Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dissecting [The Anatomy of a Marriage]

I was expecting strong reactions to the post when I wrote it. And I got them. I wrote it when I was still upset, but when I had got myself back in control. Some context is required, perhaps.

V and I agreed to quit smoking when we decided to get married. Without being a very heavy smoker, he was still pretty dependent on his nicotine fix. And without being an addict, I used ganja to help me cope with the knee pain when it got very bad, to tide along lonely hours etc. After the marriage I haven't touched a joint (and don't intend to, with The Bhablet in the picture) but V has not stopped his smoking. I only got worried when I realised that he can't. Now, I'm a control freak and cannot bear the thought of anybody or anything actually having such a strong sway over me (or mine). When I was pregnant last year, when the smell of tobacco would make me nauseous, V used to come home from work smelling of it. He said he wasn't smoking but he was. I was going through depression and he managed to convince me that I was imagining it. So you can imagine my fury when I discovered that I had been right all along. After The Bhablet was born I told him enough was enough and that I didn't want Rahul learning that smoking was ok. So he said he'd kick it. That was last November. Since then I've smelt it on him but he has told me each time that it was his friends. This November I asked him if he had really kept his promise and he nodded. And I told him, it's been a year, and I'm so proud of you. Only to find, a month later, that it all lies again.

It's not a pretty story but neither of us comes out well. We are trying to put it behind us. He, to try quitting once more, me to not be suspicious of everything he says. And I think TMM has a point when she says:
why does he lie? no finger pointing involved, but i know that i usually FLIP out when something upsets me. which makes it seem like i'd be hard to confess to - but the truth is that i am one of the most easy ppl to confess to... so maybe you are ready and willing to forgive whatever it is he thought he'd have to lie abt .. he's just too scared to tel the truth? damn.. going around in circles here.

She's put her finger on it. It's scary to think your husband doesn't want to come to you with the truth. Why then should you expect anybody else in the world to? Is that the image that I give out? I think that is mostly why I was so angry. That and because I found this out when he was out of town and I waited for him to come back, to explain, even admit it, but he did none of those things.

Whereas I would rather he told me that it had been a mistake, let me blow my top, and then we could both have gone on with life. I'm the carpe diem sort, I don't like to waste these days that we do have, they are too precious.

Anitha described something else that comes between us:
My hubby does not do it, but he does more damage than by JUST NOT TALKING AT ALL. Will you believe there will be days when we would have hardly spoken anything other than, "food is on the table, eat", "come to bed","bye" and such like. That too when we do not have any fights. He is such an intensely private person, that he does not like me blogging, and we have been having fights over it. He knows I love reading and writing, these days he is getting annoyed when I take up a book, it is more as a protest to my blogging. I wouldn't give up blogging unless I really want to, I see this is an incursion of his personality onto my interests. I am not giving away any info about him, not posting pics of Nikki, but I will write.
Not talking does more harm with me than actually spitting it out. Because if he doesn't say what's on his mind, I'm liable to imagine it's a lot worse than it actually is. Experience has shown this. But I guess I also have to accept that V is the silent sort. I can live with that, but I do need to be able to trust the little that he does say.

On the blogging thing Sunita agreed with her:
I don't share everything with my husband, infact I'm much much more guarded than he is. Which is why he finds it completely odd that I spill my guts out to the blogosphere and like Nikki's mom says we have been arguing about it too.
As she says, she sounds a lot like V! You know, you guys, I think if it had been V blogging and me the silent spectator, I'd have had a problem with it too. Perhaps it will help to somehow involve your husbands in it? Like DotMom asks BigGeek to think back to help her work out a tag. Or I remember TMM saying she mails her posts to OA if she thinks he may mind what she has written. V takes some of the photos I put up. I know he reads Sunny Days regularly and it shows in my posts. As he knows. There was a time when I wrote without considering him, and there is a difference between how I wrote then and how I write now. Now, even if I want to come bitch about V here, I ask myself if I would be ok with him writing the same lines about me.

