Thursday, August 02, 2007

I'm Not a Bra, You Know

I have a serious post today. That goes against my better judgment, but I want to vent, and you, loyal readers, are the ventees.

In many ways, Mrs. Lefty and I have great marriage. We do, however, have problems. I’ve mentioned money. That has been a source of great stress in the past. Lately, though, we haven’t argued much about finances. She now has her completely separate accounts, and I have mine.

Instead, another issue has risen to the fore. Since the early days of our marriage, Mrs. Lefty has believed I do not support her emotionally as I should. In my defense, I should point out that I am a man, and men never support their wives as the women think is necessary. Men are simply distant, unfeeling brutes who drink beer.

For Mrs. Lefty, though, it runs deeper than that. It began with my parents. She believes they do not like her, they do not think her a worthy mate for their son. It is clearly true that my parents were surprised to learn I was getting married again and they thought our whirlwind courtship was unwise. In fact, they had not really even gotten over the fact that I was divorced. Then, in one single phone call less than a year after my divorce they learned that 1) I had met somebody new, 2) I was dating somebody new, 3) I had flown thousands of miles to spend a week with that new somebody, and 4) I was getting married to that new somebody in, oh, about two months.

I can understand my parents’ shell shock. Mrs. Lefty’s mother was also dismayed. The morning of our wedding, I saw her mother for about the third time ever, and she said to me, “I woke up this morning hoping it was all a bad dream, and this day would never come.” Welcome son-in-law!

But I don’t blame her mother for feeling that way. She would be, with very little warning, watching her daughter and grandchildren move across the country with a man my new mother-in-law barely knew. And, as it turns out, I have great in-laws. I love them to death, and they have been very kind to my son and me. So despite the early awkwardness, the relationship with my in-laws has been good.

Mrs. Lefty, however, feels frequently snubbed and otherwise mistreated by my parents. I have spoken to them about her discomfort. At another time, all four of us sat down together to discuss it. Unfortunately, Mrs. Lefty still feels mistreated and wants me to stand up for her.

There are a couple of problems with this. First, neither my parents nor I understand what they are doing to upset her. Second, Mrs. Lefty cannot quite describe what they are doing, either. She feels disrespected, but can’t describe the behavior. Third, by “stand up for her” she means “go verbally medieval on their asses.”

Hmmm...I see that I have run out of room for today, but haven’t yet begun to describe things. I guess I’ll continue with part two tomorrow.

P.S. As I was finishing up this post, Mrs. Lefty called to tell me she agreed to work for someone on my birthday, which is normally her day off. Oh yes, we also had an apointment with the counselor for that day.

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Blogger Elizabeth said...

Well... I could make a comment about not marrying someone before you really know them, but it's a tad too late and well, I wrote the book on that.

So, I have no advice.

But... now, your birthday? Maybe she is planning a big surprise?

3:12 PM  
Blogger Lefty said...

e--think I could get a copy of that book you wrote?

3:23 PM  
Blogger Bre said...

You know, what I admire about you is that you talk about marriage as it is - the sucky parts, the good parts, the apathetic parts - all of it.

It's nice to know that, despite the fact that it's not all white picket fences and strands of pearls, people still work for marriage because it just might be worth it in the end. It sets my cynical single heart all aflutter!

4:08 PM  
Blogger Sizzle said...

It sounds like going to a counselor might help. Sometimes we need help learning to communicate with the people we love. It's not for lack of love but mismatched communication styles. I hope you both can find a common ground on this.

But on your birthday!? That's just not right!

6:40 PM  
Anonymous g-dog said...

I'm sorry -
sorry that Mrs. L somehow feels unloved/unappreciated/etc. from your family;
sorry she expects you all to figure out what's wrong when she can't tell you; and
sorry she expects you to defend her over your parents (especially when you cannot ID the offending behavior).

Oh, and sorry she is going to work on your birthday.


7:13 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Hi Lefty. I came on over from Pickled Beef due to the fact that you's and me's are her top referrers to her blog for July. Er. Um. I'm not a stalker, really.

I'm usually not into doling out advice, especially to perfect strangers, but you might want check out "The 5 Languages of Love" by Gary Chapman. I can't tell you how much this book has opened both my husbands and my eyes to one another's needs and how to communicate them. [I'm also not a huge "self-help" book believer, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to try something new. Yes, there were parts I skimmed. Sometimes a blade of grass is just a blade of grass, but anyway . . . ] This has changed/enhanced our relationship immensely. It might be worth the try.

In any case, good luck and happy pre-birthday! I hope things go well for you.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Guilty Secret said...

Hi Lefty,

This is such a hard one... I also have difficulty with my mother-(not)-in-law (does that makes sense? we're not married...)
Anyway... I find it really hard to explain to my boyfriend why I find her so difficult, because he is used to her aggressive, abusive ways. (Not to suggest your parents are the same! I just mean it's hard to get other people's parents.)

It's a real pity that sitting down and talking together didn't help. Maybe she had things she wanted to say that she didn't manage to get out, in which case the counselling should help... assuming you get there! Did she know the appointment was that day when she agreed to work?

Remember the advice you gave me... focus on what you can do, not how she needs to change.

Good luck,

3:21 AM  
Blogger Spamboy said...

I understand the 'rents not being 100% down with how you went about things -- my wife and I went through a similar experience: quick courtship, elopment, and my mom seetingly bitter throughout the entire thing, almost to the point where we never talked again.

5:35 AM  
Blogger SWF42 said...

Good luck with the counselling. Is she getting some one-on-one time with the counselor, too?

6:04 AM  
Blogger Love Monkey said...

Does Mrs. Lefty have female friends? If not she must get one pronto. This is the best thing she can do for both of you.

You're right. Men are NEVER going to give the emotional support women need because women generally need an unusual amount of said support - the kind that can only come from another woman.

By the way, I teach my daughters this early on.

As for the inlaws - this kind of thing happens when divorce and remarriage happens and I think only time is going to change this. She probably just has to hang in there and try not to take it so personally.

And that's my advice for today!

PS my cats say hello.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Lefty said...

bre--my divorce taught me that the end of a particular relationship does not solve any problems. I have learned that my next best marriage is the one I'm in now.

siz--yeah, the birthday thing hurt. I also know that I could have been the one that scheduled something on her birthday, and so I'm trying to give her some slack.

g-dog--thanks for your concern and for the birthday wishes.

jen--I'll try to remember to look for that book. And as for stalkers, I've never had one before, so this is exciting!

guilty--you're absolutely right: I've got to focus on my own behavior. But I can vent sometimes, can't I?

spam--fortunately, my parents got over their initial shock and--in my opinion--treat Mrs. Lefty pretty well.

swf--the counselor recommended she get some individual, but Mrs. Lefty hasn't gone that route yet. She may not be ready.

monkey--yes, she could use some more friends, especially women, but she has a hard time holding on to them because she so easily feels betrayed. And see the next post for why I think she takes things so personally.

Cats? You have cats? Next thing you'll tell me is that you knit, too.

1:30 PM  

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