Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Gloves are Off

I can fight dirty. I learned from the best of them. Toilet was good at arguing. You could see the glint in his eyes as he drew you in, then went in for jugular and scored. Over time I learned, and even won some arguments.

After leaving home, I began to see that winning arguments at all costs wasn't the best thing. I slowly learned how to think of zingers, but keep them firmly inside my mouth. Cutting people down might feel good in the moment, as you taste the sweetness of victory in the argument. But the bitterness of having hurt someone you care about, soon consumes you.

I save most of my shots for the courtroom now. However, my husband can drive me to lose my cool and let a few jabs fly. Especially when he makes me mad and then laughs at me. That makes the gloves come off. He can fight dirty, but I can fight smart.

I start back to work on Monday. I'm stressed about it - anxious - and depressed. I've let Husband know all this. He mentioned going into his folks to hunt this weekend, or hunting after work one day this week. I told him that given it was my first week back at work, I was anxious about trying to juggle the morning and evening routines and wasn't sure his being gone one evening would work. Also, this is the last weekend before Christmas and we need to finalize shopping, wrap and get ready for the travelling for the holidays. He let the topic drop. I should have known that was a bad sign.

At lunch today, my husband mentions that he wants to take Daughter into his parents next weekend and hunt. Of course he mentions this in front of my Daughter who is of course, excited about seeing Grammy and Pop-Pop. So if I say "no" then I'm the bad guy. I told Husband we'd discuss it later. He again let it drop, which again I should have seen as a bad sign.

After I returned from a trip to the grocery store, Husband makes a comment about my having stocked up on too much freezer food. He said, "if I get a deer, there won't be any room for meat."

I remarked, "Well isn't deer season about over?" He says, "well I might get one this weekend."

Apparently he has decided he was going hunting this weekend, regardless of my thoughts. I told him that it would really stress me out. He said, "well I've been thinking and you keep saying that I need to cut back because of the Baby, but you've not cut back. This year has been all about you." He then started listing all the trips we took to see my family and my friends, and reminded me that he had changed his hunting plans for my family to come in at Thanksgiving. Also, that we were planning to visit my family for New Years too. He had the dates down pat. He knew exactly how many days we had gone, how many days he took off work, and the approximate costs of each trip. He then compared that to the time he had spent hunting.

I saw red. This wasn't a "heat of the moment" response. What my husband likes to do is end an argument when he sees it not going his way, then retreat to his corner to think up some zinger, and start the fight again later. Unlike me, who will occasionally say something nasty in the heat of the moment, Husband takes his time to think nasty things up. He had obviously spent the hour I was at the store, preparing his case. I started to respond, then realized my daughter was in the room. I said, "we'll have to finish this later or I'm going to say something I ought not say in front of Daughter."

After I got Daughter in bed, Husband raised the issue again. I told him that there was no need for him to go hunting this weekend. He could go over New Years, while Daughter, Baby and I drove to my sister's. He was mad and accused me of "threatening him." I told him it wasn't a threat - I don't have any problems driving by myself. Husband said, "You can't do that" and I said, "don't tell me what I can or can't do." He says, "Well you can't take the kids then." And I said, "fine, you can't go hunting this weekend or take Daughter with you."

As far as I'm concerned, equating hunting to visits with family is just low. Limiting hunting because of a new baby is a far cry from not seeing family. We did take more trips to see my Sister this year because BIL was in Iraq and we needed to help out. I offered to drive with Daughter, but Husband insisted I fly. Now he throws up the plane fare in my face. Overall though, we didn't really spend more days visiting, because we missed our usual summer beach trip.

That reminded him - the fact that we didn't go to the beach this summer is my fault. Forget the fact that (1) Daughter has never liked the waves; (2) I couldn't very well go body surfing or get tossed around in the ocean while pregnant; (3) I couldn't stand the heat and broke out in a rash when exposed to the sun while pregnant and (4) my sister wasn't going to be able to meet us since BIL was in Iraq. Husband had agreed the beach wasn't a good idea this past summer and we made other plans. Plans he utterly enjoyed. But the fact that he enjoyed himself doesn't matter in the heat of the argument. It was "my" idea and therefore all about me and counted in "my column."

I told Husband this is a situation easily fixed. We can move up north and live near my Sister. Then we'll use our vacation time visiting his family. Then he can combine visiting his family with hunting. Of course moving might cause some difficulties given that his parents hate driving on the interstate and have never (ever) travelled out of state (unless you count 20 miles into a southern state while at the beach). Husband didn't find that offer amusing

I told him that we had made the choice to live in this state. That means that we get to see his family more often. We spend almost every holiday with his family. We go to family gatherings very often. Living here means that a large portion of our vacation time is used visiting my Sister. But we can change that, and if he insists on continuing down this line of arguing, that just might happen.

I told him that if he really thought hunting was the equivalent of family then he should go hunting and let me go see my family. I would never dream of making him give up his vacation time to do something he didn't want to do. Of course, he doesn't really want to stay home. He enjoys visiting my family, especially our nephews. But he'll use anything to win an argument. When called on it though, he retreats to his corner.

