Written by Joseph. Joseph is a first-time Jewrotica writer.
No, it wasn’t a pregnancy scare. For me, the most intimate and positive time in my marriage is when my wife has her period. I’d like to say “we have our period” in the same way that we say “when we were pregnant,” but in truth, this is something that I know far less about and have less of a capacity to participate in… or do I?
Generally, I feel that we all walk through the world tolerating things. We fight to constantly be in control, forcing ourselves to be alright with things we’re truly not okay with. Maybe in the grand scheme they’re small things, such as being distracted by an email when you had the opportunity to have eye contact with your partner. Maybe it’s a boss who is cruel or inappropriate; maybe it’s something much, much worse.
Many years ago, a psychologist named Ray Baumeister researched this phenomenon, and came up with the term ‘ego depletion.’ When you exert control over yourself to be alright with something you’re truly not okay with, you have to dig into a reserve to do it. Those reserves are in short supply, especially when they’re already tapped due to other stresses, fatigue, or discomfort. The more they pile on or the longer they last, the weaker we get. Trying to be okay in frustrating and painful situations becomes harder and harder.
It can be as simple as not eating a chocolate chip cookie, or as complicated as trying to keep a smile on your face when you’re exceptionally uncomfortable – when people around you (yes, especially men) are ready to pounce on anything you do and attribute it to hormonal factors. I can’t imagine what it would be like in that place – to be in pain, ridiculed, and ultimately dismissed – because instead of seeing a person, some people only see hormones and think nothing of dismissing anything said.
So, for us, while I wouldn’t call it a celebration, I look forward to the times we have a period because I find it’s always a great starting point for the next several weeks. How are you doing? How are we doing? Are you getting what you need from me? Are you happy? Have I hurt you without realizing it? What can I do better? Those are questions that should be asked often, but they’re usually as hard to ask as they are to answer.
Ultimately, those times when we’re most vulnerable and least able to keep things inside seem like the best times to stop and talk, be together, dream about the future, and better shape our days ahead to help us realize those dreams. I’ve learned some of the most profound (and painful to hear) truths about myself in those moments, and I feel like a far better person for having heard them and for continually trying to learn from them.
I’ll never be anywhere close to perfect – and in that moment when the phone rings right before I walk out the door, I hope I’ll learn a lesson of the truths I heard in those times. If I have to, I’ll answer the phone and ask if I can return the call in a few minutes. I’ll take that time instead to look in my wife’s eyes, after our children are off to day-school, and remember why we’re doing all this stuff, and how much I love her. Hopefully I’ll be able to communicate that in the moment, so we can both do the things we have to do during the day, feeling better connected and happier.
While we’ll always move through this dance of change and growth, I’m blessed to be married to such an amazing woman. I’ll have tough days and be in pain too. I hope I will be as strong as she is in those most vulnerable moments, not just with what’s wrong in that moment, but be honest with myself about what I need to be happier. And, when she is in those moments herself, I hope I’ll have the strength to ask, listen, and learn – and grow to be a better man.