I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of expecting people to read my mind. I honestly believe it is part of the reason I have found myself so desperately disappointed for so many years of my life. I know that sounds a little drastic, but it was a big truth for me. I have exhausted a lot of time and energy expecting things from people that they didn’t even know I expected, then being let down because they didn’t deliver. It’s unrealistic and quite unfair. I have done it with my family, my children and in my own marriage.
And I know I’m not alone.
Over the last few weeks, I have had a few conversations with some of my very best girlfriends about this subject. The age old womanism that is, “Why do I have to tell him? Shouldn’t he just know? Won’t telling him what I want take the romance and creativity out of it?”
Because I’ve read so many articles & books and watched so many television shows on the subject, and I’m totally qualified to do so…
Here is the stuff I’ve thrown against the wall that seems to be sticking.
1. I guess you don’t have to tell him. You can just go through the next fifty years of marriage doing what you are already doing and continue to be disappointed. By the way, how’s that been working out for you?
2. Do you just know what he wants? Do you read his mind? If so, awesome! Please, teach me your ways…
3. I don’t know. Romance is a super funny word. To me it’s the first cup of coffee. I love the way the first cup of coffee tastes. I get my feelings hurt if I don’t get the first cup of coffee. It’s better than flowers. Better than chocolate. Jeremy gave me the first, first cup of coffee because he was still trying to impress me, I’m sure, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is I told him I loved it and he’s been doing it for a lot of years. It still impresses me. I told him one year that I wanted flowers on my birthday, sent to work, so everyone would know how fabulous I was and how fabulous he was. Were the flowers any less beautiful? Appreciated? Romantic? I don’t know how everyone describes it but living in a world where my partner in crime listens to what I say, and responds in a way that makes me happy, is pretty romantic. So for me the answer is No. No, it doesn’t make it less beautiful. Less appreciated. Less romantic. Maybe I’ve got a lame idea of romance. I don’t think so, though. The other morning, Jeremy got up before I did. We had made a deal the night before. One that included, “Then I want to sleep in in the morning.” So, he got up. Did he want to? Probably not, I didn’t want him to want to get up, I just wanted him to get up. So he did. And on his way out, he turned on the exhaust fan in the bathroom so that the white noise would drown out the boys’ yelling. I thought that was pretty creative. If that’s lame, then, whatever. But, I also willingly gave up the first cup of coffee which he thought was worth it. If I’m wrong, if that’s not romance and I’m just really old and married, I’m okay with that. Seriously. Maybe there was a time where a different kind of romance is what I thought I wanted but tweaking my perception on the issue has made me really old and happily married which is something I can totally live with.
I think one of the very best lessons my mom tried to teach me, one I’m still trying to learn, is the idea that I am responsible for teaching people how to treat me. Part of it is the way I treat myself, and part of it often includes telling people what I want. And by “telling people what I want”, I have found that saying things like, “OMG! You never do anything romantic. Miss Blah Blah Blah got flowers at work the other day from her husband. How come you never buy me flowers? I want flowers. It would be nice if just once you bought me some freakin’ flowers” does NOT yield positive results in my world. When I use that approach with Jeremy, I instantly sound like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons…you know. You know the ones. And nothing romantic ever came from one of those conversations.
Since trying to make my thoughts louder just gave me a headache that the Gods of Starbucks couldn’t fix, I’m trying “Stop expecting people to read your mind” instead. I’m not always super good at it, but I’m working on it and that totally counts.