Here We Go Again

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.

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18 thoughts on “Here We Go Again

  1. Great post. I feel your pain and your momentary lapse into stupidity having foolishly ventured into the realm many times during my wife’s pregnancies. Arguing with your expectant wife will only lead to further escalation down the road. The phrase “yes dear” has been a tried and true response to many a crazed wife, especially one with raging hormones. Women are unique, intelligent, fascinating, and yes mysterious creatures. Better to be the peacemaker than stoke the flames.

    Last @CuteMonsterDad posts:

    Apple iPhone 4 Father’s Day

    Romance in the Age of Parenthood

  2. I, being a wife and mother, hate to break this to you…. it will not change. It is not due to pregnancy and hormones it is life’s reality check. You are now parents and there are way different things to focus on. you will get this all down as long as you work together and listen to each ( both verbally and nonverbally). YOu love each other and that will carry you thru. Please dont analyze it you will drive yourself insane.

  3. OMG, I nearly peed myself. This is reality and this is funny. On the other hand, while I sincerely hope that MJ is still speaking to you after she reads this post, I doubt it.
    Only thing worse then “errent beet juice”, is publicizing your wife’s less than finer moments. Good luck buddy, you are gonna need it!

  4. “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.”

    You are incorrect, oh young and foolish one.

    It is not the responsibility of the father-to-be to “fix” anything. In fact, that supposition is mainly the problem. Rather, it is the responsibility of the father-to-be to acknowledge that he cannot fix the problem. Merely acknowledge it and accept full and complete blame for it without making the mother-to-be (or non-pregnant wife for that matter) in any way feel guilty – even if she is.

    She does not want you to “fix” her problems. She wants you to acknowledge how weighty and impossible they are, how amazing it is that she manages them despite you, and for you to acknowledge you are of no help. Nod a lot, apologize often, fight back enough to maintain a semblence of a spine, and then move on.

    I have learned this, but suck at practicing it. Nonetheless I feel a responsibility to do my best to try and help you avoid the pitfalls. Even if it makes me smile.

  5. Man… I’m not stepping into the ring with a pregnant woman and her husband. I can’t even throw out my 2 cents.

  6. By the way Que – the series ends tonight! Do I recall someone saying Celtics in 6? :)

  7. To theoldguy – can you please take my husband out for a beer and have a chat with him!?!

  8. I love it when chicks act like this. Almost as much as I love it when it gets overly generalized. Makes me look better and my man appreciate me even more. Give it up one time for illogical, communication stunted women ever where!

  9. dude, seriously, this was such a mirror of the types of thing that can and sometimes does happen to Lovie and me that i went back and read it a second time.

    marital lawyer? guilty as charged, your Honor. turning her words against her? just call me palindrome. (okay, that one didn’t make sense. sue me. i’m a lawyer, remember?) like MJ, lovie is a horrendous communicator, and, like you, i am a bit of a wordsmith. so i can TOTALLY relate.

    this is gonna sound so soft, and i hesitate to even throw it out there b/c of your aforementioned (or at least inferred) rapier wit, but you know what is a really good relationship book? (and i hate shit like this…)

    the 5 languages of love by dr. gary chapman. it totally speaks to clowns like you and me to help us get it right. b/c let’s face it. sometimes it’s hard to be right when you and i know we’re never wrong. (make sense?)

    great post. per usual.

    good luck in game seven, buddy…

  10. This still happens to me and my wife so I’m not sure it’s pregnancy-related completely, but more likely, parenting-related (as kate attest to above).

    I think us guys all become those marital lawyers. I do the same stuff as well, but what’s worse is that my lovely wife is also a marital lawyer so it becomes dueling marital lawyers and can get how should we say…not pretty.

    JCO is absolutely right on – great stuff as usual. I don’t care what @portlanddad says about you, you’re alright…jk

  11. I love it when people so easily throw out generalizations about an entire gender. Not all women behave this way, even when pregnant, just as not all men back out of the room at the smell of a dirty diaper. The more (straight) men and women continue to rely on these overdone two-dimensional characterizations the less they are open to actually communicating and understanding each other.

  12. theoldguy- I’ve got to say, grandparenthood is treating you well. You’re coming into your own in this new role. Gone are the days where you can relate with a funny story or bust balls with the other grunts in the trenches. As one who admired the old theoldguy: the experienced soldier- a guy willing to instigate a fight with his wife just for the street cred and a chance to look good in front of the rookies- I have to say it hasn’t been fun watching your “A” game slip to a “C-” over the years. But now comes the older wiser theoldguy. A sage-like man, beaten by the enemy, beaten but not defeated, a man who has accepted the inevitability of his fate and the fates of those around him. His is not to ask why, his is but to do and die.

    Here’s to the new theoldguy, the old general- an ex-soldier that knows nobody really wins in war- who just wants to see as many of his men home in one piece as possible.

    Oh and good post Aaron. That’s what these comments are really for I guess. (For the record I’m poking the old bastard with a stick because I was sure some nut-job was going to defend the homophobe from your last post and was sad to find that everyone agreed with you. Now I have to find some other way to vent my virtual blood-lust. F**king internet. Millions of voices all arranged into a series of echo-chambers.)

  13. Cassandra, not sure why that was but I fixed it. Sorry!

    TheBear: Nice. It’s always good to needle the old man. Even if he doesn’t admit it, just know that every twist of the knife makes him squirm. Which sounds mean, but as you and I well know, he’s done it to all of us so often in the past that now — when he’s old, weak and feeble-minded — it’s fair game that we pounce on him like lions on a half-blind zebra.

  14. Ah yes – relationship criticism from The Bear. I love it when people who have never played the game have something to say about those who have. If I am indeed an ex-general and an old soldier, I guess that would make you a conscientious objector. I hope someday you will discover what it’s like down here in the trenches.

  15. The absolute worst thing you can do in that sort of situation is get logical and argue, making your points and playing marriage lawyer. It will go nowhere, you will both get more frustrated and wound up. I’d bet big money on it. And I would win.

    I’d also bet that MJ isn’t really talking about the cute little things you’re no longer doing. She’s trying to say she doesn’t feel cared for and supported. The little things are just outward manifestations of that. The sappy romantic stuff is just code for caring. And when pregnant, you need extra caring. Hell, when you’ve had a bad day you need extra caring.

    In a perfect world, women would be able to come out and logically say what they need–hell, we’d be able to make a courtroom-level argument and negotiate for what we need. But don’t forget that we’re up against a history of women not being allowed what they need—no access to power, economic or social. It really hasn’t been long that women have had any self determination. This is a culture—even now, though we don’t like to admit it—that does not encourage women to stand up for themselves. It’s gotten better, and continues to do so, but most women still have a hard time asking for what they need and deserve. Sad but true. And when people are unable to ask directly, they try to get what they need in other ways. Emotional meltdown comes to mind.

    I’m a new reader, came via the protester video on Twitter. I hope you are both doing as well as possible during this heartbreaking time.

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