint from women: not paying attention when she is talking. Generally, the inability to do so means that you are either a schmuck, don't really care or are hiding from it because you are afraid to hear what it is she/he wants to say. Just add that to the "schmuck" column you may already be building in your relationship.

Don't be an emotional "girlie man". Suck it up and listen. Ladies, you two. Is that football game, basket of laundry, news paper article, etc more important than your relationship? If it is, you're probably a schmuck. On the other hand, since we can be such emotional cowards or just plain selfish (even if it is unintentional), maybe that second isn't good for conversation. However, if you actually want to talk about it later, don't waive him/her off with vague promises of chatting later. You can look away from the boob tube or pile of laundry long enough to make eye contact when you ask them if you can talk later. And, it never hurts to apply good business tactics to that moment as well. If you are going to talk later, set a time and even day. "Tonight, when the kids go to bed, I'd love to hear what you want to do." Or, "Tomorrow, while the kids are at your mom's, why don't we go to lunch and you can tell me about it?"

Don't forget to tell them that you love them. Added bonus points for those words. Double bonus points if you say it while looking at them. Triple bonus points if you actually touch them, like a hug, while saying it and looking at them. You see how that works? Touching is non-verbal communication, eye contact non-verbal communication, the words: priceless.

Come on, don't be a schmuck, it only takes a minute or less to get it done. The game or whatever can wait that one minute to boost your relationship and keep you out of relationship hell where the person becomes more and more distant and you wake up with a stranger who decides that EVERYTHING is wrong and EVERYTHING needs to change, including you.

Shut Up and Think

Shut up. Shut up and think for a minute before you start talking. People need to listen and then swish what they heard around in their minds to make sure they've got the right idea about what's going on before you start talking. If you don't, it's guaranteed that you won't help the situation. Think "foot in mouth" or, as my grandma used to say, "hoof in mouth" disease. Simple things like your spouse asking you if they look okay, fat, old, whatever, on a regular basis doesn't just mean that they are worried for their own selfish reasons. If they are asking YOU constantly it's because they are afraid that they are losing your attention, losing that thing that they think attracted you to them in the first place. It's why some marriages break up during one or the other's "mid-life crisis". It's about them, but it's about you too. Some simple advice, if you want to avoid that kind of crisis, try telling your loved one how much they mean to you and how beautiful/handsome they are on a regular basis, not just when they are asking you that ill-fated question, "does this make me look fat."

I know that question is annoying to men, but women are subject to all sorts of body related doubts. They can't help it because, like animals in the wild, they assume that it was or is largely their physique that attracted their partner in the first place. It might be, but if a relationship hasn't grown into something about the person's mind or personality by stage two, the relationship is probably doomed anyway.

As I was saying, if you want to avoid this little catastrophe in marital or relationship bliss, don't wait to have to say it when they ask you, try telling that person over coffee in the morning, when they have bags under their eyes, bed head and crease in their cheek from the pillow that they are the most beautiful/handsome thing that you've ever seen. You don't have to do it ALL the time, but every couple of weeks will suffice. If you're the forgetful or human like the rest of us that get caught up in the daily travails of life, get your calendar out or blackberry or whatever and put a little notation on a day every week to remind you to take a moment and look at your spouse and say it. Pretty soon, it will be a habit and you won't have to have that little reminder anymore. Of course, you realize that special occasions call for extra special comments.

Again, if you are waiting to be asked, then you are waiting for trouble. In my experience, the phrase "you look fine" is tantamount to telling your spouse they are fat, their gray hair is really obvious, their legs are too short, their ass is too big, they are balding on top, you wished they'd pluck their over grown eyebrows, that mole is really huge and needs to be removed, don't wear your hair up because your ears are too big and stick out, the crows feet by your eyes looks like an entire troop of crows have been roosting there for sometimes, your paunch belly looks like a spare tire for a diesel, I don't really care what you look like because I don't really care about you, this relationship and I'm just marking time. And, by the way, when we go out tonight, I'll be ogling all the other women/men in the place looking for your replacement.

I know, I know. It's usually not what you meant when you said, "you look fine." Maybe the car's been running for a half hour already and you just want to go because you hate being late and she has already tried on half of the clothes in the closet, all her shoes and is checking her make up for the thirtieth time in the mirror or, if it's a guy, he's standing in the mirror, adjusting his pants again, sucking in his gut, doing the profile thing or flicking his hair with his fingers for the tenth time trying to cover that slight balding spot or cover the ever growing widows peaks from his receding hair line.

If you do end up in that situation, don't use the "you look fine" line. Think of that line as a ticking time bomb or a live grenade, pin pulled and ready to explode. The odds are, you are going to be standing there for another ten minutes to half hour while the person goes about the routine again and don't think that they will forget you said it the next morning. It's like the bomb goes off and leaves hot shrapnel in a wound. Like a brand on the mind. They will be turning it over and over in their mind trying to decipher what you meant even if what you meant was simply, "I think you're gorgeous/handsome all the time, can we just go?"

Very bad. If you want to extract yourself from the minefield of this question and potential foolish answer, you're going to have to suck it up and tell them that you actually think they are beautiful/handsome. And please, if you say it in that exasperated or patronizing tone, you might as well have just said, "you look fine" because you will get the same result. It's a little trickier than that.

Men, save yourselves from this potential catastrophe by first doing step one, shut up and listen. In this case, look. If she's been messing around for ten minutes on nothing in particular, you're heading for rough waters already. You can head it off if you take this action immediately upon noticing the second time she puts on a dress, pair of shoes or fiddles with her hair. If you aren't quick enough on the up take, don't panic, you can still save yourself if the question gets asked by the same method. Say nothing, walk up behind her, put your arm around her, kiss her on the back of the neck and whisper, "you look beautiful, gorgeous, fantastic" pick one. But please, don't add on, "as always". That might be true, but you will slip a notch or two back towards the "you look fine" level. Just repeat after me, simply, "you look beautiful, gorgeous," etc.

If she's looking in the mirror and you're not sure you can pull it off if you have to see yourself doing it, as soon as you zero in on the neck, close your eyes. It will give the impression that you are "savoring" the moment. It's almost like warfare or hunting. The arm around the middle and the kiss on the neck are decoys or distraction and the "you look beautiful, gorgeous," etc is the kill.

For added bonus effect, sometime during the evening, make sure you remind her that you love her by actually grabbing a semi-private moment and saying the words, "I love you." Just that. But, you should be looking at her when you say it. Extra bonus points if you are slow dancing, hugging or simply holding her hand. No bonus points for saying the "L" word to the back of her head. You could be talking to a mannequin for all that matters. Face to face.

I guarantee god status the rest of the evening. Snuggles in the car and some serious noogie when you get home.

If you can't bring yourself to do it, you are either a schmuck or don't really care about her or your relationship and you should be trying to figure out if you want to fix it or be gone. I know that sounds harsh, but a little personal introspection is needed. Why can't you say it?

Ladies, my advice is just as simple. If the guy is posing in front of that long mirror, checking his gut for the tenth time, step in between him and the mirror. You are the distraction. Put your arms around his neck, snuggle in real close and repeat one of the following, "You are gorgeous, fantastic, handsome" or "You are looking so fine, good," etc. The word "fine" is only usable when accompanied by the word "so". This may apply to men to women as well. You may also avoid the "you look" phrase completely and go straight for, "I love you", "have I told you lately that I love you", etc.

The "during the event, night out, etc" kiss, "I love you", squeeze the butt under the jacket move and/or lean into him (could be a "side" lean, but full frontals have the most effect) guarantees you goddess status for the rest of the evening. Your man becomes Hercules and can move mountains or Atlas and shoulders the world.

Again, phrases to avoid include, "You look fine", adding on "as always" and don't forget to avoid, "I love you just the way you are." Bzzzzzz. Wrong answer because you just implied that there is something wrong with them, even if you claim to love that wrongness, you do not pass "Go", do not collect noogie and go straight to relationship hell. Or, at least another boring night where you come home, throw off the clothes, jump into those flannel PJs, jump into the bed and hear your spousal unit snoring in five minutes. All bets are off if one or more of you drink yourself blind for the evening. You might get a bunch of "I love you's" but you will either hear snoring or wretching at the end instead of moans.

I know, some of this sounds a little "romantic" and, even as the guys and some women read that word, a shudder goes through them, "Uuuugh. Romantic? I don't do "romantic"." My only answer to that is a question, "How have you stayed together this long?" No, make that, "How did you get into this marriage/relationship in the first place?"

Remember, don't be a schmuck. "Romantic" is just a word and can be comprised of the silliest or simplest of moments including bringing someone their coffee in bed, in the bathroom while they shave, sit it by their morning paper that might be waiting for them at the table or kitchen counter. Very little things.

The Things You Say

If you're going to talk, the first thing out of your mouth is not about you or your views on the relationship. Ask them what they want. What do they think. What do they feel. I know it's hard because we are often cowards in our personal relationships. We don't like to be too introspective because we might hear somethings that we don't want to hear like we said something hurtful that we didn't think was hurtful, or we didn't care it was hurtful. We can do all sorts of nasty things to the people we love the most, generally because, when we love someone, we not only know their good, strong points, we know their weakest as well and, at the moment of our own pain, we can lash out and inflict some serious damage on the person that we love simply because we know exactly where the "kill" zones are and most of us go right for them. We don't always mean to, it is like the "wounded animal" syndrome. Cornered and bleeding animals stop thinking and simply start slashing with their claws or hooves. Humans aren't all that different from animals in that respect.

If you are going to have a "discussion" about something like bills, car accidents, little Johnny's bad grades, that new fishing boat, the thirtieth pair of shoes, whatever, try to avoid direct "personal" attacks like: "you're stupid", "irresponsible", "lazy", "your fault", etc. Any comments about intelligence or weight will automatically put you in relationship hell. If you think otherwise, you are either in extreme denial or are a verbally abusive person that just doesn't give a damn in the first place. Cursing and other profane name calling means that you have slipped beyond the the bounds of the relationship and should probably just get a divorce or pack your bags and leave. Once you start telling someone that they are a "bastard", "bitch", "asshole" or any other name of the sort, you've already lost the relationship and you just don't know it yet.

Of course, I've heard those terms used in "playful" ways, but arguments and raised voices have totally lost the "playful" side of things and turned them into ego stomping missiles that are even bigger than the trident missiles of "stupid", "fat", "lazy", "irresponsible", whatever. All of these things are designed to pick out the "enemy's" weakness and lash out at them with appropriate weapon. And, we know that weapon because we've been studying that person for so long, we've even got it down on the subliminal level: "how to wound, maim and or kill your relationship in five easy steps".

Say you're arguing about the bills and the check book being unbalanced. You just discover that you can't pay the credit card because your spouse bought the new $300 grill, or purchased some tickets to a Broadway show, or bought a puppy with papers, bought some earrings, bought a new power tool, whatever, they bought something because they thought that they had money in the bank. You discovered this problem and confront the person about making the check book error in the first place and then compounding it with their purchase. They either become defensive or apologetic. Even "defensive" is a sign of contrition, they know they made an error. People don't like to be confronted by their errors.

