Marriage rules without ever explicitly mentioning them.

in The Ink Well10 months ago (edited)

I have never really been able to fathom an old saying that goes

"What loves, teases each other",

because I have lacked the living practice to do so.

I got together with my husband when we were just in our early forties.
I find it difficult to express adequately what he means to me without exaggerating or idealising him.

In fact, especially after the first infatuation wore off, I often saw him as stupid, stoic, overestimating himself or illusory. We fought with each other, as all couples do (not, that I see anything 'normal' in it but it's a fact). I attribute much of the reason that we didn't break up in the face of these struggles to his very stoicism that I disliked so much. Just pretending "nothing happened" even though I had insulted, attacked and mercilessly confronted him with his worst moments. He let me starve on his long arm more than once. How I hated him in those phases.

One episode, after I got furiously mad at him,

and we didn't see each other for several days, and I thought of breaking up with him, sending him emails to which he didn't react, he suddenly stood in front of my door. What did I do? I simply, wordlessly invited him in. It was strange. First all this anger and then he comes over and I reject any thought of separation. We went on like that for quite a while.

When I expressed that he didn't seem to give a damn about what I said to him and that he retreated to his ivory tower, this prompted him to respond: "No, that's not true. I take what you say to heart and I think about it."

And I: "That's nice for you, but you don't let me take part in this reflection and so it's rather as if you always settle everything only with yourself and then when you return from your enclave, everything is already decided. How am I supposed to know that what I said affects you, moves you, if you don't show it? What use is it to me if you say that when you were alone you paced, you were enraged, if you withhold such wrath from me?"

And he: "Are you really ready to see and feel that fury?"

Whereupon I became still. Was I ready?
Something else, unsaid, was in the room.

He knew about my past as the child of an angry father, we had often talked about our childhood. He assumed that his anger would remind me of my father's. Not knowing, or not being able to be sure, that I could not fear him from the bottom of my heart and therefore reject him if he went out of his skin.

And really, I had to ask myself

whether I wasn't challenging myself too much, like a child who calls out "Catch me if you can!", and is scandalised when it finds that the other person not only has no trouble catching it, but can also overpower it. As long as this is not acted out in a playful manner but becomes deadly serious, it jeopardizes the relationship.

You see, if he wouldn't have answered with a question and would have said instead: "It's because I want you to be protected from my rage", my answer would probably have been: "If you already are aware of this, you need not be angry in the first place". A statement, born out of my thinking but not imagining. Because he never acted furious towards me, I was not able to imagine him as a raging and violent man.

Through my husband, I realized that

words actually don't have power if one does not give them power.

I mean it in the sense of "how long does the impact of a sentence last in my mind and heart?", and not that words cannot hurt or provoke me in the given moment (and given, it always is). Which they certainly can.

It depends on how long I let them be effective.
Because they are effective, I can decide to embrace this effectiveness to the fullest. Only to let it go thereafter.

A Play it became

I realized that I can decide whether I play fiercely or sincerely.

After I - somehow - have embraced the matter, and because of doing that letting go of it as a consequence, this put me ever so often in the stance of playing it loose from my hips.

I went about to tease my man, rather than making it so serious, as if he has to realize indeed (!) that he gets in trouble!
The moment I have grasped the thing, what trouble could that be? What threat does my man have at hand, really, and vice versa?

The living practice to tease

It's not something I necessarily learned.

My husband offered himself to me as a training ground and partner. Of course, he didn't tell me so, because if he had told me that he was offering himself to me as someone who would give me an opportunity to mature and learn how to deal with provocation, that would have been an anticipatory provocation for which I would have immediately closed myself off, as it would have seemed arrogant, conceited and inappropriate.
If it just stands in the room as an opportunity in which I have faith, it's different. This wise act outweighed so many other stupid ones.

I assume that it may not have been as crystal clear to my husband himself as I am writing here now, but in a certain way influenced the foreground thoughts in his ulterior motives. In my opinion, he only has achieved it because he had understood certain important things in life before I had, and acts according to them without making a serious "I am so wise"-fuss about it. If he does and that happens as well, we have disharmony.

This became like an open secret now between us.

What does that mean in practical terms?

Well, my husband annoys me every day, many times. Deliberately now. For we have agreed on the rules we established between us, without actually having spoken about "rules" at all.

We interact not with the intention of seriously annoying each other, but un-seriously. To offer ourselves a gym mat on which I can exercise (which puts him to exercising as well).

