In spite of it all.

I have never understood women who don’t remind their husbands of their birthdays or anniversaries. It’s not even that they don’t remind them, it’s that they intentionally don’t mention it. “He should know,” is the thought.

It is a test.

Will he remember, or won’t he? At this point, I think the man is doomed either way. If he remembers the date, he will likely not give her the expected gift, or take her to the right restaurant, or something. He will fail somewhere. And she’s been preparing for it in her mind for a while. You, my friend, are in for a fight.

I have never understood that. Until recently.

I’m not the type to hold back information about dates, mostly because I love to have something to look forward to. “Where are we going for our anniversary?” I ask as soon as the last anniversary is over. “What should we get for dinner on my birthday?” is great table conversation for the whole family. This is not the testing ground for me.

The testing ground, or rather, battle ground for me is found on the fields of affection and consideration. Lucky him. For example, (fictional example) I think to myself, “Why should I tell him I want a hug? He should know. I’m human, of course I want a hug. What kind of person doesn’t want a hug? I’m always giving him hugs. Well, we’ll just see how long he goes without offering me a hug.”

And I escalate a disappointment in something that hasn’t even happened. I set him up to fail. Because even if he does realize I need a hug, it’s already too late. I’m already pissed.

Now, before you think I’m an extreme piece of work, let me assure you that usually I’m pretty good at communicating. You guys know what a talker I am. I like to talk about my feelings, and why things are the way they are, and pretty much anything. Usually, nine times out of ten, I try to make success easy. My below-the-surface thoughts may be, “I’m hungry, and he wants me to be happy, so I’m going to tell him that I would love go grab a bite to eat.” That’s a lame example, but I do something to that purpose. I let him know what I want so there is no need for him to read my mind. But on rare occasions, almost against my own will, I set him up to fail.

In fact, I defy him to succeed.

What the heck kind of weirdness is this? Why would we (and I know I’m not the only one) set ourselves up for disappointment and anger, anger that feels so self-righteous at the time? I’ve seen a lot of people do this to each other – parents and friends. It’s not a couples only phenomena.

I have no idea why we do it.. Except that is seems that upsetting the apple cart is like coasting for us humans. Destroying good things is easy. We feel justified and a little bad-assed for doing it. And it takes a tremendous amount of energy to stop yourself mid-sabotage.

Which I did recently. Well, almost mid-sabotage. I set him up to disappoint me, and he did not disappoint. That is, he succeeded in disappointing. There was no other option available for him. And I felt my sabotage to the core. It’s a very sad feeling.

Apologies were made on my part and forgiveness given on his. That is, we made up. (He gives the best hugs.)

But the question remains, why do we do this? Is there some kind of strife in relationships that has nothing to do with the people themselves, but more to do with the resistance we have to love beyond the realm of keeping score?

Why do we sometimes feel the need to “expose” that we are the one who loves the most? That we give more? That we care more? That we are more considerate? And so we knock down the people who love us, all the while setting our own selves up to fail, because nobody wins these wars.

I am certain our better selves realize this. I for one, want my husband to succeed. And I want to succeed. I’ve done failure before, and it’s not as fun as it sounds. It’s my intention to rid myself of this weapon, to shoot it to hell where it belongs, and let it rot there.

And, in time, when I find myself tempted again to set him or someone else up for failure, I will remember that my need to “win at love” is the actually the opposite of love. Help me to remember!

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One Response to In spite of it all.

  1. Wendy Freels says:

    Alice, I know exactly what you mean. There was time, if you remember, when I struggled with the goings on in our marriage. I thought that communicating (aka love) meant doing things for someone. To my husband, though, it meant something else. So, whether I do it intentionally or not, I’ve set us up to fail many times over the years. That’s a sad thought.

    We had a counselor tell us one time that we’re so very different. I see touch as my “I love you”. Hubby needs the verbal “I love you.” Sometimes we get our wires crossed, but since we’ve learned our Love Languages (Thank you, Gary Chapman!), we’ve been able to apply the correct response to our relationship. Take a quick quiz at GC’s 5 Love Languages website and you’ll see what I mean.

    We’re wired differently. That’s what makes a good marriage interesting…….but it can also drive you nuts.

    Thanks for sharing!

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