Usually, the confronter just sees the defensiveness as "denial" and gets more angry. That's when the predator's "kill" instinct comes into play. We sense their weakness. In denying that they did something or did it on purpose, we know that their weakness is "stupidity". Yes, they do not like to be seen or thought of as "stupid". So, what is our "kill" phrase, "What? Are you stupid?" or "I can't believe you were this stupid." or "Only an idiot wouldn't check the the balance before making that purchase" or "What, you think the credit card company is going to take that grill/coach purse/power tool/pair of shoes as payment?"

Honestly, the only thing that is happening after that is either complete withdrawal from the issue by the defendant or the "cornered and wounded animal" attack. They may come out swinging at your own foolish mistakes now and in the past. Particularly as, contrary to popular belief, we aren't perfect. We make mistakes, too. Next thing you know, instead of sitting down and figuring out how you're going to balance the checkbook and pay the rest of your bills and put food on the table, you are in a full blown fight. Doesn't solve a damned thing and both opponents are just going to walk away dissatisfied, if not deeply hurt.

Once people are inclined to use the word "stupid" or "moron" or other names in their arguments and it becomes routine, I can tell you that the words start slowly whittling away at a person's self esteem. The wound might seem small at the time, but it can fester with continued use of the phrases. They either become completely demoralized or, one day, you said those words again and they tell you, "Fine, you think I'm so stupid/irresponsible/lazy (whatever), I'll leave and you figure out how to do all this stuff on your own."

Ways to avoid this problem are first, avoid using those kind of denigrating words in the first place, even if you think that they just did the stupidest thing ever. Nobody is perfect, including you. Opening up the "you are imperfect" door surely leads to other thoughts of imperfection, including your own and they will feel compelled to use it on you.

If you say the words, you should be ready to apologize. Mainly because, if you really thought that person was stupid, would you have gotten into the relationship in the first place? Secondly, you need to heal the wound of your wounding strike quickly before it starts adding up to a "relationship killer". Again, non-verbal communication, like looking at the person or touching them is just as important as saying that you're sorry. If you can't do it, it will imply that you really aren't sorry, you're just making a lame ass apology because you know that you are going to hear about it later and you are attempting to avoid it.

Again, if you are using these words routinely, an apology is probably not going to cut it after awhile. You should be examining your relationship because there is something very wrong. Most likely you need counseling or should just go before you completely destroy your opposite or yourself. Of course, most people are blind to their own failings and will totally ignore that advice. It's why you see so many vicious divorces. It finally gets to the point where both sides are down to mindlessly and viciously swiping at each other.

It's been my observation that at least 50% of all divorces did not have to end in divorce. Generally, they become non-communicators at the end and that's where they end up at. Divorced.

Now, if one of the persons in the relationship is actually financially irresponsible, there are ways around that. No reason to get a divorce because one person can never balance the check book or doesn't think about the big picture of your finances. It might mean that they do not share your same goals, however, and you should probably sit down and have a conversation about what you both see as your future financial goals and how you're going to get there.

I had some friends where one was ultra anal about their finances and the other could live from day to day. The one was always asking where the money was that they brought home? How could they always be broke if they made that much money? The other was complaining about the spending habits of the person that wanted to know why they didn't have money to spend. They almost got divorced over a gas grill. At different times, one or the other would get fed up and toss the check book and bills at the other and tell them to figure it out for themselves. Of course, the one that was the "day to day" person made a complete mess out of the check book and totally fouled up their credit cards and utility bills.

Thus ensued another argument about financial irresponsibility and stupidity, etc, etc

Let me tell you, arguments about money in a relationship are some of the toughest and most common arguments to be found. Love and money are like oil and water. They both exist, but it is very difficult to make them mix together. Even Donald Trump can't seem to get married and stay married. Go figure.

My recommendation to my friends was to get three bank accounts: one for her, one for him and one for the bills. They both got paid on the same cycle so, the night of payday, they made no other plans but to sit down and figure out the bills. Both of their paychecks went into the third account for bills. After the amount that was necessary for the bills, the groceries and the amount to go into savings was figured out, they would then write the checks. This "bill" account was a joint account and had to have both signatures of the parties on the check so that both of them had to know how much was being spent and where. When all the bills were made out, whatever was left was split 50/50 between their own separate bank accounts. That included gas money, lunch for work, and spending money.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: that's a little ridiculous, how come one or the other couldn't just let one of them take care of the finances? Why couldn't the irresponsible one just act responsible once in awhile?

My question in return is, "How badly do you want your relationship to work?" or, "do you think that somebody is just going to change overnight because you decree one of their habits as "bad" or "irresponsible"?" Or, "Are you looking for perfection and you're just going to stomp your little foot until you get it?" There. Is. No. Perfection. Maybe you just like to have that one thing to pick on that person, to have as your weapon against them? Love is tough and people are scared of how deep it can go into their own personality and psyche. They like to have a weapon so they can keep the person from getting too far into them. Protect themselves.

Why wouldn't you sit down and try to figure out the best way to work around your or the other person's imperfection? I always like the demands for a person to change: "Why can't you become responsible?" My question is, why did you marry them in the first place if "responsibility" is a problem? You didn't notice it? Maybe that beat ass old car, the third hand furniture in his or her apartment, the lack of groceries besides beer in the refrigerator and the brand new Snap On master tool set in the six foot high rolling tool box or the new Coach bag/Prada shoes should have given it away?

You married that person for reasons other than finance, so shut up and figure out how you are going to fix the current financial problem and avoid it in the future. Even if that includes three separate bank accounts, who cares as long as it solves the problem. If you are just demanding that the other person change without changing how your financial system works, you have other problems. Like control issues. Maybe you just like to argue? Maybe you are a verbal abuser and this gives you the reason and the way to let that all out?

Maybe you have your own self esteem issues and having something to rag on somebody else about makes you feel better? In which case, you are in the 50% of people that are likely to become divorced. Then you can walk around moaning and crying about what an irresponsible asshole, bitch, bastard, whatever, your spouse was and how they are trying to take you to the cleaners again after nearly bankrupting you or making you lose the house or whatever lovely thing occurred.

It could have been avoided.

Even the most spend thrifty person in the relationship can be handcuffed enough that their habits don't interfere with your financial security or your loving relationship. But, that's if you want to work it out. You don't want to, go on with your bad selves and call me when the divorce is final.

And, hey, not just getting on the people that find the mistake. Financially challenged people, it is better for you to come clean, admit your problem to your spouse/significant other and figure out how you are going to try and help curb your impulses. Know your spouse's goals. What is the plan? Are you in agreement? If you are then get a hold of yourself and grow up. Buying $300 grills or Prada shoes and then worrying about where the money comes from makes you a child at the least and, yes, the ill fated word, irresponsible. Better that you hear it from me than your loved one exclaiming over the thirtieth over draft slip from the bank. Get a hold of yourself, step away from the credit cards and the check book. And please, if you bought that cordless drill, gas grill, or those three inch heels, don't tell your spouse that you did it for them. Not even the grill because they are not going to believe you and you are obviously implying that they are stupid and will believe you.

In which case, re-read this section because you just did not get it.

There you go, one single person on the outside looking in at the complete and utter messes I see married people making of their relationship everyday. It's so funny how I often long to have a relationship and how many times I hear my friends, family and associates say, "You're so lucky to be single".

Yeah, I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

32 comments:

Francis W. Porretto said...

Perhaps you might enjoy this, or this.

Robert said...

Kat, God bless you, Merry Chirstmas.

I can't believe you're still on this subject, heh. But it's entertaining, and fun to read. The ironic thing about reading these is that they make me come to the conclusion that you shouldn't be single. Heh, I wish you the best of luck on finding Prince Charming, you'll deserve him when you find him.

Also, it occurs to me that advice like this is quite simple to give, but very hard to follow. I'd bet that there are loads of divorced couples who look back and think, "what was I doing?" Hindsight is always 20-20, and so is looking at a problem from an impartial position.

As always, a pleasure to read your blog.

-Rob

Kat said...

Rob...yeah, it is so much easier to say it than to do it. I only put it here because we should at least be reminded about it a couple of hundred times so maybe, just maybe, we won't fall into the trap.

Maybe it saves one relationship? That's good enough. ONe less lawyer getting their fee and one less traumatic relationship for the people involved and one less time that a kid has to hear, "Daddy and I both love you, we just can't live together".

That's about it. But, hey, I'm not perfect either because I distinctly recall calling someone a moron during an argument. It was actually a first and last occasion for me because it turned into such a big thing I realized I should never say that again.

Not that it stops me from calling other people morons. I even called my brother a moron not long ago, right in the middle of a heated argument. He was being a moron, but I knew that was his weak point. He's always been trying to prove himself as smart as his older sister (he got a GED and I graduated with honors, so it's a sore point with him). So, this can be true in non-romantic relationships as well.

And yeah, I'm still on the subject. I'm just getting the hang of putting emotions and people together. It's helping figure out how to write the piece of fiction I want to work on. Thinking about the characters as something more than one dimensional things on a sheet of paper.

By the way, thanks for compliment about not understanding why I'm single. I think I've sort of figured it out, but I wanted to move through the different occasions and sort of put the small list at the end. I think today it is largely about having a very small social circle and a very small window in which to participate. I have to make some time and figure out what I want to do.
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Fran..I so enjoyed those posts you directed me too. I think I will link up to them in the next post. That is some of the best advice I've heard in a long time and some really good points about relationships.

Anonymous said...

incredible advice. of course, saying something and actually doing it are two entirely seperate things. even so, i've saved this post to a notepad file for future reference, if only to tell me what the hell i did wrong. =)

-sk

MichaelH121 said...

Relationships are a team. When one wins you both win. The problem is too many do not see it that way.

She gets the promotion he does not and mopes. Celebrate her. Cook dinner once in a while. Even simple she will appreciate it. Let him watch a game. Don't complain, get involved.

Say what is true. I remember my little sis wanted to go out with a bunch of people. (She was actually trying to fix me up) She came out wearing shoes that were really pointy and made her feet look twice their size. I told her so. She changed. Same style, different color. Told her, she changed shoes I told her they look fine. She then had to change her whole outfit to match. Face it. Men will NEVER completely understand women.

But at least we men should try, out forth the effort.

To be single is not so bad. But to try to be unsingle, is an accident waiting to happen. Let it happen, push it along and you end up miserable.

riceburner147 said...

kat: excellent advice, everytime i thought (as i read) thats a little too much, you qualified your statement with reasonableness (is that a word ?) It kinda reminds me, years ago i took masters level counseling courses (i dont have a college degree) which included marriage counseling. i was married at the time and had great advice for others but was failing at my own marriage. I came to learn that i was verbally abusive. Most of the time i was (blissfully) unaware. For example, i would say (with emphasis) Let ME TELL YOU.. this might not seem like much (and i had other more destructive habits) but it was really overbearing to my wife. In fact, in another course i was taking we had an assignment. We each had to ask 3 people in our lives that had some authority over us and that knew us well to respond to a questionaire. The only question i remember was, What is this persons main flaw ? Everone answered the same for me...Overbearing. OUCH! Since then (that was 17 or 18 years ago) i strive to be less overbearing. i really enjoy saying "i respect your opinion, let me share with you what i think" kinda stuff. its freeing and my stomach doesnt tighten up like it used to do when i would realize what an a*****e (i HATE that word) i was. I wonder if in your opinion this is more common for guys (esp younger) guys.

