I looked up conflict style on Google and took a few tests to open my awareness of my marriage conflict and the loss of our intimacy. I also plugged in my guesses for H in these online quizzes. It was eye-opening to me why our conversations are filled with chaos and our intimacy is missing. I don't feel safe even in a simple discussion with him. Here is why:
All approaches to dispute resolution in intimate relationships must proceed with a primary concern for avoiding damage to the relationship by not using words, voice tone and body language that communicates contempt, derision, dislike, non acceptance or rejectioIn. Put another way, each partner must speak within a framework that maintains emotional safety for the other at all times. This means that resolution of disputes is limited to discussion, confrontation, persuasion, negotiation and compromise. Moreover, each of these must be done using techniques of neutral language and active listening to insure that problems are vigorously attacked without people feeling attacked and that we address behavior that disturbs us without conveying rejection of the person of the character of that person. Adopting this approach does not mean that issues are ignored. To the contrary, one of the things made possible by the adoption of this strategy is that no issue is ignored and buried because of fear that to raise the issue will cause a destructive, hurtful or useless fight. By creating a strategy in which nothing gets suppressed the couple insures the long term health of the intimate relationship.....Psychology Today, Sam Margulies.
I have long known about the third entity in successful marriages....the marriage itself. The assumed agreement that, to make the marriage strong some effort and compromise must be offered and some work toward the marriage is necessary. I am accepting that I have been aware and in agreement to contributing to the health of the marriage but that H is unaware and unwilling to do anything but set up his own personal boundaries....tough guy, strong male, "no one is going to tell me what to do" guy, "Sit on it" guy.
I am just making myself realize how in most areas of life I am a compromiser/team player. I play volleyball, H plays golf. Marriage is a team sport. If you can't "give one up for the team" but rather play offense for your own glory, then......What? That is what some of us are trying to determine individually.
I've been setting H up with assists all these years to the point where he actually believes that he has played full court by himself. A team of one. There is an unawareness about him that I am just permitting myself to see and accept rather than to keep enabling him to waltz through life in a fantasy game where all his life enemies are embodied by this person (me) who has been trying to get him to work on the intimacy/safety of the relationship. His response to my attempts at a discussion with him was (with offensive posture and voice) when we were a young couple was the often repeated phrase: "I will not be married to a nag!" I backed off of these discussions because they became confrontations rather than intimate couple negotiations. I was not a nag but i would retreat in inner lack of belief in myself and the idea that I was "taking one for the team" and stuffing it. This was wrong of me. In a do-over, I would find support outside of marriage and work on my own inner strength and permission to hold strong on my dignity.