Ah, Back on the Tandem Again! Early Fall Shows Up for a Minute… and One of Those Tense Tandem Talks.
I almost thought, for a minute, Jess wouldn’t make it home early enough that we could ride, so I prepped the gravel bike and started to roll a little before 5:00 pm. Rather than risk missing her, I shot her a quick text once I hit dirt (about 0.2 of a mile) that I was going to roll on my gravel bike. She texted back, almost immediately, that she was on her way. I turned around and texted her I’d wait and headed back for home. I pulled into the driveway and headed inside to prep her gravel bike and the tandem… obviously hoping for the tandem.
Jess got home in plenty of time for a short spin so we could warm up our legs after having not ridden since Tuesday.
We rolled out to shorts and short-sleeve weather, on the tandem, and it was glorious. We had less than an hour of light left, so we were quite limited for distance, but Jess had a big topic for discussion… that began with taking my inventory. For those not in the know or who are unfamiliar with Twelve-Step lingo, your wife says there’s something she’d like to talk to you about. She stares lovingly into your eyes and says, “You know what’s wrong with you?”… and proceeds to tell you, a large portion of the narrative is her own false evidence appearing real.
Let’s just say the protective emotional walls shot up instantly and I made a complete mess of a very difficult but necessary conversation. My wife didn’t help with delivery, either (though, in hindsight, she was probably petrified to even bring the topic up, so fear was a factor).
As it turned out, I jumped to a lot of conclusions and tried to shut the onslaught down by correcting the narrative she’d come up with. By the time we were halfway through our ride we were both attacking each other. If I’d held my tongue, rather than lashing out, I’d have gotten to the part where my wife took responsibility for her side. I think she just wanted make sure I knew what my side was so she could safely get to her side.
I literally prayed for help with the conversation while we were riding (and I’m sure Jess did, too).
Then, when the questions came, I started asking them. “What was the goal of this conversation?” “What did you hope to achieve?” “How do you see this conversation benefiting our marriage?”
Jess answered and that’s about when I saw the error of my Olympic-best conclusion jumping. It wasn’t at all what I thought was coming down the pike. She really was just trying to help the marriage, especially with acknowledging her side of things, her delivery simply needed work. When I really looked at my part, she took a really big risk in opening up and I reacted how you’d expect someone to react to an attack, but I filled in a lot of blanks with my own “false evidence (that) appeared real”.
At that point it was time to eat some humble pie… and that’s a dish best served warm. And ate it I did.
We paused just before we were done to have some dinner with our daughter. We were both pretty close to “okay” before we ate and picked up where we left off when our daughter headed for the shower, then to do her homework. It was a short talk and we had things sorted to a point where we were both good.
A long massage for my wife who was still suffering from her dad’s spare bed, and we were ready for an episode of Castle and sleep. I woke up once, but slept straight till the alarm. I meditated on everything this morning, the first two minutes centering on how I could have better jousted with Jess in the beginning of the conversation. This is toxic, and I knew it. I discarded that line of thought and concentrated on the solutions we’d talked about and on my part in the debacle.
This is where marital good happens and I’ll stay on that. The rest has a place in the garbage pail in my head.
I’ll have more to write about this later in the week because it was a very interesting topic…