Nicky's Blog

and I took that personally

My wife and I have a fairly regular argument.

Something goes wrong with the house/finances/activity. Depending on the situation, I either get mildly annoyed, or full on pissed at myself. My wife reminds that these problems are our problems, and that it's on both of us to resolve it.

I disagree.

Ok, not entirely disagree. I acknowledge that it's an us problem. It's just that us and our still includes me, and as I can control her input but can and should control mine, I can't get mad at her. I can get mad at me.

I take it personally. It's my failing, my inadequacies, my fault that I am not living up to my end of the bargain. Never mind that I have deliberately skewed the bargain in my head so that my end is bigger. I should be able to live up to that; be better prepared, be better organised, be more skilled and knowledgeable.

The house is the big thing for me. Maybe it's hairline cracks in the ceiling, or what looks like a small damp patch on the wall1. Maybe it's the garden again, or the bathtub sealant. Grouting, painting, fixing, all things I feel I should not only be equipped for, but be proficient at.

The causes are obvious - a childhood spent being 'naturally' good at things, and a lack of that adult guiding hand with how to DIY or adult2. That's not the important thing right now. What's important is my wife is right; it's an us problem, and making it a me problem doesn't help us, and it barely helps me.

What I think I'm doing is solving the problem for us both by trying to make myself the Responsible One. I'll drive it, I'll figure it out, I'll fix it, and everyone wins.

What I'm actually doing is shutting my life out of the problem while I go chase the feeling I had 20 something years ago. I'll also let my anxiety overrule her opinion if it's not backed up by evidence because I put an unrealistically high burden of proof against it. So selfish, and ignorant.

I think that the problem is mine and mine alone, and therefore primarily affects me. In reality, it affects us both in the same way.

Like all behavioural changes, this won't be an instant fix. It'll take time and effort to be aware of it and not give in to my emotions, but I've got form with that. I'll get there.

Too much to lose otherwise.

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  1. Jury's still out on that one. It doesn't feel wet, but is definitely yellowing. Handyman friends think it's just moisture trapped behind bad paint; wait to for it come off then re-do with better paint. But then, the lintel isn't looking too healthy either. Point of entry?

  2. I don't often buy into the positive male role model thing, but I do often wonder how things would turn out if I had my dad growing up.