Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This is Lynné ... I've had a revelation and even though I've already talked to Youssef about this I don't think he'll mind if I write it all down so that I'll remember what I've learned... (Most of this I copied out of my journal.)

I bought a book called "Married but not Engaged" (I heard about it on the radio and what I heard seemed to fit really well with some problems that Youssef and I were having that I couldn't, until now, describe well.) Youssef thought it was another thing to point out how he was wrong or should change in some way... but it's me. I'm the one that's been at fault... I knew that I was doing something wrong but I didn't know what or how or anything... I felt crummy and Youssef felt worse (normally he's very open to talking and lately I'd ask him what he's thinking and he'd say "nothing" which he told me a long time ago that he hated it when people said that... there was something wrong...) Recently I've been conserned because things haven't been right between us and being me (with the memory like an Elephant, as they say,) drug things up that he thought we'd worked through (which we had). I'd wonder and sometimes say, "But when you did -this and this- it hurt me so that's why I get frustrated and think you will mess up when you do -this and this-" I feel like the mirror that I was looking at myself in was fogged over and blurred my vision and now I can see clearly what I've really been like to him.

I wrote several months ago about how I'd get annoyed and how that was wrong and silly and that I shouldn't do that... but how does that help? I didn't know why... the book that I'm reading has helped me to understand where Youssef might be coming from so that I can change how I talk to him (I highly recomend this book "Married but not Engaged" by Paul and Sandy Coughlin to anyone who is married to a guy who tends to be more of the easygoing, passive, possibly reserved type.. or perhaps if you find that he lets you do all of the talking .. this book might be helpful to give you a taste of his perspective.)

It sounds really silly when I come out and say it but I think what was happening is that I got frustrated with him because he... well.. he wasn't me. He didn't do things the way I would do whatever.. from the dishes, lawn, to taking care of Lily. Some things that I had to say might have been valid, but the way I was saying things and my attitude was so totally wrong, (Youssef must have felt like Benedick in "Much Ado about Nothing" When Beatric let her tounge fly at him like darts and he was the mark.) I kept thinking the typical cultural response that I've heard everywhere all my life to the adtions of men... "He's stupid".. "Doesn't understand me"... "Doesn't really listen"... (just watch most "sit coms" and you'll hear those words... "Everybody loves Ramond" is a good example of one.)

I think that most woman now (maybe without realizing this) think that men in general (and probably specifically their husband or boyfriend) are pretty dumb half the time. That is so totally wrong yet we hear that everywhere! One to two hundred years ago the opposite was said.. then women were thought to be not as smart as men. Women couldn't go to college, usually used a man's name if they wanted to publish a book... many things that men did and said were demeanind to women.. they were unfair and untrue, but now we women are doing the same thing to men!

Men and women aren't ment to be rivals.

We are not, and shouldn't be, the same!

That should be as obvious as saying that the water is wet.

Without knowing I was doing this I was trying to make Youssef more like me!
When I come out and actually say that and realize how I've been treating him and what I've been getting angry at, I'm appauled. I didn't marry him so that I could have a clone with me always... I married him and fell in love with him because he's uniquly Youssef - quirky, kind, romantic, strong, imaginative, intelligent, my knight in shining armor... if I know he is those things how could I think that he's stupid for not remembering where, say, the can opener goes! Now really who cares? Or... when we drive somewhere, so what if I want him to park in a certain spot - I'm not him.. I really don't want him to be me and if he's the one driving I should trust him to be intelligent enough to make his own decisions about where to park. I thought I was just telling him an idea or voicing an opinion, the problem was that It didn't come across that way- my voice sounded sharp and when he didn't do what I'd say sometimes I'd get annoyed at him (which was totally inapropriate for me to do). Dishes and parking are both really small examples. I won't get into the bigger issues but the small things tend to come from bigger problems (or they'll make them.)

When I talked to Youssef about this yesterday (he's on a bussiness trip now) and I tried to explain my "self-revelation" and appolagized he kept telling me that it was ok, but it's not ok! We'll be alright (which I think is what he ment) but it wasn't all right that I was essentially trying to remake him. I didn't go into our marriage wanting to "help" or change him like some women, but that's what I was doing! What right do I have (what right do any of us have) to even presume to change or "improve" another human being when I am so imperfect myself?
Now that I realize this, I'm shocked at the oddasity of most woman. I'm shocked that men can endure to hear the slander about them on TV, radio, magazines, even T-shirts (have you seen the T-shirt that says "boys are stupid- throw rocks at them"?) and the worse part is what woman say about thier husbands.

