Author Topic: This communication error is solely on me...  (Read 6950 times)

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Mental Magpie

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This communication error is solely on me...
« on: January 29, 2012, 01:43:15 AM »
If any of you have been following, I really have no skill in communicating with Dark Boyfriend when it pertains to my self-esteem.  This certainly is the man with which I want to spend the rest of my life.  Part of our very minuscule problem involves his inability to perceive things from others' points of view; the other (more important) part involves me being able to effectively express my emotions when they are hurt.

I want to point out right here and now that I know the onus of the following matter pertains specifically with me and that he has absolutely done nothing wrong.  This is definitely my hang up and I have not communicated that to him, ever, and he cannot be held accountable for something I have never told him.

We are currently at his brother's house.  Their mother and her long-term boyfriend are also here.  In a joke (and I know Dark Boyfriend knows it is a joke because I have specifically addressed it with him), I mentioned how I was the one repairing the fence (because 1 of 2 dogs was escaping) while he was putting away groceries (something even he posted on Facebook because we joke about things like that).  His brother basically quoted the quote that was next posted on Facebook, then I the next, and his brother the following.  Dark Boyfriend then replied, "Yeah, when was the last time you actually worked a job?"* Because I am a good sport, I replied, "When was the last time you worked a full time job, went to school full time, and still did things around the house?" (which I did about a year ago)  He chuckled, waffled, then said, "Around 2004."  This really was all kidding; this is normal for all of us (his mother included.)  That is not what bothered me.

What bothers me is that I know I don't contribute much because all I do at the present time is full-time school...and he knowsthat this semester is very easy for me, as was the last, because the majority of it is online (I am a visual learner who learns best by reading).  I constantly feel like I could be doing more to contribute (FTR, I have applied for a number of jobs but have not been called back or contacted again or the timeline for applications is not yet over), I wash the dishes (he absolutely never does per agreement), I mostly do laundry, I go to class every day, I take care of the dogs more because I am home more often, et cetera.

What he doesn't know is how awful this makes me feel.  I feel like I could do more, as in be more attentive about cleaning the rest of the house, or be more attentive about the dogs, but I simply don't do it.  That makes me feel useless.  I know that I should be spending a lot of time studying, but the fact of the matter is that it really doesn't take much of me studying for me to do well in a class.  I also know that I could spend that extra time I have cleaning the house...but I don't.  That makes me feel awful and useless.

...so when he said that about me having a job, I felt absolutely unimportant and like I contributed absolutely nothing to the world*.  To his merit, he has absolutely no idea how awful I feel that I don't contribute more to our household.  I honestly do not believe he said it out of malice, but that he said it more out of that is a) how we joke and b), that is the ultimate logical truth. 

The question is a) is it worth bringing up to him how his comment made me feel; and b)if it is worth it, what the e-hell do I say?  In answer to that question, I think it is important to consider the "*" below.

*Dark Boyfriend has told me at the very least weekly that he has sat around work and either watched a movie or played card games because they  have had nothing to do.  Dark Boyfriend has also only attended 1 semester of college.  At one point, I was at college full time AND was working full time.  He had the audacity to say to me once, "When was the last time you worked 13 hours straight?" to which I replied, "What do you think full time school AND full time work is like?  I have so little time on my hands that I do homework at work, then I come home, do more homework, then I cook dinner while doing dishes at the same time!  Usually after that, I can't play video games with you because I am still doing homework!"  He has never said, "When was the last time you worked 13 hours?" to me again...other than trying to stick up for himself, I can't imagine why he would make a comment about me not currently having a job.  Again, I must stress that I know that all of this transaction about jobs was picking on one another; he had absolutely no malice, picking on eachvother is something we do regularly.  He doesn't know that this is a soft spot for me currently because I have neither indicated that it was nor have told him so directly.  This really is all on me, hence the original question above.
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MsMarjorie

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2012, 01:57:34 AM »

We are currently at his brother's house.  Their mother and her long-term boyfriend are also here.  In a joke (and I know Dark Boyfriend knows it is a joke because I have specifically addressed it with him), I mentioned how I was the one repairing the fence (because 1 of 2 dogs was escaping) while he was putting away groceries (something even he posted on Facebook because we joke about things like that).  His brother basically quoted the quote that was next posted on Facebook, then I the next, and his brother the following.  Dark Boyfriend then replied, "Yeah, when was the last time you actually worked a job?"* Because I am a good sport, I replied, "When was the last time you worked a full time job, went to school full time, and still did things around the house?" (which I did about a year ago)  He chuckled, waffled, then said, "Around 2004."  This really was all kidding; this is normal for all of us (his mother included.)  That is not what bothered me.


