Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Caving?

I am enjoying my newly assertive life but sometimes, well, I'm not as sure of myself as I might seem. Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm doing the right thing or even what the right thing to do next actually is.

For instance, tonight I came home to find the Big Dude on the sofa looking totally shattered. He looked pale. He clearly felt very down. He had had one of those days.

You know those days where you do everything possible for a little 14 month old toddler - you play with them, you feed them, you change their nappies, you prevent them from killing themselves by hurling themselves off every available surface, you do really well - and yet, when they have finally gone to sleep, you just don't know where the day has gone? You feel exhausted. And yet, the house looks like a bomb has hit it and if anyone asked you what you had achieved all day, you wouldn't have an answer.

Most days with our Little Dude are pretty good. But there are just some days when a toddler is like a force of nature - you can barely contain them and just surviving the experience is an achievement in itself.

The Big Dude really seemed to think he was doing badly. He obviously felt defeated. So I told him he shouldn't get discouraged - he was doing a great job and he was just dealing with a toddler and toddlers are kind of impossible, anyway (which is true). I told him to take a break. Have a bath. Shut out the world. Chill out and do nothing for a while. He said, "I can't. I have to finish the bottles. I have to clean up. And I have to..."

You know what's coming, don't you? That moment when the Big Dude adds our sex life to his list of chores.

And it hurt. Yes, it did. As in, fuck, that hurts, feel free to just kick me in the guts next time because that would hurt me a whole lot less.

So I reeled a bit. Then I looked at his pale face and felt sorry for him. I told him to take that bath, anyway, I'd finish the last of the bottles for him, and we'd talk about that later. But I knew that the tofu burger was ruined, at least for tonight. I just couldn't eat it on those terms.

When he came back in, the conversation went something like this:

Emily: (lame attempt at humour) "I just want you to know that I'm not having sex with you tonight, no matter how much you beg me."
Big Dude: (wounded expression) "Okay, if that's how you feel."
Emily: (dominatrix tone) "I will, however, consider having sex with you tomorrow night. But you will have to beg me."
Big Dude: (starts laughing) "I can definitely assure you that I will be getting down on my knees."

God, we're funny. Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey had nothing on us for witty dialogue. And yes, later, I did explain to him (again) what was wrong with what he'd said and how it made me feel. How doing that would doom the entire tofu burger enterprise when it was the only thing that had semi-worked in over a decade. Hmph. I bet Hepburn and Tracey never had to have that conversation.

But my point of uncertainty is this - did letting him off the hook, about both the last of the chores and Naked Time, constitute caving? Should I have held a hard line, left him to finish up the last of the chores and then let him try to go through with Naked Time? Or was my instinct that tonight was just a bad night for that approach correct?

I know what I would think if it was another couple and the roles were reversed. I would think that a man who left a woman to deal with those last chores after a day like she'd had and then tried to have sex with her was a huge dork. What I don't know is if it is different if you are dealing with a man, and how this sits with trying to find some new dynamic.

But the fact is that Naked Time wasn't going to work after what he'd said. I learned that last time. I can't switch off how it makes me feel and the evening just doesn't come back from there. A person can eat tofu burger with a good grace and some satisfaction when it is served up with some tact and a willing attitude. But if it isn't, then I for one would rather go hungry. I just seem to have a tiny, stubborn little skerrick of pride left that makes that kind of experience indigestible.

I don't know how I feel about this evening. Actually, I do: this evening sucked. What I don't know is whether I did the right thing.

Do you think it's possible that there is no right thing? That sometimes an illness is just a force of nature and it's an achievement to survive the experience with some dignity, some humour and some capacity for kindness intact?

Or is that just a cave-in?

13 Comments:

Blogger Satan said...

Emily, you sweet little angel, of *course* you did the right thing.

What else could you have possibly done to make anyone's life any better?

Give yourself a little pat on the back for sticking to your boundaries most of the time, but also knowing the exact second that compassion outweighs them temporarily.

4:14 AM  
Blogger trueself said...

Yes, sometimes there is no right thing. But in this case I believe you did just the right thing. You demonstrated caring and flexibility and compassion, all of which are admirable qualities.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Mu Ling said...

No, I don't think you caved. I think you handled the situation beautifully. But then I always think that.

As someone with a fairly extensive experience of "tofu burger"-type sex, I KNOW that it only works if offered in the spirit of generosity. If it's nothing more than one more thing they "have" to do, it's not worth it. Even we're not that starved for sex.

