Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Unmet Expectations at the Beach

            Michelle was upset with me Sunday.
It all comes down to expectations. Generally speaking, on the weekends her expectation is that I spend more time with Celia than on the weekdays, but on Sunday I was only in-and-out of touch from 8:00am till seeing her finally at the beach at 5:30pm. Not that I didn’t spend a lot of time with them, because it was a long weekend and I told her I’d make it up by spending all day Monday with Celia, but even so, by the time I finally met her at the beach, she was livid.
Add to that the fact that she gave me inaccurate directions, and I was driving around trying to find her amidst a crowded beach on a sunny day on the long weekend at the completely wrong location. I’d planned on meeting up with her by 4:30pm, and at 5:10pm she called me, “Where are you?”
“I’m driving up and down the beach. I can’t seem to find you anywhere! Where are you?!”
“I’m near the sailboats…”
“What?! That’s not Spanish Banks! That’s Jericho Beach!”
“Well that’s where I am…”
I was upset, and impatient, and I had to call her back a few times to figure out where she was exactly because it wasn’t accessible by car. By the time I found her we were both irritable, and the baby was crying so Michelle said, “I’m done with the beach. You can do what you want, stay or go. I’m going home,” and she walked away.
And I let her go. I was irritated and thought she was being immature. But then, by the time I finally got back to my car I thought to myself, “No matter how immature she’s being, I’m being impatient, and she’s obviously irritated that I wasn’t with her all day, so I need to at least apologize for that.”
I called her back, “I don’t want you to go.”
“What do you want me to do? I’m almost at the bus stop.”
“Wait there and I’ll pick you up. Where are you?”
When I pulled up I got out of the car and said, “I’m sorry for being so impatient.”
“I forgive you,” she said.
“Good.” I packed up the stroller and we drove back to the beach. Even with the apology there was still tension in the air, and I wasn’t sure how to diffuse it. The saving grace in all of this is our friends Brian and Christina met up with us with their little boy, and Michelle and Christina took a long walk while Brian and I talked about marriage and such over a beer. By the time Michelle got back, I grilled up some salmon and we had a lovely dinner and beautiful evening. At one point she even said, “What a great day it’s been.”
“Really?” I asked.
She looked at me and I could see her mentally reviewing all that had transpired, then said, “Well, yes. I think so.”
There’s the beauty of it. No matter how tense it can sometimes get with this whole parenting thing and sharing the duties, it seems at the end of the day we can always forgive each other and move on. That’s a beautiful thing. I’d even say it’s necessary to raise kids well. You don’t want to have all sorts of tension going on circulating around the child. What an awful burden for a child to bear, knowing deep down that they are the cause of tension and negativity, but never knowing for sure why they feel this way. And unless we as a couple can acknowledge the issues and deal with them, I’ll bet you they’ll percolate and churn underneath every word spoken, creating a mist of messiness in the air.
I think this is why it’s overall healthier for couples to wait to have kids till they’ve been together for a few years. At least by then they’ll have worked out some of the kinks in their relationship. Because I’ll tell you what, having children uncovers a whole ton of issues, and creates a whole lot more. It most certainly doesn’t solve any issues. This worries me, when couples who seem to have marital problems have kids as a sort of solution to keep them together. Not a very bright idea, in my eyes. Now, you’re not only dealing with marital ugliness, but the children are going to grow up into that. What an awful way to bring children into this world, that’s already so messed up. The least we can do is get our shit together before jumping into it.
I put my relationship with Michelle before Celia. Definitely. If Michelle and I are doing well, the baby will do well. If we let our relationship slack, I’m most certain that any efforts we put into a child won’t make a difference, they’ll still have emotional scarring because of the negativity in the home. We really have to guard the time we have together and make sure we’re upfront and honest about whatever we’re feeling. If the marriage is happy, the family will be happy, the home will be happy, and the whole neighborhood will be blessed.

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