Tuesday, November 07, 2006

This makes me sad

...and frustrated, and a whole host of other things.

It's a woman's very candid expression of resentment and anger she has toward her husband after years covering infertility treatment, pregnancy, and birth. She freely and frequently admits that some of it is petty or irrational, yet the feelings remain. And clearly not just for her, but for nearly all of her commenters as well.

Some of it makes me annoyed with the husbands involved (hers and her commenters') -- what's up wit' dat, guys?

Some of it blows me away (to confess that is to perhaps reveal how little know about women, I don't know...) I want to say to the wives "are you actually serious?"

Most of it just makes me ask questions:
- do most women see these feelings as normal? reasonable?
- are women aware how difficult it is for a lot of men to understand these feelings?
- why aren't there classes to teach men about this stuff?
- who in the world ever dreamed up the idiotic idea that men and women are basically the same, with the difference being plumbing and a bit of socialization?
- did Hannah feel some of these things? (Note: I already know the answer to this one.)
- what are the implications of this kind of thinking WRT the institution of marriage?
- what would be the reaction of men or women to a similar list of resentments from a man's POV? (eg, "I know it's petty, but I resent her because I can't sleep with my secretary.")
- clearly, much grief could be avoided if men understood better where women are coming from; but is the converse also true?: that if women understood men's priorities and feelings better, they might not feel so resentful? or is it so much an issue of emotion that it doesn't matter what you *know*, feelings are going to be what they are?
- is it reasonable or productive for men to want women to understand their perspective on issues like the above?
- does the tremendous physical and emotional effort/sacrifice this woman has made entitle her to a little irrational rage about things?

My impression was (and she mentions this) that it's not so much about logic, but rather about how a person feels. Which brings me to this: if it's not about A-therefore-B, how does it make sense to say "I feel rage *about* X." It feels more like she's been left with a reservior of general, non-specific rage and unhappiness, and some of the things she resents about her husband or his behaviour are simply convenient handles to hang it on.

Or maybe I'm wrong.

But I bet I'm right about this: this blog returns far too often to gender issues, and it's getting to be a bore. All I can say is: Sorry, kids. They tell you to write from your own experience, and this has been big for me for the last 15-20 yrs of my life. Maybe I'll cut it out soon, but no promises.


At Tue Nov 07, 10:52:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it is true we write and talk about things that have wounded us the most. Have you ever read "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus?" This should be a 'must read' for every couple before they marry. Sadly, the woman you referenced is going to chew on this bile she is writing about until it becomes a full blown tumor. I'm sad she can't let it go.

At Wed Nov 08, 12:34:00 AM PST, Blogger Erik said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Wed Nov 08, 12:37:00 AM PST, Blogger Erik said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Wed Nov 08, 12:40:00 AM PST, Blogger Erik said...

it's often said that men have "fear of commitment." i think women have something similar, but it's called "fear of reality." not surprisingly, this condition is sometimes damaging in situations where there is reality. heh.

all kidding aside, i say hear hear to bryan. as he says, all husbands mentioned in the demon-post do not appear to be entirely blameless, so let's be clear on that. the part that's difficult for me to understand, is the underlying resentment caused by facts of life such as jobs, kids, and biological functions specific to one sex, which CAN'T REASONABLY BE CONTROLLED BY EITHER PARTY. i've always wanted to marry eventually, but reading that post makes me want to write a survey, give it to all women, record results, and then make my decision about marriage based entirely upon the results of one survey i wrote myself with no social psych training whatsoever.

Next will be my book, just for women. it will be called "Are You Serious?". it will deal primarily with reality-based issues.

i know, i know, it's no wonder i'm not married. it's probably just as well, because i can see myself being resentful when i realize i was never ONCE thanked for having the ability to produce sperm. NOT ONCE!

whoa, look at me get all surly--normally i'm quite cheerful and optimistic, but not today my friends.

p.s. if you're feeling resentful that i didn't proofread anything before i posted it, and therefore had to repost six times, that's cool. that i understand.

At Wed Nov 08, 01:33:00 AM PST, Blogger jay are said...

