Saturday, February 14, 2009

Empathy and perspective

One of the things that I feel Tim and I struggle with as a couple is having perspective. I'm not perfect, and I will admit that I'm probably not seeing all of his side of things. It's difficult when you lived more than 35 years only having to worry about yourself (essentially).

The last couple of days, I've been overly worried about the baby. I'm worried because I feel totally fine minus some burping. I've had no breast soreness, no extra peeing, no fatigue; I'm feeling nothing out of the ordinary. They say that most miscarriages happen before the baby is 10 weeks. This is week nine. It just seems too easy given all the stories out there about the typical pregnancy.

I know I tend to worry a lot. I also tend to express myself out loud, whether or not my thoughts should be heard by others. Maybe my worrying is wearing on him. When we finished watching tv tonight, I mentioned that I'm really concerned that the baby is gone.

His response sounded very annoyed and hassled. He asked why I had to say such things and why I was worried so much about something I couldn't do anything about. Perhaps that's true, but I just felt like I got no empathy from him, no attempts at reassurance, something other than his agitation.

I was angry. I was hurt that he shows no concern. I don't understand how he can be so... casual about it. He hasn't even made a real effort to read any of the pregnancy books I've brought home. There's a part of me that's disappointed. I thought he would be more curious to understand what's going on and what's to come. Am I expecting too much?

I've told him before that his responses to my requests and complaints *sound like* he's annoyed. Tim says that's not what he intends. But somehow, that's what I hear. We haven't figured out how to adjust this so that I don't think he's being insincere or mean. It's frustrating because neither of us want to fight, but this is taking some time to move past.

It could very well be that I sound whinny or obsessive at times. It's hard for me to know when to keep things to myself and when's it's important to express how I'm feeling. This is the part of marriage that takes work. I just hope we can be successful in making things between us better before a kid comes along.


Anonymous said...

This is so familiar to me. I got married when I was a few days shy of being 35 and got pregnant almost immediately. I can empathize when you talk about living by yourself for so long and then having to share yourself and your space with someone else. The first time I got pregnant, I honestly didn't know better and had a miscarriage very early on. Fortunately I was able to get pregnant again almost immediately which resulted in my very healthy son. I worried endlessly the first 12 weeks. I don't think my husband worried as much because it wasn't real to him until he heard the baby's heartbeat. While I don't think Tim is being unsympathetic, I think it is harder to realize a pregnancy and impending fatherhood for a man until he hears the first heartbeat or sees the first ultrasound. Just relax. I had hardly any pregnancy symptoms at all. My SIL who was pregnant the same time as me was sick all the time while I was perfectly fine. The doctor told me I was lucky! Consider yourself lucky! As far as his responses of you hearing annoyance, I can also empathize with this one. I do this to my husband a lot! Even after almost 4 years of marriage. I always tell him he sounds like he's not enthusiastic when I ask him to do something. His response is always "sure" but it sounds to me like he's saying "I guess but I really don't want to." After several discussions, okay hundreds, he just gives up and tries to sound enthusiastic, etc. And about keeping things or sharing feelings, it's better to share than to keep inside. This one will take a ton of work. I know. We still work on this one. Even when our son came along, things were not always the greatest. But as long as you work at it and have a common goal, you'll be fine! Congratulations on your pregnancy and take care of yourself! I am also married to a Caucasian man and I am Japanese-American. -Joy

Anna May Won't said...

communication in a relationship is at once very important and really tough. have you told tim that you feel disappointed and hurt by his seemingly lack of interest in the pregnancy thus far? saying, "you seem annoyed by me," and saying, "i feel hurt that you seem uninterested" are two very different things.

this is something i have been working on a lot with MB. in the beginning, i took his occasional curt responses as personal affronts when actually he was just distracted by something. and i try to take everything he says at face value - if he says yes to something he's not that enthusiastic about, too bad! you made your bed, now lie in it. :) same with me.

i am also a big worrier, esp in situations i don't have any control over. i feel like, well, i can't really do anything but at least i can worry though WORRYING DOES NOTHING TO CHANGE THE SITUATION. whether or not you worry won't change anything, except make the present very unpleasant.

of course there is productive worrying, like, omg, i'm behind at work! then you can do something like make a task list. but then there's, what if MB and i break up years from now? what if i never have a kid? what if, what if, what if? such thinking is unproductive.

not to say that your worrying is unwarranted. although presumably you had no real reason to think the baby was "gone," tim should have been more empathatic to your worries. maybe it was something he didn't like thinking about and so he acted annoyed. maybe what he should have said is, "why do you think the baby is gone? what are you really worried about here?"

i always try to remind myself that unconditional love is not about, "how is this person making me feel?" but about, "what is this person feeling and why?"

maybe the first step is to let tim know that although you love him and know he loves you, you feel etc., instead of your saying, "you seem, you're acting. . ."

don't know if any of that makes sense! :)

Pandax said...

Thanks for the thoughts. I'm glad that Tim and I have a healthy relationship where we've been able to get past things quickly. After a couple hours to think and to get some space, we made up. Basically, it was one of those Mars-Venus moments where he acknowledge that he gets frustrated hearing about things that he can't fix. He knows he needs to be more empathetic. He said he hasn't been reading the pregnancy books because he feels like it's information he already knows. I need to find a way to make it clear when I'm simply expressing my feeling versus looking for answers.

zerodoll said...

for me and j, it's kind of the same. (i'm now 14 weeks.) I have the books and i basically just read him a snippet about the baby each sunday. he says it's b/c it's not happening in his body. i will say that he's been incredibly patient with me and all of my anxiety. i knew i was an anxious sort before i got pregnant but it's a thousand times worse now.

Pandax said...

Congrats Zerodoll!

I'm hoping things will feel more real to him once we see an ultrasound.