This is the tale of a battle, an argument, an epic fight between ancient rivals, best friends, betrothed and beloved and bothered and bewildered. Some of the territory has been contested for generations. Some is new ground. Every fight has two sides, this one is mine.
The original plan for Thursday, as of Thursday morning was as follows: At 9am I had a job interview. Afterwards, I would come home and go out to lunch with one of the girlfriends who was going to be in the area while wife dropped daughter off at preschool. Then wife would leave for her date, I would come home and work from home, then pick daughter up from school. Then I would continue to work from home and eventually second girlfriend would come over. We would do whatever we would do at home with the family, and after her date, wife would return. Second girlfriend may have stayed over, may have gone home. Everyone would have been terrifically happy.
Instead, what happened was my wife’s date canceled. I had my job interview. On the way home, third girlfriend called and asked if I wanted to come over for a quickie, which I declined because I didn’t have the time to get there, take care of business, and come back home. I barely made it as it was.
First girlfriend got to my house before I had gotten home. Wife and daughter were still in bed, didn’t answer the door. I arrived three or four minutes later and wife asked what the hell first girlfriend was doing there. Wife said that I never explained any of this to her and I never told her that I was having lunch with first girlfriend or a quickie with second girlfriend (which, again, I didn’t have), and that she didn’t know I wasn’t going back to work, and that once I found out that her date canceled I should have known that I was supposed to want to spend time with her. So wife took off to bring daughter to school while first girlfriend and I went out to lunch. Then wife texted me to tell me she would be eating alone and that the house would be empty until 1:30.
After lunch, first girlfriend and I went to my house and fooled around until 1:30. A few minutes later, the garage door opened and wife arrived at home, then closed the garage door and took off again without coming in. She said she wouldn’t be there while we bombarded her and that I should leave her alone while she ate her sandwich. Shortly after, she needed to go to the bathroom and said she would go to Starbucks since she couldn’t come home until girlfriend left. I told her to come home and girlfriend was leaving.
Girlfriend left as wife returned. Wife was fuming but wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. Finally, I found out that she was upset that I didn’t tell her that first girlfriend was coming and that she wouldn’t hear me and first girlfriend making fun of her housekeeping. This brought us to the text messages.
A month or so ago, girlfriend came over to my unusually messy house, home to a five year old, seventeen year old, and husband and wife humans, plus 5 asshole pugs. Wife was in a bit of a slump and was overwhelmed and the house was a bit of a mess. And since, according to said wife, I don’t do anything to help, stuff started to stack up. Girlfriend and I had a bit of texting about that, and why coming over to my house made her uncomfortable. It turns out this was stress-inducing via girlfriend’s OCD and I made the mistake of agreeing with her that I, too, thought it was bad. Wife was upset that I chose girlfriend’s side over hers and that I should have had her back and defended her, and I didn’t.
My wife made a few comments later on that had me asking, “Did you talk to girlfriend?”
“No,” she said.
“Oh.” Later, I asked, “Have you been reading my text messages?”
“No,” wife said. “How could I read your text messages? You have a password on there.”
I guess I must have had some sort of body language or something to indicate I thought the house was messy.
So, back to yesterday. “Housekeeping? You DID read those messages, didn’t you? You lied to me.”
“Yeah I lied, but you lie to me every day!” she screamed. Wha…?
“Wha…?” Turns out that was a good thought.
“Every time you tell me I am important and I am number one and I am the primary, you lie!”
“Whoa! What are you talking about?!”
“I am not important to you,” she said. “I am never your first choice, you put everyone else in front of me!”
The yelling continued.
Basically, wife’s point was that when I see blank time on the calendar, I feel like filling that time is ok. She said that she sees blank time and assumes that means that I am going to be home and spending that time with her. I told her that when she wants time she should just put it in the calendar and make sure that I know about it. She said she will not beg for my attention, she will not compete with the other girls, she is my wife, I am supposed to want to spend time with her. That I am a liar because my words don’t match my actions. She didn’t know anything about having lunch with girlfriend, and was very angry that I didn’t just think to spend my time with her instead of another girl.
The last time we talked about this, she said that she would try harder to let me know what she was feeling and what she wanted. She said she would actually tell me when I do something wrong. I know she wants my time, too, and I want to give it to her. I love spending time with my wife. That’s why she’s my wife! And she is importantest. She’s number one.
I tell her I love her and that she is important and that she is number one and every time I say that I am lying. And every day, she says, I prove to her that those words are false. She will not, she says, beg for my attention. She will not compete with the other girls. She is not important to me because I will always rearrange everything for anyone other than her, and when it comes to her I always follow very rigid schedules and rules and I never adjust for her.
She is not important to me because I didn’t come home between a morning date and an afternoon date. Instead, I went to see a girlfriend whose father had just gone in to the hospital and had a terrible date experience the night before.
When I ask her what she wants, she tells me that she does not want to compete with the other girls and she will not beg for my attention. I tell her that my life is built around things that are quantifiable. I have to know what she wants. Not what she doesn’t want, not what I do wrong, I have to know what things I can do that will make her feel better. Does she want more time? Does she want me to put her on the calendar? Does she want more sex? More time with me? No, she will not compete with the other girls and she will not beg for my attention. If she has to ask me to spend time with her she is then no longer the primary and she will adjust but then realize that she is at the same level as the other girls.
I am not good at saying no. I adjust things for the others because they ask me to. Wife doesn’t ask me to – she assumes that I just know. The girlfriends will ask me to see them. The wife just gets upset if I don’t do what she doesn’t ask me to do. Then when I offer to change my plans to spend time with her, she gets upset and says that she is trying and I am throwing it back in her face.
She tells me she shouldn’t have to ask. I am just supposed to know.
Today, a full day after, she told me, “Here is what I got out of it all: if I want you to spend time with me I have to ask for it, If I need/ want something I have to ask for it or do it myself. I told you my date canceled and you said you were coming home I assumed you were coming home to spend time with me. I was mistaken and this is where this whole thing started.” I can work with that.
My wife is prideful and stubborn and sensitive and tenacious and headstrong and wonderful and consoling and impossible and sweet and funny and nurturing and sexy and bright and fabulous and witty and sharp and important and she is the love of my life. I know that I do things that hurt her feelings. When most of her issues are about assumptions and expectations that I don’t live up to, though, it’s hard for me not to do them! So now the storm is over and there is a lot of collateral damage for us to clean up. But we are doing it. And we’ll be better for it. I know it.