Communication between spouses can be a difficult thing. Men and women are wired differently and communicate in polar opposite manners. It takes hard work and patience to keep at it and work out a resolution.
But communication with a pregnant woman is an entirely different — and more frustrating — animal entirely.
On Friday night I left Will with MJ to go out with some friends. I had run it by her and she was OK with it. And frankly, I really needed it. I had given Will dinner, taken out the trash and brought dinner home for MJ. Everything appeared copacetic to my untrained eyes as I gave my wife and son a kiss and prepared for a good time with my buddies.
Then I got the first text message.
“You are so lucky u are not here and i dont see u for a few hours…thanks for nothing.”
Not only was I shocked by this, but it also pissed me off. I immediately felt defensive and confused, like I was trapped in a corner. So I shot back “What the hell are you talking about?” Then I got this beauty in response:
“The list is too long…i will talk to u later when i have time to calm down and get my thoughts together. It has been a long time since i have been this mad.”
At that point I called MJ, because I literally had no idea what she was talking about. She told me I had failed to do a bunch of things she asked me to do. She wanted me to order a debit card from the bank and I forgot. She also wanted me to give Will a bath before I left, because she has trouble taking him out of the tub. I fully admit, I forgot to do these two things. I took out a withdrawal for MJ at the bank earlier and forgot the debit card. And then I was playing with Will outside and getting ready to leave, and forgot about the bath.
But she was also mad because when I was carrying her dinner home — which included a container of beets — it leaked and I didn’t realize it until after I was in the house. It dripped on me, the ground and apparently a bunch of other things. I cleaned up some of it, but not all of it because I had no idea it was leaking and some got on her purse.
Now I fully admit I didn’t do all the things she asked me. I apologized for that. But because 1) MJ is admittedly a poor communicator and 2) She’s pregnant and crazy, [ instead of simply telling me she’s become frustrated because I’m not listening to her enough and slacking off on the little things, she began telling me the following:
“You don’t care about me anymore.”
“You don’t even know me.”
“Other husbands do so much more than you.”
Needless to say, I was confused. I couldn’t figure out how some errant beet juice, the failure to give one bath and the lack of a debit card had suddenly turned me into the World’s Worst Husband. She went on to tell me I was a bad husband because 1) I don’t have all of her favorite foods memorized, 2) I wouldn’t know what to pick out if I had to go clothes shopping for her and 3) I think I’m God’s gift to women.
Her favorite foods change all the time, especially when she’s pregnant. And I always ask her what she wants because I want to be sure not to screw it up. But that’s not good enough for women, they want you to have it memorized because it’s always all about them. And the clothes thing was especially confounding. I can’t pick out clothes for myself, nevermind her, and I can’t imagine a situation where I’d have to choose her wardrobe. Yet apparently I’m supposed to moonlight as a women’s fashion designer. And the God’s gift to women thing was just strange. Because never, in any universe or at any time, have I ever claimed to be such a thing. I mean, look at me. Really.
In any other situation it’d be ridiculously comical. But I was not laughing. In fact, I was pissed off to the nth degree.
And so we went at it. Big time. I did what I do, which is systematically break down her complaints on a point-by-point basis and use her own words against her to prove that I’m right. During moments of marital strife, I morph into a relationship lawyer. I can’t help it, it’s my defense mechanism. And in this case, I was killing her. I mean seriously, that I would ever claim to be God’s gift to women is among the more absurd things I’ve ever heard. And although I’m not perfect, I know I’m a pretty good husband and father and I listed off all my attributes accordingly. And when things got even more heated, I said some things I shouldn’t have because what she was throwing my way was cutting me deeply.
It was only after a lot of back and forth that I figured out what was going on. You see, MJ doesn’t know how to argue. She’s not good with words and she often fails to just come out and say what’s bothering her. She begins an argument with over the top haymakers, which is bad because it puts me on my heels and makes me defensive. As a result, we end up at each other’s throats for an hour before we even come close to sniffing what the real issue is.
In this case, she’s upset because she thinks I no longer do the little things in our relationship. The cute e-mails throughout the day, the little acknowledgments that I appreciate everything she does, flowers for no reason, etc. And she’s right. I have failed in that department lately. I guess I see MJ as this tough businesswoman who hates traditional romance and the orthodox relationship paradigm, because that’s how she presents herself. But in the end, she’s a woman. And as such, no matter what they say, they all want the sappy romantic stuff.
It’s tough dealing with a woman who has pregnancy hormones coursing through her veins and making her crazy. But I forget that it’s tougher BEING that woman. And while I certainly don’t agree with everything she said (or especially how she went about saying it), she’s not all wrong. I do need to step it up in certain departments because I don’t ever want MJ to feel like I don’t love her or appreciate her. If that happens for any reason, I’ve failed. So I need to be a better man.
In a couple of weeks we’ll be in the second trimester. I remember those few months as a return to relative normalcy, and I hope there’s a repeat performance. Because as unfair as it might be, it is the responsibility of the father-to-be to suck it up and fix whatever is wrong, even if there really is nothing wrong.
Because if the pregnant woman is unhappy, EVERYONE is unhappy.