I had a dream last night. Maybe it was one dream, maybe it was a couple dreams in sequence. Doesn’t matter, the subject was all the same. It went something like this:
There was a fire at our house. The first time, we were all guided out to safety by my husband. The second time we were again guided out by him. Then came the third fire. At that point, we weren’t in the house, and the kids weren’t around. My husband and I drove up to the house to find it fully engulfed in flames. As I looked around, I realized that I didn’t hear any sirens from fire trucks, no neighbors looking around. No one had noticed that our house was on fire. I frantically called 9-1-1, and begged for help. Even as I was on the phone with the dispatcher, I watched as my house collapsed to the foundation.
By morning, the neighbors and friends were out surveying the damage. Some brought shovels, I guess to help clean up. I was sitting a ways away watching, thinking “why are they trying to clean up? The fire inspector hasn’t been here yet. We don’t know the cause of the fire.” A friend came up to me and said, “haven’t you heard? There was accelerant all around the house. It was arson. When they realized there was an ex in the picture, they arrested them.”
For me, this dream was such an analogy for how I felt last night. Last night was an actual date night. We hadn’t had one in several months, and I was looking forward to spending some less intense time with my husband. We had a pleasant dinner at a newly opened restaurant featuring one of our favorite types of food (Mediterranean), browsed a couple book stores, and wandered in the outdoor portion of the local mall. Since we still don’t know this town very well and didn’t know a good place to sit outside to talk, we decided to drive around for a while to talk. It was during this time that my husband dropped a bomb in my lap and ran.
Okay, maybe not that bad, and the information he dropped on my wasn’t really the big issue to me at the time, it was more the way he said it and then acted afterwards. My husband didn’t date much before me, he says that he doesn’t remember many dates from high school, but his first year of college he had a very intense relationship that included sex. There was about a year between the end of his relationship with her and the start of our relationship, but I know that the memories of that time had an impact on him. For nearly the entire time that I’ve known him, he’s never wanted to hear her name, or even any references to her. Yes, as a woman insecure about her sexuality I have on a couple occasions asked how I compare (since I personally have no comparisons, but of course needed reassurances), and was always told there was no comparison. Since we’ve been discussing sex the last several nights in our conversation, I guess she was on his mind, so taking a deep breath, he said that he had something to tell me that he had never wanted to tell me, but felt that I needed to know. He admitted that he does compare me to her, and sometimes not very favorably, especially when we’re in a sexual drought. Apparently she was very eager to do whatever he wanted (I’ll really try not to make all the derogatory comments I usually have for her, but I always thought she latched on to him because she thought he would be her meal ticket out of her background), and when I was not as eager to please, apparently he would remember that she was much more willing.
Okay, this news itself is not surprising. I was somewhat hurt that he had held on to that all these years thinking that I couldn’t handle it. I mean, I’m no dummy. Of course there’s going to be mental comparisons. It’s human nature. We always try to compare a current experience to a previous one, even if it’s just a trip to the grocery store. What started my slow burn of anger was that after telling me this and having a minute or two of discussion about it, he asks “how do you feel?” and starts heading for home. He decided that he needed to get gas right then, rather than driving on for a little while to finish up the conversation. Of course, I sat and fumed all through the fill-up. I attempted to tell him how I was feeling on the short drive home, but didn’t feel as if I got anywhere. We came home feeling fairly disconnected.
We’ve been trying to use the question I mentioned in an earlier post about “what can I do to help you feel loved?”, and he asked that question as we were getting ready for bed. For my part, what I needed then was for him to ignore the clock that said it was past his bedtime and have a discussion that would put us back on firmer ground. But something else reared an ugly head – resentment over the fact that I’m still not comfortable getting undressed in front of him. Which led to some more heated discussion.
We finally made it to having a devotional together, which was on Proverbs 5. The instructions were to discuss what drew you together, highlights of your relationship. I was feeling entirely too raw by this point, and didn’t know how I would be able to actually participate in this particular activity. Because I was so raw, the next act, which normally would have been a very sweet gesture, became yet another salvo fired. My husband pulled up on his ipod the song that I walked down the aisle to at our wedding. It wasn’t the typical wedding march song, but an original composition of the musician at our wedding. Not a song that you typically hear playing over the speakers in the local store and can think “oh, they’re playing our song”. Hearing it usually is heart-melting to me, because I don’t hear it very much at all. But as I said, I was so raw, I couldn’t accept it for the reconciliation gesture that it seems to be looking back at it. More heated discussion followed, after which I stormed out of the bedroom and spent the night on the couch.
You’d think a night on the couch would soften me up, right? I’d be all ready to work things out and start fresh on the day? Then you don’t know how stubborn I am. Instead, I start the day angry that he didn’t come down to ask me to come back to our bed, I’m angry that he talks about how last night and this morning didn’t end up the way he expected them to, and I’m still holding on to resentment based on the dream I had.
So, back to the dream. It doesn’t take a trained psychoanalyst to interpret that one: the house is our marriage, the fire is the problems we’re having. No one is paying attention that we’re having problems, and we’re left to call for help on our own. The information about the ex just exacerbated issues. There’s probably more in there, but you get the point.
I don’t want this marriage to completely collapse. So it’s up to me to make sure my dream doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So hopefully I will make the choice today to let go of my resentment over the way things were handled last night, and chose to continue to work to rebuild.