Challenge of Imperfection in a Relationship

I was having lunch with 2 of my friends, recounting an incident from the night before. 

Here’s the incident: I walked into the den from my office. Nathan was watching television.  I started speaking to him.  He put the TV on mute to listen to me. I told him that my usb hub was broken and I needed a new one. He said okay, he’ll buy me one tomorrow; is that okay?  I stood there silently, thinking in my head that that wasn’t okay.  I wanted to go out tonight and buy one.  I said nothing. 

He looked at me.  I said “And when are we having dinner?”

Communication is MORE than Words

There was nothing in my tone, but there was something in my demeanor, even I’m starting to notice it. He said let me watch the news first, and then I’ll take care of everything.  I stood there.  He said, “I’ll record the news and watch it later.”

Dang, he just scored a Homerun. There is a way I get that I’m only recently acknowledging that Nathan has learned to recognize and respect.  It is the calm before the storm, or the earthquake or the volcanic eruption. For a good natured, happy person, I can really go ‘off’ occasionally.

 Relationship Challenge: When your Spouse knows you Too Well

Nathan used to tell me, “Oh you’re just hungry” or “oh you’re gonna get your period soon.” That’s all I needed to hear. I would go ballistic. After a few times, I finally realized that he was always right about his predictions, and, more importantly, so what. . And he also learned a brilliant behavior. He learned not to say his predictions out loud. He simply attends to me.

He’s getting so good at that, and I’m finally relaxing enough to allow for my own imperfections, as I watch the scenario plays out.

 It was Annoying that He was Right and I was Wrong

This evening, he said, gentle as can be, after pushing ‘record’ on the TV remote control, “Let’s go and see if we can fix the USB hub.” He asked me a bunch of questions about what I had checked.  I had checked. Then he said let’s try the printer that’s connected; if that works then the hub is healthy.  “Turn the printer off and on again.”  I did.  And, of course, then the printer worked. The hub was deemed healthy.  It was annoying that he was right and I was wrong, but, like a fine, expensive wine, I’ve mellowed with age.  It was relieving that I could solve the problem without going out in the rain.

 He Didn’t Gloat

He didn’t gloat or make a fuss. He just announced that he was going to the kitchen to make dinner, and it would be ready very soon.  If I wanted, I could come and set the table.

Eruption averted.  What’s amazing is that now, as I am also a reporter observing dispassionately (a technique I teach in my course), I can  notice the change in my body.  There’s a tension that I had that went away when I was ‘heard’, ‘attended to’, ‘cared for.’

 Being an Imperfect Spouse is Very Scary

 I was relating all of this to my girlfriends.  In the discussion that ensued, I realized that being told how I am, no matter how true and how innocuous, is really saying that I’m not perfect.  And not being perfect is very scary unless you/I am very secure. Otherwise, I think somewhere deep inside, beyond reason and good sense, that I am not good enough, that he will leave me. 

 It is such a relief to have faced that demon and faced him down.  I can be imperfect.  I can let my husband see my imperfection. And I can give him implicit permission to deal with my imperfection in his loving gentle effective way. Wow, and I get taken care of. 

 Guys Love to Fix Things

And the bonus for him is that guys love to fix things, and that’s what he did—big time.

 Let me tell you, when I got married, “being taken care of” was a dirty phrase.  I was independent.  I could take care of myself. Don’t even open the door for me. Life to me was a test and asking for help was cheating. School definitely did not prepare me well for life. It’s finally getting through to me that all of life is relationships, and all of relationships is mutually taking and being taken care of.  And isn’t that simply grand.

 The other amazing thing to me is that so much of my previous anger at him was my own insecure feelings that I displaced to him.  How often is that true in relationships?  Is that true in your relationship?  Are you willing to expose your imperfections, your insecurities, so that your spouse can care for you?  How does it play out in your relationship?  Write me and let me know.  Write here on the blog if you would.  Or you can email me if you prefer.  I’m interested to know your experiences – and your questions.

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