It seems I have spent a lifetime thinking and working on this blog, even though it has only been about ten days. It has been harder for me in some ways than “Mothers.”
I have written and rewritten it. I am at a loss in many ways on the difference between healing between the genders, healing ourselves and healing between people of the same sex.
Do men think differently than women? In some ways yes, yet each woman thinks a bit differently than another would. Each person’s life experiences are their own, we cannot understand them if we have not walked in their shoes, unless we open our hearts, souls, eyes, ears and minds to them their story and their fears. We must also let go of our own fear and trust someone else with our life. This is risky you say? Yes it is you can be hurt, you may share it with the wrong person. However if we don’t take those chances then we will lose all.
So I have come to think that the best way for me to write this blog is to tell a story.
When I met my first husband (German born and raised) I was not quite fifteen. I was as teenagers can be madly and hopelessly in love. Yet during our five years of dating, he was verbally abusive, not once did it occur to either of us to communicate with honesty. Neither of us had a clue really (though the signs were there) on what the other wanted or needed from a relationship. As so many people of both sexes do I watched sports with him and he went book shopping with me. We didn’t talk about what kind of life each other wanted, nor about whether or not the other liked sports or book shopping.
Yet the day after we got married as I sat down to watch football with him, as I really liked football, he turned to me and said, “Why are you watching football?” He was in total confusion and so was I. My answer was “I like football, why do you ask?” He turned to me and said “you are a wife now; you should go do wife things.” I had no clue what he meant, nor did I ask and for a time I lost my precious football, trying to please him.
It turned out that he hated book shopping, but instead of saying you go ahead he tried to get me to stop. He considered reading for readings sake a waste of time. The relationship was doomed. Yet we carried forth both unhappy for three and a half more years.
About a year after the divorce we sat over a cocktail and discussed many things including our marriage. He didn’t want the divorce and was very remorseful with all the things he had done wrong. I turned to him and said “Uwe this was not all your fault.” I allowed it to go on, I didn’t voice my needs nor listen to yours. Unfortunately for us what you want in a wife and a relationship and what I want are so completely different that it can’t work. We talked for awhile longer that night and for months afterwards, about life, dreams relationships and we remained friends.
His verbal abuse was a symptom of his feelings of inadequacy in our relationship as my father’s own feelings of inadequacy caused him to verbally abuse my mother. I had followed a pattern that I had been raised in. Yet there was more to it than that. There was no communication, no honest voicing of needs. No looking at the others side of the situation.
Since then I learned while taking care of my mother that without compassion, honesty, respect and open communication one cannot see the other person’s side and cannot heal. She had her own problems with communication as did I and we learned together how to express ourselves, our feelings and listen to the other without fighting.
When Ken and I began dating our conversations were much different. I asked him about his likes and told him mine. I asked if he liked football, animals, nature and we discussed these things. We talked about compromise. For instance his 1969 Camaro that he built himself and racing is very important to him, it would be torture for me to go to the race track and sit in the hot sun for waiting for the one or two times he gets his twelve second pass. It would be worse for me to attempt to take away from him something he loves. So we looked for a compromise and found it.
I love to have him come home and tell me his adventures. Lit up like a little boy he will show me his slips and tell me about each and every moment of his run and I tell him about the fun I had doing whatever it was that I was up to that day. We both had a great day and neither of us feels like our needs were slighted.
I am not so sure that the healing isn’t something we don’t need to do inside ourselves first. I think too often our personal baggage gets in the way. We don’t ask ourselves what it is we are really feeling. So many times in the first years of our marriage both Ken and I found that the things we were hurt about had nothing to do with the other person. It was all about past experiences and our own fear that we might repeat a past mistake.
I have become better and stronger at letting him know what I am feeling and why. He has become better at doing the same with me. At the same time both of us have learned how to say, this is what I need. We allow each other the space and time to do those things that are important to each of us. Sometimes we do them together; sometimes we just share the joy of our experience when we get together again. We don’t put each other in a position to have to give up our needs for the other. Though sometimes we compromise and do what the other person needs even though that would not be our first choice as this is a part of any relationship.
Mind you I am not talking about rapists, abusers or angry people, both of which come in all styles and sexes. I am talking about looking at yourself and finding out why you are hurt or angry and what it is that is making you this way. Is it really the other person? If it is and there isn’t any way to open communication, or if the other person is an abuser then the only solution is to remove yourself from that person, until such a time comes when there can be honest, respectful and compassionate communication.
Communication, compassion, and honesty must go both ways to work. I have learned that you must listen with an open heart to what the other person is saying and you must communicate what you feel in a way that will help the other understand without the need to get defensive. And above all you must listen to yourself, your spirit and the other person.
There was a lot of hurt in my relationship with my ex-husband, yet that is something we put behind us. We helped each other to heal and move forward with our own lives, he is a good man and I am better for having known him. For without those years I would not have the understanding of myself, my needs and how to see another’s.
All so true. For the first five years of my marriage, all we did was talk, talk and talk. And I also found it to be an eventually found it to be our success. Thanks Marta.
|1304 days ago|
Ana thank you. Your brother is so right, compromise and compassion come in many forms. xo
|1361 days ago|