Category Archives: communication in marriage

“Mary, Mary so contrary…” – Learning to not be negative

I’m working on not correcting everything Rob says.

Last month we were in Seward, Alaska, for a sightseeing tour on a catamaran. Stormy weather shortened our Resurrection Bay tour from six to three hours, giving us extra time to see the town.

We walked the length of Seward four times. In the rain. We saw wildlife in the Alaska SeaLife Center that we didn’t have the luck to see in the bay, popped in and out of touristy gift shops searching for stocking stuffers, shared a mocha, and admired the salmon fighting their way up the river running through town.

Fifteen minutes before boarding the train back to Anchorage, we sat in Terry’s Fish & Chips, ordering our dinner to go.

“I think we saw what there is to see in Seward,” Rob said.

“Well, we didn’t get out to that waterfall, or take the hike the ranger mentioned,” I said. “So there is more. But I’m content.”

With an inward sigh, I amended, “Sorry. I could have simply said, ‘I’m content.'”

Rob smiled and said nothing.

It’s healthy to feel free to voice my disagreement. But here’s my current hypothesis:

  • Rob spoke in a generality.
  • I spoke in specifics.
  • Both can be right.
  • And it may get just a little tiresome for Rob when I, by default, correct his generalizations.

Ten minutes later, we walked to the train. Wood-slat planters filled with flowers marked the entrance to the depot.

“They color-coordinated,” Rob said, motioning from the flowers to the train.

The train was blue and yellow (generally speaking). The flowers were a cheery yellow—and decidedly purple. Purple lupin lobelia. The kind that is nearly iridescent purple in its glowing intensity.

“Oh, um-hm,” I said.

Because generally-speaking, Rob was right. Purple and blue are side-by-side in the color spectrum. Specifically, the colors did not match the train, and I would not have said it was color-coordinated. But did that matter enough for me to “correct” him? I held my tongue and eased my toes into the pool of generalities.

Note: When I ran this hypothesis by Rob, he gave a “hmpf”…disagreeing with my rather sweeping generality of our communication styles (he is specific sometimes, after all…) and proceeded to correct me on the specific flower type…which is noted in the text above.


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I needed to know my husband loves me

I needed to know my husband loves me. I needed to know he wants me. The key words were “pursue” and “obvious.”

This was part of the same conversation when Rob asked for mulligans. I was asking for affection. Lots of it. 

It topped my list for our “next month rules” back in April, as we looked down the barrel of our third month loaded with fertility drug intervention.

Yes, I know you love me, I told him. I know you think I’m beautiful…or at least you did when we married. Do you still? You haven’t said so recently…and you don’t kiss me “just because” anymore….

You could see his frustration mount.

Yes, I agreed with him, you do wash the dishes—and I’m so glad. Yes, you kiss me hello and goodbye.

But I need you to kiss me passionately for no reason, and tell me how pretty I am; desire me until I’m pushing you away…. I don’t want to feel like I’m doing the chasing.

Please, I desperately need to know you want me. Because this is what I need when I’m tired and sad and frustrated for weeks and months on end by circumstances outside my control.

We agreed to our rules—though “pursue until you’re rejected” didn’t sound entirely rewarding to Rob—wrote them down, and taped them up on our bathroom mirror.  (“You’ll remember to take these down when you show off the new paint job, right?” Rob asked.)

For the record: The point about affection was actually worded, “Give Kim lots of lovin’.” And the other rules are, at this point, private…other than the mulligans, of course.

It was frustrating and hurtful to have to express these needs to my husband. It felt like begging. But one of my friends has a good deal of wisdom in her own personal reminder when her husband does not see her needs: “He’s not a woman!” Gotta give them a break on that one, I guess.

I won’t bore you with details of Rob’s pursuit, but I will say I was grateful that, despite not fully understanding why I “need more,” once he committed to this, he followed through. Sometimes it was humorous in his overstatement (picture Pepe le Pew pursuing that poor cat). But whether serious or funny, I knew he did it because he wanted to convince me he not only loves me, but still finds me irresistible.

So let’s be realistic—the month was not without its bumps.

On a Friday early in the month, a high-ranking coworker was markedly, and remarkably, rude to me in a public setting. From this meeting I went to a doctor’s appointment where I laid in a humiliating position while the doctor crossly told me to “relax!” while she caused me pain.

Rob was there. He made the admirable effort to move from feeling powerless to doing all in his power to comfort me as I sobbed that this is not supposed to be part of getting pregnant.

Saturday night, I was still aching emotionally. Aching and…wiped out.

Rob settled into bed, content and oblivious. This didn’t help. Not when I needed extra cuddling and sympathetic words. So now add “frustrated” to my emotions list. I knew I had a choice: Get mad, or believe he loves me and help him enter my pain. I chose the latter.

May I tell you something?

I feel very sad. Very lonely.

Rob was stymied, and now frustrated as well. Had he not made breakfast for me? Had he not done other loving things? 

I promise I’m not criticizing you. I’m just saying that, at this moment, I feel very sad & lonely.

Rob pulled me to him, held me, and said nothing more.


Posted by on August 23, 2008 in communication in marriage, infertility


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