Every few months, Jamie and I re-evaluate our finances together. We spend time going over what we need to purchase, what we need to fix, what categories we need to filter our money into and so on. I'm always amused at the way Jamie breaks it all up because it makes no sense to me. His categories are so obtuse, almost vague, yet I can specify a need and he will know exactly where it falls on our list and what priority to set it to. It's kind of amazing actually and it's something about him that never fails to impress me. His illogical sense of order actually works well for our family. We categorize things differently, but in the end the ultimate goal we agreed on is reached. We don't have to agree on what the actual thing falls under, we just have to agree on the thing being on the list. It's simple.
In our relationship, however, it's not quite as easy. And this isn't exclusive to OUR relationship. It's about relationships in general and something I've been pondering lately. We (as far as I know, all human beings do this) have a tendency to put a person's actions under the column intentions more often than not, even when the two have nothing to do with each other. We take what a person does, assume we know why they do it and turn a very simple matter into something more complex.
For example, last night I did something that upset Jamie. He was in the right. What I did was really inconsiderate. He was waiting to get the kids in bed and the night wrapped up and as the chaos was winding down, I went to check my email. I got something I needed to attend to and it sucked me in. If you would have asked me how long I took, I would have guessed 15 minutes tops. Well, he actually was watching the time and it was 45 minutes. I wasn't watching the clock and I wasn't paying attention to anything but the task I was trying to accomplish. It was rude of me and had the shoe been on the other foot, I would have been very upset myself (though not as gracious as Jamie, if I were to be completely honest. He's nicer than me)
He approached this with me this morning. He said that something upset him and asked if he could please talk about it. I didn't feel great hearing about my transgression, but I didn't disagree with him. It was a crappy thing to do. However, when he got to the part about how it made him FEEL, it gave me pause. My actions made him feel like I didn't care about him. Wait. Stop. Halt. The truth of the matter is that I simply lost track of time. That I can fix. I can make sure the next time I check my email at night, I watch the clock. I can wrap up whatever I am doing quickly , or even abstain from checking my email in the evening. All of these things I can do, and am completely willing to do. But the not caring part? That's just not true. Yes, my actions were inconsiderate, but they did not come from a place of complacency about his feelings. Not at all. I grew more and more upset as the discussion went on, not at him, but because I get really anxious when things aren't cascading into a logical pattern. I need things to be cut and dry and logical. I need to focus on the reality, not the feelings. I need the transgression categorized appropriately, or my brain goes haywire. It should have been filed under "Lost Track of Time" not "Not Caring About Husband."
The thing is, I am completely....100% guilty of this thought pattern myself, If a friend doesn't call me back, I feel like they don't care I need to talk to them. The reality is, they got busy, or tired, or just can't talk at the moment. They can change the action by letting me know a better time to call, but they can't CARE more if they already DO care. The intention wasn't to make me feel bad. If I am putting the missed call under the category of "Friend Doesn't Care About Me" rather than "Friend Too Busy To Talk" I'm kind of...well...wrong. I try to teach my children that intent is very hard to prove. We should never assume that an action a person does, even one that hurts us (by the ones we love ..I don't preach the same about strangers...totally different ball of wax there) is intentional.
I wonder how many arguments could be obliterated if we categorized an action correctly rather than assigning it an intention that isn't appropriate? I understand that certain actions conjure up certain feelings and I'm not asking for those feelings to be ignored. You can FEEL uncared for without accusing the other person of truly not caring. I realize its all in the wording, but in my own relationships, this has been a stumbling block.
If a person is truly on your side, has truly shown you they love you and care about you, have been an unwavering positive in your life, it seems unnecessary to assume that an action was done for the sole purpose of hurting you. In a healthy relationship, I feel like the assumption to be the opposite. How much easier life would be if we took an action at face value instead of reading so much into it.
Jamie forgave me even before I knew how I had made him feel. That's another thing I love about him. I love that even when I'm in the hot seat, he's willing to listen and no matter how heated we get, we always learn something new about how to interact with each other better in the future.
And today, I'm a little wiser and a little more aware of how often I've assigned an intention to an action without due cause. Hopefully, in the future, I won't be so quick to assume the worst because being on the other end kinds of sucks.
P.S. To my beloved, I love you enough to wear a shock collar ;) That would teach me to manage my time better and who knows? It could be hot, right?? :) Love ya!