Keep your "Single" posts coming, they are great !! And in closing...Imagine Billy Crystal in "Soap" saying to you..."You look wonnnnderful" !

Kat said...

Michael and Riceburner,

My thoughts on men understanding women first: It's very simple, we don't think the same things are important. We don't actually have all the same fears and hang ups. Yeah, some guys get a little nervous when they are creeping up their in age and worry about the hair line and the gut, but generally, I find men to be more concerned about whether they are viewed as good providers, intelligent and capable. In short (and please tell me if I'm wrong), most guys don't stand around worrying about whether they can compete with Antonio Banderas, but they do want to be viewed as superman, spiderman, incredible hulk, etc. Minus the silly outfits of course. :)

Women are much more about their bodies and sometimes about their minds. Men don't really comprehend this as much. They also have a tendency to think that "hey, I tell her I love her" and "she KNOWS that I think she's goodlooking" so "why should I have to tell her all the time? can't she just figure out?"

Men are not good verbal communicators. Even hugging and kissing have different connotations for men than women. Men tend to view their deeds, like fixing the woman's car, killing the snake, bringing home enough money to take the woman on a nice little vacation, as prrof that they love and care for their significant other. Maybe it's that old thing about "strong silent" types? Real men don't go around saying it?

I have plenty of male friends and, somehow, I seem to be accepted as one of them when they are talking about their relationships amongst the men. I've found that most of them try like hell to avoid "deep meaningful conversations" with their significant other because they are sure that they are just going to hear complaining or the woman telling them how they screwed up or, more likely, something that is bothering the significant other that they can't fix.

It's an interesting gene thing, men want to fix things and if they can't, they would rather avoid it.

They can't fix the fact that their spouse/significant other is growing older, gaining weight, getting gray hair, is starting to worry about their wrinkles and vericose veins, so they tend to avoid those kind of conversations, or attempt to anyway. That's where the "you look fine" comes in. The bomb.

They are also sure they are going to say the wrong thing and they will be in relationship hell. The problem is, there is no avoiding the problem.

As for age of men, what I've noticed is more about how long people have been in a relationship seems to determine if they've gotten past the mine field and figured out how to avoid it. Sometimes, the woman just accepts that the guy is going to go out to his workshop and tinker on something for 5 hours hoping she gets over whatever it is that is bugging her. Avoidance at the highest level. Maybe the woman has been around long enough to understand when the guy comes out of the workshop and shows her the new bench for the front porch, it's his way of showing her that he cares about their relationship and this is, in a way, a peace offering.

Maybe the woman finds that endearing. I had noticed that people in their twenties are blissfully and inherently ignorant of the issues. men in their thirties know they are avoiding it and actually brag to their buddies about successful avoidance (even though, the reason they are talking about it is that deep down, there's that niggling little worm of doubt that says maybe he should have led TIVO finish recording th game and picked up where he left off), men in their 40's are starting to appreciate the difference and men in their 50's and higher seem to have figured out the best way around it or accepted that they can be something more.

I think it's tied into the selfishness that we all experience and when it starts slowly eddying away. Like the first time we realize that, you know, this is it. This is what you've got. This is where you came from and this is the person that was with you.

Unless, midlife crisis strikes in a major way (everyone actually has a midlife crisis, just some are more destructive than others). big midlife crisis has a way of turning into big divorces.

Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah. I don't think it's age so much as men and women look at different things as important. maybe age makes men understand women a little better? maybe age makes women start accepting that the guy is not going to change completely and, really, did they really want them too?

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

What bugs me the most is when sometimes a woman will say to a man "no wonder you're single" as the biggest possible insult she can think of. As if being single is some sort of a prison term for [fill in with pet peeve against the man in question here]. I actually LIKE being single, and I like it because it's 10,000 times better than the living hell that was my marriage. If I have to work late, it doesn't cause a big dramatic stir and a requirement to prove that I actually had to WORK late. If I decide to go somewhere after work, no requirements to notify anybody. If I change plans, I change 'em. This is the opposite of a prison sentence; it's freedom. I own the remote. If I wanna watch porn, I watch porn. I get to decide what's for dinner. I don't have some high-maintenance fragile ego to delicately maintain as a husbandly duty.

Ironically, the big worry that hit me when I was married, and spurred me on toward divorce, was "what if my real soul-mate comes along and I'm stuck in a marriage and can't be with her?" Now I actually hope a "soul mate" doesn't come along. I'm my own soul mate. I don't feel any sort of a need, emotional or physical, that I would have to get from some sort of a relationship. That may sound creepy but it's true. For cuddles, I have pets. For conversation, I have friends. For unconditional love, there's my daughter. All squares filled, and I feel content.

I might go to a strip club tonight. Or I might not. I'll flip a coin...

riceburner147 said...

ciggy: correct me if i am wrong, you are not proposing to kat ? (haha)... tho i dont feel like you i also had a living hell marriage (tho i am pretty sure i contributed to the hell at least 49.5%) Dont want to get married again, would like a significant other in the future.

Kat said...

ciggy,

I really don't know why anyone would ask you why you were single, it's perfectly clear. No offense. Sorry sweety, you pretty much have mysoginist written all over you. ;)

There was a time when I used to think some similar things: I like being single, I like not having to call anyone, I like doing what I want when I want.

About two years ago, right in the middle of a relationship that probably had ciggy written all over, I realized that I did want something more and that was for someone to care about me and to share some of the burden and I'd like to share somebody else's and not just be coming home every night to deciding whether I would get on the computer again, watch TV, read a book, everything I had done 1 million times before.

I realized I did want somebody to care whether I made it home or not and I wouldn't mind having an argument or two about whether we could make the credit card payments this month. At least I would be having that conversation with somebody.

by the way, ciggy, sweety, you have a fragile ego, too. who's ego are you protecting? Yours or some imaginary woman?

by the way, know perfection in the world. Soul mate is highly over rated and is right up there with some fantasy like claudia schiffer stepping out of the mag and becoming your lover. I don't look for a soul mate. That implies some perfection. I look for a person with honesty and integrity who has some modicum of idea that I come (most of the time) before the "guys", before the "hockey game" and every once in awhile, before him. And I would return the favor.

No perfection, no soul mate because we can be so selfish sometimes.

Michael_the_Archangel said...

Nice posting Kat - as someone who is older than you and about to have a 23 year marriage dissolve; I would agree with much of what you had to say (probably 90%) and would suggest a different way on a couple of items.

However, here are two of my suggestions - you want a happy marriage? Listen to Dr. Laura and take the advice to heart; don't listen to her with a chip on your shoulder. Maybe you disagree with her stance on gays, guess what, that doesn't change the validity of her advice on marriage. You want your marriage to work? Then try to 'out do' each other as far as making each other feel special. You brought flowers home just because you love her. She 'out does' you by fixing you lunch to take to work, complete with love note. You 'out do' her by fixing that household project that she mentioned (just once). She 'out does' you by ... You get the idea - if you can do that, you will never cease to be amazed and pleased with your partner.

My second suggestion is to pick up her books 'Care and Feeding of Husband' and the companion book 'Woman Power'. I bought the second book for my wife, she didn't bother to read it - I did. The book said everything that I didn't have the mental continuity to say. Basically, give your husband a little attention, as little as 10 minutes a day and your reward (from him) will be 10 fold (please note - if you are married to an addict, an abuser, a mental case (cerifiable) or an adulterer, it won't work, get rid of him/her). Example - your husband comes home, he's had a bad day at work, made a mistake, got chewed out, is grumbling and in general a foul mood. Wait till he gets settled, walk over to him, stand in front of him, take his face into your hands, staring him straight into his eyes, you say, "You are the most hansome, beautiful person I know; and I love you!" And then give him a big kiss and walk away. Wanna guess his reaction? Wanna bet that his 'mood' is a thing of the past?

I don't know if I'll ever get married again. At this point in time (and at my age) I'm certainly not looking for anyone - I've got two daughters to finish raising (they both have chosen to live with me and one has 1 more year of high school, the other 3 more years). However, I do know that if I ever do run across someone, they'd better treat me like the suggestions in 'Woman Power'.

Kat said...

by the way, ciggy...cluck, cluck, cluck (is that a chicken I hear?)

My prediction for Ciggy...in five year or less, he will meet the woman that brings him to his knees. I have a ten dollar bet on that. Maybe we could find a nuetral source to hold the money?

Riceburner...it's hard sometimes to figure that out, the part where you contribute to the end of your relationship. It is much easier to blame the other person. From a distance (my distance that is) I can easily point out the things that go wrong. It's so hard to know exactly the right thing to do or not do in a relationship. It must be the scariest thing of all, better than any thrill ride or long motorcycle trip, to try and meld your life with another.

In a sense, while I'm giving Ciggy a hard time, you do lose some of your freedom, but I think that you gain something in the end.

If I looked at my relationships, some failed because of me and some failed because of that person. For at least ten years I think I was too busy enjoying my freedom and running from one fun thing to the other. sowing my wild oats I think.

single wild oats are all sown now. hoping to sow some couple wild oats someday.

But, I'm not actively looking for somebody as Michael points out. but, I've heard that truism before, about not looking and then you'll find. I think that's a bunch of hockey. I think, if you're not looking, things pass you by.

by the way, question for the men, a strange thing happened the other day, out of the blue, my last boyfriend or whatever, whom I had not seen in a year and a half, sent me a Christmas card (he did not send one to me last year). Nothing special written on it, just "happy holidays" and his name.

What do you suppose that means? Should I send him a note back?

riceburner147 said...

kat: why not send a note, as long as the breakup didnt involve firearms.

As far as blame assignments.i pretty much assume that we always contribute in large portion to the fault account.
(OK, i will now stop using dumb figures of speech :)
Anywho, i do know that i have been self-destructive in the past (not violent) just as far as good relationships went. it took me a long time to realize and (mostly) not be that way. So i know for myself that i was at least half to blame for the marriage break-up. I dont think that kind of self-knowledge comes easily.
btw, i would like to respectfully disagree with your statement "men are not good verbal communicators". (i hope i got that correct) I can be really good at it when i try. I once read that most self-help (read marriage and relationship books) books 95% are bought/read by woman. I have a long term love of these kind of books and keep my eye open for the next good one. Just try to find another male to talk about that subject however, good luck (maybe you are right !)
I also really like your point about "soul mates", its a romantic notion and i thought once i was with mine but reality is closer to what you said.

Kat said...

Riceburner,

Maybe the difference in deciding if one sex or the other are better communicators depends again on the interpretation of "communication" between the sexes and what each sex thinks is important. For instance, I noted that men want to be looked at as good providers for the family. Or, superman. Even in relationships where the guy stays home with the kids and the wife works (I do know some of those relationships that actually work) the guy wants the wife to think that he is really productive around the house.

