Why do you do that? Why do you turn it back on me all the time? Somehow, things are always my fault even when they aren’t.
I came to you the other day, wanting to talk about why I was frustrated. When I suggested we sit down and talk, you teased me and asked, “Do we need to have another serious conversation about my feelings?” Yes, we do, because communication is the key to a happy marriage, and I want us to be happy. I try hard to find the right words to share with you that I would like to feel more appreciated. I don’t need a lot of appreciation, just a little now and then. A simple, “Thank you for cooking breakfast for our family this morning,” or “Thank you for driving us seven hours, hanging out all day and night at the poke-your-eyes-out-boring tournament and then driving us back home this weekend,” would mean so much. I live with a constant feeling of being taken for granted. You minimize my feelings, calling me too sensitive, and then say I make everything about me and what I need. I live to please my family, as it brings me the greatest joy. However, there aren’t any small hugs, hand squeezes, or thank yous. There is an obvious expectation for me to do all the things, and my need to feel a little appreciation seems to be asking too much.
Secondly, I am not his biological parent. But I am his step-parent who is present, who loves him deeply and wants to raise him to be respectful, responsible, compassionate and grateful for our blessed life. He is at a critical age where you and I need to present a united front seeing as he hasn’t witnessed a solid parenting team in many years. He needs to know we are ONE and we support each other’s decisions about raising him. He needs this to not only feel unconditional love but to feel secure and safe. Yet, when he approaches you with a request, and you send him to ask me, if I say “no,” it results in an infantile tantrum for our almost-tween child. This is the best time for him to learn the lesson, in the uncomfortable moment, that we support each other’s decisions. But every time you give in to the tantrum. Every time. You undermine my decision, which I thought would be our team decision since you sent him to ask me. When you give in to the tantrum every time, you are enabling this behavior and also showing him we are not a team, and I am certainly not valued. Alas, you say I must always be in control, when the fact is, I am never in control because my decisions are consistently negated then dismissed.
And then I came to you when I was hurt. I was hurt by your flippant comment that made me feel disrespected. You said you were just joking. When I express my hurt, it is turned around on me about a time I said something hurtful to you many months ago that was never brought up until now. The conversation takes a turn and ends up with me apologizing for hurtful comments and a myriad of other things that bother you. I walk away feeling defeated. And guess what? I didn’t even receive an apology from you about your thoughtless comment. How does every conversation where I share a frustration end up with me being the cause of it? And me taking the blame for your behavior? And me always apologizing?
I wish I could say, “This bothered me…” and be able to let you know without feeling like it’s just going to end up in a huge argument that gets turned around on me and opens a Pandora’s Box of what bothers you about me. I wish I could simply say, “Can we talk about…” and at the end, you say, “I’m sorry. I understand your feelings and I’ll try and do better next time.” A quick five-minute share that results in a sincere apology, forgiveness, and a tight hug that signifies we are moving forward, together, stronger with a deeper sense of serving each other. No entitlement. No minimizing feelings. No more feeling taken for granted because… I. Am. Exhausted. I am defeated. I am becoming more detached with attempts at telling you my needs that end in them not being recognized or met, with me feeling less valued each time.
How do we get on the same side? We used to be, didn’t we? I am positive we were, but the memory of us on the same side is fading quickly. I want us back but am now reluctant to say, “Can we talk?” I’m hoping this letter puts things in perspective so we can get back to being not just partners, but lovers, teammates, confidants. I miss you as my best friend. I miss you. I miss us.
Your Loving Spouse