Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fireproofed or Completely Combustible?

Tim and I have been married for 6 years. We'll celebrate our 7th anniversary in August. I'm holding out for our 10th anniversary, in which he has promised me a romantic vacation to The Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.

Between our busy schedules and the 4 kids, we rarely have time to sit down and have a conversation. We do the "how was your day" kind of thing as we're both standing at the kitchen counter, throwing some food down our throats before chaos breaks loose again. It's maybe a 2-3 minute conversation. Then we're back in the throws of the bedtime routine....bath, jammies, brush teeth, storytime and goodnight hugs and kisses. That's the last we see of each other...truthfully. He retreats to our bedroom upstairs, where he'll watch his favorite tv shows. And I usually stay downstairs, watching my favorite tv shows or spending the time online. We used to love the same tv shows but now it seems like we don't like much of anything the same. We do see each other briefly as we cross paths in the hallway upstairs, as I head to the bedroom to go to sleep and he heads downstairs to watch some more tv.

We got a Netflix membership recently (because that's as close as we're gonna come to seeing movies these days). So I was excited when we finally received the movie Fireproof because so many people had recommended it. I had a feeling Tim would meet me with some resistance though when I told him what the movie was about. He did kind of do the eye-rolling thing and "geez, are you really gonna make me watch it?" and I said, "Don't you think it's important for us to watch a movie about marriage TOGETHER?" How could he argue with that?

On Friday night, we finally had a chance to sit down and watch it TOGETHER. We sat on separate sofas and every once in awhile, I'd take a glance at him to see if he was really watching the movie or snoozing away. Alas, he was watching the movie, although he had to keep interjecting commentary every once in awhile with "the acting really sucks" and "his wife is such a bitch".

When the movie ended, of course, I was in tears. Sure, the acting could've been better but it was a very touching movie with a powerful message. I was curious as to what Tim thought about it....

Me: So did you like it?
Tim: What?
Me: Um....the movie??? Did you like it?
Tim: Yeah, it was pretty good.
Me: Do you have any thoughts about it?
Tim: Thoughts? What thoughts am I supposed to have about it?
Me: Never mind

How could he watch a 2-hr movie with such a powerful message and NOT have any thoughts on it??? I have to admit part of me was angry as I headed to bed. I was hoping this movie would spark a wonderful conversation between us, perhaps with us both agreeing to try the Love Dare ourselves. But instead of going any further with the conversation, I just left it at that....until the next day.

Again, I said to him, "I'm really interested to know what your thoughts were on the movie". He didn't answer me. I waited. He said, "I don't know...I don't know what you want me to say...why do we have to talk about this?". Then he said, "What were your thoughts on it?". How was I supposed to answer that after he pretty much insinuated that this was a pointless conversation? So I didn't. I just left it alone. I went upstairs and took a shower.

I don't know if I was expecting something magical to happen after watching the movie together. But I certainly wasn't expecting to be met with apprehensiveness on his part. So I'm still sitting here on Sunday, wondering where to go with this....wondering if maybe I should just do the Love Dare on my own and see if it makes a difference....wondering if maybe I should just sweep it under the carpet the way he has so easily done.

We were going to marital counseling and we've cut back on it because it seemed like things have been going well. But after watching Fireproof, I realize that yes, we are getting along well, but we are not connecting. Marriage is more than just being civil to each's more than just being two people who share the same house, raising kids's more than saying hi and bye to each other and nothing more. I miss the friendship we used to have...I miss holding his hand as we walk together down the street...I just miss what we used to have.

Each time I've mentioned these feelings to our therapist, he says "you're both still in survival mode...let's focus on getting you both to act as a team for your kids' sake for right now...let's just focus on basic respect and getting along". And I thought I was okay with that but after seeing the movie, I realize I'm not. I fear we'll drift even more apart while we tend to our kids and refrain from nurturing our marriage the way it so desperately needs to be nurtured. We're just going through the motions, but there's no feeling behind it. I don't think that's the type of marriage I want to model for my children.

This sure is a heavy topic for a Sunday, isn't it? I'm usually all about humor and keeping it light. Oh well, life can't be a ray of sunshine all the time....


heather@it'stwinsanity said...

I haven't seen Fireproof yet (I Netflixed it but it came while my husband was gone so it's just been sitting here) so I can't speak to that part. But I wanted to tell you I can relate to the fear of what will happen once you get out of survival mode. It's hard to find the time to nurture your marriage when you are taking care of 2 sets of twins! I hope and pray that you are both able to carve out time to work on your marriage too.

Cascia said...

