Over the last year or so, I have been at a loss to explain why our flr will skate along smoothly for weeks, even months at a time and then, all of a sudden my Knight will start acting like a rebellious teenager. He'll start "forgetting" things, do things half-way, become mildly disrespectful, stop listening and then tell me "well.. I though you wanted..... " and stop talking to me about anything of any importance. What usually happens is that I talk to him about what's going on, he makes excuses about being busy at work or something equally lame. I'll start handing down penalties for not complying with my wishes. He ignores or otherwise blows off the penalties. And we're caught in a circle. At some point (and that point comes sooner and sooner as I become more comfortable with flr) I get super-firm and tell him I have had enough of his b.s.. I not so nicely remind him that he has absolutely no choice in the matter. He is to do exactly as I tell him. By this point, I'm frustrated with him, and more than a little angry with him for putting me in the position of having to hand down real discipline. When my Knight realizes that I really am angry with him, the whole issue dissolves away. He becomes my sweet Knight again and starts doing as I ask, thinking ahead to evaluate what I or the kids might need at any given time. He starts completing his daily chores without reminders again, and just generally doing what is expected of him. But it takes me blowing up and getting truly angry with him to get back on track.
That same scenario replayed itself over the course of our recent move. By the time we were actually moved I was so angry with my Knight that I could barley speak to him without yelling at him. Everything I asked of my Knight while we were moving things was done half-assed. Including loading the darn truck. I was having a mild MS flare and did not have the balance to walk on the truck ramp, so I carried things as I could to the porch for my Knight and daughters to load. My Knight just kind of tossed things on the truck without much organization. That single action caused us to have to make several extra trips with our van, and cost us a good amount of money in extra gas costs. There was one day where he actually yelled at me for pointing out that I had asked him to do X and he had done Z instead. That, btw, is so completely out of character for my Knight that I stood there for several minutes, simply stunned. I think that was the first time in 7 years he has ever raised his voice to me. And yet.. my Knight kept insisting everything was fine. Yeah. right.
I tried talking to him. My Knight kept insisting that everything was fine, and that he was doing his best. I know my Knight. I know what "his best" looks like, and what I was seeing was not even close. I ended up doing most of the packing and moving myself because my Knight was messing up so much.
Yes, moving is stressful.... but ...come on.
After we got everything moved over to the new house I gave him a couple days to adjust, and tried to talk to him again. All I got was that he didn't want to argue and that he hates it when I'm upset with him. But, no real explanation for his behavior. I told him that I was beyond fed up and that if he did not start following directions and giving accurate information, he would find himself sleeping on the couch for a month.
And then, last night it hit me. I was lying in bed, looking for patterns in these lapses he had and it hit me. Every single time he has started being passive aggressive one of two things have been going on. Either 1. we have been super-busy and had minimal time together, or 2. things had become routine. So.. what do those two things have in common?
My time and attention.
If we are super busy then I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to "leading". It's at those times when my Knight is expected to do what I ask of him with minimal discussion, and minimal direction. When we fall into a solid routine, my Knight does not need constant direction.
Reading through that, it kind of makes my Knight sound super-needy. He is not. But, he is really bad about recognizing and expressing his needs. He learned from his ex that even having needs was cause for all hell breaking loose. Over 15 years of marriage to that woman taught him never to express his own needs, and not to even acknowledge that he had needs at all. Bad things happened when he mentioned his needs. Sure, she's long gone. He and I have been together for 8 years. But conditioning is hard to break, especially when a person doesn't want to see they have been conditions. My Knight used to insist that his ex's behavior had little long term effect on him. But, I can see otherwise.
When I realized the commonality between all these events, I woke up my Knight. We talked about how he reacts when he feels he's not getting enough of my attention. While he didn't acknowledge that he's been feeling ignored, he didn't tell me I was wrong, either. I reminded him that total and complete honesty is the number one rule between us, and that I want to know how he feels and what he needs. Then I pointed out that under our flr it's my responsibility to decide what he gets, when, and how his needs get met.. but that it's HIS responsibility to be honest with me about what those needs are. I can't give him what he needs if he won't communicate with me. Hiding his needs from me is counter productive to our flr, our marriage, and life in general. I went as far as pointing out that it was a survival technique he picked up when he was with his ex and it was not working for him anymore. And.. he has not needed it since we got together. It was a good discussion.. one that I've tried to have with my Knight many times. But, for some reason... THIS time he seemed to hear me. It seemed to sink in.