Tuesday, April 29, 2014

You're Wearing That?

There's a fairly new song on the radio that I'm sure you have heard.  It's by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera, Say Something.  I really love this song even though I find it quite sad and it usually makes me cry.  It reminds me of the desperation, uncertainty and heartbreak I was experiencing at some of the most difficult points of my marriage. 

There is one part of this song that I really dislike though.  Is says,
"I will swallow my pride.  You're the one that I love and I'm saying goodbye."
That line, to me, doesn't seem to fit the tone of the song.  Most of the song seems like a last ditch effort to restore what they once had, a desperate plea for their partner to open up to them.  The confession that they are still "the one that I love" doesn't fit with saying goodbye.  Most of it seems to be crying out for the renewal of the intimacy they once experienced and a hope that if they were to be able to talk it out then they could get back to that place.  Saying goodbye is giving up and surrendering their hope.  That doesn't encourage their partner to trust and become vulnerable enough to "say something".  I feel like that one line ruins all the effort of the rest of the song. 

I remember the times when I felt this desperate myself.  My husband is not the most vocal person about the things that are bothering him and his thoughts and feelings.  I felt like I was constantly walking a tightrope of marriage and the slightest breeze would topple our relationship.  I was unsure of if I could stay with this man, or even if I wanted to, but the one thing I could never voice to him was my uncertainty.  I believe if I would have even hinted at the idea that I couldn't do it anymore that would have broken all his trust in me.  Giving him cause to doubt my dedication to our marriage would have given him every excuse he needed to close himself off even more than he already did.  Saying goodbye would not have shaken him up to fight for us, it would have shown him that it was already too late and caused him to give up. 

Another song that you might have heard recently is by Pink and Nate Ruess, Just Give Me a Reason.

I love the line, "Just give me a reason, just a little bit's enough.  Just a second, we're not broken, just bent and we can learn to love again."  To me this is such a hopeful statement of reconciliation.  It says that even when things go wrong and there are problems that they aren't irreparably broken, they just need a little TLC to fix.  What I get from this line is that loving someone is a choice we make to see our problems as just little snags along the way, instead of insurmountable obstacles. 
There is a part of this song that I find extremely funny though.  That might seem strange for me to say, seeing as this is a pretty serious song but at one point Pink says, "You've been talking in your sleep.  Things you never say to me.  Tell me that you've had enough of our love."  The answer that Nate Ruess has to this is, "I'm sorry I don't understand where all of this is coming from.  I thought that we were fine.  You're head is running wild again.  My dear, we still have everything and It's all in you're mind."  I feel sorry for this guy here.  He's just moving along, thinking everything is great but apparently he talks in his sleep, something he has absolutely no control over, she hears something questionable and is convinced that things are almost over.
I'm not trying to be sexist here but I think this is something that we women do have a tendency to do.  We get in a bit of a mood, our guy says something unintentionally stupid (guys don't always understand the subtle nuances we read into the things they say) and we blow it out of proportion.  I think the important part of Pink's line that she should have listened to herself was, "things you never say to me."  The words he says in his sleep are not a repetition of things he says all the time.  They are out of context and don't seem characteristic of the way he is when he's awake.  Maybe she should have paid a bit more attention to that fact than to his sleep talking.   
This reminds me of a story that Sheila shares on her blog at "To Love Honor and Vacuum".  She talks about how her husband started buying her flowers quite regularly and the longer and longer it went on the angrier and angrier she got.  It might seem strange to get angry when your husband starts to do something loving like that but she explains that he used to buy her chocolates and then switched to flowers.  She made an assumption from that switch that he thought she was fat and didn't want to contribute to that so he sent flowers instead.  He had just thought that flowers would be a nice gesture and had committed himself, without her knowing, to giving her flowers twice a month for 6 months.  So here he was, thinking he was doing something good and wondering why his wife was not having the reaction he expected.
I think this can be quite common in marriage.  I know sometimes I can end up making a mountain out of a mole hill too.   For example, one morning I had gotten ready for church and was sitting at the kitchen table.  My husband comes downstairs, looks at me and says, "Is that what you're wearing to church?"  It Definitely wasn't my dressiest outfit but I had on some skinny jeans and a plaid shirt and I thought I looked fairly trendy and nice.  Instantly I doubted my choice while at the same time got quite defensive.  "What's wrong with it?" I said in a somewhat hurt and dejected voice.  At this point I think he realized how what he said had sounded.  He then pointed out that he had put on a very similar looking plaid shirt and didn't want us to look like twins.  I had been hurt and offended by what I saw as a criticism of how I looked but all he was really saying is that he didn't think I would want us to be so matchy (and he was right). 
It's like in the song "Just Give Me a Reason".  Pink hears him talking in his sleep.  Who knows what he would have been dreaming about.  He probably doesn't remember and it might not have even had anything to do with their relationship but she decides, from these few words that he has no control over, that they have some big problems.  This poor guy is slapped upside the head with it and sent spinning.  His reaction, "I thought that we were fine!"  He's just moving along with his life thinking every thing's good and all of a sudden an assumption about something he has said almost derails them. 
Why do we do this?  Why do we women have such a tendency to read so much into what our men say and do?  For the most part guys are far simpler than that and usually the simplest explanation is the best.  I have now been attempting to see the actions and reactions of my husband this way.  I try not to read to much into the simple statements he makes and if something he says confuses me, rather than assuming what he means and jumping to a conclusion because of that, I am attempting to ask questions for clarification and trying to get all the facts before getting upset.  Sometimes I still jump to upset before I sort out the real meaning behind what is happening but it is getting easier and easier to understand the mind of my husband now that I have reset my filter to giving him the benefit of the doubt instead of the mistrust I approached him with before. 
It's true that men and women tend to see things quite differently so the more we try to understand things from our partners perspective the easier it will be fix the issues that will continue to come up throughout our marriages.  It might not take a lot to "bend" a relationship but an attitude of understanding and compassion can make it much, much harder to "break", and most bends are pretty easy to fix.  We CAN learn to love again. 

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