I missed alot of your posts for some reasons (I think there was a problem with the feed?) and am now catching up. I like the Go Slow, I really do. *embarrassed whisper* I've never been able to figure out just why you feel compelled to do so very, very much at home. (Maybe it's just because I'm a bad, un-nurturing woman.) I'm happy to see you take back a little time and space for yourself. The sky won't fall, you know?

6:16 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

Emily, I applaud you for the compassion you showed the Big Dude after his *Day*. You didn't have to do it, and you did it out of love. Good on ya.

In terms of the 'wider picture', I'll just say that, as much as your 'Go Slow' is acheiving the desired ends, and training the Big Dude to pull a bit more of his own weight (which, let me be clear, is a good thing), I don't think, at least not in the long run, that it's to your benefit, or his, to mentally cast the situation in 'power' terms - ie, who can get the other one to do what he/she wants. Long term, it only works if you're both working out of something like love (which, to be sure, is very different from just being a doormat for the other). It's very easy to get caught up in 'keeping score' - "I did this, so he needs to do this" - and over the long term, that's just not terribly helpful.

But, relative to the situation immediately at hand - I think you did the right thing. If Molly did that for me, I would take it as a very gracious expression of her love. . .

7:34 AM  
Blogger Finished Last said...

How can being considerate of another person not be thr rihgt thing? You did good Emily.

7:35 AM  
Blogger Fiona said...

It's all been said before I got here....but caring isn't caving hon.

Caving would be him refusing to do it without good reason, and you taking over again.

Seeing him unable to do it and taking it over, is caring. You care Emily and that's always a good thing.

8:57 AM  
Blogger C-Marie said...

It was a great thing to do.. I've had to do the same thing on many occasions - even knowing that a "make up" time wasn't in the cards.
Caring isn't caving.
XXOO

9:44 AM  
Blogger oblivion said...

Emily you're an amazing woman.

I would have felt like you had if sex was listed as a chore.

I think (in my opinion) that you handled it very well AND you did tell him how it made you feel.

The latter being very important ... he knows how it hurt you.

Good luck.

Ob

9:46 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Emily, I think you get the message from all of us commentors - you did the right thing, you didn't cave. But please also remember, uncontrollable events do arise at times, whether it be from a hard day of Little Dude herding or from other stressful situations. At such times often we are not at our best, not as tactful as we could be, not as considerate. It happens. So the Big Dude let the team down and the "tofu burger was ruined". I think at such times the best thing is to do as you did do (with your humorous banter to him), let it slide, knowing that he was not in great shape at the time and that I'm sure he'll take note and try and make it up to you. So long as it was a one off occurrence and does not become routine then you're still on the right track.

3:34 PM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

You very much did the right thing! I know after days at home with young children, chaos and confusion and crying (sometimes from me!) I'd be less inclined to get naked with the husband, and if he pushed for it, I'd be even more inclined to put it off longer. That can seem selfish, of course, but being cognizant of each other is key at times like this, and so you were perfectly right in letting it slide, as nicely as you did!

9:17 PM  
Blogger oldbear said...

Hi Emily, I think it is possible that with all you have going on in your life it is easy to be too self critical and over-reactive.

Cetainly this is true of all of us who blog. we tend to analyze adn critique the same issues over and over.

many of them will never be fully resolved, but I am not advocating not to try and solve them. Sometimes alternatives exist.(Hey I am a big fan of Tofu-stykle sexual and intimacy arrangements.)

But face the facts dear Lady, in some ways BD is doubtless getting old. I see it in my Nam Vet friends and it TEARS ME UP, but after all the crap many of them wnet through, now the toll of old age is coming due!

At the other end, children are best dealt with during the bloom of youth, or at least youthful vigor.


I hope tht your commendable desire to be a good mum and have a good marraige will not preclude you from the graceful acceptance that sometimes it will all go to shit on you.

I hope you can see that the tactless part of BD that talks about choes and burdens does not do so to hurt you, and will probalby not ever change much.

he is probably sad and disappointed deep down tht he can not be better lover for you. It must really suck being in that status.

I am not sure how gracefully I could handle it.

As always, PAX to you and the dudes!

and Love to all you all, incuding my fellow psoters.

9:41 PM  
Blogger freebird said...

Of course it's not just a cave-in. It's part of learning the balance of give-and-take, being flexible when needed and not letting it slide back into give-give-give, which you've proven isn't good for either of you. And of course you did it out of love and you retained your "dignity, humour and capacity for kindness".

2:59 AM  
Blogger John said...

I'll throw my vote in for "the right thing" as well. Sometimes life interferes with our plans. This night was one of those nights. Kudos for being aware enough to recognize it, and being flexible enough to adjust. I'm sure that at some level, the Big Dude appreciates it.

5:12 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home