October 27, 2007

Open Communication

I'm getting so behind on blog-reading. So when I can, I read blogs while nursing. This means I can't comment much (typing one-handed makes Homer go crazy) (Simpsons reference, though it also makes Henry go crazy), but I'm hoping to play the "5 kids" card on that one--if that card isn't too worn out from me using it in the Housecleaning slot.

The computer is tucked away in a back room, so if the twins are up and I'm the only adult, I can't be in there. If Paul is home, I can. BUT: I've been noticing that if I'm nursing while at the computer, he starts getting really crabby in the other room. He does that thing where one parent clearly wants the other parent to hear how burdened he is and how frustrating it is to be doing it ALL BY HIMSELF. (River-crying in progress.)

It shouldn't make any difference to him: if I'm nursing in the living room, I'm just sitting there with a book, not doing stuff with kids. But it seems to me that it DOES make a difference--like he feels the way he'd feel if I were just on the computer when I was NOT nursing. NOT THAT THERE'D BE ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT, I might point out. But since I AM nursing, it seems to me that it doesn't matter what I'm doing at the same time: he's on his own with the other kids either way, so what does he care if I'm reading in the living room or reading at the computer?

So when we had a peaceful moment I said in a pleasant, calm voice, "It's been seeming to me that if I'm on the computer while nursing Henry, that makes you feel crabby." He SIGHED and said nothing. Tone of sigh: "You are bugging me about something stupid." I said, still pleasant and calm, "Is that the way it is?" He said NOTHING, and left to go to the library.

Um, HELLO. Everyone (magazine articles! TV shows! movies! books! psychologists! counselors!) is ALWAYS saying that the key to a successful relationship is to have open communication. And men are always trying to pull that "I'm not a mind reader--you have to tell me what you want" line (as if it takes SUPERNATURAL POWERS to see that the teetering trashcan needs to be emptied). So I try to tell Paul when something is amiss.

But I get NO REPLY. Or else he gets mad. Those are the two choices: he ignores me (literally doesn't respond, and either leaves the house, leaves the room, or goes to sleep) or he gets angry. We're both confrontation-avoiders, so usually we work out our problems with minimal discussion, and that works for both of us. But I don't like feeling crabby waves coming toward me when I'm not doing anything wrong.

So what am I supposed to do? That's rhetorical, since I guess there are two answers: (1) Say to him, "I've noticed that when I bring up a problem, you either ignore me or get angry," and then he'll either ignore me or get angry, or (2) Go back in time and marry someone else.

30 comments:

Omaha Mama said...

Your dilemma (the final one especially) is SO my marriage. My husband getst notably annoyed if he's say, watching TV, in the TV room, and the kids are playing around him. He doesn't really have to do much, he's just in the room. If I'm up on the computer while he's doing that, he gets really annoyed and grumpy also. Which annoys me. Most times that I try to "communicate" openly, it's met with similar sigh-type responses.

What are you gonna do? Shut that door, so you don't have to hear him being grumpy! Give him a "I'm going to nurse" and leave it at that. Beyond that, I got nothin'.

Shelly Overlook said...

Men!

JMC said...

Then there's option (3) - Go back in time and don't get married at all. That option is sometimes WAY appealing to me. :) But I'd miss the kids.

the new girl said...

I love your two choices!

The third option is one that I employ...because I can't stand crabby/tension waves--they make me mental.

I let the husband know what I think and also that if he wants to talk about it, whatever it is, I'm ready. Then I ASSUME(he knows this by now) that if it really IS a problem for him, it's his responsibility to let me know. Then I have to work internally in my mind to stick to that and use my righteous forcefield to block all waves of crabiness or pissiness.

Back to my computer time.
:)

jen said...

what about option 4) Yell at him for being mad. that's always fun! "Excuse me! I'm yelling at you!" Now I know you weren't yelling but still. Maybe he thinks you could say something if you were sitting there. You know, something magical, that will make the children stop their whining and carrying on. Some secret phrase that you're not letting him in on.

Melospiza said...

I'm with Jan on option #4: most effective if stamping and/or throwing things is also involved!

I'm lucky in that this usually makes M start to giggle. If he's too far mad to giggle then we're both screwed, though.

Marriage: fun times.

Melospiza said...

JEN. I'm with jen.

Swistle said...

The New Girl- Hey, I like that. Probably that's the method he thinks we're using: I complained about the situation, he didn't respond but maybe now he will feel dumb being crabby when I'm at the computer, so either he won't act that way or he'll talk about what the problem is.

Omaha Mama- I like the idea of just closing the door, too!

Erica said...

I can't tell you how many times #2 has popped into my head.

Marie Green said...

Oh, man. Human relationships are so messy! If you had married someone else, it would just be a different set of issues. *sigh*

Why is it so HARD to get this "communication" and "honesty" and "relationship" stuff right? Or at least get it satisfactory, so that all humans involved feel content etc.?

Also, typing with one hand? This is me too- and why half my comments on everyone's blogs are full of typos and incomplete thoughts etc. Other times, I feel like I'm choosing between sleeping and blogging. There just isn't enough time to fullfill my computer addictions!

Mommy Daisy said...

Oh, here's what I do (because this happens in my house ALL the time): FINE BE THAT WAY, DON'T TALK TO ME. Then stomp out of the room. Ha, really mature. Usually gets his attention. (OK, so I don't do it, but I wish I did.)

