(This post was inspired by a Boundless.org blogpost, so if you read that and read my blog, this might seem familiar.)
Several months ago now, I told Jeff that I was feeling alone – even in our marriage. After talking to him about it and pondering it, I think I figured out why. It came down to the fact that I made his being silent as something hurtful to me. I was feeling that he wasn’t really supporting me on some things that I wanted. I was hurt because:
(1) He didn’t help me build the basement shelves that I was building. (That totally fell down the moment I tried to move them, causing me to cry in frustration. They just completely collapsed on top of themselves. Boom! It’s like I had made them out of a deck of cards or something equally fragile.)
(2) He didn’t help me re-hang the bathroom cabinet doors after I stained them. I told him that I needed help cause I couldn’t get the screws in all the way.
(3) He didn’t help me put together a bookcase that I wanted for our son’s room. I had started it, but (again) couldn’t get the stupid screw into the bookcase.
I was frustrated because I was the one that had figured out the measurements to the shelves. I was the one who ran to Home Depot 4 times (4!!!) to get lumber, more lumber, plywood, nails to build the basement shelves. (Can’t I learn to make a list before going there?!?) I was the one who had to move Phinehas’s carseat from one side of the backseat so that I could put part of the back seat down to get the plywood in the car and then couldn’t put it back correctly. I was the one who spent a few hours pounding nails into the lumber to make a ‘thing’ that sort of resembled shelves. You know, before I moved it and it collapsed.
I was also frustrated that I was the one that had taken the drawers and the doors off the bathroom fixtures. I was the one that sanded them down. I was the one who found the stain locally. I was the one who taped off the room. I was the one who did three coats of stain, waited five days and did two coats of polyurethane. I was the one who re-hung the doors.
I was frustrated again when I tried to put together bookshelves for Phinehas’s room. It was one of those “assemble it yourself” things you can buy from Target. I was the one who went to Target and bought it, lugging it into the car, lugging it into the house. I was the one who took the pieces out and organized them onto the living room floor.
I was the one! (Can you hear how self-focused I was?)
Why couldn’t he help me? Was it too much to ask? After I stopped and thought about it, several things hit me:
- None of these projects were my husband’s idea. Not a single one. He blessed them, to be sure, but it wasn’t a big dream of his.
- I didn’t ask for help on the basement shelves at all. In fact, I was lugging lumber and making Home Depot trips while he was at work and Bible Study. The man couldn’t help me do what he didn’t know I was doing.
- I didn’t communicate when I needed help. I just said I needed help in general, without saying “Can you help me with this tonight? Or this weekend?”
In one case (the shelves), he didn’t have a chance to help me. In the other cases, I didn’t ask him when he could help me. So I got silence (or so I thought). And instead of taking his silence as a reason to be more specific and direct with him, I took his silence as hurtful and thus, felt alone.
He was willing to help me with the bathroom cabinet doors and the bookcase. He was willing to help me build the basement shelves. I just had to ask and be clear about it.
If I just would have asked my husband for 1) help and 2) a timeline of when he could help, I wouldn’t have gotten hurt feelings and I wouldn’t have (likely) felt lonely. If only I wouldn’t have assumed his silence meant something…