Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Welcome to Metaphoria

You guys have been fabulous with your input and encouragement as I wander around the the meaning of wife for book #2, so naturally, I want to ask you more. There are practical considerations, however, when discussing certain issues in the blogsphere, as any of you with tracking software that shows what people google to get to you can attest. Make no mistake, questions today are about birds being birds and bees being bees. But if we're all discreet about it, perhaps no midnight googlers will end up here looking for excitement, only to find a never-ending line of entries about what book I'm reading and THAT DOG.

So, about the reading...I've been doing some fun research on this wife thing. Not self-help - more biography, sociology, rantings of various sides of the "why isn't this working the way we thought it would?" debate. Wandering through a used bookstore, I picked up a small, out-of-print book which turned out to be quite a find. It's a sociological study; it received no media attention. But it's findings blew away all my prior notions about how we women have approached the letter S followed by the letter E completed by the letter X over the decades, suggesting that our generation may have things upside down and backwards in terms of what we think is essential to relationships and what we believe we can safely let slide.

So I have to ask...Whether you're married yet or not - how important do you think the birds and the bees are in everyday marriage? Where do quality/quantity of marital private time rank on your list of "must haves"? What else is on the list?

Two specific, and be vague....

Specific: Please, please, please don't say "communication is important" without saying what that means for you! Some of us think communication is a long heart-to-heart, others define it as "he knows from the look in my eye when he's in trouble." Everybody is different (speaking of vague) so it's really helpful to go a bit beyond the pat phrases we've been taught to what that means when we try to do it personally.
Vague: feel free to be creative in the use of alternative language to describe IT...remember, this is a family channel :)

Thanks all!


Stacy said...

Being unmarried, I have no wise statements to make, but I'm curious as to what gems you've found in that book.

LEstes65 said...

Being in the middle of a divorce, I could write a whole book to answer you.

Communication is key and I'd say #1. And I'll tell you why. After having my first son, I had post-partum loss of libido. BIG time. For a LONG time. Formerly wonderful hubby was the picture of respect. He always said, "I understand. I would never push you. You can't help it." He was so understanding that all of my friends wanted to clone him. As it turns out...during the whole divorce thing, he finally tells me that actually he felt abandoned - he blamed me for abandoning him in the S way. Since he couldn't tell me that fully and honestly back when it happened, his resentments built up and he began being an agry miserable jerk. And then, when my libido returned, I didn't like who he was being and so I wasn't motivated to offer myself. You see the vicious cycle here? So he got more angry and jerky.

Example #2: after first son was born, we both felt strongly about raising our own children. He quit his job and stayed home. He knew it was important but never communicated how much misery his new role brought. Not the dad thing. The house husband thing. Some people (esp men) are not wired for that job. He resented "giving up his career". He resented the loss of freedom. He resented everything. He wasn't able to tell me any of this due to guilt. He knew he should want to do this. He knew it was important. Yet it was killing him. So again, resentments built (against me who had the career and "freedom" in his mind). And this added to his anger and jerkiness. And that added to me pulling away or not respecting him or treating him like the jerk he was being. See the continuation of the vicious cycle?

The whole exsay thing...I will tell you that, based on the last 16 yrs I spent with the same man? It's #2 for men. Maybe even #1. Political correctness is rather ingrained in Americans now. So men know not to complain about the lack of it. But I will tell anyone who will listen - if it's not happening, there is a REASON. And you need to spend any amount of energy finding out why. It can be physical (post partum or illness). But often it is a neon sign to emotional or communication problems. And had I had a clue back in 2000, I would have gone to a million doctors to restore my libido more quickly. I would have dragged my husband kicking and screaming to counseling so that we could get things out into the open.

I just recently told a newly married friend of mine to make an agreement with her hubby. Tell each other how they're feeling no matter how painful they might think it will be. If my hubby had been able to be honest and say, hey, the lack of S sucks, I probably would have thought he was a big ham-fisted ape. Maybe I would have been pissed off, too. But I might have been spurred into action by either telling someone in anger and having them say, hey, get that fixed, girl! Or maybe I would have been pissed enough to get counseling. But I would have dealt with it THEN.

The "truths" I'm hearing now - anywhere from 7 to 16 yrs too late - are so frustrating because they all could have been fixed - had we but told each other the truth.

Editing or omitting what you say to protect someone's feelings - that's for aquaintences. That person that you're supposed to support until the last dying breath - they deserve your total honesty. And you deserve theirs. No matter how hard it is to hear. Communicate with this in mind: Consider the source. If this person loves you and is saying something that bothers you, consider the source. It's someone who loves you. So put the initial reaction aside and pick at it until you understand.

That's just my two cents from the stance of losing someone.

Trish Ryan said...

After reading these wise, hard-earned words, it seems almost obnoxious of me to try to write a book about marriage. But you Lynette, need to put pen to paper immediately. This is brilliant stuff, and you're right - no one tells you the brass tacks truth about how to keep the marital ducks from swimming away. Thanks for this comment - it's worth it's weight in gold.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

Being married for 10 years I have to say that being intimate constitues many things,not only sex....although sex is one of the fun ways to be intimate. We especially love to talk and I love it when we're on the same wavelength and just laughing toegther - it's sexy

Beth said...

