He has ADD which means he is often all over the place. He starts one thing and gets easily distracted by something else. He loses track of time. He hates schedule, routine and traditions. I, on the other hand, am a creature of habit. I love making lists. I stay on task. I love planning ahead. I love traditions. I'm not spontaneous. The difference that has been most apparent lately is "talking".
I come from a family that aren't big talkers. I mean, we are social, we talk, we have friends, etc. But we are not the family who sits down with each other and really digs deep into issues. We surface talk much of the time. Family dinners with my family are pretty mellow. It's not rare to see people sitting on couches and checking out their phones. We are close but we aren't always completely up-front with each other. We beat around the bush at times.
I remember the first time I went to a Youkstetter gathering. I was shocked at how loud and open his family was. I actually told Seth after we left, "Your family argues a lot!" and he looked at me like I was crazy. "We don't argue! We were just talking." Things are out on the table at a Youkstetter gathering. They get loud, they talk over each other in order to get their point across. They interrupt and they say exactly what they are thinking. It was quite shocking initially. Yet, the way they communicate grew on me.
Every summer we go on a family vacation with the Youkstetter family. Part of that vacation is an "expression session." I admit, we all poked fun at Patty and David for wanting to implement this tradition...it's basically a "testimony meeting" (for you Mormon readers). Or, a time when we gather in a circle and everyone gets a chance to talk. We have a timer and the topic is yours. Interestingly enough it's a time when people can discuss their fears, their hopes, their love for their family, etc. The best part is that no one can respond. Once your time is up, the next person talks. And a really beautiful thing happens: we learn from each other, we cry together, we laugh together and we create a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other.
It's a really beautiful and wonderful thing that I look forward to. I have found myself wishing that my family would do the same thing. We have so much to learn from each other.
Well, back to the marriage issues. Seth is a huge talker. If he's stressed, he wants to talk about it. If he's upset with me, he'll tell me about it. He's brutally honest (a whole other blog topic). If he is having a hard time with a decision, he wants to talk about it. Had a rough day at work? Lets talk about it. Starts freaking out about us, or Millie - better talk it through. He is this way because he comes from a big family of talkers. If someone is struggling they hash through it. They get loud, they sometimes say mean things to each other. Yet they know where they all stand.
I admit, I kind of hate this. I am an open person (duh - look at this blog). My coworkers and friends know a lot about me. Yet, when it comes to confrontation, or issues - no thanks. When I'm stressed, I want to take a nap. When I've had a bad day at work - leave me the hell alone and let me read. If Seth is driving me crazy- nah, I'll just hold onto it and resent the hell out of him.
Can you see where this becomes problematic?
I had a harsh reality smack me in the face last fall. I was at my parent's house going through my boxes of storage stuff. I ran across my "Jason box". Mission letters, gifts, wedding album, our anniversary box, etc. I made the mistake of going through some of the stuff. Soon I was crying. I wasn't crying because I was upset that we weren't together. I was crying because I just felt so bad that we had to go through that. I cried because of how poorly I handled our marriage and our divorce. I read a letter he wrote me right before the divorce was final. Basically it was his goodbye letter. I haven't read it for 10 years or so. It was incredibly painful to read. It was painful because it became very clear that I allowed Jason to take the fall for our failed marriage. And he willingly did and gracefully so. I was young and I was stupid and I didn't want to pin any blame on myself. His letter spelled out his issues with me. Issues that I shoved under the rug and forgot about. I didn't want to face them. What was the most heart-wrenching was seeing that many of the issues Jason had with me - Seth has with me now. I haven't changed in many ways. I'm still closed off. I still have too high of expectations, etc. And frankly it made me very sad.
That's the thing about marriage. Changing partners doesn't always solve everything because the problems often lie within ourselves. Marriage challenges every part of yourself and the only way to truly make it as a couple, is to see yourself clearly and to be honest with yourself. Trust me, this isn't easy.
I need to learn to talk more, but more importantly I need to learn to listen to Seth. I am a terrible listener. I'm impatient, I judge, I take things personally. If Seth can't talk to me, who can he talk to? I don't want to push him away. I want him to be able to come to me. I am vowing to work on it. Because he deserves it. We deserve it.
I'm going to implement a daily expression session. A time where we each get 10 minutes to talk about whatever we want - without interruption. Seth will hate that I have to "schedule" a time to listen but I know I am not capable of doing it well without a bit of structure. I think we can each learn a lot about each other, about our hopes and fears and frustrations. I hope this will help bridge a bit of the gap we feel now.
Oh marriage. Why are you so stinking hard?
I sure love him though. Handsome bloke.