I, robot…sometimes

(Image off ebay.com)I’ve been learning a lot about myself this year….starting with finding out my personality type. As I read about the characteristics and traits and strengths and weakenesses of this personality, things began to make sense about why I do the things I do (or don’t.)

Seems I’m a bit computer like where I need input to figure out an output. I need past experiences and input to form what responses in word or actions are appropriate for a current situation. So Skywalker calls me Data (the droid from TNG)…with a more advanced emotion chip. Thanks Hun.  But this does also explain my mostly expressionless face.

If it’s a new experience, particularly in relationships, I’m actually not very good at anticipating others’ feelings and emotional needs. You need to tell me so that I can build up a library of what works and what doesn’t for each person. Seems heartless…and a little callous…that I wouldn’t think of it until you inform me. But it’s not as though I’m only doing it because you said it. Understand that I’ll ask because I WANT to do it, because I care. I really do want to know what is meaningful to YOU so that I can do that for you. I tend to do unto others what they’ve shared they appreciate or else I do what I’d be ok with. In the past I have done things for others based on how I’d probably like to receive it or whatever I’d be ok receiving from others, i.e. apply the Golden Rule, but it turns out to be the wrong thing for them. I’m also quick to jump to “but does it work” and try to address that issue without taking into consideration the person’s feelings or how much effort they’ve taken to get to where they are.

My other problem, is that sometimes I don’t ask clarifying questions because I don’t know what I don’t know. Maybe it’s a new situation with a new person and I have no previous experience to draw back on or to cue me to do/say something appropriate. That’s where I appreciate someone asking or telling me about the situation. Please know that I won’t automatically feel guilty or obligated if you tell me a preference or expectation, and please don’t think that’s the only reason why I’m doing it. I really DO appreciate being informed about preferences or needs and would be happy to do what I can to meet that need or request. If I can’t meet the need, I’ll let you know or let you know of an alternative. But, if I feel that guilt is being applied, then I tend not to comply. For example, “I think Grandma misses hearing from you” (informative, no guilt applied) vs “How come you have time to ______ but not give Grandma a call?” (guilt applied).

When Skywalker and I were dating, and even into the first two years of marriage, he would wonder why I would fail to interpret and respond to a relational situation the way he would. “Dont’ people normally consider this for others?” Don’t people just KNOW to do these things?” They probably do….I’m just not one of them. From 16personalities.comThe INTJ personality type is one of the rarest and most interesting types – comprising only about 2% of the U.S. population (INTJ females are especially rare – just 0.8%).” So if gems are rare, Skywalker married one of theseLucky man! Meanwhile, we’re learning how to work with my personality type. If I’m asking questions, I’m not doing it to be annoying but because I really don’t know, and I really am just looking for more information so that I can show meaningful care. Or if I’m drawing a blank, I totally appreciate some cues as to what I should/shouldn’t do.

On the flip side, I don’t want this to be an excuse, with a “that’s just the way I am so y’all need to deal with it” mentality. I think whatever strengths/weakenesses we’re born with is just the starting point to becoming a more gracious, considerate, kind, strong, loving, etc person. Growing up, I was taught a Chinese proverb that says something to the effect of “Put more effort into whatever Nature didn’t give you.”  So I have to work a little harder in this area than some most. Thankfully, it’s not something I have to do by myself…God is ultimately the one doing an inner transformation in me, bringing out more of Christ’s character, and turning my weaknesses into new strengths. So for that, I am VERY grateful…and relieved!

“…Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Still Sparky

(Image from comfortlife.ca)

Last week I wrote about what that initial “spark” is when you meet someone you feel attracted to. It’s a high. It’s a rush.

You get together. Get married.

And then I hear how couples barely talk to each other a few years into marriage. Or how couples don’t care to spend time together because they’ve got their own things going on in their lives….they’re just sharing the house now. Or how any conversation is only about the groceries, the bills, the weekly schedule or the kids. Or how “date night” is going to a dinner where each are on their respective smart phones through the meal, followed by a movie in a dark theatre shared by a hundred other strangers where the only thing you hold isn’t his/her hand but your bag of popcorn and drink. It honestly makes me a little sad when I see it.

One husband with two young ones commented to us that since we’ve only been married two years, we’re still in the “honeymoon” and romance kind of phase but that in a few years we’re not going to care so much what the other person is up to. Will still love them, but just not care so much.

I’m a little alarmed by this…is that going to be us??? I don’t want to become that comfortable, but kinda emotionally disconnected couple. I want to always find things that “spark” between us. I want to make sure there’ll be moments of feeling melty inside…for the rest of our lives. I’m pretty sure I’m not a hopeless romantic so this goal isn’t unreasonable is it? Any thoughts or comments from those married longer than two years?

I asked Skywalker what still makes him feel the spark now. He said, “The Holy Spirit.” JUST KIDDING. He said, “I love that we can have fun and be silly together and you’re hot.” *melty* How about you?

I said, “I love how you make me laugh, that we can ‘play’ together and how sometimes with one look from you, I can get weak-knees.

Yeah…hope we’ll always be a little sparky. Long into Golden years of being wrinkled and grey.

They Talking ’bout Me??

(Image not mine)

Have you ever read someone’s blog post/tweet/FB status/comment/etc and thought “Are they talking about me??