Here's my (really important) opinion: I suspect that the biggest issue of all is that this woman's husband won't consider adoption. The fact that he wants her to go through this whole process again has brought up every little detail OF the process that was so uncomfortable, painful, fearful, etc. All those details that were maybe bothersome at the time and made her momentarily resent that SHE had to go through it would most likely have exited quietly out the back door, unnoticed, if he would've been or would be open to adoption. That not being the case, there's this eruption of anger and resentment, built up by all the little indignities she suffered through this difficult process and experience.
I'd say she has, uh, some slight anger issues. It's hard for me to totally relate. And I have to say that I didn't read all of the comments---I kinda got the point right off.
Men and women are SO different that a guidebook of some sort would be helpful. Maybe you should get on that (Erik can collaborate).
That is all I have at this time.

At Wed Nov 08, 01:58:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

good comments. jay are, i think your analysis about the adoption thing is astute; OTOH, it doesn't account for all the other women who commented.

another (half-baked) idea that occurs to me: i get a sense of the wife looking at things from a fairly self-centered perspective (*I* wanted a gift to give my daughter, *I* wanted this or that.) Just because I want something really badly doesn't mean my partner is obligated to give it to me.

It seemed like she has/had an agenda, a script, that she fully expected her husband to do his best to make happen.

There didn't seem to be as much a sense of two individuals making individual choices and living with the consequences and taking ownership of their own feelings about things. The husband appears to be somewhat responsible for the wife's happiness.

Which leads to the question: if this is true, why is it that way? Is it what you get when women are disempowered, when society doesn't teach little girls that they're partners in decision-making? Do men create helplessness and abdication of responsibility by grabbing the Master of the Household role? Is it biological, in the sense that pregnant women have for thousands of years needed a protector/provider during pregnancy (ie, a time when they're less able to provide for or defend themselves)?
Does pregnancy just mess with your body and your hormones so much you have to retreate into yourself a bit to re-group, leaving enough emotional energy for you and your baby and not much else?
Is this woman just uniquely self-absorbed and angry?

I don't know, I just work here.

At Wed Nov 08, 07:43:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I don't know if I should say this, but I've said it before in public, so here it is. During my first child's pregnancy and throughout the first year, I think I hated my husband more days than I loved him.

We have a great relationship, and like this lady, I love him dearly. BUT, it is just a fact (at least for me) that men can't conceive (pun intended) of what it is like to have the responsibility of a life within...can't enter in to all the aches/pains/fat, etc. It did fill me with rage to always be the one who had to get up (being the milk factory and all), and a whole other host of things.

Having said that, speaking my rage to him, and both of us sitting with it and working through it was very good. I personally think her rage over the process (it's VERY invasive) is totally normal. I think the only thing wrong here is that she's not saying it to HIM. In my humble opinion, it's always better to speak your truth and work through it together, no matter how ugly it is. The other option is to hold it in, nursing it until "petty" becomes "irreconcilable". Sure hope he reads her blog, and they get to a good counselor.

At Wed Nov 08, 08:02:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ooops, i have more to say.

I went back and read the comments. So many of them center around not getting any "thank yous" or not feeling appreciated. Bryan, you have written eloquently before on how important appreciation is. It can resolve a HOST of issues.

My first question is:

When was the last time any of these women said 'thank you' to their husbands for what their husbands go through? Who wants to work all day, away from your kids, at some job where you likely aren't appreciated either? If they said thank you, their husbands, would probably say "well, thank YOU..."

I think appreciation is the key here, not understanding each other to a T.

At Wed Nov 08, 08:26:00 AM PST, Anonymous Menita said...

jay are nailed it.
And yes, infertility does make people very bitter and angry. I've had counseling since then. And two children.
That helped a lot.

At Wed Nov 08, 08:42:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

Menita, thx for adding important clarification, and for being willing to put yourself and your experience out there for the rest of us to analyze and theorize about.

At Wed Nov 08, 09:18:00 AM PST, Anonymous Menita said...

Sure. Next time you guys can just comment on the post itself and I am sure a very interesting dialog could begin.


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