Erin said...

I definitely sympathize here.

Maybe you should tell him, "hey honey, why don't you take a little break with the computer, go to the back room, and read what I just wrote. Don't worry, I'll take care of the kids." *sweet smile*

desperate housewife said...

I read this post to Jim to get a guy's perspective, and he agreed with Jen too- Paul probably thinks that if you were IN the room, even if physically unable to contribute to childcare, just your presence/voice would somehow be a calming influence if the kids were getting out of hand.
That said, we get lots of the "silent but fuming, trying to make the other parent feel a little guilty for grabbing a moment of free time" stuff around here, too. From both ends.

bubandpie said...

It all depends upon the correct translation of the sigh, doesn't it? Is it:

(a) I'm annoyed and I know I have no real right to be, so would you just let me relieve my feelings by sighing and leave it at that?

OR

(b) I'm annoyed, and if I had to express that in words I'd realize that I have no right to be, but instead I'll engage in a sigh-campaign which, if it goes unheeded, will eventually escalate into full-scale harrumphing and other hideous forms of retaliation.

If it's (a), shut the door, grin to yourself, and enjoy a few blogs. If it's (b), communication is painful but necessary.

Swistle said...

Bubandpie- Ha ha! I'll bet it was A, and that's why he wouldn't talk. He knew he had NO CASE.

mrsgryphon said...

apparently, your husband and mine went to the same (non)communication school!!

Woman with a Hatchet said...

One handed nursing typers unite!

Well, as for the communication issues, I've had my share of kicking my husband in the head conversations. The problem is trying to solve the problem ONCE and then both of you agreeing on the solution.

Sounds like it's confrontation time.

Remind him that half of all marriages end in divorce, but those where communication is strong have a much better chance. You could also jokingly threaten that if it comes to it, HE gets all five children.

Start talking, Paul!

Misguided Mommy said...

i vote turn up computer speakers while he is in other room whining. That or ask him if you need to call the whaaaambulance since he is being such a cry baby.

also i put an edit at the bottom of my blog that describes why i couldnt find that girls mom

Devan said...

Ah, husbands! Nursing at the computer is an excellent way to multi-task. If he doesn't like it, you can suggest he nurse the baby.
If he doesn't want to talk about it - fine!!! Don't talk. It interrupts my computer time anyway...

Di said...

Oh Kayakboy is so good at that one, also at the "Can you please take her?" move when he's had to deal with her for more than a few minutes.

He has no idea!

hello insomnia said...

This post totally reminds me of one of my favorite Simpsons scenes ever when Homer says, "That's what's wrong with marriages today. Communication. There's too much communication."

theflyingmum said...

Ah, the passive aggressive husband. Yes, I do believe I have a little experience with that myself. Sometimes, you just have to suck-it-up and go for the confrotation. Call him on his behavior. I have only one child to worry about, but he has witnessed us in the throes of a "discussion" - not a good thing. But if it gets the air cleared and opens things up for future non-volatile discussions, it might be worth it.

Melissa said...

Isn't married life wonderful - LOL. Seriously, you have to pick your battles. Good luck girl.

Amy Q said...

I'm so there. All. the. time.
I just (today) started a really great book on that very subject though..."How to improve your marriage without talking about it" , a title which appealed to me because my husband does the same thing yours does. I'll let you know if the book's advice works.

Pregnantly Plump said...

I think I might be like your husband. I just get pissy and quiet. My husband has figured out that if he didn't do anything and it's early in the morning, then I'm just going to be moody for a while. He just lets me veg until I fully wake up. I'm sure he has other modes of handling me when I'm moody and fully awake, but I'm not sure what those are! I hope our son takes after him.

The Mommy Years said...

Ahhhhhh.

Some days it just helps to know that I'm not the only one in "that" marriage.

Maybe Mommy's presence alone really is a calming influence - but some days it's just nice to not have to be present for an hour or so.

mom huebert said...

Maybe he's feeling childishly left out because when you're off in the other room, you're not with him. At least, my hubby gets that way. That doesn't make it any easier, I know.

Tessie said...

BR is a LITERAL IGNORER too and it drives me fucking insane. I will ask him a direct question, to his face, no Red Sox game on or anything at the time, and he will look right at me and Say.Nothing. Whatthefuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuck!!! WHO DOES THAT?

He always denies being crabby about stuff too. Or, he is like, well I wasn't crabby before (yeah, right), BUT I AM NOW!

Alice said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA. i was seriously not expecting option 2. i snorted aloud, at work.

Jen said...

It kind of sounds like he's being the chic in this situation. No? Like you're supposed to read his mind and magically fix whatever the problem is? Maybe I'm wrong; I don't know either of you well enough to judge your marriage or how you handle quibbles.

That 'chic' thing being said, I'm not sure how to respond besides what you're already doing, and possibly to do what the new girls says. Might work. It's worth a shot.

For me and my husband (who usually works about 60ish hours a week), when it comes time for the weekend (and what I view as my break time, perhaps selfishly), I say upfront what I hope to achieve and when it might work best for us both for me to do those things. This way he knows early on Saturday what I'm planning and has time to deal with the fact that I'll be gone for a few hours doing such and such. I'm not sure that this would work for you since the issue is a little different, but maybe it would work?