Monday, April 14, 2008

Mars/Venus....Who Cares!

I don't know if this communication challenge exists for all couples - but it's there for Richard and me. The challenge is how to know when the response that is required is problem solving and when the response that is desired is empathy. And illness can shorten tolerance and raise the temperature on conflict fairly quickly.

Those of you who have pegged this as a Mars/Venus dilemma with the woman as the Venus empathizer and the man as the Mars problem solver are only partially right. There are times when Richard wants a cuddle and to be told that I feel for his pain; and there are times when all I want is to have him fix the damn [fill in the blank -- usually it's computer or toilet].

The other night I was getting stressed over an upcoming business trip that will involve about 15 hours of travel time. I am not the road warrior I used to be pre-illness. Airplane travel flicks some neurological switch and I start to feel blips of pain. If the flight is shorter than 6 hours, I can ride out the blips. If the flight pushes into the double digits, pain wins -- unless I medicate myself into another dimension, which I hate doing.

So I was moaning and bemoaning. I wanted to go on this trip, but I feared the physical repercussions. And I hated that I had to factor them into the situation at all.

I could see Richard's posture stiffen in the way that it does when he is not sure of how to respond and doesn't want to say the wrong thing. I was too immersed in my worry spin to know what I wanted, much less provide him with any cues.

He handled the situation beautifully. He said:

"My instinct is to jump in and problem solve and tell you ways I think you could deal with this, but I'm not sure that's what you want. So I'll just tell you that I see that this is causing you such stress, and I truly feel for you and want to help you any way I can. I have some ideas I can share with you when you want them."

Like Golde said to Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof:

"If that's not love, what is?"


Farty Girl said...

Hi, I found your blog through "I'd Like to Buy a Bowel." I saw this post and had to send you the link to another post... a friend of mine wrote this on the subject of mars and venus... I'm a little divided on the subject, but I think her perspective is funny and interesting. I hope you like it!

jeisea said...

Your husband is a gem to be treasured. I agree that it's a shame we need to think about how something may affect us. If you have pain the barometric pressure changes as you rise and come down in the plane may increase pain. Knowing the cause sometimes helps. I now am determined not to let my problems stop me from doing things. My recent injury is testament to my stubborn streak. I guess this mindset needs to be tempered by some common sense. I hope you take the trip and have a fabulous time.