I have some suggestions for you that might help your situation.
First off, let me say I’m a sign language interpreter and spend a ton of time observing communication…I speak 3 languages and can understand fairly well more languages.
So first let me tell you a mini-story.
When I was 21, my boyfriend of 2 years began teaching me to drive. Ah…disaster. He was yelling a me in alternating panic and frustration and criticizing me constantly; I was freaking out, angry, and wanting to quit.
But I’m creative, so here is what I did.
1.) I put soft piano music in the car’s CD player.
2.) I narrated my entire driving experience. Ex: “I see the stop sign at the corner. I plan to stop and turn left. Now I’m pressing on the brake…gonna stop really softly. Okay…after the red car goes, it’s my turn…”
After I started doing that, he relaxed A LOT! And so did I. He knew what I was thinking and planning. If I missed something, he had enough time to intervene before the mistake was made. All our cuddly feelings came back. Driving was a positive experience.
I’m a weirdo and I believe that everything you have to do can be positive. Chores, homework, caring for another, driving. I don’t mean “fun,” but I mean afterwards, I would feel like “that was not bad. I don’t mind doing that again.” Plus it showed that we as a couple could change one thing and take the stress off our relationship. Later we broke up, but it was not because we had communication problems. It was because he felt intimidated by my success in college (straight A’s! 3 classes per year hah!) and by my ability to never show emotional upset (I just went to sleep).
I was thinking about your problem…same as mine. I tried telling my current sweetie “I will get more done after 8pm.” Problem was that he gets out of work at 10pm and wants to go do something fun. I think, “Oh, well tmw is Saturday, so I’ll do it then.” He thought I’d been working 4 or 5 hours, when I’d really only done 2. Two months later, I’m way behind. He felt betrayed that I didn’t alert him to my lack of progress. Hah. He’s right…but we PWNs learn coping skills and my mind is telling me, “Aviod drawing attention to procrastination, and hopefully I’ll get everything caught up before it’s too late. If not, at least I only get criticized once at the end, and not for the entire duration of the episode, and especially not when I was already stressed out over it.” I do keep track of my hours accurately in his computer, so he can always check. Let me also say I’ve known him for 7 years…we were coworkers at first, then went separate ways, last year I bumped into him, we hit it off, he needed a typist…then he needed a roommate….we fell for each other, dated for 2 months, sold house, moved out separately…I spend weekends w/him and that’s when I work and relax. Been dating 6 mos and we care deeply about each other. Lately we’ve both been sick and stressed about the business, and both a little crabby.
In my adult development class we talked on last Monday night about how men and women communicate. Seems that in general women bond by eye contact and discussion of feelings, whereas men tend to bond sitting side-by-side and experience things together. Both ways are important…proper communication and respect of each other takes the strain off our relationships. Demanding that men accommodate us…”Look at me when I’m talking to you! You make me feel so….! Tell me what you’re thinking!”…it makes them uncomfortable and makes them not want to open their mouths. Yet, if they never feel safe enough to look in our eyes, they will never know how we are struggling or feeling. In my class we discussed that men use physical space and share their future to signify intimacy, and women use facial expressions and share their history.
I think I know exactly what you mean, TXgirl…I just wanna know if he’s blaming me, sympathizing with me, neutral, angry, or hurt because I didn’t get to cleaning the stove first. Either way, I want to do better. But if he’s mad at me, then I can have feelings that respond to his. Right now, he’s just avoiding emotional interaction with me. We’re emotionally separated! Why not just live separately since right now we’re not having positive effects on each other anyway?
It’s like living in jail, but self-blame takes over…and longing for those cuddly moments.
My perspective on what you related:
It sounds like your husband cares deeply for you and your marriage, home, life together. If he didn’t, he be a lazy bum and wouldn’t try to keep things going. He is not expressing disgust for you when he helps.
You are right that you would have gotten to it, but that would minutes or hours later than what he subconsciously thinks is an appropriate “clean stove deadline.” He never sees you get to it because he does it 10 minutes earlier than you would have. You walk in, “Oh, honey, I’ll do that. I was planning to.” He thinks, “Yeah, right. You’re just trying to avoid seeming lazy. You’re just saying that.”
My advice: get a laminated calendar and write your intentions up on it, including the time slots you plan to do things. Fun things, obligations, naps, chores, etc. If you want, you could use symbols to indicate your energy level. 5 star day = Superwoman. 1 star day = not functioning well. You could use this info to help yourself figure out when your best days occur and sorta predict them. When you complete an activity, then check it off. If you don’t, draw an arrow to the day/time you think you WILL do it.
This solves his worry that nothing will get done. If you do fail to do things, he can see the stars and know why. If at 4pm, he sees you’ve put only 1 star, and that you have 3 large chores on the chart, then he knows you can’t handle them. If you see him helping, and you both know you’re having a bad day, then you could thank him and make him feel like a hero. This way, you can both stand side-by-side, he immediately can tell how you’re doing, and both can feel involved in delegating.
He can put stars for himself, as well. He has every right to have a tired day. Together you can calculate stars as units of energy and use that number to divide the workload.
For right now, if you see him cleaning something, and your reaction is, “I was gonna do that.” then go clean something else. Clean the bathroom or wash your car.
My current wonderful boyfriend loves it when we are both working on different chores at the same time. Men don’t see us work when we’re not with them. If I worked 12 hrs straight, then took a nap and he walked in, he would think, “Geez! Sleeping again!” But if while I’m sleeping, he can see on the chart that I did 12 hrs, then he will check his attitude and grow cuddly feelings before I wake up. This is my point. Me just saying, “But I did!” or “But I will!” does not hold water. It’s just words. Writing it down makes it more concrete and eliminates my whiny voice. Plus it eases my stress – I DON’T HAVE TO TELL HIM EVERYTHING I’M DOING OR THINKING!
Let me know what you think of my ideas. This information is not intended to diagnose conditions or replace counseling.