Women want to talk about emotions, men tend to stick to tangible things, like money, fixing the house, goal oriented things like saving, planning for the future. Not that women don't think about those things as well, it's just a matter of what each thinks shows that they are committed to a relationship. Words for women, deeds for men. At least, that has been my experience. It seems to me that deep emotional conversation from men only happens in part one of the relationship while the woman continues to look for it during the entire relationship. By part two, men have moved on to proving themselves in deeds.

Now, in both situations, if only the guy works or only the woman works, I have found a tendency for the working spouse to consider what the non-working spouse does "not work" and they have a hard time understanding why that non-working spouse is so tired at the end of the day. Seems like a good case for "walk a mile in my shoes, don't just take the kids for three hours to the park and tell me you don't have the same problems" kind of thing. Three hours with your children, no matter how difficult, is not the same as 10 hours a day, five or six days a week, doing it alone, taking care of the house, etc. It's a tough situation and both people need to respect the other's contribution to the relationship.

That's something else I've noticed, that lack of respect or understanding for what the other brings to the table. It's very easy, even in a relationship, to get caught up in our own little part of the world.

In regards to the last boyfriend, the break up did not involve guns. :) It was actually one of the lamest break ups I'd ever been involved in and I was the culprit. It was so lame, later I wanted to go back and apologize for the lameness but then thought that I should just let things go. Better not to inflict myself on him anymore.

The thing about the relationship was that it was going no where. We weren't "in love" or what I thought was love. We both traveled and didn't see each other much. He said, after we had been seeing each other for three years, in a very casual way that he was not planning on getting married and he hadn't been "in love" in years, which I pretty much interpreted as "I don't love you either and probably never will (after three years)" and "I'm never going to get married so if we are together this is it".

In which case, I hadn't seen him in about a month even though we talked on the phone, because of travel. I came back, we talked about getting together, I said I'd call him, and I never did. How's that for lame? (you can add that to my list of reasons why I'm single)

That's why I was very surprised to get a card from him.

Michael the archangel...I will admit right now that I fully expect to make as many boneheaded mistakes as humanly possible if I am ever in a long term relationship again or married. Can't be helped. It's very hard to do that thing where you put your life and another's together.

You also reminded me of an old Pam Tillis song, "I want a man who will treat me like a queen, who's secure enough to be treated like a king" (I think it was pam tillis).

Wouldn't that be nice? The king though sometimes falls and the queen gets up grumpy in the morning. However, it's not bad advice. I did listen to Dr. Laura giving that advise once. While I don't agree with everything she says (because, at heart, being a single and up and coming business woman, by feminazi self sometimes cringes at her comments), the sentiment is excellent and should be what we strive for in a relationship.

One thing though, I did notice that you talked about what you wanted to get from your next relationship and what you expected the woman to give. Did I miss the part where you were talking about what you were willing to give?

What would you have done differently? Maybe you're not ready to talk about that yet? You are not actually divorced yet, if I'm not mistaken (tell me if you want me to discontinue personal discussion on this, I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable), but I would say that you are feeling that you are the damaged party in this?

I'll tell you a personal story, recall that in my previous postings I talked about my parents being divorced and seperated multiple times from each other. When I was a teenager, I thought my dad could do no wrong. Of course, while he did meet out some punishments when we misbehaved, he was more likely to try and get my mom to back down from certain things when she was yelling at us about things he didn't think were as important. He took us fishing and camping and showed us how to do things. I always had some hero worship for him (not really a bad thing, it makes you not want to disappoint).

So, when they were having some very hard times, arguing a lot, it was also always my mom who raised her voice and my dad was always talking quietly. Even at night when they argued it was my mom who was loud and my dad whom I could not hear very well. I always assumed that it was my mom who was responsible for their stupid arguments.

I remembered how I always wanted to go with Dad and Mom was the bad one. Until I got older and realized how much they had both contributed to the down fall of their marriage and, just because Dad wasn't raising his voice, didn't mean he wasn't saying or doing something hurtful. He just did it differently than my mom.

If you recall the earlier posts, I believe my comment was about how much, during the last divorce, I think I hated them both because my Dad left on a spurious note and my mom was a disaster, not strong, not what I thought I would be in that situation. What we think we know when we are young and invincible.

When I hit my twenties, I had a lot of hang ups about my parents and relationships and it took me until about my late twenties to realize that relationships are hard, both people contributed to the problems. both people could have saved it and in the end, both of them contributed to it's end.

I imagine that your daughters think that your wife is to blame for the marital problems and that you, Daddy, are the hero. That is what I've gotten from our conversations so far. I don't know your total situation and I won't ask you to divulge. I only give one little thing for thought as the daughter that was the apple of daddy's eye and one that thought he could do no wrong, it's a long fall from the pedestal. Not that it's you exactly who control why they put you there, but someday they grow up and start having their own relationships and then the questions come. If people are lucky, they can come to some sort of grip with what happened and have good relationships with both parents.

I think that is very important to the human psyche, to be able to relate to both parents. I think, when people/children are unable to do so, it leads to certain emotional issues. Like inordinate expectations of themselves or their partner.

I won't lie, because this whole story writing thing was supposed to be about coming clean, so to speak. In my twenties, I had some very high and unrealisitc expectations of relationships. I saw what my parents had done and was determined that I would not repeat. I had a very long list of rules and things that I demanded from the other person. That other list with about fifteen things was my severely scaled down version. The realistic one. I had another that was pretty much an arm length long.

One last thing, and it's not so easy to do, there is a small part here where the children can become the emotional whip which is used against the departimg spouse. The weapon. People don't mean to do it, but it happens. I can't say what is the best way to avoid it. I think there is no perfection (I keep saying it, right?). But, one may want to insist that the children spend some time with their mother and try to build that separate bond outside of your marriage with her. someday, they might need her.

That's all I'm going to say on it and you can tell me to take a flying leap anytime. I'd actually understand.

On to other topic...

I will agree that infidelity is a relationship killer, mostly because, it's not about sex really, but about trust and about self esteem. Once infidelity enters a relationship, it is very difficult to get the trust back and build that person's self esteem, the one that was "cheated". Typically, there is no getting that back. There may have been several reasons that occurred. In most cases, I've found it's about vanity or the person's own lack of self esteem and trying to get that back, trying to find someone that will look at them in the role that they think they should play. That may include feeling left out in some way at home, ignored, unappreciated and, finally, sexually unattractive to their partner.

Understanding it doesn't make it easier to live with. I know some couples that have worked through it, but it does take a whole other attitude and a general caring for the person that they hurt. If it's not there, the trust never comes back and I'd say that's about 8 out of 10 relationships, even the ones that get back together afterwards. Largely because the one that cheated still has a problem and the one that was cheated does not trust again. Might as well get a divorce then.

Michael_the_Archangel said...

Just a quickie - you asked what I was willing to give. That question would be why I would suggest that you (as a woman) read one of the books I listed. Basically it's like this (again, we're not talking about jerks, freaks, addiction, abuse, etc - we're limiting ourselves to normal folks, sorry I'm taking the fun out of it) - men are fairly simple, we like attention - not necessarily tons of it, but we like it. When you are single, attracting a person of the opposite sex (I say this because it cuts both ways), it's called flirting. It's still flirting when you are married, but people forget to do it to their spouse. Men love attention, give a man ten minutes of undivided attention everyday, with feeling and what you will get back is a man who is showering you with attention *** because we want more of what you gave. Too many women think that that means sex, it doesn't, what it does do is makes the man feel important. It makes him feel like (at least for that 10 minutes) he's the center of attention, indeed the center of the universe. We dote on that attention, we love that attention (as do you). Given that attention, we will seek out ways to get more attention and since we got something good (full, heartfelt attention) that's what we will give in return; but more so because while you did it conciously for 10 minutes, we'll be doing it somewhat unconciously for as long as it takes to get some more 'attention' from you. Granted, if you turn a cold sholder to our attention, we get confused and depressed - but you'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) at how much power you, as a woman, hold.

Which hits on another subject, which is talked about in the book, sex. Women tend to think that all men want is sex, only partially correct - we want it because you withhold it so much (I'm mostly talking about married relationships here). Dr. Laura tells the women, do it - if he asks for it, do it (same advice for the men). In fact, if you want to lessen his 'craving' start initiating it. There are many, many stories of women who initiated sex several nights in a row. Once you get into the situation, it's usually easy to carry through. After anywhere from 5 nights to maybe 14 nights in a row, the man was begging to have a night off. Soon it became either him or her asking about every 3 to 5 nights because it was no longer something that was withheld. Women tend to use sex as a weapon, it works, but it's not necessarily the best weapon of choice. Face it, most of us are in a MUCH better mood the next day when we've 'gotten some' the night before. There are a ton of reasons for it, physical, mental even spiritual. To withhold it harms the relationship as a whole. Accept and give it as part of the relationship and not only will your sex life be happier, but you won't have a man that you continually think 'all he thinks about is sex' - because he won't, his needs and your needs in that area will be fulfilled.

Try giving your mate some attention, it can do wonders. My wife still has that opportunity but she isn't using that opportunity.

riceburner147 said...

kat: just tonight ALa and i were discussing you and your writing. we both think you are really insightful and your writing is awesome. You also seem to have a natural empathy for folks problems, maybe thats a function of a (slightly) elevated age:).
Having said that, let me share about me and then you could if you wanted let me know what you think.
(should i send 110.00 per 45 min session ?)
When my ex and i got married (we waited till we were married!) we knew we wanted children, and we both wanted her to stay home and work in the home. FYI, i have ALWAYS respected her work in the home, esp as it included home schooling for 2 years (above and beyond). I always referred to what she did as "Working in the Home". Even going so far as to correct others when they said, "oh, you dont work" ? Also, those who know me know i am an inveterate spendthrift, she took care of the money and that was great. I hear what you are saying about deep emotional contact mostly happening for the man in the first stage of the relationship, for me that was only partly true, i often made attempts to have those kinds of conversations, my ex has issues in that area more so than i. i guess the point i am making is that i agree most men are as you say, but not all. i think it is our tendency, but if one truly cares, we make sure to make the extra effort to be emotionally vulnerable. ps i cry at every chick flick (so shoot me:)

ps: i have written some good stuff about me, believe me, theres a lot of the other !

Kat said...

Michael,

I agree with you that women have a tendency to withhold sex. Not all and not all that regularly. But it does happen from time to time even in the best of relationships. Although, I doubt that the woman, in the best of relationships, thinks of herself as "withholding sex" for punishment. I believe that sex has different emotional connotations for the different genders. Angry and pissed off women do not feel like having sex when they'd like to grab the guy buy the..er..chin hairs and toss him out the window.

Frankly, I've always been amazed that men, even esteemed doctor Laura, hasn't figured out that, while men may see sex in this case as some sort of "making up" tool or way to reconnect a fraying bond, women are more apt to actually feel like "don't touch me right now because I don't trust my emotions and you may end up with a lamp sticking out of your ear".

Nothing punishing about that. Simply a matter of timing. It's why I suggested on an earlier post that letting a woman go to bed angry (or a guy really) is not a good thing. Better to make up first and THEN get to the making out.