I think there is a problem with this sort of "joking".  Even though you find it funny, it is, at its heart, just mean. 

My family used to be like this, there was an unwritten rule that we could be as cruel & nasty as we liked as long as we were funny.  And we were funny, we were hysterical but we were also being really really rude and mean.  We have since corrected our behaviour and it has made a difference in a good way to all of us.

I seriously think that you need to stop doing these jokes because some will "hit home" like that one did and make you feel just awful.  Talk to your boyfriend and use that specific incident as a starting point to say, "these jokes aren't working for us anymore, they are insidiously taking away my (possibly our) self-esteem."


What bothers me is that I know I don't contribute much because all I do at the present time is full-time school...and he knowsthat this semester is very easy for me, as was the last, because the majority of it is online (I am a visual learner who learns best by reading).  I constantly feel like I could be doing more to contribute (FTR, I have applied for a number of jobs but have not been called back or contacted again or the timeline for applications is not yet over), I wash the dishes (he absolutely never does per agreement), I mostly do laundry, I go to class every day, I take care of the dogs more because I am home more often, et cetera.


As for this part, stop stressing, we all feel like we could do more.  You sound like you keep the household running well and you are all happy. 

Sharnita

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2012, 08:39:53 AM »
While we all could be doing more the fact that you were already bothered before any of this might be a sign that you need to do more - not that you are slacking but that there is something out there that would make you happier.  It doesn't have to be housework or chores.  It might be volunteering, a bible study, book club, cooking class, bowling league, blogging...

It just sounds like you were feeling this way already and the jokes intensified it a bit.  I do agree that those jokes are potentially hurtful and people should probably avoid them. I just wonder it you were already feeling the need for something more and the jokes put a spotlight on that.

WillyNilly

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2012, 10:55:23 AM »
It kinda sounds like you want it both ways - you want mean joking to go on, but not if its directed towards you. That's not fair. If you can't take it (and that's a reasonable thing to be hurt by!) you shouldn't be dishing it. Which isn't to say all teasing needs to stop but all pot-shots probably do. If you and DB are a team, partners, etc you need to act like one and back each other up, not knock each other down.

At the very least for every negative joke or comment you each make you should make 1-2 positive comments. Because otherwise it becomes all negative "jokes".

And you need to communicate this to DB.

You might also consider doing some online incentive stuff to bring in some household extras. Look into surveys, stuff like www.MyPoints.com, or doing consumer research panels. You won't get rich doing any of them, but you will be able to treat thetwo you to something once in a while.

NestHolder

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2012, 11:57:22 AM »
It sounds as though, yes, you do need to tell him how these 'jokes' make you feel.  I can't say that they sound particularly amusing to me, and if they are hurting you, it's high time for them to stop.  If you can't figure out a way to say it, try editing the post you made to eHell.  Cut out all the justifications and just pare it down to two or three sentences about your personal reactions to his joke.  Then, you know exactly what to say.

You obviously feel guilty that you aren't earning—which isn't actually reasonable, but since when was guilt reasonable?  I used to feel guilty when I stayed at home to look after the children, but I had no reason to.  It doesn't sound to me as though you are slacking—it's nice to have an easy ride with your studies, but that could change.  And meanwhile, it seems as though you are doing your fair share of the household work—and taking on more than your DB because you have more time available.

I recommend you analyse what your contributions are, and include the improvement in future contributions you expect to be able to make as a result of your studies.  Then, if you truly feel you should be doing more—housework, or some kind of part-time work—then do it.  If you truly ought to be doing more to keep the house tidy, if it's not just your I'm-not-earning guilt talking, then *do* more, don't just sit about feeling bad.  However, I think it's more than probable that you don't owe any more to your household, to your partnership, than you're already doing.  But money has a way of distorting the picture.

Basically what it comes down to is that you're not earning.  Money is a very delicate subject.  Being the member of the household who is not currently earning any can be a really uncomfortable position, which anyone would hate.  I think you owe it to your relationship to get this straightened out.


Mental Magpie

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2012, 01:08:43 PM »
Thanks for the great suggestions. I wasn't sure it was worth bringing up because we were joking around. I also didnt make it clear what exactly we were joking about which was who is more masculine in the relationship; he just made a low blow IMO that kind of came out of left field. Me being manly is a long standing joke that I usually am the one to initiate.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

Dindrane

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2012, 01:45:05 PM »
As a bit of advice that may help your underlying feelings, it's never a bad idea for two people who live together to reach specific agreements about who contributes what to the household.

