Monday, December 06, 2004

Banishment of the Inner Bitch.

Eric and I have been married 6 months now. Yep 6 whole ones. May not seem like a big deal but truthfully I had never even been in a relationship that lasted longer than 6 months before I met Eric. So not only is marriage still new to me but being in a long relationship, period, is new to me. The highs, the lows -- they're all foriegn territory. And more than once I've found myself completely mystified.

We've fallen into a rather disheartening pattern. We bitch and argue at each other. Constantly. Well if I'm being honest I should say that I bitch. He argues. We seem to have lost the knack of communicating without using the bitching or the arguing. It's gotten to the point where it's quite frustrating.

Last night after yet another bitch and argue session Eric challenged me. He asked me to commit to him to not bitch and argue for a week and he would so the same. (Isn't he sickeningly upbeat and positive?)

I didn't even know what to say. (Without being completely negative anyway.) The first thing that came to mind was that this would mean that Eric would get away with murder all week because I wouldn't be allowed to complain (point out his shortcomings) at his lack of help around the house etc. But then not have him argue with me about the stupidest little thing? Hmmm. That could be interesting. Let's just say that I could tell Eric that the sky is blue and he would list all the reasons why the sky cannot possibly be blue. I like to tell him that when I die I will leave instructions in my will to have "He argued me to death." inscribed on my gravestone underneath my name.

Anyway, he finally got me to agree to said challenge and trust me, it has turned out to be quite difficult. Within the hour I had this urge to complain/bitch at him about something. I was strong though and didn't do it but that was only the first night! I have to get through a week without telling him off? Eeeek.

Wish me luck keeping my inner bitch under control. I'll need it.

The Buzz:

At 1:31 a.m., Blogger Kristin declared...

Ah, but if they didn't provoke it so, the inner bitch need never emerge. With that said, good luck!

At 8:43 a.m., Blogger Amanda declared...

The first couple years of marriage are all about learning to communicate - learning the proper way to "fight", learning each other's methods of communication, etc.

The biggest lesson I learned was that just because we argued didn't mean the marriage was over. It just meant we disagreed. After that we had to learn a few tips for "constructive" agruing - don't use words like "always" and "never" (i.e., "You never take out the trash. You always do this. Etc.") because they are false. Once stuff is resolved, don't keep dredging it up in following arguements. Don't go to bed angry. (This is a well-known one.) There are more but those are the first ones we learned to follow.

At 10:07 a.m., Blogger Zulu declared...

I can totally relate. There is value in having the inner bitch. It keeps us from being door mats. And it's now always a negative attribute to make yourself heard. However, I struggle daily finding that form of communication that originates with the inner bitch but comes out much more constructive.

Good luck! And if all else fails do what Eric's doing with the carrots. :)

At 10:42 a.m., Blogger Jen declared...

I am constantly trying to soothe my inner bitch. I don't like her!

At 12:24 p.m., Blogger shadowbox declared...

I'll second the advice that Amanda offered and I'll add this. When the inner bitch comes a-knocking, try this. Explain to the person you're talking to--be it your spouse, coworker or friend--"when you do (or say) this, it makes me feel this way." It makes a big difference because then you're not blaming someone for your mood--you're saying that there's a communication issue that needs addressing. It's surprisingly effective.

At 8:07 p.m., Blogger writersblock declared...

Sounds like I'm not the only one who has read self help books and gone to counselling. So here's some free advise, saving you hundreds of dollars in marraige counselling....get a maid. REALLY. My maid costs me $100/month and that's far cheaper than marraige counselling. She does the big things, like cleaning the bathroom and it makes doing the little things not as bad.

Anyway, my real marraige counsellor would tell you to do the following:

Make an "appointment" to discuss issues. You need to get through that appointment without arguing (or it defeats the point of the "appointment").

So you may say to your spouse, look I'd like to have a discussion about household duties (or whatever the one issue is) at 8:00 tonight. Will that work for you? If it doesn't, let him come up with a time that works.

Next, you need to prepare for that five minute meeting. If five minutes is too long, make it two minutes, whatever it takes to have a positive interaction. Get the timer out. Stick to one issue and write down what the problem is in a non-threatening way, like you were talking to your best friend. You may even have to rehearse the discussion without getting angry. For the first couple of discussions, end the discussion when the timer goes off, even if the talk is going well. You can make the next "talk" a little longer.

Now, however, hokey it seems, it is very valuable to repeat what the other person says. So, if Eric says,I don't have a problem with the mess, so why should I clean it up? You might "mirror" what he says by saying "I hear you saying the mess doesn't bother you."
This is validation and it ensures the other person is being heard. It works best if both people use validation tactics, so both people end up feeling "heard". Even if things are unresolved, this can make you feel understood. And it is a very good feeling when you feel understood by your spouse.

You know, this is getting a bit long, I think I'll do a post about this, because I have a bit more to say.

I hope I don't sound preachy, but I likely do.

At 10:31 p.m., Blogger shadowbox declared...

Y'know....I think writersblock might have a point about the benefits of a maid relative to the cost of counselling. I'm gonna give that some thought.

At 10:34 p.m., Blogger Dale declared...

My mum bitches at Dad all the time. Over silly things. Tea vs coffee. What shade of blue the arm chair is. Whether that old car they had forty years ago was a Ford or a Chev. Mum argues. Dad does not. They were married in 1949.

"Dad," I asked him once, long ago. "Why do you let her treat you that way? Why don't you stand up for yourself?"

I'll never forget his answer.

"Because," he said, "it's more important to be happy than to be right."

At 2:05 p.m., Blogger Jennefer declared...

What a brilliant example of a couple working on their communication. WTG. It should be interesting, and I'm sure you'll both learn lots about yourselves... and each other.


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