On the other hand, I have known some women that were a bit, shall we say, "petty and spoiled" who knew exactly what sex buttons to push and would wield it like a whip. No noogie tonight, you wouldn't buy me that Cadillac Escalade. No noogie tonight, you embarrassed me at my friends house when you said their dog was ugly. How could you? No noogie tonight because I'm feeling unbeautiful and you haven't told me for the 100th time today that I'm beautiful.

Or, my all time favorite, I am a goddess and I will only dain to let you kiss my foot once a week. Can't have you getting too many ideas that I might like hot and sweaty. Now beg! *whiiiipaaaaa*

Okay, now that I've satisfied your idea that there are some stereo typical women out there (and there are and they give the rest of us bad names), I must tell you that the majority of women I know are more like my first example, occasionally pissed off and do not feel like getting sweaty just because the guy thinks it will make things better (these sort can often be over come by judicious applications of either apologies or seriously "overcoming" the argument BEFORE bed time).

I'd say that's a solid majority of 90% of the women I know. Of course, all bets are off if you are entering into a very traumatic stage of the relationship, like imminent divorce. At that point, it's all emotionally messed up all the time. There is more than sex necessary to cure it.

I'd say I know about 7% women who would withhold sex on a general basis for genuine "punishment" for lack of other than bedroom performance on the significant other's part. This is not the majority, but a substantial enough number to have the stories circulating through the garages, men's wash rooms and bars across the nation, thus scaring decent men to death from committing to a relationship (and the ones that insist the most that they won't, always end up with them, too).

Maybe 2% are the "I am goddess, hear me roar" kind. Those are only whispered about amongst the men because nobody would admit to being emasculated by his wife.

I'll give you a little FYI, groups 2 and 3 have control issues. major league and would shit themselves if a guy actually took control of the situation. My very cheap (ie, free opinion) I previously wrote on the main post, sometimes people end up with what they deserve based on their own behavior. Overtly weak men get controlled by overtly strong women and vis-a-versa. Can't help it, it's who they are attracted to.

Now having had a long conversation with another friend on this general subject, I would say there is the 1% of completely and unutterable screwed up women with very deep emotional problems that view sex as something nasty or, have trust issues and cannot give themselves up to the act. it implies a deep trust to get naked with someone. Women with insane trust issues cannot do so. I don't know as many men with the problem.

Strike that...we hear about the men on the evening news, that would be the Green River Killer, Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, just to name a few.

women don't tend to turn to serial killers (although there would be the chic in Fla) over that issue, they just tend to be serial "man killers" in the sense that they meet a guy and then screw him up for an eternity because they are screwed up.

The problem is, you can never be sure which one of the women you are ending up with. By sheer numbers I'd say group number one mostly, but I think people can figure out their intended's personality before they marry if they want.

Now, on to other issues, sir, if I may be so bold, you have not told me, beyond a vague "I will do my best" sort of comment as to what you would committ to to make your relationship work now or in the future. Specifics. You are talking about the woman giving you attention and foot rubs and then you will become Hercules. What would Hercules do for the queen who made him her king?

Maybe I'm being obtuse, but I think I was looking more for, "I would send the children away, turn on music, light candles, draw her a scented bath with bubbles, chill wine or champagne, etc, etc, etc" I'll let you fill in the rest. Tell her she is a goddess? Learn to dance or speak french just so you can say "I love you" in the "language of romance"?

Those things might be a little overboard or silly for general day to day hercules type activity. My personal would be the early morning, coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon and toast delivered on a nice tray, single flower, cloth napkin and the "wake up I got you breakfast" kiss. Not every day because it would lose it's specialness, but once a month would be nice (or more..I wouldn't complain)

Of course, one would hope that the mystical woman of your potential future or present, would feel like returning the favor. Unfortunately, I can't talk to her right now, so I can only work on you ;) and tell you how to communicate your desire for a different relationship. talking sometimes is so damned over rated. Ever notice how much we talk? I mean, look how much I wrote here just to say, Michael, dearest, you still got one more try in you. You want something, you think you've done it all and the ball is in her court.

I understand feeling you've given it your all. Somewhere in there, there must be something that she wants? Is it to be free after all? I mean really free?? She's done with marriage and wants to fly away? or, is she feeling that you two do not have the same goals and desires and she's done all SHE can to tell you what that is?

Not that I'm indicating I understand your situation by any means. Just trying to sort through some of these comments and your previous comments, because I have the distinct feeling that you are not quite ready for this to be over. Could be the number of years you put into it or simply that you still love her, no matter what and want that old thing to come back.

Maybe the old thing was satisfying to you and she felt she was missing something? In saying that and realizing that, I think that people tend to hide away because, in the end, it is a bit devastating to think that you've put so much of yourself into that old thing and it is like the rejection of you instead of a desire to make some sort of life change.

Wow, am i doing the armchair psychology thing or what?

I guess, I'm just saying once again, that things do not have to end and you still have something left you can do. Maybe talking about it is all talked out? do you feel that one step more will put you beyond the pale, make you the begger in the relationship? Already feel like the beggar in the relationship?

One last thing, I found that counseling is largely about mediated communication sessions. They don't work worth a damn when both parties are still more interested in talking about them or about their perceived notions of their spouses behavior. For all that, could have saved the money and continued to yell at each other in the privacy of your home.

My grandmother (married for 37 years before my grandfather died unexpectantly) told me once that she contemplated leaving my grandfather. In their youth, he was an alcholic. Had a number of issues that they finally perservered through before he became the man I remember as grandpa. 'Til she told me, i thought he never had a flaw one :)

Anyhoo, she told me that she wrote two letters. The first was for her in which she said all of the mean and horrible things she wanted to say to him for making her miserable and ruining their lives and how it looked to their children. When she was done and she felt better, she tore that one into shreds and burned it so it could never be read. Then, she wrote him another letter that said all the wonderful things she thought about them, their marriage and their love and how much she wanted to be able to keep that, if only.

She listed what she hoped for from their marriage and concluded that she would always love him.

She left the letter in his sock drawer so when he got up that morning and she was already gone with the kids and he could be alone reading the letter.

As you may have noted, they did not get a divorce. of course, the letter was only the beginning. She never said if he wrote her a letter back, but, I suppose it gave them both a safe way to say what it was that they wanted from their spouse. of course, this is delicate operation and would require the lack of finger pointing, but it is a substantial way to get the other person to hear you without having to try and speak over their own complaints.

One other thing, I have the impression that, if the missive starts out with "I wish you would rub my shoulders, get me breakfast in bed and give me sex everynight", you're probably doomed.

If I was communicating with someone on the subject, i'd start with how I wanted to be with that person. I mean, what I would do for that person, maybe something about how I felt in the beginning of the relationship. What the relationship means to me (of course, I'm a woman, you may have to figure your own out), wanting to know what it is that the other person wants from me (avoid listing all the things that you think you've done to make it better and go straight for the things you'd be willing to do if only) and then list the things that you were hoping to get from the other person whether emotionally or physically (I think I wouldn't suggest making this longer than the list of things that you'd be willing to do to make it work-at least for starters). Maybe end with how much it hurts to be this way with them and how much you loved once, love now and want to love again. twenty years (or more) is a long time to be together and thow it way.
Maybe add that you'd like to find a letter in your sock drawer in return.

In someways, this puts your relationship back between you and that person and no longer a public display among family or friends that you may feel are judging you (including the children) and lessons the guilt, embarrasment and burden. next thing you know, you might be exchanging billet deux and actually communicating.

Then again, there are not guarantees. Maybe it's just a dream? But, man has come a long way on dreams, heh?

There ya go, dr. Kat has dispense about two cents worth of advice. consider it free and tell me to shove off if you'd like.

Kat said...

Riceburner,

My idea says if a guy doesn't shed at least one tiny tear during Steal magnolia's, he'd probably rather be dressing the deer and taking his transmission out for the third time while simultaneously having his nails pulled out with hot tongs and swallowing a bucket of burning coals.

Not that there is anything wrong with that mind you, nor demanding men get in touch with their "feminine side". I always hated that phrase. I think men have plenty of emotions themselves and crying over Shelby dying is not the place they always want to do it and that's okay, too. Of course, I cried during "we were soldiers", "the patriot", "saving private ryan" (not chick flicks?), but I'm just as willing to share a box of kleenex with a guy on my thirtieth watching of steel magnolias.

Now, if you tell me you watch day time soaps, we have to have an off record conversation. LOL

I noted something you said earlier about not wanting to get re-married because of your "hell marriage". You seem relatively well adjusted these days. My advice is not to sell yourself or potential future somebody short.

Or, as Forest once said, "Life is a box chocolates. You never know what you might get"..yada, yada, yada...you know the rest. Seriously though, how does anyone know exactly what they are going to feel like if they ever meet someone? What you'd be willing to give again? Everyone is different and so is every relationship.

One other thing, those self help books are interesting. particularly as I am writing an online version as we speak. How am I doing so far? ;)

However, let me say, in my best Benny Hind impersonationa: You are healed! Rise up and walk again!

Seriously, I'm writing this "why am I single" thing and I've already realized that all this is good and cathartic but really, until I put it into practice, what good is it just to talk about it (or read)? Practice, practice.

From my recent self anaylsis here I have determine that I have largely kept my self single because I have suffered a couple of disappointments (not exactly a 23 year marriage) and have subconsciously put very large distances between me and potential "mates", in the hopes of course, that my heart would not endure the things that came before. Or, as shakespeare once said "the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune" or something to that effect.

Well, it didn't really solve anything, just me, writing on this blog and talking about being single. Lonely actually. I think, by saying that one only wants to contemplate a "relationship" and NEVER marriage, you have purposefuly put limits on you in order to protect against that thing that you think you've overcome. At least, in this way you can be assured that is the case (or as sure as possible). Not saying you HAVE to get married or that it becomes your number one goal. Simply that we tend to put limitations on who and where we will fall in love with in order to insurea that it is the least likely thing to occur.

Believe me, I'm talking about me here. But it may apply to even that guy ;) ciggy.

But, at least let's call it what it is amongst ourselves, "protectionism". (I learned that word this year from ala's blog by the way - same application as the political term).

maybe we should have a secret handshake and go to secret meetings:

"Hi, my name is Kat and I'm a protectionist."

Everyone: "Hi Kat. Welcome to protectionists anonymous"

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

Misogynist with a fragile ego. Hmmmmmm, perhaps to a certain extent. I do understand how American pop-psychobabble calls it "misogyny" when a man ogles a woman at a strip club and yet hails it as "liberation" when women ogle a hot young stud working at some landscaping job, even though the likelihood of a sexual harrassment situation is far greater with the female predators than the male (contrary to popular belief, strippers don't go home with the strip club patrons, and men DO get kicked out if they don't keep their hands to themselves).

So yeah. In an Oprah/Dr. Phil sort of a world, I probably am misogynist because I do enjoy a well-shaped female form, and unlike hypocritical women who declaim "it's what's on the INSIDE that counts" (while secretly drooling over Antonio Banderas or some other movie flavor of the year), I just come right out and say what I do and don't like, and I don't worry about the consequences.

