As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.
-- Proverbs 27:17
How silly it was of me, to briefly try and think of the ways in which being married to jcobleigh would be hard, so I could forestall them. Some things we both probably already know: personality quirks we've already encountered, conflicting desires to hoarde or toss things, as the case may be. Different assumptions about How Things Are Done, based mostly on how our respective parents did (or didn't) do it. Personal grooming habits. Food likes/dislikes. We talked about a lot of major stuff before deciding to get married (and continued the conversations during the engagement), but we won't know for sure until we actually get to those milestones.
For the most part, we're happily in tandem with each other, but every once in a while we run up against something and the iron starts grating against the iron. We've cut a good swath through the undergrowth: communication, compromise, and God's abundant grace. When we run into conflicts, there's the initial reactions, then the idea that they can't be that insensitive--they must have a good reason for reacting like that. Okay, let's talk. Sometimes talking doesn't fix it immediately. There's the prayers for patience and the asking yourself and God, "can I really make this major change in myself that s/he is addressing?"
This morning, my tendency to talk to myself and his tendency to get annoyed with me about it finally came to a head. I'm generally soft-spoken, so when I descend into inner-monologuing, I become too quiet to hear except in bits and snatches. He can't tell if I'm talking to him or not, so he has to pause whatever he's doing and ask me to repeat what I said, which is frustrating for both of us. I didn't realize it, but my unrestrained inner monologue was driving him to distraction while we were packing for the honeymoon. I didn't even realize I was doing it; I was drifting around the house with a sporadic running commentary: "Oh, yes, I need to put that in there--oh! Musn't forget the socks. Two kinds. Right: hiking socks in that pocket, there...and normal socks down there. Now where's that water bottle? I know I put it down here somewhere..." (rummaging through the pile of things tossed on the bed) "Ah! Got it. Let's see...what else? Oh yes..." etc.
Every time I said something, him being the attentive husband and all, his brain would drop whatever he was trying to do at the moment (i.e., keeping track of what he was packing), and tune into my (at least for his purposes) meaningless chatter. This meant his packing experience was continually frustrating. To his credit, he didn't blow up at me or anything. Didn't say anything, actually...
It became obvious at the gym this morning, when I was sproadically kibbitzing (mostly to myself) about what was on the TV in front of us. He was on the machine next to me with his headphones on, jogging steadily away to the music, his hands occasionally waving or chopping at the air to the beat. Whenever I said something, he'd have to wait for a break in the music, turn off his iPod, and say, "What?" When it became obvious that this sort of thing was a waste of time, we got a bit snappy with each other and came up with an emergency stop-gap measure: I told him to ignore me (which went against his grain, he said), and if I really wanted to get his attention, I'd wave my hands in his direction. I ended up staying silent until the end of the workout and getting a bit steamed about having to trap my inner monologue inside. I guess it's not so "inner"...
We talked it out, proposed some potential mutual fixes. I'm going to try to talk louder so he can hear me and decipher whether or not what I said was relevant to him. I'm also going to attempt to contain myself a bit more. :) He's going to work on learning how to tune in and tune out and not be annoyed when someone in the next room is talking to themselves (or to God), just out of his earshot. It's a work in progress. :)
We think this is related to how our parents interact. My mother says things to herself and to no one in particular, and has for as long as I can remember. jcobleigh's parents don't. I think maybe I need to work on keeping more of my counsel to myself. I guess I've been spoiled by living mostly alone for the past few years. :)
Wow, I love this LJ client Firefox plug-in...