And That’s When I Snapped (Part V)Posted: May 18, 2015
When Papa Bear came to pick me up from work, I had an immediate, full-body anxiety attack. I was short of breath and nearly started to hyperventilate. My fingers and toes went numb. I was shaking so hard, my teeth were chattering together. I folded in on myself in the car and tried to get my breath to regulate. My heart was pounding so hard I could actually hear it.
Papa Bear was concerned, and I kept trying to tell him that I was okay, but I’m betting he wasn’t convinced.I could barely get the words out between gasps.
I shook on the way to the restaurant. I shook when we sat out in the sun. I had to put my head down on the table and close my eyes. Papa Bear held my hands and rubbed my back while I tried to get it together.
Then I spoke. I started by addressing last night’s argument. “First, I want to say that I never wanted you to say that you don’t like spending mornings with your wife. I just…wanted you to say..that you wish we could do that, too.” My eyes filled, and spilled over.
He looked me in the eye, and said “I do want us to have that. I want that so much. I only lashed out because I was feeling defensive. I love holding you. I want the freedom to just stay in bed with you, or go to breakfast, or whatever, and not have to worry about anything else. I know we can have that, but its hard for The Wifey, so we just need to give her some notice.”
“I’m completely fine with giving her notice. I’m fine with giving her a week, or two weeks, or three weeks. I can’t spend the night that often anyway, because of the kids, but I just want to be able to have you to myself sometimes when I have you.”
He said he understood, and wanted that too.
“Additionally,” I said, “I’d like to open the floor for any comments on my marriage.”
He closed his eyes and looked deeply ashamed. “I don’t have any comments on your marriage. I was totally out of line.”
“You may have been out of line, but we’re here, so we might as well get everything out on the table. What are the ways you feel like you’re compensating for my husband?”
“I don’t actually feel that way,” he said.
“Alright. Well, just so we’re clear, my marriage is fine. My husband wants to go out and do things with me. We used to go out all the time when we were dating. But its harder when you have little kids and no family around and no money. It’s not that he doesn’t want to go out with me more often–we just can’t because we can’t afford it. I’m sure you went through the same thing when you were starting out,” I finished. I knew they had. They’d been broke for a number of years, and had started having kids at 19.
“I know. I know exactly what its like, and that’s why I feel so bad about what I said.”
“Okay,” I said, taking a deep breath. “I don’t want to tell you how to run your marriage. You told me that your marriage was strong, but in my opinion, a strong marriage is one where both parties are heard and respected. However, I am perfectly willing to keep my nose out of it if that’s what you want. I just can’t let the problems in your marriage affect our relationship anymore.”
And then I told him my boundaries, laying out everything I wrote in my previous post. I explained that when we are on a date, I need to be his priority. I explained that I simply cannot continue with having to put our own plans aside because his wife expects him to take care of her 24/7. That unless we could do that, there was no way this relationship could continue.
He agreed. He apologized. He promised that he would turn his phone to Do Not Disturb, and that he wouldn’t agree to do chores or run errands when we’re supposed to be on a date. He said that didn’t mean he wanted to give up doing anything domestic with me, but that if we wanted to just hang out at his place and make freezer meals and do laundry, we would plan for it ahead of time–it wouldn’t be anything that we got sucked into doing when we’d made specific plans to do something else, which sounded good to me. I like doing those things with him too, but on our terms.
He then suggested that we not do anything like that for the next several weeks to a couple of months. That we needed to just date for awhile. I completely agreed.
I was relieved that he understood where I was coming from, and that I hadn’t been met with more defensiveness. I was relieved that he agreed with what I needed from him, and that he would give it to me.
I would say I am cautiously optimistic. I know I’ve had this discussion with him before–about him setting boundaries with his wife, about us having more fun and less stress. But the difference this time, is that instead of just speaking in general terms, I laid out exactly what I needed to happen in order for me to still be in this.
He said he knows I’ll need time to regain his trust, and I’m glad that he sees that. I am being cautious, but I am willing to try, if he is.
Since then, we have had a few dates, and he has been true to his word. We’ve had dinner and drinks on a rooftop patio and been to a terrible movie, and had a great time at both. He has not been answering texts or including side-trips to run errands for his wife. With it being the long weekend, I was able to sleep over from Sunday into today, without him having to take me home early or leave me alone in his house while he took his wife to breakfast and to work. We slept in til ten, and it was glorious. Then we went for pancakes and bacon, and then for a walk through an indoor garden.
It will take some time for me to believe that everything will be okay. But so far, so good.