I was at a stoplight yesterday, staring vacantly at the stationary line up of cars ahead of me, when I heard a woman yell "Get out of the flowers!" and then again louder and angrier "Get out of the flowers!" I looked out my side window and saw a mom gesturing vigorously at her little girl who was hopping wildly to get out of one of those corner gardens of lilies that the city of Guelph has planted around town. I watched her for a couple of minutes (it was a really long light) and suddenly it occurred to me... there were no flowers. The lilies were not out yet. There weren't even any little buds. There were just long, thin green leaves that looked very much like long grass.
The little girl was hopping around trying to get out of the 'flowers' but her mom's angry commands must have been confusing. She didn't know where to hop to get "out" since she didn't see a single flower. From the mom's perspective... she was disobediently trampling a garden of lilies but... well... the mom knew they were flowers because she's seen yellow lilies every July for many years. The little girl only had about three Julys under her belt... and for two of them she was probably in a stroller.
This sort of confusion happens all the time. From our perspective it all seems SO clear. We have told the other person with unmistakable directness not to 'step on flowers'. It is bewildering and exasperating that they then go ahead and do it. It feels personal and disrespectful because it does not seem possible that they do not see exactly how they are blatantly ignoring us. We get loud and angry. The other person hops around wildly wondering where to land that will be safe.
We often miss each other this way in our marriages and it is very sad. It is very sad to feel ignored and disregarded ...and it is very sad to experience making our partner so angry without fully understanding what we did 'wrong'. When this happens, we distance from each other in fear and distrust, and end up feeling lonely and disconnected. Feeling lonely and disconnected is precisely what we were trying to get away from when we got married in the first place. And so it is very sad.
If you find yourself in this sad, confusing place of either yelling angrily at your partner who ignores you... or ...hopping around trying to avoid stepping on invisible flowers... I would highly recommend marriage counselling. There are things you can do to understand one another more effectively.
E-mail me. I can help.