Fragile ego. Hmmmmmmm. I'm not aware of anyone anywhere who particularly enjoys being insulted, but I do think I have a rather thick skin. You don't survive Tahiti when it's thin, that's for sure, because making fun of each other is an integral part of the culture there. And the purpose is to get people to laugh at themselves, not take themselves so seriously. Of all the people I know OUTSIDE of Tahiti, I think I'm the one who takes myself the least seriously, but because I'm biased, I could be wrong.

I think my self-esteem is where it should be for where I am in life. I know I'm not obese and balding and short with bad teeth, nor living with my mother, and all the other typical female deal-breakers, but I also know I'm not a millionaire with washboard abs with a Robin Williams (during his cocaine addiction days) ability to make people laugh. I know I don't rate the supermodels and porn stars (unless I win the lottery and go under the knife), but I also know I rate better than some sort of an eery separated-at-birth double of Rosie O'Donnell (sans the lesbianism).

All in all, I think I can plead guilty by reason of ordinary and honest maleness for the charge of "misogyny"; and for the charge of "fragile ego", I'm going to plead the 5th and watch as the Prosecution's case dissolves due to lack of evidence.

And I continue to walk, a free man.

Kat said...

Ciggy,

Do you have a guilty conscious about the porn thing? Please advise in my last comment on mysogony where I give you any problems about doing the porn thing?

Pretty much my comments were based on:
1) The phrase "women's fragile egos" (and my first thought was, "what women have you been hanging out with" and my second thought was "men don't have fragile egos" is this "projection"?)
2) "This is the opposite of a prison sentence; it's freedom" Being with someone is a prison sentence?
3) "Now I actually hope a "soul mate" doesn't come along. I'm my own soul mate. I don't feel any sort of a need, emotional or physical, that I would have to get from some sort of a relationship" Really?

And yeah, this is arm chair psychology because, after all, I'm just a woman sitting here writing. I have no degree. I am only looking at male/female relationships through the words of each of us here.

The last phrase, after you said all that above, that did strike me was:

" might go to a strip club tonight. Or I might not. I'll flip a coin..."

I did not mention that to you in my original comment because the deal sealers for my thoughts were the first three comments. Of course, when I went back to read what you said and I said, I noted that this comment did strike me at least subliminally when I read your message and so, I re-read the message again.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't care if you go to the strip club, but, to me this sounded a bit like "in your face, I will go and look at naked women (who are unrealistic representations of women) tonight if I want to".

Why did you pick a strip club when you said that you were going to do what you wanted to? After talking about women with fragile egoes, prison sentences of relationships and getting everything you want from other sorts of relationships so you don't need nor want a relationship with a woman (and that includes the fact that you told me your roommate is short and fat - ie, unthreatening - and does the housework for you), the last little thing about going to the strip club did seal the deal for my decision to use the word mysoginy, though I didn't recognized that at first.

Not because i care if you go to the strip club, but you did just put out a list that pretty much said "I don't care for women, but now I'm going to go down and look at them naked". I just wondered why, when you chose "freedom to do as you would" you decided that the thing that represented your freedom was naked women?

Why not going on a trip? Staying in the garage all night? Working on your computer all night? Driving to Pensecola, Fl (don't know why, just using that as an example), buying a $1000 gas grill, computer, something.

Maybe just me interpreting your words. You are certainly entitled to think of yourself however you want. And, I'm certainly not here to attack you. may I suggest however, now that you read this comment, that you re-read your post above re: Dr. Phil/Oprah (neither of whom I watch; I like discovery and the learning channel and the history channel better, even during day time if I'm home sick). It sounded very similar.

Well, actually, it sounded like you do have a subconscious guilt thing about the porn stuff. Are you sure you're okay with it? Maybe it's not about women after all? Maybe, deep down, you still haven't figured out that whatever part of your old religion that convinced you that women were devils is still down inside there? And this is your way of rebelling against it, still?

More armchair psychology of course. :)

We're just talking here by the way. I'm not trying to change you so I can fly up to Minnesotta and make you marry me at the point of Ala's shotgun...LOL

Seriously, just friendly discussion. We'll drop it whenever you want.

riceburner147 said...

ciggy: i hate to tell you man, we dont know, that we dont know.

kat: various musings on your (as usual) erudite post.
"liberated woman" HA ! My mother hitch-hiked with truckers at the age of 14, married at 18, to a guy she knew for 3 days (she says she forgot his name on their honeymoon night....hey, ahhhhhhh, honey) worked her entire married life (talkin the 40's - 90's) got an abortion b4 it was legal (not good) and had breast implants in 1976. If you think ALa is outrageous, you should talk to her grandmother (my mom). btw, this is tongue in cheek, i would never doubt your "liberated" credentials, i admire them. Just that there were a lot of women years ago who were liberated, but not recognized or supported.

Tally & Jason: this horrifies me. i see something of Jason in me. Lying like that was the basis of my infidelity and the thing in my life i am most ashamed of. Waddya think of this. (i am no big fan of clinton but) You know how some men profess to hate gays, but then you find out they are gay/bi. I wonder if all the to-do about the "oral office" was about guilt transference (as far as men go) cause i believe most men have cheated on their wives. This just popped into my thoughts, let me know.

re: Michael, did he completely avoid your question about what He would be willing to give or was it just me ?

riceburner147 said...

aaack ! i meant to post this after your post today, sorry. could you move it or should i just repost it there ?

Kat said...

Riceburner,

You can leave the post here, though we could talk about deceit and relationship killing on the new post.

I believe the term "liberated" should simply mean capable of caring for one's self. that should apply to men as well. I actually had some arguments with some "ultra-lib" women concerning this. Mainly that I said I *could* pump my own gas, change my own oil, mow my own lawn, hammer my own nails, travel where I wanted without permission and work if I wanted, but that I wouldn't mind having someone that *would* help me do those things because, as Michael H noted, relationships are about partnerships. Eventually, each partner has the thing that they do best in the relationship and takes that over. In exchange of course, the other partner may do the laundry, keep the checkbook, wash the dishes.

None of which have to be divided via traditional gender lines. For instance, I'd rather mow the lawn than do the dishes. Or, I wouldn't mind cooking if someone cleaned or vis-a-versa.

However, when I mentioned this to my associates, they seemed a bit flabberghasted that I would even suggest that I would *want* someone to do those other things as it seemed to imply some deep seated conditioning of the gender rolls and, therefore, I was not truly liberated.

Me, I just kept wondering how they considered a still single woman who took care of everything herself, owned home, vehicle, had her own IRA and other investments could be considered anything "but" liberated. As if I was just waiting for some guy to come along and save me from myself. LOL

Anyway, I think there are extremes in any idea, don't you think?

These types don't understand that "liberation" means to be free to do as you want and, if that means hitchhiking across the country or getting married and doing the dishes, who is to say who is more liberated?

My associates wanted to strip me of my "liberation" credentials after that. :)

by the way, you're mother seems like a very interesting personality. Reminds me some of my grandmother, which I could tell stories about, too, at some point.

On the Clinton thing, I would agree that the folks that seem to be the most upset about his behavior probably had their own issues. Of course, Mr. Clinton apparently had his vis-a-vis women. Reminds me a bit of Jimmy Swaggert. Adultery is sin, now let me stand up here and confess to the one occasion I was caught.

I was looking for an article I had seen probably within the last year where it talked about the rise in infidelity among women in relationships where it had traditionally been men who were the most likely to do so. Not necessarily a good sign but it does point to the rise in people looking for something, intimacy?, that they are missing from their marriages and no longer satisfied with just trying to get along.

I've wondered if our society has become more mentally healthy or less with this increase in self awareness?

anyhoo, I must say that there was a point where I defended Clinton back in the day. Of course, I was registered democrat and still had ALL of my liberal credentials in place. It wasn't until one day, one of the men at the office pointed out to me that I was defending someone's behavior when I would not have found it acceptable in my own relationship that I realized I was being...umm...what's the word? Hypocritical?

That put me back on my heels a bit.

Looking at other things personally, I think we are often most critical of the things in people that we fear the most for ourselves and of ourselves. That could be homosexuality, infidelity, "unliberated" women who stay home with the children, lack of attention to our needs, and even pornography (women fear this on many levels but I think the one that counts the most is the part where we fear we cannot live up to someone's fantasies; after that we fear that we are "objects" without emotions or thoughts beyond sex for the man. Probably why many women get bent out of shape when they find their significant other with a substantial stash of porn).

I'll tell you my own little moment of "oh, my God, is there something wrong with me?"

Between 27 and 28 (about two years maybe) I was hit on by three different women. Totally freaked me out to the point where I was asking myself "am I gay and I just don't know it? What made these women hit on me?"

Actually, I finally admitted to one of my friends that it was bothering me and she said to me, "Kansas, don't be a dufus. Just because they found you attractive doesn't mean you were letting off some sort of "lesbian" pheromone."

Well, that was a relief. Frankly, that was during my "everyone is getting married/in a relationship but me" period. I had gone through a string of short relationships and a lot of dating and I seemed to have found faults quickly with all of them so I was wondering if there was something "wrong" with me. Being hit on by three women during that period did nothing to help my self-esteem.

Of course, I'm giving away part of a future chapter in this book, but there you go. We all have something that we fear and we fear it because something happened to make us question it.

God must have had a very deep sense of humor when he put us together. Or, maybe he did as good a job as he could and we are just busy mucking it up ourselves?

riceburner147 said...

kat: God certainly does have a deep sense of humor, He made me!
I hope i didnt write this b4 in your site but here goes. My beloved Pastor, Dr. C. John Miller (now deceased)said to me once, "If, when someone is speaking to you, you find yourself formulating your reply, YOU are not listening." Also,

Ephesians 4:25-28 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need

see esp v.26b I think i have twice seen you write this same thing. I agree completely. But both people need to be committed to this for it to work.

Deceit and relationship killing shall be posted above, forthwith ! foresooth ! A drink, A drink, My Kingdom of S**t for a Drink !

ps kat: you like to dance, were you ever able to dance to Billy Joel's "We Dindnt Start the Fire"....exactly what dance steps are appropiate to the line, "Children of Thalidomide"..........mutters, where's my lithium.

Michael_the_Archangel said...

Y'all thought I was evading the question, "What would I do?" - I wasn't, guess I just being verbose and specific enough, and there is a reason for it. I believe that I'm fairly creative, I believe that I'm able to come up with answers (usually good ones) on the go. So let's throw some specifics y'alls way.

What would I do?
Bring flowers home, for no reason except that I love her and I want her to know that. Buy a card, again, for no specific reason, just to let her know that I was thinking of her. Prepare a lunch for her and put a little love note in it. When I go to the store to pick up stuff for making her lunch, I pick up extra "treats" (candies or snacks) that I know SHE likes (in some cases it's stuff I can't stand). Rent/borrow a 'chic flic' and watch it with her (with or without the children around - depends on what else I can arraign). Do little extras like when I take her laundry from the dryer, I proceed to fold it and put it on the bed so it's easier for her to find a put away (I would put it away but she prefers to put her own stuff away). I take her car (unexpectedly for her) down to the 'fancy' car wash where they do the dash, the doors, the windows, etc. - it costs a bit more than doing it myself or the DYO car wash, but it's a treat, and I do it again to show that I'm thinking of her and that I love her.

