When You have one of those”Is that what we are talking about?” Conversations


Have you ever been in a conversation in which the other person, with a complete lack of awareness, says something so profound and transformative in regards to your relationship it is as if a big “Aha” sign lights up the sky?

My husband and I had such a moment the other day. I leave my house very early, even on the weekends, when my stepkids are home. I simply learned early on that being a morning person living in the household that I do was not going to work.

I will have done 3 or so hours of work at Starbucks only to arrive home with everyone still not dressed, complaining that “Gee whiz, McDonald’s stops serving breakfast sooo early. We will never make it there on time.”

McDonald’s stops serving breakfast at 10:30 for the simple reason its breakfast, not brunch, and the rest of the world, having been up for hours, is ready to move. (We live 3 minutes away from McDonald’s by the way. Someone walking with a severe limp could be there in 15 minutes).

One thing that is important to me is that our home, in the common areas, be relatively picked up.

So, I return at 1:30, the dishwasher is still not unloaded, somehow someone had an “issue” with the peanut butter and it is now all over a pencil, pen, and pad of paper on the counter and so on.

I ask my stepkids to come into the kitchen to handle some of this mess. Immediately, I am confronted with “Oh my gosh…Oh my gosh…” by my 14 year old stepdaughter, as my husband stands, silently, a sentinel to I don’t know what.

Things devolved from there.

Later that evening, we are in bed and my husband’s says, “I don’t know why you always get so dramatic and intense over things.” (Because, yes, what adult doesn’t love to be told by a child “Oh my gosh…Oh my gosh…” when making a request of that child.)

He then transformed my awareness of our marriage and my perceived role as stepparent. He said to me, “Why don’t you just tell Sally to do it? There is no need to fight her.”

To paraphrase a 14-year-old…”Oh my gosh…” This is how my husband sees me in relation to his kids???

I, little ol’ me, the stepparent, am so omnipotent that Gee whiz, all I need to do is tell my stepchildren to do something and they do it? By golly, with my PhD and everything, you think I would have thought of that!

His words encapsulated the problem driven by his perception. He could not bring himself to say anything to his daughter. He likes to be the “good guy”. He chose to be silent, while she, in his mind, was supposed to be willing to listen to me.

Are you kidding me?

I look back on all the situations we have had similar to this, so wanting my husband to engage and take charge of his children, and there he was, silently awaiting for me to say “Just do it” and all, in his magical thinking, would be well in the world.

Oh my gosh… 🙂


12 thoughts on “When You have one of those”Is that what we are talking about?” Conversations

  1. I had one of those moments (as in the title of this post) reading this post while following the twists and turns which your conversation in writing took.

    It’s a very interesting read because there is so much packed into it, so many levels and layers.

    When I feel trapped in a role, either by myself or someone else, usually a bit of both, I have learned to do the old switcheroo as it allows me to get a different perspective, to see where I’m trapping myself and how to perhaps get out of it. I’ve learned a lot from doing that. Sometimes we get mad at others for something about which we’re mad at ourselves but can’t admit it because it is a part of the role which we’ve trapped ourselves in.

    Have you ever considered just not doing it – whatever the it is which everyone expects of you – to see what happens.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • I have been thinking along the lines you suggest. Wondering- what is my role in this? HOw can I change things around and find my power? I guess what struck me the most is hearing what he was thinking. I had always imagined him longing to be more engaged. Instead, he had been waiting for me to handle it No wonder we made such little progress!!!

      • If you consider what you have been through dealing with his ex, and then consider that he went through something similar while he was with her day in and day out, plus he loved her, married her, had children with her, and you know how shattering that can be for those who’ve been in such an intimate relationship with a narcissist, this may explain some of his approach.

        He probably does long to be more engaged however he may be afraid of the things which narcissists do to their children, such as poison their minds against the non-narc parent. When they divorced she may have done some things which chilled him to the bone, perhaps using his kids against him, and so his parenting may have an element of PTSD running beneath it. He needs to be the good guy in their eyes and may fear doing anything which might make his kids think that their mother was right about him. He’s worried about losing their love, and that worry keeps him at a distance.

        He probably admires how you interact with them, sees how much you connect with them and they with you, and what he said could be seen as him expressing his confidence in you, his admiration for everything you’ve done.

        You are the rock in that household, in some ways you’re a safe haven for all of them, a warm embrace in a cold world, and the mess they make shows you how happy and relaxed they are with you. They can be that way because they know you love them as they are. This is the best side of love, however even the rock, the safe haven, the warm embrace needs to be cared for, allowed to relax.

        Your internal battery needs recharging, to plug yourself into a source of personal power. Sometimes power lies in being vulnerable in a gentle manner, they perhaps need to see with their own eyes that you too need a rock, a safe haven and a warm embrace. Let them share their power with you, this will benefit them, as they will see how much they can give to someone who gives so much to them, and it will benefit you too.

        Perhaps, next time, over Christmas, you too can join in the sleeping late and making a pigsty party, and don’t tidy it up, take a break from tidying see what happens.

        Just a thought.

        Take care of yourself.

      • You know, this brought tears to my eyes. I had never thought of it in this way. I have always had such confidence in my husband- seeing him as warm, strong, GREAT instincts with people and so on. But what you say about his parenting having an element of PTSD running under it really resonates with me.

        Seeing him as I do, I would have never thought he would be unconfident in his abilities to parent his children.

        Goodness. You are really making me think here. You are so right- they see that I love them and I do not give up on them- ever. I think that speaks volumes to them and they trust me. I am their safe haven.

        I am going to do a sleep in late morning the next time we are together on a weekend. I love that idea and I know that will think it is awesome!!! thank you for the gift and blessing of your awareness.

  2. What a moment – and I’ve got to admit, from what I’ve read and inferred about Hubby, I was surprised! Enough that my jaw fell open when reading this – I never would have guessed that was his perception! I’m actually a bit beyond surprised and leaning towards shocked to learn that is his perception – but you are right, that explains so much! I guess next time you tell Sally to do XYZ and then you move on. And when Hubby asks why it isn’t done you can go “It’s not? huh, that’s odd, because I told Sally to just do it.”
    LOL! Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah!

    • Kate, I love that you could understand why I was perplexed at his response. I was just floored that I had been working for years thinking he wanted to engage more and he was waiting for years for me to engage more!!
      And as a parent, it is humorous that someone would suggest that all you have to do with a child is just tell the child to “do it” and all will be well! Ha!!! Don’t you wish it was that easy?
      I am literally laughing out loud at how silly it is that anyone would think that works consistently with kids 🙂 Have a great day!

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