I'm unmarried and like Stacy, I wish I had someting brilliant and insightful to add here, but I don't feel that I do. I'm pretty clueless, I think. I do think that in my dating realtionships, it is important to be on the same page with the birds and the bees-as far as how often you both want it to happen and not witholding because you are mad (or in my case, pouting) or not in the mood.

kim said...

Trish -- so nice to see you by my blog.

I will be back to write an answer to your post, but trust me -- I'm so tired, I'm barely making sense and my marriage advice is melding with all of the strange ways people have found my blog, so I'd better stop typing while I'm ahead.

Beck said...

I read someplace that if the sex in a marriage is good, it's 10%, and if the sex is bad - or not happening often enough - it's 90%. I think that you can judge the health of a marriage by how often people are, um, getting it on, really.

Jess Riley said...

If what Beck said is true, I'm in trouble.

I blame the XBox.

(But at least it's providing great writing fodder!!!)

But bottom line, as one who's been divorced, my "marital must haves" include fidelity, trust, laughter, and collaborating on everything ranging from the mundane (chores, grocery shopping) to the significant (working towards long-range goals, sharing values, etc.) Physical compatibility "in that way" is key, although quality over quantity wins hands-down for me.

Swishy said...

I am COMPLETELY clueless here.

But I will say that I think it's important to think of ways to compliment your partner and to say thank you a lot, even for mundane things. It just helps foster goodwill. I was also reading an article lately that talked about the importance of being really active with praise. It said, in fact, that sort of absentmindedly saying, "Oh, that's good" is more damaging that it is positive over time, which was a surprise to the researchers. They thought passive praise was better than none, but found that wasn't necessarily the case.

The Mahathma said...

nice read!! im a midnight googler :-) ..wait!! its the alein in me actually :-) ...

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I think all that stuff is important, but it's difficult make it a priority--at least it is for me. After all the other parts of life have taken their cut of my day, there isn't much time or energy for anything else. But in my opinion, even a little, subtle effort makes all the difference. Is that clear?

I really like your idea for book #2--sounds fascinating.

John Elder Robison said...

Well, I would not downplay the importance of sex, but there are other additional things that girls can/should do to retain their mates . . .

My mate pets me when I am anxious.

She watches what people say around me and explains things I miss

She always believes in me

She feeds me sometimes

We have evolved a system of shared responsibilities, so that I do not have to give thought to the things she does getting done

We do things together. We go out several nights each week.

We have a shared economy. Many people say, "keep separate finances," but I believe doing so is simply anticipating failure.

I do not have a prenuptial agreement for the same reason.

Is that useful?

appletini said...

I think that the "S" word is very important in relationships, but beyond that I have learned that if you truly want to be happy in a relationship, you need to be in tuned with your partner.... kind of like how you are before the sex happens.

After the sex happens and years have passed, I have seen many people, including myself, that aren't in tuned with each other any more. In the beginning you are interested in who they are, what they like, etc. It should continue that way the whole relationship, where you are "working" at making the other person happy.

Anonymous said...

I caught your message on another blog and decided to come over here for a while. I made a very lengthy response to another authors Autism/toxicity entry.
I wanted to say that I believe with all my heart that Jesus, The Holy Spirit, has lead our family to all the information we have learned for our Autistic sons recovery process. The Glory for our sons improvement it due solely to Him. (It has been through healing his body, not 30+ hours a week of therapies.)
It is as you said, difficult at times to know how to comment when you believe in a miracle working personal God.
God chose many times to use remedies to miraculously heal people thoroughout the Bible.
He is good!
As for marraige.
Interesting responses.
I agree communication is HUGE!!
Sex within marraige is wonderful! But try being available at any time when you have a pre-teen with hormones, a child with Autism, and a toddler who senses he isn't getting as much attention as he should because his other siblings are so much more "loud" so to speak about getting their needs met.
It better not be all about the sex.
I have not read anything here about "Love languages". What is a love language? Basicaly there are five: Physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, and gift giving. If you think about it, you can pretty much catagorize everything into one of those areas.
It is amazing once you understand the way your loved one feels most loved how much better you can love them and let them know they're loved by focusing on those simple things when you relate to them. Like wise, understanding what makes you feel most loved helps you to communicate to your loved one what you really need from them.
Gary Chapman wrote the book 20 or more years ago, but it's had lots of reprints, "The Five Love Languages". Buy it. There are hundreds of thousands of copies in print. Buy it on ebay. There's no excuse not to have it.
Prior to him, God discussed every angle (of the love languages)in His Word.
Also, for a holding marriage, try this one on for size. Another concept thrown out long ago. Be determined to marry for life. For all the right reasons - not for the wedding and the shared space - and don't settle for anyone with less of an expectation.
I've been divorced too. I got married in my early 20's because most of my friends were and I felt like I needed to be to prove my worth to myself. WRONG ANSWER! I married a very romantic man a few short months after meeting him and discoverd a few short months later that he was an emotional abuser.
Since then I have discovered that my identity is centered on who I am in Christ and nothing else. Wow the freedom!
I can't immagine going through my current life with a self focused spouse. He would have left with all the pressures we are under.

Saved by Grace