I'm trying to think if I've ever seen an example of a husband and wife who work together with their differences .. respecting their different oppinions and abilities (whatever they may be). Does the husband or wife show contempt for the other when he or she makes a mistake. I realized that that's what I was doing... unjustly annoyed... and whether I say something sarcastic or don't say anything I know that my attitude will be seen and felt by my family. Unconsiously of why Lily would probably grow up being annoyed at the mistakes and supposed "dumbness" of boys and men. Youssef would be totally burned outwith carrying the burdens of us both... especially when he keeps hearing so much "christian" advice telling him that whatever happens between us is ultimately his fault - It's not! I can see how ultimately it's his responsability in leading our family through our problems and even into certain directions that I don't agree with at the time (which will enevitably happen), but our problems aren't his fault. He's been doing so much, wearing himself out trying to carry his own burrdens AND mine. The last several months when he was done with work it was like he couldn't STOP working. He couldn't just sit by me or stand in the kitchen with his hand on my shoulder while I stirred the pasta sauce anymore. I've missed him. Sometimes I'd try to get him to stop and rest, but "No" he'd say "I just need to finish this project" or "I thought you'd want me to do _____" (fill in the blank) and then when the check list was done - his list and the one to keep me "happy" - then it was 9:00 and I needed to put the baby to sleep. Then we'd either stay up too late sleepily talking about nothing or watching a movie we didn't really want to watch right then.. or we'd go to sleep and it would just all start over again.

What do I really truely want from him?... what do most women want from their husbands?I want him to love me and appreciate me. I know he loves me when he stands up for me (and stands up to me when I need it), talking openly with me. I want him to be bold and listen and I want to do things together. All of those things that I listed and more wonderful things too Youssef has done, but as I look back from when we were getting to know each other till now I can see how I've actually discouraged him from being those things! I think Youssef tends to be more of a non-confrontational, somewhat passive, person, but when I met him (even though that was his tendency) that's not who he was!

Even though Youssef was trying to do so much for me ... trying to be what everyone expects... doing everything he possibly could humanly do for me (exausting himself) to make me happy.. I was depressed. Why? I miss him. (N0... you read that as if I'm saying I MISS him, but I really truely miss HIM)

Where is the man I married?
Oh, you mean the Youssef that you criticized, were annoyed at, tried to change, and were demanding to? That Youssef?
... I think I drove him into hiding.
(I was crying when I wrote all this in my journal)
I don't want to be like that anymore. I want him to be free to breathe again... I want Lily to love and respect her Daddy without me interferring.. I want Youssef to be able to rest with me... to be free to be himself, and feel able to make choices that he knows he should make even if I don't agree with them... he hasn't felt free because I haven't created anykind of room, any respect, for his different way of doing things.

I feel like a worm right now.. but happier because I know things will be better.
I love Youssef so much...

To share a couple of quotes from the book I spoke of-

"Included with women's greater verbal skills are more highly nuanced observations: they also use more words. Talking is one of their power centers, just as physical strength is generally a power center for men. Men have rightly been encouraged to restrain and donate their physical power in order to create greater equity and harmony in marriage. Like-wise, women can restrain and donate their verbal acumen in order to create a more level playing field.... IN this essential area, by and large, wives hold the pwoer in their relationships. They help grow intimacy when they use their power justly.... Using your power wisely can help countless circular arguments reach resolution."

In my opinion for a man that does talk of his feelings and seeks to be more intimate with his wife, expossing his vulnerability to her, is not a man showing his femanine side, but rather, a man showing his courage, humility, and bravery.

"The ultimacy of intimacy is two souls
risking vulnerability and weaving a life
together that couldn't be made without
the congealing of wills."


Lynne said...

is the web site that you can hear the radio program that I wrote of.

Youssef Sleiman said...

just for the record, (and this is Youssef) I have always preferred to be "diplomatic." I'm not passive. Just... biding my time. ;)

Lynné said...

Diplomatic is actually the word I kept searching for when we were talking. "Your not passive, but non-confrontational? ... no that's not quite right either." I kept going around and around those words and couldn't find what I ment till he said diplomatic.. and that describes him very well. :)

rebekahtucker said...

I want to borrow this book, please! I feel like for a while now (maybe triggered by the challenge of adding the third child) that I have not been as close to Forrest as we want--as we were. And although I often feel like blaming him--I know deep down that it's just my own attitude problem. I want to change! Thanks for this post.

Lynne said...

Actually, it might be a while before I can loan it out because Youssef and I were going to read the book together (I'm almost done with it for the first time) and someone else was going to borrow it. BUT you can listen to the radio program... I don't know if what I put above will get you to the site. Go to and go to their "past program info" and their be an audio file you can listen to just scroll down till you see the bright yellow book "Married but not Engaged" :)

Lynne said...

Umm... I ment "there will be an audio file" ... and.. yeah.. anyway..