My nearly six year marriage has been troubled and we have our ups and downs. We went to this marriage retreat weekend, called Retrouvaille, I learned that weekend that our feelings are very important. And it is even more important for our spouse to understand those feelings. Sometimes it is hard to talk about them with our spouse in a way that he or she will understand. You can try describing how you feel regarding this situation in a letter to your husband. Sometimes it is easier to put it on paper. This has worked for me and my husband.

By the way, I haven't seen Fireproof yet but it sounds like it is a great movie.

Tami said...

After being married 21 years, hunny hubby and I have had our share of trials, Children, losing faith in one another, children, let me say again, children! Our middle one is lost in a world of drugs, and alcohol. Frightening at times. I know how you feel. I go at it alone, the trying to fix our son, while my husband sits back in denial. He puts all his effort into watching TV, and not following through because he'd rather NOT face the problem.
After 21 years, I realized men would rather brush every problem under the rug then face it head on.
They aren't like women, we're emotionally driven, when we give a part of ourselves we give it all. Men don't.
When a woman fights for the life of one of her children, and sobs daily, he doesn't understand, because they didn't carry that child under his heart for 9 months. Again lack of emotion.
Men are that way. We women, attach ourselves to them thinking they relate to every need, every emotion, every feeling. They don't.
It's normal, to get lost in chaos. I have been for years. Do I love my husband? Of course. Do I love him the way I used too? No.
Can I live without him? No. I pray a lot. Men are made up of some kind of non emotional gene. And we women find we have too many.
Pray Helene, pray and God will guide you both I PROMISE.

No marriage is perfect. No marriage is happily ever after. He needs to communicate, to show you how much he loves you. Relate that to him and have your romantic dinner after the kids are in bed.
We used to have the kids be our waiters when we wanted a romantic dinner. Then they'd go off to watch a movie while daddy and I ate.
Take the steps, and pull him by the arm and MAKE HIM LISTEN. With prayer, and understanding, you will make it through..
Also, remember God works on his time. NOT ours. Frustrating sometimes! But he listens.

I'm here for you!!

Ashlee said...

I would do the Love Dare anyway. My husband and I watched the movie while Blair was in the hospital (it was filmed in our area too). We both enjoyed it. I bought the Love Dare and started doing it. It is good. My husband knows I'm doing it, but he is not. It couldn't hurt to try! I'll keep you in my prayers!

Luckygirl said...

I think you should do the Love Dare anyway. My friend is doing it and seeing good results in her marriage even though her husband is not doing it. Good Luck!

Jen said...

I so hear you on this one. I have not seen this movie but I am thinking about it.
For me its all about balance and trying to find it and then keeping it.
It seems that we just live together and raise kids together and thats it.
But there needs to be more.....

HarryJack's Mom said...

I think you're coming to a new phase with your kids, to be honest, more of a living than a surviving phase. Now that there's a bit more wiggle, I hope you can focus more on yourselves. Thank you for bravely posting - similar issues here. I'm a little bit skeered to watch that movie, but ready to give it a try now. GL!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. I hate the times when my hubby and i aren't "present" with our relationship. I feel like I'm moving in slow motion.
I hope it gets worked out soon.

Nancy said...

I haven't seen the movie but I still hear you. We've been married 8 years this coming up May.. and although I know we still love each other, it feels like we're drifting apart and doing our own thing too often. We don't have a good support group to help us with the kids so we can get away, but I think what would really help us is having a vacation... just the 2 of us. Hopefully you guys are in a better position than we are to get away and to reconnect. I think I'm reading that the love and commitment is still there. With that you guys can tackle anything.


mrsbear said...

Sorry to hear you're struggling a bit. It's so hard with little ones in the house to connect, I know. Even though my four are more spaced out, it seems like neither one of us can ever finish a sentence without having to mitigate some kind of crisis for the kids. Good luck getting it all sorted. Sending you bloggy hugs, hope you're feeling sunshiny again soon.

Betty said...

I'm sorry hun, Remember sometimes we just hit little bumps but if you work together it will soon blow over. Best of luck to the both of you. :)

I want to let you know I have passed on the Mom of the Year award to you. Please stop by and check out the details. :)

Jana (Varley) Green said...

Amen as to what marriage is supposed to be!! My husband lived by himself for 20 years so he thinks we've got a great marriage....we do have a good one (right now, anyway.) ut he doesn't realize what it is supposed to be...not just roommates who have sex, and share money. I feel your pain and understand your longings. Good luck.

Opus #6 said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I have been divorced. So may I say, first, that you *can* weather these rough spots. Like the dog days of summer, they come and they go. No need to rush into anything rash.
Also, may I recommend finding a couples therapist that specializes in Imago Therapy. This type of therapy forces the couple to stop arguing and really listen to the other guy without getting defensive. Standard therapy, I have found, can decay into a bitch session that leaves the couple even further apart emotionally.
GL with this. Your kids will benefit from all of your efforts. You are on the right track.

bonnieearly said...

