On Friday, I told my wife that I had to work on an important volunteer project at some point during the weekend. We both knew that we had plans for Sunday. My wife knows that this is LITERALLY a life or death project. Lawyers have sent me notes thanking me for helping to save their clients lives when I have done similar projects. My wife has herself acknowledge that this work saves people's lives.
On Saturday, I accomplished all of the following tasks before working on this project: 1) Picked up our son from a sleepover 2) Went to Home Depot 3) Installed the new hose reels 4) mowed the lawn and pulled out a lot of weeds and 5) Worked on the dishes.
Finally, I sat down at the computer and began collecting my notes. This involves reading newspaper articles and reports in a foreign language. My son and daughter were yelling. OK, they are 9 and 15, so I expect this from them. But then my wife starts watching videos with my daughter right next to where I am working. I remind her of what I am doing and that I need to concentrate several times before she finally stops watching the videos. Then she argues with our daughter about a chore--she promised 2 cents for each nut she picked up and our daughter wanted her to count them--gallons and gallons worth. Then my wife leaves for the store while our daughter attempts to count them. Our daughter gives up, comes in, and starts watching videos with earphones. But she stops to have me log her back in to my wife's computer several times. And she has developed a new tick--motions and sounds like she is going to vomit. Despite all of the distractions, I keep working on the project. My wife came home and started asking me about when I am going to grill dinner. I was very frustrated at this point and said that I would be able to do so sooner if I was allowed to concentrate so I could finish the project.
I finished the project and grilled dinner. When I came back in, our son was already eating and there were two plates in the kitchen. One had meat, the other did not. Our daughter does NOT eat any meat. Trying to be considerate, I asked my wife if the plate with meat was for me. In other words, I did not want to take my wife's plate. She responded, "Well it's not for [our daughter]!" Already on edge because of all the stress (and lack of respect) while trying to work, I took this as a "duh' remark. Yes, I knew it was not for our daughter, but it could have been for my wife. She then got upset and said that I should not have been angry because she was just joking.
Last night, our couples therapist said that I should say what I want more clearly and with more confidence. First of all, I had been very clear that I needed to concentrate and I had told her that I was working on something she herself acknowledged was very important. But how I am supposed to be more "confident" when neither my wife nor our kids show respect and listen to what I say?
In the past, we have had arguments where I was very confident because the LAWS OF MATH were on my side--it does not make sense to "save" and earn 3 percent (or less!) interest on $100 instead of paying down $100 worth of debt on a credit card with double digit interest. Yet she still argued and argued and argued. How am I supposed to be confident when I am dismissed even when I have math to prove my side of the argument? It's like an argument I once had with a 3-year-old when I was about 10. He insisted that he was older than me. I tired logic. "I was born in (current year-10). When were you born?" His answer was "Styrofoam." Yet I was still frustrated and determined to argue with him because I was clearly right. But evidence is irrelevant when arguing with someone who does not accept basic logic. He wanted to be older, so "Styrofoam" proved that he was older. Sometimes arguing with my wife is like arguing with that 3 year old. I ask myself why does it even matter to me. I should not be hurt because her disagreement with me does not reflect oon whether I am right or wrong--it reflects on her stubborn refusal to listen to reason. Yet it does bother me.