Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I hit a Nerve - Respect

The "Crazy Cycle" comes from the Love and Respect series by Emmerson Eggerichs. It says that Wives need Love and Husbands need respect. But it's a cycle. Without Love, the wife reacts without respect. Without respect, the husband reacts without love. And round and round and round you go. It's a pretty accurate theory.
Husband and I have been stuck on this crazy cycle spinning wheel for quite some time now. I discussed it with T last evening.
As usual, she had some great ideas.

The main issue is still Husband's inability to say No. Last week we talked about what to do about medical insurance. Husband got the name of an insurance agent from a former co-worker of his. This coworker is not the brightest bulb in the box and has a long history of bad decisions. Nevertheless, Husband decided to accept his recommendation of an agent. Husband set up an appointment during my working hours. He started gathering documents including our house and car insurance information. I asked him why - we have great policies and rates. He decided to get those quoted too. Now we've been with a certain company for years and I have developed a good relationship with our agent. So I told Husband not to make any decisions without talking to our Agent to see what she could do for us. Knowing Husband's history I told him not to sign anything until we could discuss it and compare all options.

Husband came home, having decided to roll over two of his 401Ks into IRAs. I've been suggesting he roll over his old 401K into his new one for years. Lo and behold he started the process already. He doesn't know what an IRA is, what it does, how it works, why it's a good idea, the fees and tax implications or anything. Husband says, "you need to sign this." "This" is a piece of paper waving notice and explanations of certain items. I'm NOT signing that. Husband came home with nothing that explained anything. I told husband I wasn't signing anything until he could explain to me what I was signing. But he couldn't explain anything.

I called our current rep to get a medical insurance quote and asked her about IRAs. Turns out she has the same plans available through her, except this company does not charge an "annual membership fee" like Husband's company. So I called Husband and told him this. I was excited to save the annual membership fee and get the same plan.

Stutter....but I sort of, kind of, ah promised this guy we'd go with him.


Husband's contentions - I've quit helping him with anything. I won't participate in decisions. I've given up doing everything. I'm leaving everything to him. So he makes a decision and now I'm mad.

My contention - I've quit doing everything for you. It's time for you to grow up and take responsibility. I am not refusing to participate in the decision. What I want is for you to do the research, make the phone calls and do the legwork. Read the information. Then summarize it for me and we can make a joint decision. Also, I'm not suggesting he be responsible for EVERY area. But I have been for years. I think we need to split it up - he take the burden on some decisions and me on the others. I think he ought take over more since he's not working. But bottom line, decisions need to be informed and joint - if we can't agree, then someone will make a final call. But we ought to at least discuss them.

So as I'm driving to therapy, Husband calls about my signing the paper again. I questioned Husband -

He acknowledges that we discussed his not signing anything or making a final decision until we discussed it. At first he says he didn't do this. But then he says he can't not go with this guy because he gave his word - which sure sounds like a final decision to me. So the dilemma - Husband tells this guy No, which breaks a promise to this guy (in Husband's eye) or tells me to sign it and does it anyway, which breaks his word to me. Husband acknowledges this. And when I make the comment, "gee I wonder who is getting the shaft - oh wait, it will be me --- as usual," he says nothing.

Enter therapy session which couldn't have been timed more perfectly.

It boils down to respect. I've lost a lot of respect for Husband. It's hard to respect a man who can't tell anyone else "no" except me. Actually he has trouble telling me No unless we're arguing. And so when it comes down to choosing, he picks a fight with me, gets mad, and tells me No.

Several months ago, we had a similar argument about Husband discussing an issue with his parents. He wouldn't do it. Finally, in frustration I yelled, "you have until this weekend to talk to them, or I'll do it for you - and it won't be pretty." He looked pleased. I realized that is what he wanted. So I backed off and told him he had to do it. I confronted him on not being able to say No to his parents. He started crying and said, "I can't do it. You just think I'm a big p***y, don't you?" Well I'm not engaging in that type of name calling so I just said, "I think you need to learn to do it."