For all I know, you guys do these things already. Maybe your husbands are concerned about the security. Would they mind it so much if you met some women somewhere and became friends and told them stuff about yourselves? I mean, if you found a circle totally unconnected with them? Would they be more comfortable if they came to a blog-meet or two? If they could put faces and names to the blogs, if the photographs became real kids they knew? Or do they feel that the blogs are where we come to bitch about them? I do know a lot of guys get those vibes, unfortunately. Perhaps if you can figure out what their real problem is, you can try working it out.

Also, Anitha, it's hard for a person who doesn't read to understand why books are vital. V's mother doesn't, and incurred my wrath early in our marriage by asking (in all innocence) why I wanted to bring my books with me to their place.

I have no answers to these, because obviously, you'll know your husbands' insecurities/problems better than I do. But if you can find a way to involve them maybe it will help.

Now, the flirting thing. I was amused when I read what I had written. It's true, I don't flirt randomly. But I do enjoy flirting. It's just that I enjoy flirting with V more than I do with unknown strangers. I enjoy teasing him and coming on to him when we are partying, or have been drinking. It sounds silly, I know, but I really have so much more fun with him that I don't feel like wasting my time with strangers. It's a non-issue mainly because we mostly party with married friends, and I don't flirt with other people's husbands. That's the easiest way to lose a friend, even if everybody knows it was just fun. I've been burnt too many times to even want to.

That reminds me of the last time I went to Roxy. A tequila and a couple of martinis along I was in a very pally mood indeed. Along came this extremely stupid guy who thought he'd try his luck. Since I was in a good mood I didn't rebuff him immediately like I should have. So he started complimenting me. Then I smiled vaguely at him and began edging out of the sofa. So he tried to keep me interested. How? By showing me pictures of his wife and son, who had just gone out of town. 'You're a good girl with family values, so am I' -- how's that for a pickup line?

I have no issues with flirting, but my rule of the thumb is, in this as all else, would it be ok with me if it were V saying/doing what I am saying/doing. I find that simplifies matter considerably.


First Rain said...

No, you are not running for president and yes, I am not married, so maybe you can dismiss my opinion. But I do get the concept of being truthful in a relationship. I too have a problem with lying - big time - so I can get, in some way, where you are coming from.

Rohini said...

I feel like the nasty wife who will snap if confessed to sometimes too but I don't know what to do about it. I can manage not being a shrew for a bit but it comes back at the worst moments.

Still disagree with you on the flirting bit. I really see no harm and see it as no different from checking out a hot guy. As long as your intentions are honourable, it is fine by my book...

DotMom said...

sue the reason i didn't comment on the previous post is because i was asking the same Qs. the more I think about it, I feel we make it harder for men to tell us the truth. We get emotional. they need solutions.

Anitha(Nikki's mom) said...

"Because if he doesn't say what's on his mind, I'm liable to imagine it's a lot worse than it actually is. " - I can so relate to this. Especially after all the bitter things happened with my MIL's stay this summer. I still do not know what he REALLY thinks/feels about it and since he does not speak I can only imagine worse things. That was the worst mental trauma I underwent in my entire life and he DID NOT stand up for me. He saw me crying endlessly, feeling depressed for weeks together, but he did not say anything to comfort me, anything he said sounded like he did not want to probe into this further and he wanted to shut down the topic once for all. "let us cut all ties with them(his parents)", "she(mil) was depressed and got mad", "she is gone and let us not invite her anymore". This is not what I want, I do not want to shun them, I want to make peace with them, want to understand why she behaved the way she did. He thinks it is all silly, there are bigger better things in life that we have to worry about. I do not know what is better than mending the relationship you have with your parents. Hmmm. Despite me trying so much not to brood over it, it keeps coming back to me every now & then. And he does not even TRY TO understand. All that I want him to do is SPEAK, sometimes I feel like banging my head into a stone wall. It has taken a big hit on my self-worth.

Your thing about books - I have to come to terms with it I guess. I still am not.

