I am good at “making do” with what I have.
My dad taught me when I was very young, that you use what you’ve got on hand, usually duct tape or WD-40, and you can fix just about anything. Basically, his motto was “If it moves, and it shouldn’t – use duct tape. If it doesn’t move, and it should – use WD-40.”
He was a real-life “MacGyver”, and showed me that if there’s one way, there’s at least 5 more ways, you can rig something to work.
But that doesn’t work with a marriage.
You can’t make someone “stick” to the way they were at the beginning of a relationship with duct-tape. Not without being charged with holding them hostage.
And you can’t make them “move” out of a stubborn, built-over-time and stagnated mindset with WD-40. That gets you accused of trying to poison them.
And Richard Dean Anderson was just an actor, reading a nerd-written script for a fictional television show. Much as I love his acting? He couldn’t have fixed this marriage, either.
That… was supposed to be up to us, as husband and wife.
When we went into this, we pretty much worked out who was going to handle what, by what we were each good at. And since I was rather handy with fixing things, I ended up with all the handyman chores, while he either sat in the other room, or watched… and offered his own special brand of “helpful advice”. Which most always ended with me being frustrated, and angry, because his idea of “helpful” was more critical of how I did things.
And it crept outward, into the rest of our relationship. Whenever there was a decision to be made, he would use passive-aggressiveness to get his way. I often told friends and co-workers that “If it wasn’t his idea, it’s stupid and not worth it”. One of my co-workers teased me about taking “NO” lessons, so I could learn to say that word to him, and make it stick. It almost never worked, because I’d simply tire of arguing my side, give in, and let him have his way.
Even when it came to decisions about the children. Which, believe me, I should have stuck to my guns quite a few times, and put my foot somewhere that he would understand my meaning clearly.
But, I got my “revenge”, I guess you could call it. Never thinking that I would be that kind of petty person, I would do little things… irritating things, that I knew drove him quietly crazy. I’d rearrange the dishes in the dishwasher to how I liked them, and he hated the configuration. I’d do it right in front of him, so he couldn’t “fix” it, before I started it up.
I stayed up late, partly because it was just my favorite time of night, and partly, because I knew that it irritated him to come out when he was ready to get up for work, and find me, either watching tv, playing a game, or on the computer. I wasn’t hurting him, or anyone else, and I was quiet, but it bugged him all the same.
It was petty, it was small, but I was “getting back some of my own” in my own mind. I thought of it as “standing my ground”, in the only way I could. By quietly defying how he thought I should act.
There was also a level of isolation in our relationship. Because he didn’t like being around people. He was, and still is, almost totally anti-social. He hates crowds, and doesn’t like having his “personal space” invaded, so I was almost never allowed to invite people over. If I did, I usually had to do it on a day he had off, so he could clear out and take OnlySon somewhere for “father-son” stuff.
He also found fault with most of my friends. Judging them on first meeting, and being pretty critical about it. There were very few people over the years that were ever told to “come back anytime”. Matter of fact, I can count them on ONE FINGER.
One of the warning signs of an abusive relationship, is when one partner works to isolate the other person from their other relationships. Friendships, family, all are judged and found to be “wanting” in some way, so that you are left not being able to spend much time with them at all, for fear that you’ll have to listen to the laundry-list of that person’s faults for a very long time afterward.
I’ve lost more than 1 friend, simply because he was so critical of them, they refused to come back, and I couldn’t bring myself to start an argument with my husband about the other person. It wasn’t worth it to fight with him all the time, when I had to live with him all the time, too. And I was supposed to be in love with him, not with the friends, right?
That’s not even getting into the decisions on how we raised OnlySon. THAT would take Dr. Phil about a year’s worth of therapy and brow-beating to work through, from my perspective. And even Dr. Phil wouldn’t be able to out-shout the ex when it came to OnlySon. That’s a kettle of worms I’m not going to touch, right now.
The girls were easier, seeing as how he was their step-father. He left most of the parenting decisions about them, up to me. Of course, there were a lot of critical… oh, yeah, “helpful” comments about how I raised them, which I ignored, because I could. But there were times when I should have put my foot down there, too, and didn’t. Again, because it was easier to “make do” and get along.
It was all about “Not sweating the small stuff”… until it wasn’t Small Stuff, anymore.
Whew… I didn’t realize there was so much I needed to say, till I got in the middle of it. I’m going to have to stop here for now, and continue this again, later.
Thanks for your patience. Your call is important to us. An associate will be on the line with you shortly….
(To Be Continued, Again)