Yesterday I received a comment on my super-secret information post from someone who knows what it feels like to walk in my shoes. Well, maybe not entirely since I have crazy small feet (6.5!) for a woman my age, but you get the idea. As I am wont to do in this situation, I immediately went and read a couple posts on her blog and added her to my reader not long after. It happens. A lot.
As I was reading along, I came across this post about marriage being hard. Now, I know I’m not married, but after technically living with someone for over a year and having that “technically” removed in August making this living situation solid, I’d like to think I know at least enough to have formed my own opinions. Maybe I haven’t, who knows. But I know the situation in which I have found myself isn’t always the place I want to be.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Joe. I couldn’t imagine not living with him (even though we are living in sin. Gods strike me down!) or having him in my life. He is the one constant I know will always be there (except from 7-12pm on Saturday nights. He’s pretty much unreachable then. Unless it is an absolute emergency. And even then, I probably wouldn’t remember the phone number, anyway). He’s the one that boosts me up when I need it. He kills the spiders and gets things from high places.
But there are times when I wonder if it’s this hard for everyone. I know he’s questioned it, too.
Yesterday we had a stupid fight. It involved piles. Piles of bills, piles of clothes, piles of instruction manuals.
Don’t all major fights evolve from something so petty?
This time, the piles were mine. Except for the instruction manuals. Which were only partly mine.
We were having company over yesterday evening for dinner before we all went out to see a movie. I was making homemade pizza, sesame noodles (per Joe’s request), and a salad. I got home from work around 3:30 and couldn’t find something (I don’t even remember what it was. Stupid, right?) I needed right! then! He told me that he had put it in a pile in the KitchenAid box I still had out. (In my defense, I needed the UPC code cut out so I could get my rebate. It’s cut now and I can expect my rebate in six to eight weeks.) I looked in the box and got extremely angry because all of the things inside said box had been removed from said box just a few days earlier to be sorted through. And now? They were back! in! the! damn! box! I have a quick temper. That is my excuse. My poor, sad, lame excuse.
I grabbed the pile of papers from the box and angrily started sorting them. Instruction manuals Joe keeps saying he’s going to put in the office that are STILL not in the office. Bills I need to pay. Coupons I need to clip. Newspaper and other recyclable items to go into the bin. All the while not saying a word. Joe’s not a dumb man. He knows I’m pissed. He’s just not sure why. And, knowing he’s about to take his life into his own hands, he asks me what’s wrong. I, of course, being the sane, rational person I am, completely lose it. I’m sure if there had been any innocent bystanders present, they would later swear they saw my eyes turn red and steam bursting from my ears.
“These papers needed sorting. That’s why they were out! Why haven’t you taken the instruction manuals to the office like you said you were going to? Why do these piles just keep moving from one place to another?”
“Why haven’t you put away the laundry that’s been in a pile on the floor in the bedroom for 3 days?”
And on and on, back and forth.
It turned into me very quietly placing the recyclables in the bin and putting away my clothes and Joe angrily folding more laundry he assumed I wasn’t going to put away. The one bill made it to my nightstand so I wouldn’t forget to pay it.
After a few minutes, the reason I was so angry in the first place came to me. I still don’t feel like the house we live in is my home. I still feel like a guest a lot of the time. I don’t have anywhere to put my school books. My computer lives on the end table by the couch because my desk is in the guest room on the other side of the house and I don’t want to be so far away from the action when all I need to do is peruse my reader. All of the furniture and wall hangings are Joe’s. The only room I can safely say feels just a tiny bit like me is the kitchen. It’s where I spend the majority of my awake time when I’m home.
The pile of clothes is different. This house had brand new (cheap) carpeting installed right before Joe bought it. This awesome carpet sheds SO MUCH that we have gone through two vacuum cleaners because they keep getting clogged with white fibers. Between the shedding carpet and the shedding cats, my clothes are immediately dirty when they come out of the dryer because Joe throws everything on the floor when he’s folding. Then he sorts the clothes into more piles on the floor. I always feel like I am putting away dirty clothes when he’s done. I know there isn’t much we can do about this right now as my bamboo floors are still just a sparkle in my eye, but at least my feelings are known.
This post has gone so far from what I originally wanted to share, but at least that story puts some of what I feel out there.
Really, what it comes down to for Joe and I is communication. This is really a foreign concept for me. My entire life has been spent hoping someone will magically know how I feel and what I need without me having to bare my soul and actually say something. Then Joe comes along and asks me how he’s supposed to know if I don’t tell him. Plenty of other people have said the same thing to me, but it never really clicked until it came from Joe. I’m still working on this. But, because of this little communication thing, fights like the one we had last night are a rarity in our relationship. (at least, now they are. They were the norm a few months ago, but those can be blamed on medical reasons.) Now I know that if Joe — or anyone outside of the two of us, since they can affect our relationship, too — says or does something that upsets me, all I have to do is tell him about it. Usually, it can be very easily resolved. Sometimes feelings get hurt and there are tears involved, but that knock-down, drag-out fight is avoided.
That’s not to say that the system is perfect. This communication thing has backfired on us. There was a time not too long ago that Joe said something that offended me. I did my job and told him I was offended, and he told me I shouldn’t be. I told him it didn’t matter if I should be offended or not, I still was. We went back and forth like this, each time getting louder and angrier, until I was in tears and he was fuming. When we could finally talk about it like normal human beings, it turned out that what he had originally said was not what he meant. When he explained what he meant, it changed the entire situation. Basically a lack of communication caused our fight when we were each trying to communicate our feelings.
And our resolution to last night’s fight? The clothes will no longer be folded on the floor. We will clean out the “office” so I have a place to store my things (speaking of which, if anyone out there is looking for an executive desk large enough to sleep two grown adults? Send them my way). And we will find a new desk for me to put in the front room with Joe’s so my computer and school stuffs have a place to live. All of this because I finally bared my soul. Maybe this soul-baring thing isn’t so bad, after all.