emotions and honesty

I ask, Is it a Desi thing?

We are talking about direct & indirect communication:
passivity when dealing with emotions,
expectations from the other when dealing with emotions
When Imran and I first started having lengthy phone conversations, I realized something. Whenever he would get angry, he would hold in his offenses. Since then, we have had countless arguments about my inability to read minds and my insensitivity to his feelings. He would say: “I shouldn’t have to tell you each time I get offended, you should know me well enough and be able to tell.”
My first response:
What a load of —- something!

But, I must admit, many times (not all) he is able to detect subtle changes in my voice and instantly pinpoint the offense.
That makes him sound like a superhero….
“Able to detect offenses by a single syllable!”
But, I admit that he is better than I am.
I take someone for face value. I assume that it might not be me, maybe they are preoccupied or upset with something unrelated to this conversation.
So, if I hear a change vocally, I don’t assume that I have made the offense.
I’m not a mind reader!
Many times, I did not even know what I had done to offend him. When I finally found out: I spent the remainder of the time justifying why “this particular word, tone, etc” could not possibly be seen as offensive. All this did was invalidate his feelings and make me seem more insensitive. So, I decided to take a different approach. first, it was important for me to “hear” why he was offended or angry — no matter how trivial that I thought that it was. Be careful about this because, in the beginning, you can get inandated with offenses. But, then, slowly, he feels more secure that even when he does not like your tone or your word choice (Why can’t I think of those words now to give you an example) … … ” he is certain that you did not mean to offend him and his anger lessens. We are still not the same when it comes to issues involving feelings.
When I am angry, overjoyed, etc; I express it, process it and I am done. He holds it and lets it rheuminate. This makes it bigger than it originally was and sometimes, he can even forget why he was angry in the first place. If you forget; should you still be angry?

He is expressing more and I am not overwhelming him with every emotion. I am checking them first and expressing them with my girlfriends and if it is still important, I will let him know. Maybe it is just … …. male.
Maybe it is desi.
Maybe it is just him. I’m just posting in case anyone else has that experience.
Oh, and just a note: if, in fact, you have a kind of counseling/psychology background, be “very careful” because your partner will feel psychoanalyzed and even further incensed that you are telling him how to handle his feelings.
Oh, and I don’t do that:
“honey, what is wrong????” (for the tenth time) kind of thing, either.
I find it quite manipulative for someone to “try to get them out of their anger.”
But, from what I know, there is actually an Urdu word for this very thing:
Me: “cajole,”
him: “no, that is not quite it.”
me: “manipulate?”
him: “of course not.”
(ok, that did not go over well).
me: “convince, persuade, Appease ???” (why can’t I have a larger vocabulary)?
him: “there is no word in The American language and it is like that for many Urdu words, just accept it.”
So, there we go.
We have an Urdu word “Manana” that not only does it not translate in English, but the likely hood of me doing it is…. … nonexistant. I think that the closest translation is “Appease,” but he says that this still falls short of the real definition.
first, it does feel like manipulation for me.
And, second, there is not even a word for it in English.
But, I know that his sister asked me once:
“What would you do to get him out of his anger?”
me: “ummm… …
absolutely nothing, is that my job???? How about, let him sort it out himself and wait patiently until he wants to talk about it.”
Note: That was not the right answer.

But, I understand that he has a need (don’t we all) to know that his feelings are important.
Actually, I do find his feelings important and I don’t want him to be angry. Furthermore, I don’t want to be the source of that anger.
I might say something like:
“Hun, (and I never use “”HUN”” [just ask him] so this is hypothetical) I love you and want to talk about what is making you angry. I know that it is something. I don’t like to see you angry. But, I will wait until you feel comfortable talking about it or maybe you will just let it go. In any case, your feelings are important…. …”
That sounded quite scripted. The point is that I try to let him know that he and his feelings are important to me and I do care about them.
But, I’m not going to be manipulated into catoring to his every whim just because he is angry about … … who knows what.
Even when I know what he is angry about, I don’t like being manipulated like that.
Of course, he does not call it manipulation and Yes, I have thought about what this might mean in other circumstances.
But, he knows that I am committed to honesty and we respond to each other in this way.

Now, when I am upset, he takes it quite seriously. sometimes I am just trying to blow off steam, but he thinks that I am serious because of the level of my expression and intensity.
I have to say: “Please don’t take this seriously, I am not telling you because I want some kind of Action to take place. I just need to get this out and then we can talk civilized about it.”
I have to remind him: “this is not an action conversation…” (Yes, I actually say that [Just ask him]).
My compromise is that he hates me to raise my voice.
And — for all of you people who think that he is trying to be dominating and never have his Dil Rubah raise her voice —
he does not raise his voice at all.
Raising my voice is just part of my expression. Of course, he is less inclined to object when I am elated or excited(smile). But, I am doing my best to remain calm during discussions of disagreement or just when I am annoyed at something.
Small inflections and slight pauses in the voice register with him. That is because he is a “details man.”
And, I will admit that while sometimes, he hears things that are not there (Can I call him schizophrenic??) mostly, he does notice those small details, so in that vein, he wants me to notice them also and thinks that I am just too casual when I don’t.
I do try and talk to him and comfort him through his anger or hurt feelings. I just don’t like to play those games of:
“What is wrong,”
“no, really, what is wrong?”
“Oh, nothing.”
and so on.
I know that sometimes, it does take us a while to process through our anger. I understand these things.
But, both of us have learned to adapt to the other’s communication style.
It does not always work and sometimes one of us is quite stubborn.
Can you guess who?
All I can say is:
… … understanding in progress… …


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2 Responses to “emotions and honesty”

  1. Sara Says:

    A has been truly angry with me only a few times…and the first several times (if not every time), I only knew about it the day after when he told me. I get told to put my counselor voice away, too. (smile)

    • jamily5 Says:

      so, if Imran doesn’t talk at all: my counselor voice is rendered useless and he knows it! (smile)

      I still can’t stand that silent retreat. And, he does not like the casual “oh well,” attitude. So, we work on it.

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