We've talked about this issue in counseling. It steps on my toes - Husband choosing everyone else over me. That didn't seem to resonate with him. So this time, T told me to approach it from a respect standpoint. I wasn't sure about it, but decided to trust her and try it.

Last night Husband and I were driving to a dinner event. I wasn't going to discuss things then but he insisted on knowing what I discussed in T. I told him it was none of his business. So he point blank says, "what did you say about me?" I reiterate my statement. Then he says, "Well what did T say about the IRA?" I didn't manage to hide my facial expression quickly enough.

I told Husband that I see him having a habit of signing whatever is in front of him. I told him he needed to understand what he is signing and that if he doesn't then he needs to ask questions. Contrary to his thoughts, I am not a genius and I do not understand everything. Yes I can divide up IRAs in divorce, but beyond that I do not know about them. I was expecting and trusting him to find out about our options and make a decision together. It wasn't even that Husband made an informed decision on his own. He doesn't know what he signed. He doesn't understand what he did. He didn't read anything. He just signed it. He has done this before and we've wound up in major problems. I do not sign anything without reviewing it with him and explaining it to him, and getting his input.

Husband wanted to argue, argue. Same things over and over. So finally I stepped off the crazy cycle and said, "I find it very difficult to respect you when you are unable to tell people No. I find it very difficult to respect you when you choose to break your word to me. I find it very difficult to respect you when you make decisions because of a fear of telling someone else No. I find it very difficult to trust you when you make decisions without being informed."

Apparently that was the HOT BUTTON language.

He blurts out, "I don't need your damn respect."
He then tries to switch to the blame game. Well, you don't participate when I try to talk with you about decisions. Remember the budget? Remember this event from 9 years ago? Remember this?

I admitted I was somewhat wrong with the budget. But I also asked him to consider that when I had attempted to ask questions about where he was coming from, he had no answers. He had made an uninformed decision and got mad when I discovered that.
He brings up our differences in paying off debt versus keeping some money in savings. Well, first of all, we're not always going to agree. I compromised on that. And God solved that issue for us by depleting our savings through medical bills.

Husband now says that not only doesn't he need my respect, he doesn't want it. And he doesn't want to do a budget. And he doesn't care about paying off debt.

I ignored his temper tantrum.

He pouted and ignored me the rest of the night. He came home and retreated downstairs. He "fell asleep" on the downstairs couch. I went to bed.

Going to be interesting the next few days.............


Tracie said...

I have noticed the respect thing coming up more and more often with my husband (while we are arguing) I noticed that it seems to be his major issue.....and I realize that every time he is picking someone else over me, or acting like a baby so that I will take over and do something for him, or pouting until I give in and tell him to go off and do his thing (that I consider to be irresponsible) just to keep the peace....and in the very moment that I do those things, I loose a little bit of respect for him(and I feel a lot of unloved by him) It is interesting too see that there is an actual theory about this thing that I have been living in for some time now.

lawyerchik said...

This is not just an issue in men-women relationships re: marriage..... In a (much less volatile) way, I'm dealing with a similar situation with a co-worker who can stand up for everyone but me.

And you're right: it translates to lack of respect. What I'm finding is that guys like that do NOT like it when you start defending the line of respect - they're so used to dancing all over it that they don't know what to do when someone enforces their own boundaries.....

The hard part is, it always seems to deteriorate into an all or nothing argument. I hope for a learning curve that results in "oh, yes, you are someone I should respect - I am going to change how I treat you," but I'm afraid that it's only going to be, "you're not playing by my rules anymore, so I'm going to find someone who will - see ya."

Hang in there, Enola. Let us know how it goes - [[[[[HUG]]]]]

Anonymous said...

Enola- I tracked everything you said.....contrary to what he said...he DOES want and need your respect-don't believe that others stuff he said for a moment. Believe it or not, I think I used to do some of that deferring to everyone else but my wife when we were younger, it's a blind spot for some of us husbands. I would ALSO be hot in your shoes. It's not the dollars- it's all this other stuff..respect, control, etc. and it's hard when you're right in the middle of it. I hate going to bed w/ unresolve conflict. (but remember doing it once or twice myself) :-( You are a great wife! hang in there. DM