Preethi said...

First time here.. and what an honest post.. with so much clarity.. I really loved this.. no comments on it yet.. I need to go back and think... keep up the good work.. and I think I will come back.

S said...

Sounds familiar, again! The smell, blaming it on friends, blaming it on my 'hyperactive' imagination..To think I didn't wanna get (or stay) married to a smoker.
The only way I'm able to cope is by telling myself I can't make him stop (I tried!). It's his health, he's an adult, he should know better. But I know, it's different since there is no kid in the picture.
May I also add that I applaud you quitting. I know it's not a simple thing of having the will to quit (or was it? In which case more applause :-)

~nm said...

O-oh!! Why are all these husbands against us mothers about blogging?

In fact yesterday only I had a little discussion with him about my blogging . I really wonder.

He says its not a good to see someone ready to share things with the whole world but not the husband! I was like :O

I very curtly told him to first read my blog, which he will never do despite me asking him so many times, and then make comments like this.

Sue said...

First Rain -- I don't dismiss anybody's opinion, promise. I have to figure out soem way to reconcile truth with the occaisonal white lie so that I can retain my sanity. Any ideas?

Rohini -- See, I may snap but I get over it. I'd have thought that would make someone confess to me and get it over with rather than be stupid enough to think I'd never find out. That's why I'm havingto work on believing what he's saying now. I'm sure he's speaking the truth, but a little voice inside me keeps asking, how do you know, are you sure. (However melodramatic that sounds.) I mean, it's V I'm talking of. I hate thinking of him this way.

What are honourable intentions, while we are on the subject? This sounds interesting. :)

DotMom -- I do offer solutions. Just let me get over the blow. Usually, my solutions are pretty good, too, because I'm very practical. I think V has a problem with learning from me, though. He doesn't like me telling him how to do stuff. I wish he'd get over the whole age difference thing. Some things he knows better. Some I really do know better. In the end, who cares so long as the job gets done? I don't want to do it for him!

Anitha -- *Hugs* Went through it all last summer. Time helped, allowed V to be able to talk about it. One thing I learnt, though: he doesn't know his own mother as well as he should. So he really was not much good at telling me what would best work out a reconciliation. So you'll have to work it out yourself. Just check everything out before you do it, to ensure that you don't do something very wrong.

Things that worked for me:

1. Keeping in touch, however unwillingly and infrequently. A phone call. Some photos of grandson mailed. Birthdays. Calling when you have some news, however small.

Why don't you send a little parcel 'from' Nikki? Photos, news, letters, videos, chocolates. Anything to make them feel a little remembered and special.

2. Asking for advice. I rarely take my mother-in-law's advice, but I ask her anyway because she likes to be asked and because once in a while she really does have good answers.

Of course, I don't know what the problem was. If I'm stepping on toes here, please excuse me.

Preethi -- Thanks. And welcome!

S -- I didn't want to marry a smoker either. :( As I tell him, I only married him because he'd promised that he had quit!

Ganja is easier to quit than tobacco. I've smoked both and I promise you, ganja is less addictive. Also, being less common and not having ppl smoke it all around you all the time, it's easier to stay off temptation.

NM -- It's a tough thing to explain, na? One thing I know -- most controversial stuff that I write here is nothing new to V -- he's had it all yelled to him earlier!

Rohini said...

Honorable intentions = anything that cannot be classified as infidelity, either physical or emotional

Hip Grandma said...

I can relate to your husband also gets into the silent mode whereas i'd like to come out with whatever i feel.but we all have different ways of dealing with the same situation.i've now learnt to take it in my for lying,however well intended i cannot stand it.but then if it is meant to protect someone from hurt or to save someone in distress i may reconsider if my husband came clean and explained things to me when i've sobered up.

Chozhan said...

