Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Followup to Nonegotiable #1

"They will not leave politely, gentlemen."
-- a U.S. Army captain, Flags of our Fathers
I have been meaning to post my notes on a conversation between my wife and me that took place after I wrote the first non-negotiable posting. This is based on some notes I tapped out the morning after, and it gives an idea of what the battle of the boundaries is likely to be as I work through my crucible.

Soon after completing the post, I had a chance to talk to my wife. I told her that I wanted to set a boundary and then stated my non-negotiable. I told her that if she feels overwhelmed and needs my immediate help, she needs to communicate that to me directly.

Her response was defensive; she said that she thought that from the tone of her voice and the interruptions of the phone calls that she thought I "would get the idea."

She said that I was forbidding her from getting angry at me. I told her she was free to have feelings and express them. What I wanted was clear communication.

I told her that if she treated me rudely like that again, I would remove myself from the situation like I did earlier that evening.

She said all she wanted was some help with the kids, and she said that the phone call to UPS wasn't so important that I could have done that later. I told her that it was important to me. She didn't get to decide what was important automatically and assume that I would do everything in lockstep with that.

I said that if she felt overwhelmed and needed help, I would be happy to help, but she needed to communicate that to me directly. She then said that she wasn't overwhelmed. In other words, she wanted my help for the sake of convenience.

She said that it would be unfair for me to "remove myself" from the situation because that left her stuck to feed the kids (peanut butter & jelly sandwiches).

I told her she had the power to avoid the situation. When she came through the door, all she had to do was say, "I would like your help with the kids."

After all was said and done, all she was willing to admit was that she might have been rude.

I drew two conclusions from this experience:

  1. Setting and enforcing boundaries with my wife is going to be an inch-by-inch battle.

  2. I don't think she respects me.

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