Sunday, December 03, 2006

Spousal Blog Readership

A recent posting on spouses reading blogs at the Drunken Housewife's blog reminded me that I had forgotten to address a comment on this blog from a while back.

In a comment from becka, we read:
We have done counseling, read lots of books including "The Five Love Languages", and have also found a spiritual director who has helped us considerably, but what was most helpful I think was my husband's suggestion that we each create a blog to share our feelings with each other.

We have been writing to each other now for six months. It has given us a way to express our feelings and share what we're going through, while giving the other the chance to read, think, and THEN respond with careful thought. It has given us a non confrontational way to share difficult things with each other, sort of like the Retrouvaille program encourages.

It would take your wife's willingness, of course. As a wife myself, not just his suggestion to do it, but my husband's commitment to writing to me has meant so much. Now I view every post as a special gift, an opportunity to see inside the soul of the man I married. I look forward to what he writes, even if it hurts or is unpleasant because it was his choice to share an intimate part of himself with me, and I can only be grateful for the priviledge. What it has turned into now is a series of love letters. It's amazing how our perspectives have changed for the better through the nearly daily writing.

A lot of people create blogs to vent about their spouses, which is fine and can be helpful, but creating a blog where you can share your feelings with your spouse might be even more helpful.

Thank you for offering this suggestion.

I am doubtful that a two-way weblog conversation would work for us.

First, my wife loathes writing. Throughout the course of our relationship, it has been a source of anxiety for her. When she's had to write things in an official capacity, such as her role in the preschool cooperative, she usually asks me to write the copy or at least polish what she has already written.

The writer's anxiety is also present on a personal level. During our stint with the marriage counselor, we were given several exercise worksheets to complete to help stimulate dialogue for the next session. The questions were open ended, with no right or wrong answers. She grumbled about having to do them and avoided working on many of them altogether.

Early last week, I invited her to help me with my self confrontation work. In Passionate Marriage, Schnarch offers up a suggestion for overcoming projection and distortion: look at what your spouse says about you that you vehemently dispute and then try to find ways to see how it might be true.

In that spirit, I read the relevant passage of to my wife and asked her to take some time in the future to reflect on this and put into writing some of the things that came to her mind. I asked her to be honest, even if it is brutal. I assured her that I would not retaliate against what she said. I told her that the confrontation was unilateral. I did not expect to do likewise. Expecting reciprocity would have undermined my attempts to self validate.

It's been about a week, and I haven't gotten anything from her yet. I'll give her another week and ask her if she's come up with anything.

Turning my attention to Drunken Housewife's laments on Sober Husband's lack of interest in her blog. If my own personal experience is any indication, it is very hard to keep one's spouse interested in your blog.

In the late fall of 2002, I blogged for about a year on a different website (now defunct). It was a therapeutic exercise to help cope with depression, but the content was not focused mental health. Most of the postings were my reactions to news articles and opinion columns that had caught my interest. I revealed very little about my personal life, but it was a window into how my mind worked.

When I started the blog, I sent a link to my wife and encouraged her to read it. I think she might have read the first couple of posts, but she never went to it again. I remember being discouraged by her lack of interest on what was on my mind. During a fall 2005 conversation where I tried to communicate my growing unhappiness to the marriage, I cited that as an example of how I felt that she didn't seem that motivated to learn about who I was.

On the other hand, she follows regularly the Yahoo! 360 blog written by one of her mom friends, which is one of those "Mommy Blogs" that focuses almost exclusively on what's going on with her daughter. She says she finds it entertaining, sort of like those "kids doing the darnedest things" columns that run in parental mags.

Come to think of it, the contrast in blog reading behaviors underscores a big difference between my wife and me. She tends to watch TV and read to be entertained. I'm not much of a TV person and read to explore and reflect. That makes it hard for us to connect, I think, because we function in two different mental realms.
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