I would include doing the dishes and making dinner but I already do that, so it wouldn't necessarily be special - however, there are times that I'll alter the menu to make something VERY SPECIAL that SHE really wants/likes. Often, I will pick up some type of special dessert that I either know or think that she will like.

And Kat, while I realize that your comment was tongue-in-cheek, but I don't expect her to "rub my feet and sholders" - what I would like is 10 minutes of uninterupted conversation (and no, she can't manage to do that). I'd like her to pay attention when I have something to say. I'd like her to keep her promises - e.g. "Yes, I'll help with the bills ..." and when I tell her that we have to get with it, she's too tired, she wants to do it tomorrow but when tomorrow comes she begs out of it again. I'd like her to volunteer to do the dishes occasionally.

I'm serious when I say this - her life consists of going to work, coming home, watching TV, eating dinner and going to bed early, PERIOD. On her days off (regardless of if kids are around or not - please note her days off are NOT on the weekend); she wants to sleep late each day, get up and watch TV or play a computer game, eat breakfast and dinner (both of which I've prepared) and go to bed. Sound like fun? Anyone want to change places?

THAT is why the kids have picked to live with me, they already are scared that if they live with mom, the house won't be cleaned on a regular basis, dinner won't be cooked, dishes won't be cleaned, etc. It's NOT a pretty picture folks. We've been in counseling for over a year and things just don't get better. I've told in counseling sessions that as things stand, when I'm hired, she can sign either divorce or separation papers but she isn't coming with me - still no change in her behavior. That's life in a nutshell and I can't wait to find a job, move and get out of this 'marriage'.

BTW - in case you can't guess, there are some other 'elements' also playing out in the marriage but they are in the same vein - and it's not good. There is also a HUGE trust issue that came up, basically her lying to me over a rather large issue. I'm really thinking it's time to move on.

Kat said...

Riceburner (I've been meaning to ask, does that mean you burn rice or is that in reference to motorcycling on a "riceburner"?)

Yes, both partners have to be willing to work at. I think I've also said that there no perfection about 100 times. I keep telling myself that so that I don't forget and have unrealistic expectations of a partner. Not everyone is going to be good at it all the time. I think I've noticed in realationships that people have ups and downs when they are good at being a partner and not as good. Trying to be is what counts. Accepting that it will be so can be a relief of tension.

We will get upset when the other is not as good at being our "partner" as we had hoped. compromise and respsonsibility must be the two hardest words in the human language and actions.

I can say that one of my failings may have been (still is?) compromising over certain things. Possibility this is due to..um..age..as well as being solely responsible for certain things for a long time.

Happens.

As for Billy Joel, I never did try to dance to "we didn't start the fire". But, if I had to dance to "children of thalidemide" I'd guess I would just jump around frenetically and throw my hands around, like I needed some lithium. Frankly, I was always partial to "Big Shot". How do the words go? "You had to be a big shot, did ya', all your friends were so knocked out."

Strangely, that's the first Billy Joel song that comes to mind. I know I must know others, but frankly, the words just won't come. :)

Also, have a posting coming up about infidelity. I found some of the statistics I was looking for.

Kat said...

Okay, Michael, now you've said it and, frankly, I've found your examples to be very good examples of what one can do for non-verbal recognition of one's feelings towards another.

I hope, as we write here (I know I keep saying this, but I want to because I want to make sure that I am not overstepping any boundaries between us) that, if you are uncomfortable with anything I ask or say, you will tell me so. I want to maintain our friendship and I would not make you angry or embarrassed even in the relative anonymity(?) of the blog world.

I will comment on just a few things. First, I found this paragraph rather interesting:

"And Kat, while I realize that your comment was tongue-in-cheek, but I don't expect her to "rub my feet and sholders" - what I would like is 10 minutes of uninterupted conversation (and no, she can't manage to do that). I'd like her to pay attention when I have something to say. I'd like her to keep her promises - e.g. "Yes, I'll help with the bills ..." and when I tell her that we have to get with it, she's too tired, she wants to do it tomorrow but when tomorrow comes she begs out of it again. I'd like her to volunteer to do the dishes occasionally."

Yes, my comment was tongue in cheek by the way. I also did not realize a few other parts of your situation, which help in determining some matters (you see, info on a subject before pontificating helps, even if I can't help but pontificate).

Second, Michael, after you wrote this, did you understand who you sounded like (no, not a bad thing, just wanted to know if you knew)? I have actually heard this from.....my women friends who are stay at home mothers. Sounds like a bit of a role reversal.

If we take out the genders here, we look at the behaviors and can see what it has come from.

It's obvious that you feel that you are being neglected and that your contributions to the family are not being recognized, nor are the things that you do to show that you are supporting her while she works (as the sole bread winner right now?) and takes care of the financial end. I take it from implication that you have normally also worked? Was this the situation while you were working or did it only occur after you became unemployed?

Just an FYI, my youngest brother stays at home and takes care of the kids while his wife works (last two years). Mainly because she makes more money than he could and one of their salaries would be spent on child care (mostly) so it didn't make sense for both to work. Also, the two oldest boys have counseling and other medical appointments they go to on a regular basis so one of them doing it, again, just makes sense while the other works. I have no issues with men taking care of the children or house while the woman works.

At this point, since I must say that it is normally men that I associate with your wife's behavior, I wonder if any of the men have experience in this feeling and can explain what it is that drives the working partner to behave this way? I can only guess by some of my own experiences.

Mainly, avoidance of talking to you means, obviously, that there is something that they are upset about, concerned about, etc and they don't want to say it. It doesn't necessarily have to be as earth shattering as say "infidelity", but could be something like this is not what she was expecting her life to turn out to be (as a person that just went through a mini depression on the same subject and was chastised roundly by family members who felt that I was cutting them off when I was in a deep quandry about what I was and where I was and not sure what I would tell them, I think I can empathize...as a matter of fact, i was lectured roundly for my apparent addiction to the computer...go figure?)

It's hard to understand, but these things are not about the other people in one's life as it is about that person in particular (this is where we muck things up with a serious lack of communication that you are indicating)

My own problem was that I was feeling a bit trapped. I thought what I was doing was what I wanted, but it wasn't in some way I expected it to be. I felt trapped because I had the mortgage payment, the car payment, the utilities, the credit car bills, everything, my sole responsibility and I knew I could not just leave my nice paying job because I would not be able to take care of these things and they were my responsibility.

At least on three occasions I thought about selling it all, chucking the money in the bank and going down the road on my motorcycle to somewhere, anywhere, but here and what I was doing. (That might even be considered a midlife crisis?)

I almost had a financial crisis because I started ignoring the bills and got a little behind even when I had money in the bank. Fortunately, the responsible side of me kicked me in the ass and asked me if I had ever had it so good and would I ever have it this good again? enter the new me, dragging my feet, looking at the bills that were piling up and starting to figure out what I would do to fix it and starting to visit my family again.

I can tell you, as a single person, it still sucked. As a person with immediate family that one feels responsible for, it must feel twice as hard, twice as much weight of responsibility (maybe 5 times as much?)
Avoidance in this case is probably because she thinks that, it won't matter what she says because it won't change anything. She has to keep working or keep this job and telling you about it will only bring on another argument and she will be just as stuck as she was before, but now may have placed a burden of guilt on you (which you already feel?) and you will have had another argument that goes nowhere.

guys? how am I doing?

The thing she wants to change is probably not you nor the children. it is either the situation or herself. Remember at the top of this post when I said something about people talking about "hating their jobs" it's not always about the job? In this case, not saying something is just as telling. Frankly, if she wanted to change you or her family life she could just decide to leave herself and go. obviously, something keeps her there. If it was simple responsibility, it may not have gone on as long, but I take it you were both raised a certain way and that can make people hang on when they feel all hope is gone. (Et tu?)

So, avoiding you, the bills, the housework, being tired all the time and emersing herself in the computer games is the only way she balances her continued responsibilities and avoiding her life or having to think about it. (Probably don't need couple counseling so much as she may need individual counseling first- hindsight and a million miles away perspective). People can be very good at avoiding things that make them uncomfortable.

I may be incorrect, but I believe that this is the moment in many relationships where one or the other spouse starts looking around for validation of themselves and their feelings outside of marriage. compounding the problem and killing the relationship almost instantly.

I wrote this: And, sometimes people get what they deserve from a relationship based on either their self delusions or the way they treat their spouse/significant other.

by your comments you are about to give her what she deserves for being, bluntly, a coward and not confronting her problem, thus pushing you away. (This has got to be one of the most common reasons for divorce)

If or when you leave, you will feel vindicated (although angry and maybe blaming yourself for somethings that were not your fault). She will just muddle on, trying to figure out where it went wrong and might wake up in a year or two sincerely regretting the loss. Probably sink back into a depression and not be right for years.

I don't know what the big lie is and I won't ask, but, as indicated in the next post, lying, even about the simplest things, are relationship killers.

Maybe, deep down, you don't want her to tell you what it is she wants to change because it might be you? You would rather leave than to find out for sure?

Men are typically "fixers", they want to fix the problem as part of their "proof of care" for the family or loved one. She won't tell you and you may not be able to fix it. Might even be a reason to avoid getting the answer.

Does she know that you are planning to get a job and leave?

And, in my best armchair psychologist mode, my guess would be that you don't really want to.

However, very serious thought has to go into this because, no matter what, something is going to change. The question must be if you can live with that change? And, of course, can you forgive the lie and trust again?

If none of these things are plausible and, in the end, she wants to leave too, the relationship is over and you two are just not admitting it to yourselves. At this point, you may be hurt enough by her actions that you just want to hurt her back. Leaving is the most hurtful thing another person can do (I know...go back and read the other posts about heartbreak).

I am an invetirate fixer myself which is of course why I keep talking to you about the subject. I wish I could fix it for you. Instead, I give advice which is probably worth about as much as it is costing you (ie, free) and I offer no guarantees with it because we cannot control other people's thoughts and emotions as much as we wish we could shake them out of whatever it is that is bothering them.

So, I offer two pieces of advice:

First, if you have any hope of not blowing this into a conflageration (one time in my life I am advising this), do not tell her that you are talking to some anonymous nobody in the blog world about your marriage. People can act very, very strangely to this, almost as if you were violating some sort of trust, privacy, or even committing infidelity yourself regardless of how platonic this conversation is. Particularly, if it is a woman. Unless of course, you've already shared this information. Or, if asked directly and you don't want to lie, tell her you got the suggestion off of a self help website.

Secondly, I will re-iterate advice from earlier post, a note. With some changes regarding what you've revealed here. Saying of course, that it may take all of your courage to write it and even more courage to accept the answer that you may receive in return. The best thing about a note is that it is non-threatening. Since you already have some experience in writing little notes, this may not be as difficult as you think.

If I had to write a note to my loved one in regards to this subject, I think it would go something like this:

My Dearest (insert name),

I am writing you this letter because I feel that we have tried so many other ways of communicating and they do not seem to have worked. Lately, it seems that we have both been avoiding talking to each other about our concerns. I feel we have come to a crossroad in our marriage and I do not know which way to go. I was hoping that you would help me make this decision.