From what I have read so far, looks like V is a loving husband and dad. He probably needs your help more than you think. Even if he tries hard, it is very difficult for a guy, since there is always "peer pressure". I had similar issue. One fine day, we were watching "Raising Helen" (*ing Kate Hudson) and the theme really shook me. It may sound silly, but for days, I would lie down on bed thinking about the worst. The thought made me take things seriously and I am slowing working on my health. I am not saying, you should scare V. But when he realizes how risky smoking can be, he may be able to motivate himself.

karmickids said...

Telling lies about anything is a big no no with me too, but have been guilty of it occasionally (just neglecting to mention I bought a new bag or a new pair of shoes and such like) so I do understand the fear of incurring the other's wrath. Having said that, my hubby doesnt read my blogs, is not interested in my blogs, but I will still not write anything that might offend him and his family...I like my peace. As for the flirting...long forgotten my flirting skills, and am long used to being wallflower, so am no one to comment on that.

Poppins said...

Oh yeah Sue, you got it right. Perhaps if he met some of you he wouldn't mind so much.. And yes, he says it is the security issue, but I guess he also thinks it's a place I come and bitch about him.

The other day he was on the computer for a long time, I got annoyed about him not spending time with me. He said, "I am, I'm reading your blog. After all your innermost thoughts are there aren't they?". It was not said in a hurtful manner, but I fully get the sentiment behind it.

I used to send him links of things to read and nothing he reads is really new to him, but it makes me uncomfortable to see him actually read my blog. I have to question myself and ask myself why I feel that way. I've got nothing to hide from him !

Sorry to digress, feel free to ignore this comment, but I had to get it off my chest !

Sue said...

Ro -- LOL! Everything else is fair game, huh? Boyfriends 1 and 2 were attractive and flirts, so I'm really quite happy with a non-flirt now. And since I know how much I hated being the one sitting on a side while the guy had fun, I try to ensure that I never leave V in such a position either.

Mind you, we have to take into account that none of the people we know will flirt with me anyway because they think I'm the 'Aunty' sort nowadays, and also because they wouldn't dream of 'impinging into V's territory'. Sigh. Also, we end up attending parties where I spend the evening feeding and entertaining a Bhablet, which does tend to remove any flirtiness from the atmosphere... I tell myself things will improve. :)

Hip Grandma -- That is what bothered me about your previous comment. I can understand you think my lashing out is immature, but I did think I was trying to be balanced about it. Lying is bad enough, but lying steadily over so many months? Anyway, we're trying to put it behind us.

Chozan -- He is. I don't know if he needs my help, but I do know I can't help him until he himself acknowledges that he needs it. He seems to have got into the way of thinking that smoking a cigarette is a way of getting back at me. I hope he realises some time soon that my concern is deeper than that and goes beyond him too. His own father is a heavy smoker and I suppose that's why V thinks it's ok.

Kiran -- Yeah, I know what you mean about not offending family. Even if I do write of past wrongs I ensure that I mention that they were in the past. Offending family seems like a pointless thing to do. Especially when we have Facebook to bitch on anyway! ;)

Sunita -- I used to feel the same way until I realised that I had unconsciously begun to tailor my writing so that he COULD read it. Happened some months into our marriage.

Pixie said...

Hi! I loved your series of posts on the Anatomy of a Marriage and You really made me think about the whole issue and why or how my marriage seems to be working...
I have linked you in my blog, I hope you don't mind... :-)

Suki said...

Not being married (!), I have only one thing to say. Okay, maybe two.
THANK HEAVEN my boyfriend also has a blog! I take my privacy cues partly from instinct, partly from him. I love to talk about how happy I am to be with him, but that's more of a "spread-the-joy" thing rather than anything else.

Yes, trust is important in any relationship. I know exactly how much it gnaws at me even when I give him the very occasional white lie - usually it's "Yes, I've eaten", or "Yes, I washed my feet before getting on your bed". If I did it regularly it would kill me and our relationship, so I'm trying to stop. I know he'll forgive me, the point is that I need to forgive myself.

Sue said...

Pixie -- Sure, and thanks!

Suki -- I wonder if V punishes himself? I must find out. Nobody but I can punish him!