Friday, June 30, 2017

Learning about Marriage from a 14 Month Old

Margaret will be away from Andrew for almost a week. "I'm going to miss him sooooo much!" she said as we hugged goodbye. At 2 days in, he's already wandering around the house looking for her.

I'm glad this day has come, because it took a while for them to connect.

First, he was just so fragile and scream-y. Then he got cuter, but she was busy with school and sports. Their interactions were limited and brief. As I like to say, she reminded me of a Downton Abbey parent, content to have the baby paraded in once a day for a quick pat on the head and that was it. If you are guessing that she's Lady Mary and I'm the hard-working nanny in this scenario, you are correct.

Once she decided to pay more attention to him, however, it didn't go so well. She would swoop in after a long day at school and go in for a hug, to which he would fuss and give a straight-armed push right back. That would frustrate her, make her think he didn't like her, and she'd keep her distance.

Tim and I were talking about it one day, and this is what he said:

"She needs to let him interact with her on his terms. She can't just come in out of nowhere and expect him to react the way she wants to with a hug. They need to spend time together first. She needs to figure out what he likes and what interests him. If she'd get down on the floor and play with him more, he'd want to spend time with her and accept her affection."

I raised an eyebrow and said, "Does that sound at all familiar?"

The angels sang, and it all clicked for Tim.

If Tim shows up out of nowhere wanting to get frisky, when days or possibly weeks have gone by with little interaction between us, he might be greeted with a straight-arm, too. If he has shown no interest in what's going on in my life, or forgotten little niceties such as "How was your day?", a hand brushing against mine on the couch, or saying good night, going for the gusto seems jarring and discordant.

Like Margaret did, he may see physical affection as a way to connect, which it is, but if it isn't backed up with a relationship, it feels wrong. Likewise, when Margaret (or Tim) feels rebuffed, it makes them want to withdraw, and the cycle continues.

 Life is so fun!

The good news is that Margaret "got it" and started doing things Andrew likes, such as playing outside, looking for butterflies, reading books, and chasing him around the kitchen. She started spending time one-on-one with him, so he wasn't always running to Mommy or Daddy, and their relationship grew. Now, he's her biggest fan and vice versa.

As for Tim and me, we are still learning. I mean, it has only been 25 years, so why rush things?

11 comments:

Jennie Goutet said...

Touching and funny. Loved the D.A. analogy. :-) And you are spot on about the marriage advice!

KathleenM said...

23 years in here and we had the same conversation last week. ;)

Jena Whiston said...

Goodness, I miss Miss Mary!!! ;-)

Gigi said...

Yep, too many men don't seem to realize that very thing.

By the way, the background of your blog has gone haywire. It says, please update your account to enable third party hosting.

Anonymous said...

Love this post! I hope your next book will be about marriage.

KathyC said...

Wow! Spot on! You hit the nail on the head all the way around. As usual!

Janine Mohl said...

This is SO spot on for where I am right now.

Vickie said...

You are spot on with this analysis!! :)

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Great analogy!

Anonymous said...

Anna - I know what the problem is with the background on your blog.

"Late last month, Photobucket changed its policy so that if you want to host your photos there and post them to another website — your eBay seller page, or perhaps your blog or website — it’s going to cost you $400. People are pissed, saying it’s tantamount to holding their photos for ransom, a form of extortion."

Here's the link to the full article.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/katienotopoulos/photobucket-just-killed-a-chunk-of-internet-history?utm_term=.btzenPaMM#.ihyP3rnvv

GMG Knits said...

Going on 27 years here and so relevant to us now! Most assuredly, still navigating and learning here also.