#scintilla: relationship challenge: I think it's me.

What's the story of the most difficult challenge you've faced in a relationship? Did you overcome it? What was the outcome?

When I first saw this prompt, I did not think it would be the one I answered. I love music so much and was drawn instantly to the prompt about memory and songs. But part of the reason I wanted to participate in #scintilla was to push myself and my writing. So, here goes:

The most difficult challenge, in my opinion, of any relationship (friendship, familial, romantic) is the challenge of having your needs met, meeting others' needs and the tension between the two. I am still learning this. 

A few nights ago, I was already stressed out from getting back from Spring Break, needing to get laundry, cooking, and a presentation for a national conference completed. I devoted Sunday to prepping for Monday's class and working on my presentation, but I also ended up doing laundry and making dinner (heating pizza rolls on the Pizza Pizazz). M was playing a computer game. I should have asked her to help me; instead I angrily resented the fact that in my mind, "I was doing everything." Now, normally, M never has a day to do whatever she wants and I get these days pretty often, though not in a while because we've been insanely busy. She needs and deserves those kinds of days. But I couldn't think of that because I was already in a bad mood. So, I held on to how annoyed I was until it erupted into a stupid argument of a light load of clothes not being washed. 

This is common in relationships. The hurt feelings, the digs at one another, the silent bitterness, all of it is common and all of it can be avoided. Arguments over laundry are never just arguments over laundry, their about needs not being met. 

M understood I was doing the laundry on Sunday because I was collecting clothes from the bedroom, asking questions about what needed washing. She thought I would do what I normally do and divide the lighter clothes, maybe even do two dark loads because we'd been gone a week. She was operating under expectations of what normally happens. But I was tired and cranky and stressed out and so I just threw everything in together. Everything except her work pants. She noticed them at 11:30 when we've stayed up too late, anyway. M's need of having clean laundry and something to wear to work were not met. She pointed this out, "Oh, you didn't do a light load?"

And I get defensive and unleash my resentment. Because my needs of recognition for what I do, how I handle and try to take care of things because she works so much, were unmet. And they were unmet because I didn't ask in a calm and easy way for help.

Pretty unfair. 

So, no, I haven't figured out how to not be a cranky mess when I'm a cranky mess or how not to make that the problem of the person I love and live with. I can be agressive-passive and passive-agressive, and completely selfish. The biggest challenge of my relationship is often me. 

Because we love one another, we move on. Yesterday, I apologize for being so terrible on Sunday, for not explaining what I needed at the time. She nods and understands and says she appreciates the things I do that she doesn't have to think of. 

Last night, I want her to help me with the garbage. I know it's silly because two people do not need to take out the garbage, but it is dark and rainy and I'm a little afraid that something is going to jump out of the garbage can. 

I say, "I know it's silly, but can you help me with the garbage."

She turns on the garage light and stands far away from the can as I kick it before taking off the lid. She teases me when I jump away as the impact of the bag causes loose paper to fly out. I laugh and replace the lid and roll the can to the street. 

It was silly but I needed her and she was there because I asked her to be. 

Little by little, I'm learning. We both are and we've been together 7 years.