Worlds Apart (3/19/2011)

Before you even click to read this, I need to say that these next few blogs are sheer “venting”. They aren’t as much for you to learn from as they are for me to get rid of some tension. Glory to God if you learn, but if this seems agitating, long-winded, or pointless, just stop, you’re not missing anything important.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’m reading a new book as of this morning, I got it from one of my best friends’ brothers, it’s called Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. If you’ve heard this title before, it could have multiple effects on you, however, if the effect is negative, you probably haven’t actually read it, which means that you probably should be, especially if you’re in any kind of serious relationship with someone of the opposite sex. I’m not an idiot when it comes to relationships, because I watch other people be idiots for me and learned a lot from quality relationships. Therefore, I did myself the disservice of thinking that this book was for those who were near clueless about relationships. I was wrong (either that or I am an idiot). This book is not only making me utterly aware of my mistakes, but it’s showing me a bunch of scars I had no idea were there. I can’t recall the last time I’ve felt such regret.

Chapter 2 is the first chapter that starts addressing the issues, it’s called “Mr. Fix-It and the Home Improvement Committee” The premise is that men value solutions while women value relationships, so when they communicate with each other, it causes problems. When women communicate and men offer only solutions for them, it alienates women.

Sin #1: Guilty. I had no idea. I’ve always been told that I’m a great listener. Until our relationship anyway. Now I know why: What they all meant to say is that I’m great at giving advice. Maybe that is what they said, maybe I wasn’t listening well…

The author gave a list of 23 examples of phrases that invalidate women’s emotions. I vividly remember using 17 of them. Fail.

Maybe even more importantly than that, I learned what hurts me: rejection.

Men want to be accepted and when a woman offers advice or criticism without being asked to help a man grow because she loves him, he just feels incompetent and rejected because they base their sense of self upon ability and accomplishment.

All of this was true, but didn’t really set in for me until the next chapter though: Men go to Their Caves and Women Talk. This is where all the wounds were torn open.

{Word of caution: I’m typing this exactly how I wrote it, so it’s gonna be emotional. If it looks like I’m playing the blame game, I’m not. I’m every bit as responsible for the way things turned out as she is, I’m well aware of that. I will exaggerate, repeat a lot of things, and make a lot of generalizations. That’s all a part of being caught in the moment}

I remember being treated over and over again like I was there was something legitimately wrong with me and that I needed to change because I thought so much. She wasn’t trying to hurt me, but more and more I started becoming bitter, angry, and defensive whenever she said something about my silence. I remember being told again and again that I wasn’t emotional enough and that I could never understand her. Each time I heard that, it either made me angry or sent me into a silent inner depression. Or when after wrestling through a problem for hours she would say that I didn’t love her, or that I didn’t care about her, or she wasn’t important to me. After I had just spent hours trying to please her!

That all hurt me really badly, I was doing everything I could to bear with her and show my love for her and commitment to her, but it seemed like she never believed me. I feel like all you ever did was shoot me down, like you had everything right and every way I was used to functioning was wrong. That’s why I never felt good enough for you, that’s why I never wanted to lead, that’s why it was so hard for me to express affection. Nothing I did was ever good enough for you, of course I wasn’t gonna do more so you could criticize all of it too!

The other thing that would tear me down was when she would vent about her problems. I understand this better now that I’m reading this book, but this is where I really fell short. When she was venting about our relationship problems, I swore that she was just being angry at me and essentially yelling, “Fix this! Fix this! Fix this!” Any time I tried to apologize or offer a solution she would just get even more angry at me, then she would lock up and stop talking which hurt me more because then we couldn’t fix the issue. I understood when she was venting about other people and I think I listened decently, but venting to me about me is kinda weird to me even now. But I guess all that’s important in a woman’s mind is to be able to get those feelings out, which is fair. I get it now, I’m sorry. I just hated being the problem all the time, you know? I did a terrible job listening to you, but I understand a little better now.

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