… or the interrupting, or the lawn that didn’t get mowed, or the fact that you changed the radio or TV station without asking again, etc. It’s about respect, trust, and boundaries. In my experience and the experience of several other people I know, it seems like most men don’t understand as well as women do that when women get upset over something, we’re not really upset as much about the specific event as we are about what it represents and how it makes us feel. So allow me to help the men out a little.
For example, if my husband were to take a load of clothes that I had in the washing machine and put them in the dryer so he could start a load of his laundry without asking me if that was OK first, that would bother me because I know he wouldn’t check to see if there were any clothes that shouldn’t be put in the dryer. I would be somewhat upset about any stains set in the clothes or clothes that shrunk, but I would also be upset because I would interpret that as a lack of respect not only for my things but for me as well, if I had specifically asked him not to handle the kids’ and my laundry. If I knew he was doing it to be helpful and that he could do it without ruining any clothes, that would be a different story. I wouldn’t have asked him to check with me first, and I would appreciate it.
Similarly, if he were to rearrange things that are in an area that is typically my space such as my office, kitchen cupboards, or my closet without asking, that would be invading my space. Once in a while, I have the urge to straighten out his workbench that is a disaster area he will probably never get to, but that is his space that I don’t want to invade, so I leave it alone. When he snoops through my computer looking for I don’t know what, that is an invasion of my space and showing lack of trust. When he constantly interrupts and talks over me, that is showing lack of respect for me and anything I might have to say that he obviously doesn’t value.
When we come up with a plan for the weekend and figure out that Saturday morning is the best time to mow the lawn and he says he will have it done by lunchtime and then spends the morning reading the paper, writing emails, talking to the neighbor for 45 minutes and doesn’t start the lawn until at least lunchtime, I am not so much upset that things didn’t get done exactly at a certain time (which is how it gets interpreted), but I am frustrated that he once again agreed to a plan and then didn’t stick to it because of things he chose to do for himself instead, and now the plans for the rest of the day are thrown off. It’s one more example of him putting himself first, not following through and keeping his word, and not understanding that his actions do affect everyone else in the family. It’s a lack of respect thing.
You also have to factor in the repeated pattern of doing anything along these lines. When these things happen over and over and over, I keep addressing them, and he still does them, each time is more frustrating than the last because, in my mind, he should know that what he is about to do is going to irritate me. And the fact that he shows no interest in making any effort to make any improvements shows lack of respect for my feelings. So it becomes about the pattern of disrespect, and the actual event becomes trivial.
It’s a big picture thing, and I think many men are not capable of thinking in terms of a bigger picture when it comes to relationships and that they like to focus on the individual events as single, unrelated events. They tend to focus on the facts surrounding those events, whereas I believe women tend to focus more on the feelings that are being evoked. My frustration is usually only somewhat related to the actual event and is mostly about how the actions or behavior are making me feel. No one wants to feel disrespected, unappreciated, not valued, not trusted, and so many other things. That’s what it is about.
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