I get very little time alone with Hubby for any sort of planning. So one of our constant issues is that he feels I ‘overwhelm’ or ‘bombard’ him with information or questions. I found out Saturday that he also feels that I ‘shoot down’ his thoughts or ideas and this was new to me.
Saturday morning Hubby said he wanted to build a shelf for the boys’ bedroom. I was surprised, but happy, to hear this and started asking him more. At Christmas we had talked about building bunkbeds in there to gain badly needed floorspace, and we have this nice bookshelf waiting to go in, but he got really upset when I asked what kind of shelf and where would it fit and I got really confused how I had upset him so quickly. He says I “always shoot him down” or something like that. He continues to rant about how he can’t build bunkbeds today and he thought it would be nice to make a little shelf and get something done.
Woah. So I never told him not to make that shelf, I only asked him what it would be, where it would go, and did it fit in with our long term plans for the room that we had previously discussed. I didn’t want him to make a shelf that would get in the way of the other one, that room is tiny.
And woah again. I always shoot him down?! Like I’m the reason he doesn’t build or finish things?
(Should I have just said “That’s nice dear, have fun” when he said he wanted to build a shelf? and not say what is on my mind? not ask any questions? pretend we didn’t have any previous plans?)
So I asked him to elaborate on that shooting down part. He said I ALWAYS do it, but the only example he could think of was that he wanted to paint the boys’ room one day last year and I talked him out of it. He couldn’t remember why, but remembers being angry about it enough to bring it up a year later. I apologized for that day a year ago, and that I didn’t try to make him feel that way, but with neither of us remembering it clearly, it didn’t seem relevant here…. I was so confused at that point.
I told him I’m not in charge of him and he can do what he wants to do today, we are only having a discussion. I’m not telling you, or expecting you work on bunkbeds today, only asking if this shelf fits in with the plans to make the bunkbeds or have your plans changed.
He got really upset at that comment. Again I don’t know why. I’m very careful not to use blaming words. I don’t raise my voice or call him names. He said bunkbeds is a huge project and he doesn’t have plans for it yet (I cringed at that, but said nothing, because last august we started talking about him building this as a christmas gift for the boys, he took time off work to do it, and we even simplified it so he wouldn’t finish it but only start some cuts and build it together with the boys, we already purchased the lumber and the the hardware but he never started it…I didn’t think I was out of line here to ask if he was EVER going to make it, if not today, but I didn’t actually ask him to make them today) and that could take all day all he wanted to do was go out and build something simple and relaxing. I said he could still do that…my questions here didn’t change his day. He said yes it did because I don’t want a shelf so he won’t make one because I don’t like his ideas. I’m paraphrasing here and he was talking very quickly I really couldn’t keep up, but I got the idea that he blames me quite often for changing his plans or not liking his ideas. Hmmm. I didn’t like that one bit and told him I did not accept the blame. His guilt or lack of time management or poor planning or whatever this was – was not my fault and I did not like him thinking of me that way.
He asked ‘why do we need to talk about bunkbeds today then?’
‘Well, for one, I thought waiting two months was safely in the no-pressure zone to bring it up. Second, kiddo has asked to have a sleepover birthday party and I wanted to check with you to see if this might be possible.’
I started putting new flooring in my son’s room over the summer and got to the point where I need his dressers removed from his closet and am still waiting on Hubby to do that part. Also, their room is packed full of toys, so if I got over the fact that the floor was not finished, there would be no room to have extra boys sleep in there, and for my anxiety, they must be contained (yes a bit like a virus). Plus, removing the baseboards and carpet exposed a terrible draft.
Next mistake was mentioning that draft – I asked Hubby if we could add insulation before replacing the baseboards and if it could be done from within the room or if it had to be done from outside. I did not ask him to do it that day, only asked what is required to finish this job we started last year so my boys can have a finished room without holes and drafts. I wasn’t picking on him. I don’t know how to do this stuff. I could spend hours getting conflicting advice online, or I can trust Hubby to know what to do. But I can’t ask him without him getting overwhelmed.
He asked if we could stop this useless talking, waste of time getting us no where and go down for coffee. Oh! I felt like I had been slapped. We made it downstairs, he started making coffee and breakfast. I didn’t know what to do with myself, what to say, how to fix it. I was hurting and never meant to hurt him and so confused about what had just happened. He said something else then like can’t you understand I just want to do something and get it done without all this talk and planning getting no where, feels just like at work? That one felt more like a punch, no, more like I was drowning. It was a doubleslam. That I was so painful to talk to, and that he gets to do this at work. I miss planning meetings – I was really good at this, project management. I miss feeling important and listened to, having deadlines, accomplishing something. My world here – nothing changes – everything is a mess – everything is late – everything has something wrong with it – and no progress is ever made. Here I am in hell. And when I try to make a difference I get the wind knocked out of my sails.
(Are these conversations supposed to happen naturally? Am I supposed to schedule an appointment with an agenda so he feels prepared? I didn’t plan to talk about those things, one thing lead to the next, and they were all things that needed addressed. I’m so tired of sticking a pin in it, waiting patiently for a ‘good time’ to talk about the house problems. I feel like the kids and I deserve a house without holes in it. And this man has never decided to do it on his own, he will always have a new project to start.)
I tried to go over to the computer and turn on my game, but really couldn’t breathe. So I went upstairs, locked the door, collapsed in bed and started crying. In a bit I heard someone at the door, then Hubby saying – ‘The door is locked’. I asked ‘What do you need?’ I could barely speak in between tears. He sounded so angry to be locked out, he said ‘I came up to talk to you but I guess you don’t want to now.’
I had a good cry, returned to calm, put some makeup on my red face and went down for breakfast. I was pleasant, and only spoke to Hubby when spoken to, and chose my words carefully to keep the calm. That’s when he asked me to go to the post office. See previous post about social anxiety.
Later that day, after the playground incident in my previous post, I was completely exhausted. Hubby decided he wanted to make a fancy dinner. I asked if he needed any help (meaning with dinner). He said something about loading turbotax on the laptop…I was confused, and asked if he was planning to start the taxes tonight? He got angry again, and said he didn’t know why he bothers to ask, every idea of his I ‘shoot down’. That phrase again. He was really stuck on that one. All I wanted to do was go to bed. Not work on something that he wouldn’t be touching until next week. I’d do it for him happily, I only wanted to know the timeline. My question was a question – not a shooting down. I own no guns. I only ask for information before making decisions.
I went to bed and missed dinner. He didn’t finish dinner until after 9pm that night. I was too tired to get back up. He took that as a sign that I was mad at him, but I was too tired to be mad.
I’m ashamed of my house. I’ve told Hubby this and it hurts him deeply. I won’t hide this fact any more. I’m ok that we don’t have a mansion. But each room has something falling apart, a project started years ago and never finished, missing trim, missing drywall, exposed pipes, ripped wallpaper, half painted walls, mismatch ugly furniture. We have no good reason for living like this. We just do.
Update today: So kiddo really wants his friends to come over for his birthday. I’ve told him yes, but not a sleepover. We will all do our best to make this place presentable, moving clutter to the garage and basement, rearranging rooms, get a tablecloth, carefully place throw rugs and blankets and pictures. I can get through my anxiety for a few hours if this is what kiddo really wants. I’m happy he is making new friends and wants to share his house with them. Sorta.