Archive for July, 2010

I’ve become the thing that I hate – the passive-aggressive over-sharing blogger. Trevor once said “I don’t care what you write, I understand sometimes you just need to vent” – and I took him at his word. But he’s had time (and many posts) over which to reconsider, and I don’t blame him for feeling differently now. We’re not always very good at talking to each other when there’s a problem, at just being direct – and I think that’s something we both recognize and have tried to improve on, but my blogging has given me an up-until-now safe space in which to express things I didn’t want to say directly to him. That has never been the point or the goal of my blog at all, but that is ultimately what it has become for me.

What I originally intended to do was to write about my personal experience of being married, specifically my experience of marriage as a woman and as a feminist. I meant to write generally then give specific examples from my own experience and also back up a lot of what I was writing with other feminist texts and resources. But I ended up skinny on the texts and resources and heavy on the personal experience, with not a lot of balance on the side of objectivity or distance from the subject, and with a healthy dose of occasional melodrama. This is not what I wanted, and I’m paying the price for it.

Through this blog, I have somewhat unintentionally invited people to make judgments about my and Trevor’s life together. It would be very naive of me to think people wouldn’t make any judgments. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t, to a certain extent, want people to make (some of) those judgments.

A lot of my writing has been about learning to live with and be married to Trevor, and a lot of it  has basically been venting, and I would expect that people reading what I’ve written might think or say “yea, she’s right, that was kind of an asshole-y thing of him to do” or whatever – one of the more self-serving points of having a blog is that you expect your audience to be full of a lot of people who generally agree with you about whatever you’ve written.

Hand in hand with that, I would also expect there are going to be people who disagree with me. What I didn’t expect was that I would resent them so much, or feel so much anger toward them. I resent their half-invited intrusion into my life, as ridiculous as that sounds. I put it up on the internet for all to see, yes, but I’ve since come to the conclusion that that was a mistake.

Almost every time I’ve posted something, I or Trevor have gotten some kind of “wow, that’s shitty of you/her to post that about Trevor/you” response. We can disagree all day long about whether or not I deserve that criticism – certainly I feel that I have deserved it on certain occasions, regarding posts in which I have been particularly vent-y or harsh – but it’s a moot point. Whether I deserve it or not, voicing it removes the focus from the content or point or even quality of my writing to something else entirely.

I know this is an internet thing. I mean, people read blogs and websites and miss the point A LOT. They don’t just miss the point, they intentionally, willfully miss the point. They make a comment about how big the woman’s breasts are in the picture accompanying the article about the objectification of women, or how fat that guy is in the picture accompanying the post about body-image issues. And then they read my blog and say “Wow, what a bitch. I can’t believe she put all that bad stuff about him online” while then completely blocking out ALL THAT BAD STUFF ABOUT HIM or the argument I was making for doing things differently.

I don’t want you to think I’m missing the point, too. I know a lot of the reason these people are mad at me or think I’m awful is not just because of what I said, but also because I said it on such an incredibly public forum. If I wrote about how much I love and appreciate my husband all the time, and never said anything bad about him, I don’t really think how public it is would be an issue – but somehow being truthful about my experience learning and growing in our relationship, and writing about the very real problems I’ve grappled with around integrating my marriage into my feminism and vice-versa, because these things necessarily include criticisms of my husband and of our relationship (and, I would note, myself), this makes me irresponsible or a bad person or cruel or pick-your-adjective.

In terms of what I feel is happening to me, the phrase “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” comes to mind, which isn’t so bad. But the phrase “sit down and shut up” comes to mind, too, and that’s pissing me off. I feel like this is ultimately because I’m not being “nice”. I’m saying not-so-nice truths, and I’m not really prettying them up in any way, and I think there’s the expectation that a good wife either wouldn’t say these things, or would at least shine ’em up a little – to be fair, there’s an expectation that any good partner of either gender would do these things for one another. I understand where this comes from, and do (of course) on some level agree, but on another level I feel like I’m being asked to censor myself, and as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I don’t much like censoring myself.

