I almost got divorced last month. I SAID I ALMOST GOT DIVORCED LAST MONTH. Yes, that's a bit personal, but I think that things need to be talked about so that we don't explode. Which is precisely the reason why the big "D" almost happened. Don't worry--I said ALMOST and we don't have to whisper--my husband knows--he was there. To be fair, we didn't actually SAY we were going to actually DIVORCE. We said we were going to separate (which really means divorce, let's be honest. How many people "separate" so that they can get back together and everything will be fine? None. I know.) while each of us figured "things" out. It took us all night, but "things" were figured out before the "separation" actually took place. Maybe they weren't "figured out" exactly, but they were addressed, which is a BIG step for us! The good news is (aside from the fact that we did NOT file the papers) we peoved that we could actually DO something--I always thought we would be too lazy to get a divorce or to even DISCUSS it. See? Growth.
Now don't get me wrong--I'm the one who talked about "separating" first. My husband is...well...a man, so his communication skills are...well...lacking. Add to that the fact that I come from a very...YELLY (that is now a word) and dramatic family and he comes from a family where the most emotion they muster up is:"Yes--that is very nice," (over, say, getting a promotion or winning a million dollars). As for sad events or things that make them angry...nothing. It is simply not discussed or mentioned. One would think that they are always just...content with whatever situation arises.
I've known about our differences since before we got engaged, but being a...woman...I thought for sure that time with me would help him to feel...emotions like excitement and elation (or even anger and rage). Yes, I know you are thinking it--I thought I could CHANGE him. Don't we all? And he did change...a bit. Once we added children to the mix, he definitely changed--and so did I. The problem is, I became crabbier and he became happier--at least with them. Still not so much with me, but we're working on THAT.
In our eleven years of marriage, we have been through better, worse, worse again, a liiiiiiittttttttlllllle bit better, then worse. We've been through poorer, then richer, then even RICHER, then REALLY poorer still, then a little bit above poorer, but not quite richer. We've been through health, then sickness, then more sickness then...I think you get my point. We covered all of the bases except the "...death do us part," and with the way we were feeling about each other, that was going to be soon.
My husband is a genuinely nice guy and quite easy on the eyes. You would like him--EVERYONE does. This should be a selling factor in a relationship, no? NO! There were times in our relationship where I despised...yes, DESPISED my husband. The anger and rage consumed me. I think some of it was post-partum depression, but most of it was...him. Just kidding--it was me, too and my need for validation. I would compliment and validate him and would in turn expect (or at least HOPE) that he would do the same for me. Instead, he was like the crabby uncle at a reunion. He would sit in his chair with nothing to say. The rage came when those around us started thinking that HE was the nice guy and I was the b*%#h (this IS PG).
I had always been the nice one--it was MY thing and suddenly he took over with his passive-aggressive ways and made ME into the mean one. His family didn't even get to meet "Nice Nika." People who met me after we met don't even know her. I used to be afraid to leave my name for the pizza guy for fear of doing something wrong in turn making him think I was mean, but I finally established that SOMEONE needed to leave a name or NO PIZZA FOR US (which really should be our motto these days anyway!). I was always the ridiculous tipper. I was a waitress for years and fully believe that someone may truly be having a bad day, so as long as they aren't mean to me, they usually get 20% plus a dollar (which changes the percentage to something I should probably know, but I don't and the NEW me won't apologize for that). If they are rude? 15%. I used to have debates with every boyfriend (and even my mother!) about that. My husband? Not only did he follow suit, sometimes he will even leave 50% (especially if the waitress is hot--don't think I'm fooled!). It's like he was trying to "out-nice" me. And it worked. Especially when we had no money and he was leaving 50% on a check. Enter "Mean-Nika."
The nice and mean problem was most prevalent in our early days as parents. I know most couples go through this--first we have to learn to live with another person, next we have to learn how to run a small town (yes, I know my metaphors are slipping, but it honestly FEELS like a small town!) as co-leaders. No easy task. Luckily, we had most of the same parenting philosophies--most of which went out the window when we realized how absurd it was for us to have "philosophies" on something we had never done. Or maybe I learned that and never told him. Maybe he's not the only one who needs to work on communication after all...
The Neuroscience of Consulting
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