To help me make this decision, I need some answers to some very difficult questions. You may have told me already, but I don't know if I have understood the answers clearly, so I must ask again.

Is there something you would like to change about our situation? Is it work? Do you want to change your job and feel that you can't? Do you want to stay home while I work? Do you think I am unappreciative of the hardwork that you do, the time you spend away from the family and your contributions to our life?

The most important question, do you still want to be married?

What is it that you want? What is it you would like me to do?

If you don't feel that you can talk to me directly, if you would, please write me a message back and leave it in the sock drawer for me by tomorrow morning.

Yours,
Kat

Some simple notes about this. I would leave the note in a very obvious place. somewhere the person will find it within hours of leaving it.

First, I said "we have avoided" so it does not appear threatening or accusatory by saying "you" the person that I am addressing. Second, I don't write anything in here about what I feel is wrong or what I want or what I've done to make the relationship work. That can come later. First gambit is to start the discussion. Direct questions, expect direct answers, even if they are negative.

I also suggest writing back because obviously we haven't been able to talk face to face. It avoids starting an argument and missing the information stage all together. Written messages are missing inflection but have to be read and can be read many times before deciding what to respond (either from their end or mine if the time comes).

I would avoid writing anything about the length of the relationship or how much I love them right at that moment, simply because, again, looking to start a conversation and commenting on these two things may cause the person to shut down with feelings of guilt or make them feel that I am trying to use some emotional blackmail or inflect guilt (usually, that is what I've heard men call it, I'm not sure if I've ever heard a woman talk about emotional blackmail). That sort of message may come in the second round or third round of messages if it goes that far.

by setting a time and date for response, I am making them responsible for following up with me and not avoiding the conversation again. (this is actually a business tactic, but it works really well with people in general, can't hurt to do it in private life)

This may seem a bit strange, but basically, this is looking at a "ground up" strategy. Start some sort of dialogue that may move into meaningful verbal discussion between the parties.

It may mean receiving a message I don't want to read or hear, but I think no one can be made to live in a tense situation like that forever.

On the other hand, if they don't respond and continue to avoid the subject then I would have to make the final decision on my own about the disposition of the relationship.

Okay, time's up.

Tom said...

Holy Moly, Kat. When I first found your blog you were writing about "busting conspiracy theories" and how the war wasn't for oil etc. I thought "ok, good analysis here, useful to me in understanding WOT and Iraq". Now I discover you're also a relationship counselor. Good for me, now I don't have to spend money on a book. And us guys hate to be seen buying "relationship books" at the store, don't you know ("It's, uh, for my friend"). Thank heavens for Amazon.

But you are so right that you have to suck it up and not be an emotional "girlie man".

Pretty good advice you offer here. And too bad I didn't have the benefit of such wisdom years ago when I needed it. Of course, back then I wouldn't have listened, being way too smart. Can't cry over spilt milk, though.

Have I said that you're also a darn good fiction writer, too? Well there it is. You're much more of a "pure writer" than I am. I'm strictly meat and potatoes just the facts, 'mam, and couldn't do fiction (especially relationship stuff) if my life depended on it. So I definately encourage you to stick with it. I checked out your "the Last of the Heroics" blog, it's neat stuff.

Take care,
Tom

Kat said...

Tom,

So glad you stopped by. I know, I made a radical departure. I just sort of happened. I was at a loss one day of what to post and feeling in a funky mood so I posted a story about being young and cruising and it seemed to get some responses, so I decided to go with it. I was also trying out the fiction thing and somebody noted that I was missing something, like making the characters personal. So, I thought, heh, maybe I should write something more personal and it will help me figure out how to flesh out the characters?

And, there I was...writing something other than politics and war. I'm afraid that this may be it for awhile. I think that there are a lot of brilliant blogs out there doing analysis. Belmont club has me beat hands down and is actually the one that inspired me to research the "blood for oil" stuff. I think I am going to try and figure out how to put these things in sections if people get directed here for the different areas. I'll be bored this weekend so it will give me a chance to mess with the HTML.

Thank you for the compliments on the writing. Frankly, I like your meat and potatoes stuff.

As for the counseling, you know, it's worth about as much as it costs. ;) Mostly my opinion and observations. Most of the stories here are real stories. I've just left out certain names and dates to protect the innocent (not that I know a bunch of those sort, but...you know...don't want any past friends to google their name and see it floating out here with some potentially embarrasing story)

Hope you keep dropping by. never know when I get fired up again about stupid politics and general moonbat behavior.

riceburner147 said...

kat: Riceburner147 is a reference to the Japanese motorcycles that i have owned and loved, 6 of them. I guess my 2 favorites were my PE175 Enduro and my GS100s. The GS i rode across the country (pa, wisconsin, illinois, MISSOURI !, Kansas, CO., then down to San Diego and then back to PA, took 3 months) After that i took it off the street and roadraced semi-professionally for 5 years. ALa has always like HD's and I dont so the name was tongue in cheek. Wasnt your 850 a shaft drive ?
I am looking forward to buying a BMW touring bike in the near future, it will probably be 3 - 5 years old (used) cause no way can i spend 15 - 20 K on a sickle.

Looking forward to reading your "infidelity" post.

Kat said...

Yeah, I drive an 850L suzuki 1981 model, shaft driven. My brother owns an HD soft tail springer that is not rubber mounted and could shake your fingers of your hands. I notice when we ride for long periods, he has a tendency to shake his hand out more than I do.

Frankly, I've enjoyed riding both kinds of bikes, but I prefer rubber mounted engines in the HD. The newer model 1200 sportsters are nice although, I had a problem reaching the pegs. Had to keep pulling myself up to the handle bars to reach the break and gear shifters with those forward controls. Kind of took the fun out of it, but the bike could actually get up and go. I aslo rode the Road King. with heel and toe shifters it wasn't as bad.

BMWs are nice bikes. I like that new touring model they have out. I stick with the older model riceburners myself for financial reasons. If I bought a new one, it would probably be a jap cruiser. I haven't come to the point in my life where I want to spend $250/mo or more for motorcyle payments. Kind of takes the fun out of it and makes you HAVE to ride if you're paying that much (unless you're Jay Leno and can afford a garage full).

I actually have a collection of motorcycle models. My brother added two of them to my pile this year in my stocking.

I am working on the infidelity post. Just put up Frances's links to eternity road. very insightful. going to link to ala's on marriage as well. Think she's going to scare some people with her "40+ years" line of waking up with someone. LOL

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

Kat, no guilty conscience about the porn thing. I was merely assuming that with your traditional rural midwest background, that would have been what bothered you the most about my lifestyle.

1) The phrase "women's fragile egos" refers to how insecure a wife or a girlfriend has typically been in the past whenever I am out in the world and they are not directly supervising the direction of my eyes. I end up accused of all sorts of things of which I'm not really guilty, and this, because a woman thinks that the very existence of a woman in a miniskirt halfway across the mall is going to make me cheat on her. "Fragile ego" might have been a wrong term, and "insecurity" may be a better way to describe it, although that is not in any wise "projection". Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, Dr. Freud.

2) Being with someone is only a "prison sentence" when the woman is insecure and/or tries to micromanage every last microsecond of my spare time. Last night I saw an MTV quasi-reality show on "Jersey Shore Girls", who were worrying and fretting that their boyfriends hadn't called them on the phone in over a month. Well where WERE girls like that when I was their age and dating? In my relationships I can't even finish a long day of work without the woman thinking I've run off with the proverbial secretary. To those Jersey Shore Girls of last night: I'll call you up, baby...

3) "Now I actually hope a 'soul mate' doesn't come along. I'm my own soul mate. I don't feel any sort of a need, emotional or physical, that I would have to get from some sort of a relationship." Yes, really. I fully meant 99% of that, except perhaps it may have been hyperbole to say I hope a soul mate does NOT come along. It's fully true that I'm okay with my fate if one does not come along, but if fate slams me together with someone who meets my egregiously picky requirements, then no, I won't lament that happening. That part I do take back.

I guess the mention of a strip club as doing what I want to do without micromanagement from a "significant other" comes from that being somewhat of a be-all end-all of things that would offend a wife or girlfriend, that is, "you weren't working late--you were at the strip club weren't you?"

To be quite candid, I prefer DVD porn to strip clubs, because you can pause the really good parts and go frame-by-frame. That might be too much information right there, but since I'm on the couch opposite the armchair psychoanalyst I might as well recline and vent out the deep dark stuff. See what parts of it wiggle.

It isn't that I "don't care for women", but in RELATIONSHIPS with them, I've yet to find one that didn't go quite completely insane on me. I probably have more female friends than male friends, which is considered strange because I'm woefully straight (life would probably make more sense to me if I actually were gay, and no, no "repression" about it--I have no reason to repress it if I were; it would result in no social approbation or anything like that).

I guess going on a trip, alone, would be just as representative of my freedom as going to a strip club, and far more likely an activity for me anyway. There, too, I could enjoy the freedom of not having some "significant" woman worry about what I may be up to, on the trip. I can just relax, and enjoy. Florida would be a likely destination, although I prefer Destin and Fort Walton Beach over Pensacola. Cleaner beaches.

I honestly don't think that the religion of my birth has any lingering effect on my life as it is today. Officially in Mormon doctrine women are not "devils", although a certain teacher (at a secular high school in Utah who happened to be Mormon, and used his social studies class as a religious pulpit) did like to tell the boys that women were the devil (with charicatures on an overhead projector portraying some creature like a hooker with horns ready to devour a young innocent boy's soul, with sex); and then also tell the girls that MEN were the devil (with a converse cartoon on the same overhead with evil icky predatory males doing the "hungry lion" thing to an innocent young girl in the slide). He was a very very wierd teacher. Anyway, the official Mormon doctrine was, and still is, "sex is great between a man and a woman, but only when they are married". It doesn't imply evil on either gender as a whole, just an insistence that any person should have only one sex partner for the entire duration of one's life (and in the afterlife, although that gets into some wierder aspects of Mormon doctrine...)

Anyway, it was 20 years ago when I left that way of life behind. These days when the Mormon missionaries come running after me, hoping I will be some sort of a prodigal case and dragged back into the "fold", I just chuckle a bit, point to the "no soliciting" sign on my door, and ask them what part of that sign they continued to fail to understand. Because that's exactly what it is: membership of a religiously-based social club that behaves like a business corporation, in exchange for 10% of one's GROSS revenue (before taxes), for life. No thanks. I didn't give at the office, but I won't give to them, either. Perhaps deep deep deep down inside, I'm just too much of a Capitalist to be a Mormon. The "no sex before marriage" thing, which they share with all mainstream Christianity, is a quaint disagreement, although I don't see that as a religious deal-breaker. Having to believe some old fart in Salt Lake City actually talks to God in ways the rest of us can't, well, that's a much taller order.

"I'm not trying to change you so I can fly up to Minnesotta and make you marry me at the point of Ala's shotgun...LOL"

Darn, and here I thought I was going to amuse myself by making Vadergrrrl jealous, ROFL...