At first (five or six years or longer, who knows?), I still fell for it

and got mad or sad, justified myself even before he accused me of anything, after each of these teasers, or else when it was I myself who had given the pitch for such a tease, which my husband did not let pass without a chance.

Like this:
"The flowers need watering."
My husband: "Should WE water the flowers or would you like me to water them?" Me: "What is this now? I just said that the flowers need to be watered."

My husband: "Yes, but you don't say who should do it. So I ask you, do you want me to do it, because otherwise you would do it yourself and you didn't even mention it?" Argh!

"It's so cold in here."
"Would you like me to turn the heating on for you, dear?"
(me, embarrassed, as if I were a child who couldn't decide for herself to make the room warm. Alternately feeling caught acting like a princess on a pea).

"The fridge is empty."
"Well, then it's time you went shopping."
(Me, indignant at this cheeky reply).

"The eggs didn't turn out." (My body language signals dissatisfaction while at the same time wanting my husband to praise the failed breakfast egg I cooked).
His reply: "That's right. They are much too hard. You have to do better."

And so on it goes. He comments on me almost at every thing I do and every thing I say. He also nags a lot. I am under steady cheeky commentary.

Daily life gives us plenty of ordinary occasions.

Now, what happened over time?
Simply I got used to it and because of this constant training, repetition in act and counteract, in having been teased over and over and over again, I learned to tease back. Which, to my very first shame (!) I realized that in my past I had taken those nasty situations - which I see now as chances - way too seriously and countered by "You don't say this to me! Don't boss me!", "You are stupid yourself!" "Don't think I am dumb!"

Did I change my words in the meantime?

Not at all. When we let teasing happen, I also say
"You are stupid." And my man: "No, you are." And I: "No, you are more stupid than me." And he: "What? Did you say anything? And I: "Can't hear you."

Only this time the attitude behind this is different. It's light hearted and what it reveals is the very stupidity behind any accusation of what the other is or is not, does or does not do.

We play the game of one-upmanship.

We play
"I know better than you know."
"I am better than you are." "No, wrong, I am the best." "Pfft. I am the best of the best!"
"I am more humble than you are."

and so on.

When we visit my brother

and he watches us acting upon our daily doses of tease he gets the joke instantly. Our quarrels became a habit as much as having breakfast.

We are served with countless chances for training. If I managed to be teasing but my attitude was not pure, and I still kept the notion to talk to an enemy, the practice was going to show me. I was dissatisfied with what back feeding I received from my man, despite my cheekiness (which was contaminated with non-joy).

An older relative told me how his mother once said to his wife:

"Mina, if yer crack the whip, yer get dirty yerself".

What other than a good laugh was my reaction?

In times I forget to be playful, like when I want to avoid at all costs to "look bad", then it all the more happened that I did. Same, when I tried to play it too cool. It made me looking too eager to be (seen as) cool.

I expect to continue to play the game of life with my husband. This will not spare us from non-joy though. Now, that is stating the obvious, right?


picture source: my own.


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Hi @erh.germany,
I enjoyed reading on how you've internalized and dealt with challenges early in your relationship with your husband, and how you two managed to set certain boundaries in a healthy way that works for both of you.

What stands out the most to me is the loyalty that you two have for one another. I think that is not something to overlook in a relationship, and may be one of the most important aspects. Loyalty and trust.

In the manner of how you both adopted this playful teasing with one another, it seems to serve as a different style of communication that creates an easing of stress perhaps?

You and your husband are well above average scale intellect, and with intellectuals, the pathway for success may not resemble a "normie" relationship, but in my mind there is nothing wrong with that!

You and your husband are both amazing beautiful people.

It's great to see you posting again my friend! 🤗

Hello, how nice to welcome you here on "my" hill!

You are, as always, very subtle about what you read and think about. Indeed, boundary setting is one of the main challenges in relationships. It never ends and will keep every couple, and in general, the whole world busy. LOL

With loyalty I have a double-edged relationship, not sure how you would define loyalty in a man-woman relationship? Say a bit more so I know how you mean it. Trust on the other hand, yes, I think it's about self trust first. If I don't have that, I would make it difficult for myself and my husband to maintain the relationship.

In the manner of how you both adopted this playful teasing with one another, it seems to serve as a different style of communication that creates an easing of stress perhaps?