I work full time, and my husband is a full time graduate student.  We reached an agreement awhile ago that, because I have to dress up and go to work every day, he gets to do most of the "maintenance" style cleaning (because he works at home and is far more capable of doing it).  So he cooks dinner on weeknights, does dishes, and runs errands that are easier for him to manage (because he has control over his schedule and I don't).  I mostly focus on not leaving a trail of mess in my wake, but any household work I do is strictly on weekends.

This arrangement isn't permanent, however, and it hasn't always been this way.  Whenever either of us is unhappy with how things work, or when the situation changes, we reevaluate and sometimes redistribute who does what.  Because we mutually agree upon who is responsible for which household chores, neither of us feels as though we are not contributing our fair share.

But the other thing that has been really important for us to think about is the idea that money doesn't trump everything.  At the moment, it would be really easy for me to say that I'm earning all the money (or most of the money), and therefore should not have to do any chores.  But that's not what I want my marriage to look like.  I wouldn't want that to be the situation if I was the one not earning money (or earning less money).  Having more income doesn't exempt me from responsibility for taking care of our home, just like not having income doesn't mean my husband isn't contributing towards it.  It makes it harder to work together as a team if we're constantly comparing whose paycheck is bigger, and it goes against every philosophy I have about how marriage is supposed to work.

It's pretty hard to not fall into that trap (whichever side of it you're on), but it's a little easier to deal with if you count "earning income" on about the same level as "cleaning the bathroom regularly," particularly if the person working actually likes his/her job.  Income is essential to everything, but I enjoy going to work and don't view it as much more of a chore than being responsible for all the vacuuming. :)


EMuir

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2012, 02:57:58 PM »
I think it's important for you to do enough at home that you can feel more confident that you are supporting your half.  Then even if he does joke, you'll feel secure enough to shrug it off.  In the meantime, I'd consider stopping that kind of joking for a while and if he does it, tell him you don't feel like that kind of joke is funny anymore. 

figee

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2012, 03:36:53 PM »
Thanks for the great suggestions. I wasn't sure it was worth bringing up because we were joking around. I also didnt make it clear what exactly we were joking about which was who is more masculine in the relationship; he just made a low blow IMO that kind of came out of left field. Me being manly is a long standing joke that I usually am the one to initiate.

I thought this was interesting.  If he's gotten increasingly sarky about things, maybe it's because he finds it tiring that this is the joke you make.  I find the balancing of gender roles in relationships about the most difficult part.  For instance, I earn more money than DH.  I've also got a better education.  He is a much better cook and irons better than I do.  However, joking about who is the more masculine (meaning, in some cultures, competent, in charge, all that stuff) is something we don't do because in saying or joking that I mam the more masculine of the two of us, just means that, for him, he isn't doing what he feels he should be in terms of taking care of me.  Please understand that it doesn't matter to me, but it matters at some level to him.

Is something like this going on for you?

Mental Magpie

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2012, 04:29:14 PM »
Oh, not at all actually. The jokes are more along the lines of "I'm a boy because I'd ether play video games all day than go shopping" or "I'm a guy because it only takes me 20 minutes to get ready instead of an hour"; just things about how I don't fit the stereotypes at all. I can see in your instance though how jokes about me wearing the pants constantly would get old and would result in him saying what he did.

We have agreed upon chores for some things. I usually cook because of his work schedule and because I do the dishes in the mean time. He is responsible for taking out the trash before he goes to work. He feeds the dogs in the mornings. I keep them up to date on their shots and flea medicine. It is obvious though that we need to work out more exact things for other chores, though.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

Dindrane

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2012, 05:06:09 PM »
It's never a bad idea to be explicit when you're dividing up household responsibilities.  Laying it all out in a specific way lets both halves of a couple feel as though they have a fair burden, because they know exactly what the other person is doing.


figee

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2012, 11:25:56 PM »
Oh, not at all actually. The jokes are more along the lines of "I'm a boy because I'd ether play video games all day than go shopping" or "I'm a guy because it only takes me 20 minutes to get ready instead of an hour"; just things about how I don't fit the stereotypes at all. I can see in your instance though how jokes about me wearing the pants constantly would get old and would result in him saying what he did.

We have agreed upon chores for some things. I usually cook because of his work schedule and because I do the dishes in the mean time. He is responsible for taking out the trash before he goes to work. He feeds the dogs in the mornings. I keep them up to date on their shots and flea medicine. It is obvious though that we need to work out more exact things for other chores, though.

Fair enough, but from your description, you actually said that the jokes were about you being more masculine than he is. 

This started off being less about chores and more about how the joking made you feel.  You maybe need to both come to a realisation that college is work, and that it needs to be treated as such.  So you may need to stop picking up the slack and/ or come to some sort of agreement whereby you taking up the slack at home is recognised in some way, possibly by both of you having access to some 'mad money' each pay period which you can spend as you see fit or whatever. 