I can get pissed off at some of you for your opinions, but, again, whether or not you are or I am right or justified is a moot point. You know how people say, “get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat?”  I put Trevor and myself in this situation and I take full responsibility for that. But I don’t want to participate in this anymore, so I’m leaving. I’m getting out of the kitchen, although it’s not just the heat that’s bothering me.

One more phrase applies here, the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. I understand why I’m getting flack for writing “bad things” about Trevor, but ultimately that’s not the deciding factor in my stopping writing these things (although it did motivate me further). I guess this is all going to sound like I’m just pissed off that people think I’m a bad wife or bad partner, but this is about something much bigger, but also much simpler, than that: upon reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t want him writing stuff about me online like some of the stuff I’ve written about him either.

But I’ve really enjoyed this last year or so of writing, which has been more consistent for me than anything for many years previous (as inconsistent as it still was). And I don’t want to stop doing THAT. I may reformat this blog, which I’ve talked about doing before, but more likely I will just start a new one elsewhere, and when I do I will let you know. Suffice it to say, it might not be quite as personal, at least not in the same sense. Thanks to everyone who has been reading, I really appreciate it, and I hope you will continue to follow whatever else I end up doing from here on out in terms of my writing.

See you on the flip side!

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My friend, Esther, and I have had this conversation many times about how just because our relationships aren’t “cookie-cutter” relationships, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them. We do things differently with our partners, but different doesn’t equal wrong. I feel, essentially, that this is true, but every time we have this conversation I feel like we’re more trying to convince ourselves than each other or the wider world. What happens when the expectations you have for your relationship simply haven’t been met? Esther and I have so far tended moreso to deconstruct why we expect those things and put them into the context off all the bullshit rom-com conventions we were raised with, but after we’ve done that, I still feel unsatisfied. On some level, who cares HOW I got my expectations. If (it seems) everyone else in the world has no problem meeting these expectations why do our partners struggle so much with them?

If we’re not “cookie-cutter” than we must be progressive, right? We’re unafraid to do things differently, or so we tell ourselves. But is it truly progressive if the reason we’re doing things so differently still reflects a deference to our partners wishes, or simply to the way our partners are? How progressive can it be when we are still repressing our own desires in order to please others?

A lot of the time, I struggle to place Trevor and my’s relationship. Are we being progressive or are we just being lazy or selfish or set in our own respective ways? Just because something looks progressive from the outside, doesn’t mean that was the intent or the motivating factor. A lot of the reasons our relationship is the way it is have been dictated by Trevor (if unknowingly).

He doesn’t really get into celebrating birthdays and anniversaries because “it’s just another date, and what matters is we love each other, right?”, so we never really seem to celebrate them the way I would prefer.

We split everything down the middle, although I pay our water bill and laundry expenses and he pays our cable and electric bills. He used to buy groceries more often, but now it’s about even. We keep separate banking accounts and have no plans to combine them.

That’s probably the one thing about our relationship that I get the most “wah?”-type responses about from other women. At first it was just more traditional women who were giving me those responses, but since then I’ve really had the same response from all kinds of women, including those I consider quite progressive. The responses range from “but he’s supposed to pay for more” from the more traditional types when I’ve expressed a sense of guilt in the past that he was paying for more than I was, to “well, you guys should be paying proportionally equally in relation to your respective incomes” from more progressive types, including my mother.

I actually on some level agree with the last bit, but try telling someone they have to pay more than you (in terms of dollar amount) because they happen to make more than you do. It’s not their fault that they make more, or that you make less – and why should they have to pick up your slack? Why shouldn’t they enjoy their extra money how they see fit? Women I’ve talked to about it say “well, he has to pick up the slack because he’s your partner, and that’s what partners do for each other, just as you would for him”, but I think, were the tables turned and someone told me I had to pay more because I made more I would be pissed, too. It’s like when your taxes increase as you move up into different income brackets – on one level, you get it and it makes sense, but on another level you’re like “wtf, mate?” – why punish me for making more money, why do I have to pay more because others can’t?