Good question. ... Not sure. Spontaneously, what comes to mind is that it's the friction that makes him and I feel a vibrant relationship. Couples who have been together for a long time run the risk of getting bored with each other. We don't have that problem at all because of the playful banter. They are like amaranth in the soup. I laugh a lot during the day. I guess it's also the case that the banter serves to make life a big joke as well, and not to take oneself so terribly seriously and fret all the time. Perhaps also a protection against decadence. ... HaHa, the more I think, the more I think of! So, yes, it's also stress relief through a philosophical approach.

You're the man who can make the best and greatest compliments.

🤗 Bye, my friend.

Ich kenne keine Männer, die es schaffen, ihrer Frau dauerhaft zuzuhören. Da Dein Mann ein Mann zu sein scheint (weswegen Du ihn auch ausgewählt hast), vermute ich, dass er etwas geflunkert hat.
Es könnte sein, dass sich dahinter das ganze Geheimnis verbirgt.

P.S. Grüße an die Gattin.

Es ist eher so, dass ich IHM selten zuhöre, HaHa! Er muss hart um meine Aufmerksamkeit kämpfen, da ich sehr beschäftigt sein kann (autistisch, wie er manchmal sagt). Die Anfangsphasen unserer Beziehung verliefen eher umgekehrt, da sie aber lange zurück liegen und die Krisen ihr Drama verloren haben, sind wir jetzt in ein Fahrwasser angelangt, wo wir dem (Beziehungs)Leben mit mehr Humor begegnen als zuvor. Da wir keine "echten" Krisen mehr wünschen, erschaffen wir uns tägliche Reize, indem wir uns necken (da die Ehe sonst an Langeweile stürbe). ER hat natürlich damit angefangen, ist ja klar. ;)

Ob er geflunkert hat oder nicht, wenn's wirkt.... LOL - da ich natürlich nie (!) alles besser wissen muss, weil er immer (!) alles besser weiß.... HaHaHa :D

Dass du überhaupt Englisch liest, ist neu!

Kommt mir bekannt vor :-).

Marriage is a partnership in which there are two members, who set the guidelines, the rules and show the interests. The important thing is that these rules are very clear from the beginning, that there is communication, agreements between the two, because if not, then the relationship can fail. Your text leaves me thinking about many things regarding power relationships in a couple, but I think that every marriage is a different world and everyone knows what they want. Greetings and thank you for sharing your experience with us.

Thank you for commenting.

Do you see a relation of power (imbalance/balance) in my narrative about my marriage or were you thinking more about something else or about your marriage?

Regarding the clarity of rules at the beginning: I don't think that's possible at all :) After the first phase of infatuation, the time of negotiation begins, where one tries to become clear about one's position in the relationship, to both families of origin, to other relationship-influencing elements, for example. This is how I gradually get to know my man better, just like through the conflicts that we didn't immediately overcome through negotiation, is my experience with him and former relationships. I find it hard to imagine setting up a set of rules right at the beginning, as with a contract, for example. Do you have an example from your experience where that worked?

Greetings to you.

Your story was an absolute pleasure to read. Nicely told, with energetic and exciting dialogue.
From what you've described, it sounds like you have a solid and wonderful relationship; Two people who embrace the highs and lows and love each other unconditionally.
Thank you so much for sharing your brilliant story with this week's prompt. Please do engage with other authors in the community:)

Thank you, I appreciate you telling me that my story has entertained you.
I consider myself very fortunate to have met my man and how we fit together. :)

Congratulations, @erh.germany! Your story has been chosen as one of the best stories of the week and is part of the 105th highlighted authors Magazine!
https://peakd.com/hive-170798/@theinkwell/the-ink-well-highlights-magazine-105

What a pleasure, thank you.

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Your relationship with your husband reminds me in some ways of mine !LOLZ I had to learn not to take the bait as he would, and still does, make cheeky comments all the time that make it sound like I am saying something wrong. Using your example... sometimes we are just saying... hm...it's cold in here, so as to see what the other person thinks... but it is taken the wrong way... or used as an opportunity to stir the pot haha. All relationships are different; what's important is that we each find ways to communicate with our partners in a way that means that we use their love language to keep the relationship close. It sounds like this rapport you have with your husband is something you both find enjoyable and connecting and keeps your relationship alive and thriving 💗 Hope you are well, my lovely... I haven't been around much on Hive... but coming back !LUV !ALIVE !PIZZA 🙏

@erh.germany! You Are Alive so I just staked 0.1 $ALIVE to your account on behalf of @samsmith1971. (1/10)

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