I stayed up half the night reading this book. I saw it online while looking for something totally unrelated and bought it on a whim. When it arrived, I had a few minutes before making dinner, so I started reading it on a whim, thinking it would be one more marriage resource dead-end that didn't really address my experience or solve the mystery for me of why I find it so difficult to make a good marriage with my husband, who is such a good person, but so challenging to share a life with.
I. COULDN'T. PUT. IT. DOWN!!! I don't know how this lady wrote a book about ME and MY HUSBAND and OUR MARRIAGE when we've never met, but she did. I can't believe someone is telling me that my struggle is real because for 14 years my husband has made me feel that our difficulties were primarily rooted in ME and MY problems and MY inability to cope or to understand him or be more graceful or forgiving.
All the comments in the book about "having good intentions" but complete failure to translate that into reliable, repeatable, & trustworthy actions - I can't recount how many times we have had that conversation. He feels that his good intentions relieve him of any burden of being held accountable for actual performance in any given area, no matter how repetitive the behavior is or how damaging it has been in our relationship. He would happily stay up all night talking about our relationship, oh how he loves to talk! - but nothing ever changes.
I have never been able to understand how he can be so apparently capable in one area (professional life, he owns his own successful business & supports our family comfortably with his income, we don't have money problems thank goodness), and so mysteriously, aggravatingly, repeatedly, infuriatingly incapable in another area (our relationship).
Every comment in the book about forgotten conversations was ripped from the headlines of our marriage! He makes me think I am crazy for all the things I remember that he doesn't, but I know I'm not because I don't experience these interactions with anyone else in my life and I never have. Sometimes I'm surprised he remembers who I am! I find conversation with him totally unfulfilling b/c he's only in it for the enjoyment of the actual talking - he remembers very little, so if there is a followup conversation, or a new development, we have to start all over. However he can recount to me all day long the details of his client interactions & professional obligations.
Every comment in the book about a waggling & indiscriminate tongue was stolen from our conversations! I can't count how many times he has blabbed a confidence or made me the butt of his funny, entertaining conversations be sharing embarrassing, private information, like discussing my menstrual cycles on the golf course. I no longer share anything with him that I wouldn't tell the grocery store clerk so needless to say, this puts a serious damper on relational intimacy. In addition, we have a young son who is approaching the teen years, and I know he is going to feel the sting of betrayal by his father in this area, and there is nothing I can do about. My husband just blabbed the other day about a recently-confessed "crush" that my son has to his entire office staff at lunch. He has no filter and no clue about what should be held close vs. what is appropriate to share.
All the comments about him being perceived as the happy, interesting, fun-loving extrovert while I am cast as the unhappy, ungrateful nag - that TOTALLY reflects what has happened to us over time in my view. Whenever I have tried to talk to any of my girlfriends about some of my struggles, they just look at me puzzled and the conversation dies, b/c none of them have experienced such mysterious and unexplainable behaviors in their own marriages and they are always as completely puzzled about it as I am. They can't reconcile the person they know (as my husband's friend) with the person I describe that I live with. In addition, because he is somewhat controlling/OCD, I have felt even more isolated and not wanting to share my whole experience because I don't want people to think negatively of him.
The result of all this and more is that after 14 years, I have built up enough defensive walls in an attempt to protect & insulate myself from the consequences & effects of his damaging behaviors that we have almost no relational intimacy. Until I read this book last night, I was basically hopeless for us to ever get it back. We are both committed to our marriage, but I had basically decided I needed to seek fulfilling interpersonal relationships elsewhere (volunteering, friends, etc.) b/c I was never going to have that at home with him. In my mind, I have planted him firmly in the realm of "unsafe people". A recently-uncovered porn habit has been the final nail in the coffin of a sex life already on life support. In the meantime, he is lonely and depressed in our relationship b/c he knows that, although I love him, I am effectively shutting him out to protect myself.
The next layer of this is our son, because I think he has similar struggles. His school is half homeschool, and our struggles (and his discouragement) on homeschool days are becoming almost unmanageable. I have the same feeling as I have interacting with my husband - I can't figure out these mystifying behaviors which repeat over and over again, no matter how many creative solutions I attempt to apply. Because he's never had any significant behavior problems (he doesn't "act like" other children I know who are medicated for ADHD), I didn't think he had this issue, but now I am hopeful that this path could also be helpful for him.
I plan to talk to my husband this evening and ask him for us to read the book together. I anticipate that he will agree, because he loves any excuse to talk, and then he will go about his usual very well-reasoned denial/justifications about each item or behavior. However, I am hopeful that the sheer volume of behaviors "ripped from the headlines" of our marriage will overwhelm him as it did me and lead to a willingness to walk down this path hand in hand with me. I am still willing to try.
Thank you so much Melissa for taking time to write this book. You are a blessing!