AUTHOR: Sean Savage | POSTED: March 4, 2011 | COMMENTS: None Yet - Post a Comment
CATEGORIES: Daddy on The Fly, Love & Marriage, Pre-2/16 & Post-2/16, The Book, Tags: challenges, constant battle, education, Inconceivable, perspective, search for meaning
“Men are from Mars and Woman are from Venus.” They hit the nail on the head with that one.
“Carolyn and Sean , your book is the most beautiful love story I have ever read,” said a mom and reader who came up to us at a event we attended this past weekend. These words were indeed humbling and caused me to reflect more deeply on the dynamic between me and Carolyn on this journey. Our book is a real-life Mars and Venus story and by reading it, women can get a guy’s perspective on a pregnancy and its challenges, while men will receive important insight into a mother’s journey through a pregnancy and through a crisis. I have an entirely new understanding of Carolyn as a woman. I gained more understanding and respect for her as a mother, a woman and a spouse in the last two years than I did the entire fifteen years of our marriage up to that point. I can take little credit for my personal revelations as they were thrust upon me by that bombshell. However, our experience can surely turn into a learning experience for other couples as relationship challenges are navigated and each individual is seeking greater insight into the other’s viewpoint.
I used to struggle to understand what Carolyn was thinking as we approached a situation. I think she was equally perplexed with my thought process. Navigating the day to day of the pregnancy and being forced to analyze complex challenges and situations we had to either get on the same page or be driven completely apart. At times it seemed division would win, but in the end we opened up with each other and learned and better appreciated the each other’s perspective. Tolerance would take hold and respect won the day.
My approach to communicating with Carolyn for most of our marriage was from the assumption that she and I looked at things the same way. Clashes would come when I would be communicating a thought and Carolyn would receive it in a way that was not intended. We would then jump into our trenches and the fight would begin. Readers will see some of these in the book. Although we navigated a situation together, what we were thinking and our coping mechanisms were vastly different. For example, when I became overwhelmed with the complexity of the situation, I made lists and eventually established a binder organization system (which Carolyn pokes fun at in the book). While taking this approach helped me cope, Carolyn’s needs were more focused on understanding the other mother better and coming to terms with the emotional needs this process created. By eventually recognizing these differences and trying to meet each other’s needs, we individually could apply our strengths to collectively survive and ultimately make it to a better place, one of hope and in recognition of the gift of each other and the gift of this baby boy.
I used to tell Carolyn, “I know how you feel.” What a big mistake. This experience has taught me that there is no way I know how she feels. By recognizing this instead of jumping to any conclusions, I can ask the right questions and then listen. The best thing for me to do is be there and try to provide support and comfort. When we do anger each other–and it still happens to this day–we are better at avoiding escalation and not letting it go to an ugly place.
I do not have all the answers (just ask Carolyn). But this is an improvement because I used to communicate with her as if I did. Marriages and relationships are messy but in the end I think it is better to walk through life with a partner than alone.
Hopefully our story helps everyone in a relationship understand their partner a bit better. For me it took a crisis to be forced to “wake up and smell the coffee,” but for you I hope it can happen by learning from our experience. If so, Carolyn and I will be very pleased we shared.