Yesterday, I vent-posted about my husband being a complete jerk to me. As a result, I got to talking to a lady who has ADD, and she honestly and openly expressed how hard it was to remember things, how hard it was to make lessons stick, but she was trying so very hard and loved her husband so much-- even though her behaviors were often both frustrated and frustrating.
And, I got to thinking about both what she said and what I think she meant, and I decided to try a little experiment with my spouse. If she could express those things in a way that really made me believe that she meant them, maybe he meant those things too. Maybe he's tried to express them, and for whatever reason, it didnt get through. Who knows. Anyway, I decided this morning to act towards my husband as if he had said those things, just to see how it would turn out.
It started off as a normal day and we were pretty good with small talk throughout the day, but things got crazy all of a sudden when our daughter's friends started showing up for a birthday slumber party she had invited them to (the party was just fine, and I knew it was happening. I did not, however, know it was today. She told me "Saturday", but apparently she had meant that the sleepover would be ENDING Saturday, not beginning then! Oopsie!). I was stressed out and running to try to get dinner on the table for four extra people.
I asked husband if he could please run to the store to pick up a few things I needed, and explained that it was very important he go right away so that I didnt burn anything. I was polite, civil, and lets be honest, I seriously NEEDED his help because I couldnt just quit cooking at that point. Normally, I dont feel like I can rely on him, and do things myself so he wont inconvenience me. Ugh, I feel awful writing that, though its true. How awful it must be to have your spouse make you feel like a useless pain in the rear end.
I thought of the lady here, and how much she wanted her husband to rely on her and appreciate her efforts, so I tried to remember that in talking to my husband. Now, to be clear, I was asking him to do a LOT. I asked him to drop what he was doing, run to the store by himself, get all the random, he-probably-doesnt-know-what-aisle-its-in items I needed without a list to remind him, and hurry back all within 30 minutes. I made sure that I acknowledged that it was unexpected and probably inconvenient do this for me, but told him sincerely that I really appreciated it and thanked him for being there to help me.
You know what? HE DID GREAT. He left within a few minutes of me asking him to go. He texted me quickly from the store to let me know that it was really busy, the lines were long, and that he might be a little bit late. And he was really thoughtful about the items he chose. Maybe they werent the brands I would have chosen, but dang, he seemed to be SO happy that I wanted his help, and he was obviously doing the best he could. For example, he not only remembered lettuce, but he got a bag of pre-shredded lettuce....because he wanted to help save me time.
He messed up on ONE item--he got sour cream instead of cream cheese frosting (In his head: "cream", white tub container, gotta get home fast!), and seemed so upset that he made a mistake. While I normally wouldve thought he was being petulant about even being asked to go to the store at all, and reacted to my perception of his petulance.... I thought again of the lady here and of her intentions, and realized that maybe he was upset because he really was trying so very hard, and still made a mistake. Viewed that way, he wasnt being awful or self centered. Viewed that way, he was probably disappointed in himself and felt like he ruined something that was important.
His mistake as one that anyone couldve made. Even under perfect conditions, who among us hasn't forgotten to get an item they needed at the store? I know Im guilty of that! And what's more, it was honestly just a mistake. He didnt forget that item to be mean and he certainly didnt forget to make my day harder. He just made a mistake. It happens.
Now I feel really bad about how I have been treating him when he makes an honest mistake. Yeah, he made a mistake... but Ive made a bigger one by not believing that he actually DOES want to help sometimes, and that sometimes, he really gives it his all. By rejecting his help or nitpicking it to a point of him never wanting to help me again for fear of my perfectionistic scorn, Ive created an environment where of course he doesnt want to help. Hes certainly not perfect, but this little experiment showed me that I'm not either. I really needed that.
This will take time. This will take patience. This will backslide now and then. However, I think I made a huge step today in listening, learning, and trying to reshape my view of his intentions. I really feel that maybe there is a way forward, and it's great. I havent felt like this in a LONG time.
Mghelp, this is because of you. You gave me the kindest, gentlest kick in the butt to try again by simply explaining how you feel and what your intentions are. That got me wondering if he might feel the same way, and it inspired me to try to find out. Thank you.