I like this vignette about Tony and me because I think it so vividly highlights not only our different communication styles, but also why freaking out is not the answer.
Last Thursday night I had been texting him a bit before putting Liam to bed. I signed off with a “ttyl” as I try to focus exclusively on Liam at bedtime. That was around 8:30pm.
I was busy with stuff and didn’t try to communicate with Tony until I picked up the phone to call him and say goodnight, just before 10:30pm. He didn’t answer.
So I sent him a quick text that said:
“Was just calling to say goodnight. Will be up for a bit if you have a minute to call.”
Twenty minutes later I still hadn’t heard back and was now fully ready to sleep, so I sent:
“Okay I’m off to bed. Hope everything is okay … Sleep well. xo”
I was mildly irritated to not hear back. A tiny voice started whispering maybe he was out with his female “divorce lawyer” who isn’t really helping him with his divorce (since he’s not actually negotiating) but helped him buy furniture for his place (hello!! Intimate action!!) and who called the Saturday morning Hy was at my place (I know what kind of “friend”s call each other at 10am on Saturday, right?).
I told that voice to shut up; I knew he was working or deep into some sporting event.
But when I woke up and saw nothing – no “oh fell asleep on the couch sorry will talk to you tomorrow” – I was miffed. I didn’t send anything right away but decided to just reach out and say hello.
I’ve been practicing not being snotty in my texts when I feel snotty. It comes from my choosing to believe – or act as if I believe – the positive version of events. I literally tell myself that it’s nothing and ask what kind of message I would send if I knew it was nothing. Because I believe the more I’m a snotty bitch, the less he’s inclined to respond. Why would he want to continue to feel like he’s doing something wrong, when he’s not?
The counterbalance to that is making sure I do take care of my feelings. I have no interest being a relationship martyr who is always sucking things up to my detriment.
It’s a fine balance.
So we had the following exchange:
One thing I sometimes forget is Tony resents feeling like he needs to respond to texts when he’s busy or otherwise occupied. I’m just not the same way. Mornings between 7:30-9 he’s with his son and I’m pretty good about not reaching out during this time or expecting to hear from him.
I felt this exchange was a positive one, even though it may not seem that way. He told me his texts were making him anxious. I didn’t take it personally – it was fine even if there’s a small part of me rolling her eyes.
So I let it go. While saying “okay sorry” may have sounded snarky, I know there’s no need for anything else with him – I don’t need to tell him to call me when he has time or any of that nonsense. He will call or text when he can.
And that’s exactly what he did.
My phone rang an hour later.
He was incredibly stressed. He told me that the vacation we’re taking is compressing all the other stuff he has to do over the holidays. He has a long list from his ex Mary of stuff he’s supposed to do for their son (painting his new bedroom, etc). He has two film shoots before Christmas. He said he won’t be able to do as much of the “back and forth” running around over the next couple weeks (which means him coming over late at night and then having to leave early the next morning).
He was on his way to renew his passport which he needs for an overnight trip we plan to make prior to Christmas, as well as Jamaica. He had to print out a bunch of stuff but doesn’t have a printer at his place and is pissed his great printer at his former house.
Basically, he was grumpy. But he called me, which I really appreciated. He wasn’t retreating, he was reaching out for my support. I made all the right noises and offers to help. He said venting was helping and he appreciated my listening.
I went back to work.
I was surprised to see his name and face show up on my phone four hours later. He was in a much much better headspace and apologized for being crabby earlier in the day. He reminded me that he was with his son that time in the morning so sending texts made him anxious because he doesn’t like to respond when he’s with him. I have no issue with that at all.
He reiterated he wanted to spend the overnight with me the following weekend. He was happy to be charging through the stuff he needed to get done.
All in all, it was a good conversation and I was pleased I didn’t react negatively. The more I keep my mind open to his frame of reference, the calmer I am. I also believe we end up with better outcomes and the more he trusts me.