Mental Magpie

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2012, 11:29:12 PM »
Oh, not at all actually. The jokes are more along the lines of "I'm a boy because I'd ether play video games all day than go shopping" or "I'm a guy because it only takes me 20 minutes to get ready instead of an hour"; just things about how I don't fit the stereotypes at all. I can see in your instance though how jokes about me wearing the pants constantly would get old and would result in him saying what he did.

We have agreed upon chores for some things. I usually cook because of his work schedule and because I do the dishes in the mean time. He is responsible for taking out the trash before he goes to work. He feeds the dogs in the mornings. I keep them up to date on their shots and flea medicine. It is obvious though that we need to work out more exact things for other chores, though.

Fair enough, but from your description, you actually said that the jokes were about you being more masculine than he is. 

This started off being less about chores and more about how the joking made you feel.  You maybe need to both come to a realisation that college is work, and that it needs to be treated as such.  So you may need to stop picking up the slack and/ or come to some sort of agreement whereby you taking up the slack at home is recognised in some way, possibly by both of you having access to some 'mad money' each pay period which you can spend as you see fit or whatever.

I'm sorry, I'm being really confusing.  I joke all of the time about how I am masculine.  The joking around in this instance began because he made a joke about me being more masculine than he because I'm the handyman (as in I was fixing the fence and he was putting away groceries).  I was pointing out that I am usually the one to joke that I am masculine (though not necessarily more masculine than he) because I wanted to let people know that him calling me masculine is not a sore spot and I usually find it funny (which I did in this instance, too). 
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

shhh its me

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2012, 01:25:47 AM »
    I want to throw a few things out there.

  I think you may need to really think about your feelings a bit.  I would also consider that maybe he is resentful about the amount of work you're doing and is making PA jokes rather then talking about it and/or he may feel under appreciated sometimes and/or he may be insecure about the education level you're obtaining.


 You feel guilty , figure out if you actually have something to feel guilty about and if you do change it. If you don't then make sure your BF is on the same page. 

About this type of joke(I work more you work less) , was it ever funny to you? You can make a fat joke to me if I weight 125 lbs without bothering me at all, if you do it when I weight 140lbs I'm hurt and upset. Thing is if you see me the same at 140lbs you may not get why that joke just became hurtful.  IF he thinks " it;s funny because you're working so hard" then you need to have a different conversation then " well I guess I am annoyed with you about the amount of housework your doing" or " I know you work hard at school but you don't realize how hard I work." or " What I do is hard , what you do is alto of work but not as hard as what I do."

Last time  I advise you to say " I heard  this and was hurt"  this time I'd suggesting asking " when you make these (mention specific comments) what exactly are you thinking and feeling.   IF he says  "I don't know " ask  " when you joke I do nothing , are you annoyed?....Do you think you are doing more then you're fair share? "  and  put in you';re feeling too " do you mean I'm lazy,  do you feel I'm taking advantage" etc.


Mental Magpie

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Re: This communication error is solely on me...
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2012, 01:30:47 AM »
    I want to throw a few things out there.

  I think you may need to really think about your feelings a bit.  I would also consider that maybe he is resentful about the amount of work you're doing and is making PA jokes rather then talking about it and/or he may feel under appreciated sometimes and/or he may be insecure about the education level you're obtaining.


 You feel guilty , figure out if you actually have something to feel guilty about and if you do change it. If you don't then make sure your BF is on the same page. 

About this type of joke(I work more you work less) , was it ever funny to you? You can make a fat joke to me if I weight 125 lbs without bothering me at all, if you do it when I weight 140lbs I'm hurt and upset. Thing is if you see me the same at 140lbs you may not get why that joke just became hurtful.  IF he thinks " it;s funny because you're working so hard" then you need to have a different conversation then " well I guess I am annoyed with you about the amount of housework your doing" or " I know you work hard at school but you don't realize how hard I work." or " What I do is hard , what you do is alto of work but not as hard as what I do."

Last time  I advise you to say " I heard  this and was hurt"  this time I'd suggesting asking " when you make these (mention specific comments) what exactly are you thinking and feeling.   IF he says  "I don't know " ask  " when you joke I do nothing , are you annoyed?....Do you think you are doing more then you're fair share? "  and  put in you';re feeling too " do you mean I'm lazy,  do you feel I'm taking advantage" etc.

You have no idea how much that thought terrifies me.  What if that is what he thinks?

As for that type of joke being made, it is not something he has ever said.  I don't know why he suddenly thought to say it or why he would think it was funny (I think, really, he that he wasn't "winning" so he thought of a shutdown to which I would have absolutely no comeback). 
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.