Men are weird. They don't take things in the way we do. I could watch a movie and talk for an hour about it and Grant would be like, "oh it was alright." So anyway, we're aparently still in survival mode as well.

Go easy on yourself though. You and Tim have the important things in common such as family, parenting, your kids, your home, eating, sleeping, cleaning habits, religiouis beliefs, etc. Don't discount the small stuff. Right now that might be the only things you have in common but over time when the kids are less demanding, you'll get another chance to reconnect. ;)

Michele S said...

You know what I learned by living on a street that has 5 retired couples who have all been married more than 30 years? I learned that every single one of them barely made it through the child-raising years. But every single one of them stuck it out and now they are retired and now they have reconnected and now they are reaping the rewards of putting in their time during the early years.

So stick it out for another 20 years and it will all be good!!! (So she says with a ray of sunshine coming out of her butt.)

3 Bay B Chicks said...

The blogosphere doesn't always have to be light and entertaining. Sometimes, it should really just be the place where we vent and express what we are going through.

I am glad that you are doing just that, Helene. You also obviously struck a chord with many of your readers, which is wonderful.


Anonymous said...

Well. You've been married twice as long as me and you have twice as many kids, so kudos and kudos. As I've said before, you're totally my hero. But even heroes are human. I don't know how there couldn't be tension at this stage, you guys must be stretched so thin on a day a day basis. You're doing the right thing, getting it out there, not bottling it up. I'm from Maine, and I tend to think about marriage the way Lobstermen think about lobster. Some years the catch is so great you think you'll never have to work again. Some years its so poor you wonder how you'll make it though the winter. But neither ever happens. Just keep working. Keep the faith that things will improve, and they will. Maybe not overnight, but they will. You're doing everything right.
And I'm definitely renting that movie, btw!

Creative Junkie said...

We watched that movie too. And while I cringed at the acting, the message was not lost on me.

Right now, I think my husband and I are in survival mode - with the kids, yes, but mostly we're just trying to survive this economy and the physical toll it's taking on both of us, stress-wise. It's so easy to lose sight of the kind of connection portrayed in Fireproof when you're busy fighting the daily grind and then, wondering whether you'll be able to keep your house, you know?

I feel your pain. I truly do.

Six Feet Under Blog said...

I just wrote about a "husband thing" today. I havent seen the movie but maybe I need to. I feel like we are just roommates alot of the time too!

Aim said...

I've never heard about that movie. Maybe I need to check it out. I'm sorry that you are having issues. It seems like it was a bad weekend for hubbys. I was just at Tess's blog.

I gave you a couple of awards today. Check out my blog to pick them up.

Ambulance Mommy said...

I have been eyeing that movie for such a long time now!!! And I was really hoping my husband would relate to the whole "firefighter" theme, as he is a firefighter.

Our marriage is like a parabola (or rollercoaster ride...whichever analogy works. Sometimes the rollercoaster seems more vicious to say than parabola...but heck, they mean the same thing to me anyway) and right now, we are probably at a higher point than the lowest point.

During the low points, I've really wanted to go purchase that movie, and see what he thinks, but then I'm worried he might do the same thing...just not talk about it, or maybe not get it? Who knows.

Anyway, we tried conseling, and it was horrific. It made things worse. It was probably the counselor though...he told us in our first session our marriage would never last past August, and since that August in question was almost a year ago I guess we proved him wrong. But we are still in survival mode. We are still in the "we had a toddler, and we have no money, and we are just getting by from day to day to day" mode, and I really do worry about what will happen later......

I wish I had advice, or something more tangible..but I just wanted to let you know that you arent alone in the problems in your marriage, that us in the blog world are always here for you whenever you need to talk, and that I hope things are going to be ok.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand where you are at. Survival Mode....but is it really "surviving". At least your other half was willing to go to counselling......

You inspired me....
doing my first give away....
stop by...check it out....


Kathy B! said...

Thanks for being so honest with us. DH and I have been married for close to 15 years, and it does shift and change over time. The fact that you two are aware of the changes and are committed to fostering your realtionship and friendship speaks volumes. And don't worry about not being a ray of sunshine everyday. We wouldn't like you nearly so much if you were... :)

Dianna said...

Hugs to you, Helene.
We saw Fireproof, and I loved it .. although, I will have to agree with Tim that the wife was kind of bitchy. I guess I might be too, if my husband was into porn.

Anyway ...
Marriage is hard, baseline, and it's even harder with small children, working, etc. We have monthly date nights, to keep my sanity, and enable us to actually have a conversation with each other.

I commend you on going to counseling. I think it's a lot better to be proactive.

No sage advice, just a note to let you know that you're not alone in the lifeboat.

The Eadle Family said...

