Thursday, October 28, 2010

Let It Go, or Nip it in the Bud?

Married Man Sex Life brought up what he calls the "Second Date Rule". It applies to what you should do if your wife does something that is bad or is something you dislike.

If what she just did happened on the second date, would there have been a third date? If the answer is "no", it's probably best to say something about it and not just suck it up for the rest of your marriage. The behavior will likely continue without it being addressed.
My father had what he called the "second wife" rule. He saw all of these guys putting up with things in their second marriages that they wouldn't have - or didn't – put up with in their first marriage. So when my mother did something he didn't like, he'd ask himself, "If this was my second marriage, would I let this slide?"

Of course, he left my mother (or she threw him out, depending on who you ask) and claims to have "blocked out" much of his memory of that marriage and is now married to his second (and hopefully last) wife. So I guess the "second wife" rule may not work. But the "second date" rule just might.

This is one of my big problems, and I seem to have inherited it from my father. I tell myself, "I'm okay", and maybe I am. My first reaction to my wife doing something I don't like is "Can I fix this in my head?" Or, even when my wife (and it happened with girlfriends, too) asks, "It that okay?" my first reaction is to say "Yes" when I should think about it more.

The problem comes in when whatever the bad/annoying/inconvenient/dislikable/tedious/uncomfortable thing isn't a one-time thing, and happens many more times, even regularly, or turns out to be part of a larger pattern. Perhaps "I'm okay" has turned into "I can live with this" – but I really can't. The longer it goes or the more it happens, the more frustration or resentment or discomfort will build up until it explodes, surprising the other person who thought I could handle it. This kind of thing contributed to the demise of my parents' marriage because that is what my dad did, and my mother couldn't figure out why he "suddenly" had a problem with X, Y, or Z. So she chalked it up to him simply not wanting to be married anymore and looked at his legitimate issues as excuses to cover a determination to divorce.

So, a rule I have tried to use has been "Even if I can handle this for now this one time, could I handle it if it happens again? How about if it happens many "agains"? When I manage to do this, I might tell my wife, "That's okay this time, but I don't want this to become a habit."

I don't think there's a major gripe I have with my wife that I haven't covered in this blog. I think I've brought them all up, in varying levels of detail. And while I will not minimize the problems we do have, overall, things are good. We don't fight much. I enjoy coming home to her. I trust her. She's my partner and ally, not a competitor or saboteur. Of course, we would have more fights if I brought up everything I've griped about on this blog. Maybe I should bring up more of those things and endure some friction now instead of an explosion later.

Do you have a "rule" that helps in deciding what's worth bringing up?

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