But I think the progressiveness or lack thereof all comes down to intention. I don’t get the feeling that he’s trying to make a statement by not celebrating birthdays and anniversaries – I get the feeling that he doesn’t want to spend the money, doesn’t want more material crap, and doesn’t really think they’re fun to celebrate and so, doesn’t see the point. Same with the financial stuff, although I can at least understand that more. What’s in it for him if we open a joint account or start paying everything in proportion to what we make? Nothing, so he can see no logical reason why he would participate in a set-up like that.

I like to tell myself that if he had all this socio-political reasoning behind his decision not to celebrate anniversaries or share our money, that I would feel better about it. I think I would, but would I really? The end result would be the same, right? I think it’s just MORE frustrating to know there isn’t any good reason for it other than “I don’t wanna. Meh.”

My brother once really pissed me off by calling me selfish. I think it really pissed me off because it hit right at a sore spot – namely, that I do think I am kind of selfish sometimes, but that I try not to be, and for him to say I was just basically told me I was trying and failing. Anyway, I have a theory that some of the reason Trevor and I do (usually) work well is because we are both essentially selfish. We both need our alone time, and our respective space, and we both don’t want anyone judging how we spend our own money. Likewise, we both want to do things our way. Because I’m a woman, and because I’m me, I tend to be the one more likely to compromise of the two of us, or at least to compromise without grumbling about it, but we both have to do it.

I also think I have a quality he mostly lacks – the ability to do something I don’t really want to do and act as though I am just loving the shit out of it while I’m doing it. I don’t necessarily think it’s bad that he doesn’t have this quality, as having this quality basically just means that I can be really fake when I need to be. But it is frustrating on, say, anniversaries when he can’t even bother to pretend to be into it, even though I am SO into it.

It frustrates me on two levels, firstly that I never particularly enjoy these occasions because of his complete lack of joy-taking in them which contrasts so severely with my own feelings on the day, and secondly, I get frustrated because I always end up thinking to myself “does he not even love me enough to pretend to be into it for my sake?” But I try to remember that he just doesn’t have it in him to do that – he’s not made that way, or however you want to put it. If he’s not into it, he’s not into it, and nothing and no one is gonna make him pretend he is. On some level I admire this quality, his unflinching authenticity, but on quite another level I absolutely loathe it.

Don’t get me wrong, he’ll go out to dinner, he’ll even pay for dinner – but he’s not for one second gonna even pretend he’s enjoying it or that he wants to be there. I’m starting to feel like I should just go by myself next anniversary or perhaps plan a girls night so I can spend time with others who are as excited about my anniversary as I am, I’d probably have more fun.

Is anyone sensing a theme? I feel like I’m trying to write about two things at once right now, which are related but separate:

1.) Our relationship is different from many others in many ways, and some of those differences could on the surface look like intentional progressiveness on our part, but often actually is not.

2.) Yesterday was our anniversary and I took the day off work against my better judgment, and although we had a good lie-in together, that was about the end of it. I forced him to take me out to dinner, and he did pay which was nice, but we just stared in silence at each other as we always do on the two occasions a year he might actually take me out just the two of us. I wrote him a heartfelt card he had barely any response to, and in no way reciprocated. My anniversary totally blew and I’m super bitter about it.

The anniversary thing is like so many things about him or about our relationship that I feel torn about. I so want us to be genuine and authentic and true to who we are, both as a couple and as individuals, but I also would like to stop being the freakos that do everything totally weird. It’s not really because of others expectations, but rather because I was raised in this society, too, and I have my own set of expectations that so have not been met.

I expected a honeymoon.

I expect vacations together, not apart.

I expect anniversaries to be celebrated,  and I expect him to want to celebrate us.

I expect that birthdays are kind of a big deal.

I expect that Christmas means something to us and, yes, we’ll buy each other shit, too.

I expect that he’ll help keep our house clean, and that I shouldn’t have to wait 4 months or however long it’s been for him to clean our moldy bathroom ceiling.

I expect that he wants to spend time with me

That’s pretty much it. I guess now it’s time for that tried-and-true wife’s refrain: I’m not asking for much, it doesn’t seem like it should be all that hard for me to get it.

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