Everyone is talking about this movie. I will have to check it out. You know, men just don't understand things like movies. Whenever I can actually wrestle Ryan from the computer to watch a movie with me, at the end, depending on the movie, there is always something I am upset about. Would he fight that dragon for me? (Enchanted) Would he still love me if I got sick (A Walk to Remember)? The thing is, is that movies can move something inside women, speak to us on a certain level, and to a man .. it is just a movie that your partner is making you watch.

I'm happy you are going to councelling. Often, when you have kids, marriages get left on the side burner, and then when all the kids leave the house, you are standing there, looking at each other, thinking, do I even know this person? Where has the time gone?

Hope things get better!

Tracy said...

This one hit fairly close to home for me...I've been feeling that lack of connection lately, surely due to being in "survival mode." In addition to connecting, we both need our time to ourselves, too. Where's the balance?

Anyway, we made a pact this past week that every night we would sit on the couch next to each other and hold hands while we watch TV. Not all night, just for a bit. So far, so good.

It may be silly, but I do believe it's the little things that help us stay connected. I hope you and our hubby get things figured out.


The Mother said...

As a veteran of 25 years of marriage, I will simply say that all marriages go through phases. Romance and candlelight give way to friendship.

It isn't necessary that you communicate about a movie, but it is necessary that you communicate about life.

Don't sweat the small stuff. If everything ELSE is okay, let him be taciturn about the movie. There are far bigger battles.

Hajar Zamzam Ismail said...

God bless you girl. Marriages come in all shapes and sizes, don't let the absence of cliche'ed romanticity discourage you. My husband isn't the hearts and flowers type, either. Societal pressures can cause you to think there is a problem with what you are going through, when in fact, it's perfectly normal, when you discuss your situation with people who have weathered life's storms before you, and lived to tell the tales.

Shari said...

You are in survival mode, but that doesn't make it easier. Sometimes I just look at my husband and say, "Are we okay?" It's a close as we get to a deep conversation. I just want him to know I'm thinking about the relationship, even though we're not doing much about it right now.

Our twins are five and we just started spending alone time recently. You need to keep fighting for the marriage without fighting with each other. It's a delicate balance.

Tymma said...

Wow! I loved that movie . Did you know he would only kiss his own wife? So the final kiss in the end was his real life wife. Also the whole movie was done through a church, with first everyday people acting and behind the scenes.
I think you should do the love dare on him. Just see what happens.

Tymma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mathea said...

Just celebrated 5 years, and the first 5 were survival mode because we had 2 kiddos in the NICU and post preemies. Here's to five more years of working on being better partners!

The High Family said...

I married a man who has a hard time expressing his feelings...he also has a very difficult time dealing with me when I become emotional (hates when I cry)...and guess what? I get emotional A LOT. So we are constantly butting heads all the time. Sure, it's frustrating and it's even worse with the kids but I think we both know that it will get better as the kids get older. Right now it's all about them and us surviving this part of their lives.

No marriage is perfect and it's hard work...something you have to work at every day. I think it's time you guys had a little get away! Find a friend or family member to watch the kiddies and take a long weekend to yourselves...even if it's at a local hotel! LOL

I hadn't heard of this movie! I need to add it to the Netflix list! I am sure I will have the same conversation with Chris afterwards too....

Anonymous said...

I have not seen the movie either. But I do think that all marriages have hard times and patches that you have to work through. With 2 sets of twins, its hard to find a spare moment for eachother, but maybe starting with little things would make a huge difference. One thing I make sure to do everyday is when i see my hunny after work to greet him with a hug and kiss, don't get me wrong i forget at times but at least i think, hey I've kissed my husband at least once a day, lol!

I really need to rent that movie!

Brownie said...

Just blog bouncing here but I wanted to comment. My hubby and I've been married almost 15 years. Two kids.

I have to agree with Hajar Zamzam Ismail above. If I listened to everybody else or all the magazine articles - my marriage probably would sound bad. But I really like the guy and I know the feelings are mutual. Although I do have to remind myself of that. He's a stoic Swede - doesn't show emotion - but I know it's there.. it's got to be.

Once I read a book that was upsetting to me - on wives being submissive. There were sections that I disagreed with and was almost in tears because I wasn't "submissive." I talked to him about it. He merely said "do we have a problem in this area?" I didn't think so... "then throw the book away." That was it.

I have a friend who says we need to have a "date night" because it's important. We don't do that. I asked Hubby if he wanted it - the only date night he wants is a regular romp in bed. I'm fine if I can just stay home!

He's not perfect - I'm not perfect. It's tough sometimes - but that's life. I wouldn't consider me in survival mode -just living mode: with him.

You did a wonderful post - it's brave to talk about difficulties and it does encourage others.

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr

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