Mrs PR brought up an interesting thought on this topic. While the person who posted usually isn’t talking about you, there IS some content in there that reveals something about yourself….maybe some quality that you don’t want to be associated with. Or some trait that you’re embarassed about. Something. And it gets your defenses up.

This totally happens to me. I might read a friend’s tweet that says “Some people need to mind their own business” and then start thinking…”Was that directed at me? Should I have not asked about ____?? I thought we were good friends???” Anyone relate?

Looking back at these thoughts, I see that it actually tells me a number of things about myself.

  1. Maybe I am a little nosey sometimes.
  2. Maybe I shouldn’t try to find out about what’s going on in someone’s life. If they want to share, they will share.
  3. Maybe I’m insecure about friendships or insecure about whether the friendship is as deep as I thought it was.
  4. Maybe I’m insecure about myself, about who I am and how I’m perceived.
  5. Maybe I think a little too highly of myself that others would bother to be writing about me at all.

My guess is that 98% of the time, the post/tweet/etc is not about me….but it revealed things about myself that could make me a better person if I changed. I need to be humble and honest enough to look at why I felt defensive. By admitting the shortcomings to myself, I can start the process of changing some of those negative traits and qualities. Extend grace and benefit of the doubt to believe the post/tweet/etc wasn’t directed at you. And move on.

The Way We Talk

Skywalker and I were talking about our families and how we realized the way we communicate is a product of the upbringing and family dynamics we grew up in. Skywalker’s family tends to wear their hearts on their sleeve, say how they feel and if angry, say a little more to add more sting to the statement. My family swallows all the words and sorrows away, say what is minimal and reads inbetween the lines for the rest. When pushed far enough, we errupt.

In chatting further, we discussed how this difference impacts me since not only do I take in what is said at face value, but I also look for meaning between the lines. Meaning that Skywalker wouldn’t have intended since his family says what there is to say (and more) taking away the need to read between the lines. The sting ends up being a double whammy for me. But this difference also impacts Skywalker in how I DON’T express everything and leave somethings for him to read between the lines. It’s frustrating and I set him up to interpret based only on what he heard me say instead of what I mean. Basically, he says things he doesn’t mean and I don’t say what I do mean. Sigh.

Frankly, neither is particularly healthy…but as we also realized, there isn’t a perfect functioning family in the world is there? It is good to speak and express openly to each other, but it is not good to purposely add more sting in your words to exact some hurt in the other person. It is also good to hold the tongue and not say words that would hurt, but it is not good to swallow the words away and expect someone to read between the lines as to what you want to express correctly. A children’s poster sums it up nicely, “Say what you mean, mean what you say.”

So this is where commitment to the marriage is applied by commiting to building good communication. To continue to get to know, understand, anticipate AND respect each other’s differences in expression. With each little breakthrough we uncover more of ourselves…and having mutual understanding will get easier with time.

What communication breakthroughs have you had with your spouse?

Marriage > Parents

As we’re making our plans to move to the Coast, I sometimes can’t help the feeling that I seem to be taking my in-law’s son away from them. It probably doesn’t help that this was an issue for my Grandma when my uncle moved away decades ago….so my family is always asking, “Are your in-laws mad at you?” “Do they blame you?” There has been no indication of such….but I can tell they really don’t want to see Skywalker so far away.

Certainly me being in the picture, already owning a condo on the Coast, married to their son, makes it that much easier for Skywalker to check “Live on the coast” off his bucket list. Mind you, San Diego was more what he had in mind…but hey….we can start North and then head South later. Would he have made the same decision had I not been in the picture? He said, “Maybe.”

This is only the third time I’m moving to the same Coast….so it’s almost old news for my parents. They were always prepared for their daughter to go wherever the husband goes…but I know they still would rather see me live closer.

Talking to PRCow recently, we shared similar thoughts that children should eventually leave their parents, but a husband and wife should always be together. This is biblical. (And it’s very different from how the world sees children as theirs forever while the spouse can be temporary.) Similarly, we agreed with the perspective that your marriage also needs to be of higher priority than what your parents want. I’m not saying AT ALL that we can dishonor, disrespect or disregard our parents. God rebukes such people. Rather, the emphasis is on your promise to your husband/wife to be joined as one primary unit, in heart, mind, body and spirit.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.  ~ Genesis 2:24

Above anyone else’s influence, suggestions, demands, requests, etc…while their opinions might be weighed in and considered, any decision made that will affect your primary unit (you and your spouse) needs to be made jointly. This way no blame can be laid on the other. “If only you hadn’t listened to your father’s crazy advice!” “Do you have to do everything your mother asks??” Once there is blame, there is room for resentment, and with resentment, bitterness…which ultimately kills love.

So, take the time to talk it through with your spouse. Everyone needs to be honest in laying out their thoughts and feelings before confirming the decision being made is one you jointly agree to.  Once it’s made, forever hold your peace! Even if it doesn’t go well, don’t let blame grow in your heart, but support each other and help pick up the pieces if it comes to it.

Last week I laid my thoughts and fears on the table and we talked through it. I have full assurance from Skywalker we’re doing this together. This move is OUR decision. For better or worse we’re in it together. And I am thankful.