Honey and I recently started watching Parenthood. We’d heard about it before and for whatever reason had never tuned in. We checked out one episode and were immediately hooked. Fair warning: we are almost done with Season 2 so please no spoilers! Every episode I feel like it’s a snapshot into my life. Like for real. If I were to play the “What character are you?” game, I’d probably be Sarah. I constantly feel like I’m fumbling and before I met Honey that included with relationships and guys. Fumbling. All the time.
In the series the patriarch and matriarch of the Bravermen family, Zeek and Camille, struggle with some issues of infidelity and fight to find their way back to each other. The picture above is of Zeek serenading Camille as a means of convincing her that she needs to let him back in the house. It reminded me of Honey, who will often do something silly to win me over. It almost always works. On Parenthood Zeek and Camille start going to therapy to address their concerns. Zeek learns some strategies for effective communication with Camille. After she makes a request he needs to make eye contact and say “I hear you and I see you.”
Honey and I turned this phrase into a big joke in our house. We’d stare each other down and say “I hear you and I see you” like a creepy stalker. Until yesterday. Honey and I had a disagreement that went unmentioned for a few days. It festered for Honey until he couldn’t take it anymore and it all spilled out at 11 o’clock at night. We were able to resolve the issue but it boiled down to not feeling seen or heard. Both of us were operating on assumptions and expectations that the other person didn’t know or share.
Through my years in this the most successful-but none the less difficult-relationship I’ve ever had I’ve learned a thing or two about “fighting fair”. Actually, I’ve learned that the thing you’re fighting about isn’t usually the real issue, but more a symptom of it. For a long time Honey and I would fight about making the bed. Yup, you heard me, something as ridiculous as making the bed. You see, neither of us liked this task and we’d often do it together. Sometimes I’d take the lead and make the bed myself. The problem was that I expected Honey to repay the favor, and he didn’t. His take was that if we did it together neither one of us bare the burden.
Was the fight really about the bed? Nope. It was about not feeling appreciated and not wanting to have to tell Honey that I needed him to do nice things to help out sometimes too. For Honey is was about feeling like he was helping about because we were doing the task together. Essentially, I didn’t feel heard-even though I wasn’t actually saying anything and he didn’t either because he was saying how he felt, I just didn’t agree with him.
Our issue the other night did resolve itself, but like most things in a marriage it is a work in progress. I laughed with Honey that when we were dating I thought our relationship was so strong but it’s comical to think about all the holes there were in it, some of which we are years later still working to fix. Now, the more I reflect on it, I do think the one thing we as a couple struggle with is not feeling seen or heard. Just like Zeek and Camille. The writers of that show have it all figured out. It’s hard in a marriage with children to remember to take time to hear and see the other person. Hey, it’s hard in a marriage with two people WITHOUT kids. I think the point is to keep working at it. If all else fails look your partner in the eye and say “I hear you and I see you.” Even if all it does is make them laugh.