He had also counted up the number of days spent with my family and argued that we spend more time with my family than his. Well, I'm not so sure about that. He wanted to argue that we don't spend enough time visiting his folks and they deserve to see the kids too. "Fine," I said. Let's go visit this weekend. V.I.S.I.T. That means sit down and talk and visit. Not dump the kids off on your mother and leave to go hunting. Not drag me along and insist I cart the kids around to all your aunts and uncles, while you hunt. Ahhhh.....that's not exactly what he was thinking. It sounded good in theory. But what he really wants is hunting time - not time with his folks. Frankly, he doesn't care anything about visiting his family - it's just convenient that his family lives near prime hunting land.

In the end, Husband said we'd see how this week goes before he decides about this weekend. And that we'd keep our plans to travel to Sister's for New Years. Which means he again will go to his corner to think up something else utterly low to hit me with. Odds are we'll end this argument the same way we always do. I'll say, "I give up. Just go hunting." I give up because I don't want to fight dirty like him. And because if he did stay here, he'd just pout. He can act like a baby, that way. And because by Friday, he'll have made so many other low comments that I'll be glad to have him get lost.

Really, I'm tired of this crap. I've accepted that we are going to have our disagreements. If he wants to hunt, then just go and accept the fact that I don't like it and won't be happy about it. That's not good enough though. He has to beat me down until I beg him to leave just to get out of my hair. He has to get me to agree that he has won the argument and ought to go. Which usually ends up sounding something like me saying, "Just GET OUT AND GO ALREADY."


Ethereal Highway said...

I really like the idea of telling him to hunt while you visit your sister. Maybe you can push for something that gets him to hunt while you are busy anyway and have people around. I can't imagine what he's thinking, though, wanting to bail out like that with a new baby in the house and a wife who just returned to work. Dumping your family for that amount of time is not exactly the same as going for a walk or slipping out to see a movie alone. I think you are being very big about the whole thing. I must say, a situation like that one would make me get really shitty. I'd probably tell him he can go hunting as soon as he gets a vasectomy so there wouldn't be a chance for him to leave me all alone with even more children. I hope you two end up working this through to a real conclusion instead of him just plotting against you until you give up. Things like this can create major resentment.

Kahless said...

It seems to be a constant source of conflict.

Hunting that is.

mssc54 said...

A little of the cave man left in all of us guys. Most of us just have that internal need to hunt to feel like we are real men.

Here's why hunting is so attractive for me. I simply like the solitude of the hunt. I enjoy the creations doing the things they do while they don't have a clue I'm there. I actually spend most of my time in prayer and meditating about life, family, etc.

I absolute hate that my wife never even considers going with me. I would love to inclue her in my hunting.

Now that we have our "new kids" I don't go nearly as much as when our bio girls were older. Plus, I don't have a regular place close by. I have to travle 89 miles to where I hunt.

Why don't you try this:

Tell hubby you will not stand in his way if he wants to hunt. You know how important that is to him and you, in fact, want him to have a good time and not to be thinking about you being mad and make a mistake and hurt himself or another hunter.

However, at the end of this hunting season you both should sit down and make definate plans on next years hunting season. Plan specific, written in ink days he can go hunting. When you sit down and write down the number of days he spends huntiing (aka, away from the family) it may make a bigger impact on him.

It sucks that you can't enjoy that he is enjoying himself.

Perhaps you both need to answere the question: "Why would you rather be hunting than with us?"

prochaskas said...

I'm sorry that you guys are having such trouble communicating lovingly about this difference of expectations and values.

I am one of those people who does better communicating in writing, or being able to think through my thoughts in advance of the discussion. That doesn't always mean that I'm plotting to come up with low hits -- and sometimes, even when that IS what's going on, I sincerely don't realize how low it will feel to the other person.

I hope that you both can insist on talking it through until a loving and respectful conclusion can be reached.

lawyerchik said...

My dad and his sister used to fight like that - no holds barred, it isn't over until someone is crying. My mom's family was more subtle about it but they fought, too.

Most of it came down to the same thing: control. Who "wins" and who "loses." If you brought that bit out with my mom's family, they would act like you'd slapped them - they didn't "fight." They were the "parents," they knew best, and it was futile to argue with them.

My dad's sister, on the other hand, admitted it, and she loves to win - for her, it was all about the process. I think for her it more about power than control, but maybe they are related.

I hope you and your husband can sort through this - I see double-binds in some of the discussions you reported, as well as just an intent to fight over something instead of pulling together. I hope you can work it out. [[[HUGS]]]

Angel said...

Isn't it funny how he will do that so you want him to leave so that he can have a clear conscience about his selfishness. He'll forget that he was being a major jerk to make you say that, and just remember the end result. (You said the words absolving him of guilt.) No, it's not funny at all.

So he thinks he hasn't seen his family. Thanksgiving had your sister's family involved, but it was at his parents' house. The baby shower, surely they were around when your son was in the hospital. Daughter's birthday, surely. Selfishness is always so (non-)amusing in grown men. And the ability to think beyond themselves.

So when you factor in the time he spends at the gym, the time he spends finding things he "has" to do at church, and whatever other endeavors he can find to avoid his responsibilities at home, how much time does he devote to the household? Why is he so resentful of you for it? Are you demanding equal time? Sheesh. I applaud you for not smacking him upside the head.