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Old 04-13-2013, 04:55 PM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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Default Negotiation

Vix and I fell into a familiar sort of conflict, yesterday, but seem to have worked through it in record time.

It's the kind of conflict that, a few months ago, would have had me steaming and stewing for days, even weeks, but we got past it in a couple of hours.

First, some background. As I've reported here, Vix has been traveling a lot, leaving me with a lot of responsibilities at home involving the household and our daughters in addition to my work and community responsibilities. I've also reported that I've started to figure out how to manage her absences not just with resignation but with intention and with some measure of joy.

Well, some time ago, Vix agreed that I should have some opportunities to travel on my own for particular purposes. In past years, I've gone off to a music camp that has been especially fulfilling for me. I won't have a chance to do that, this year, because of other plans this summer. However, I'd settled on the plan of going by myself to a music and arts festival in October.

In the mean time, Vix is looking at the end of her opportunities to go to Europe, which is very important to her. (She spent part of her childhood in France, and feels very much at home on the Continent.) This is not do to recent changes in her relationship with Doc - changes which seem to be resolving themselves in the direction of a steadfast friendship - but because Doc will be moving back to the States.

October is really her last chance for a long visit in Europe, and there are a number of events she was planning to attend with Doc that month.

Now, we had been negotiating all of this, but perhaps without the focus and intention it needed. I never entered the music festival onto our shared calendar, and Vix was somewhat vague on when it was supposed to be. In the mean time, there were other complications in the Fall that needed negotiating, such that Vix's own plans changed several times.

The last I knew, though, she would be getting back from Europe some days before I was to leave for the festival.

Well, as I was finishing some work at home yesterday afternoon, Vix came into my office to tell me how excited she was that she could extend her stay in Europe a few more days to attend an especially choice event with Doc.

(I've written about some of this before, on other threads. These events are certainly a lot of fun for Vix, but they are also important for her development in an avocation she finds especially fulfilling. Also, as I've said, this may be her last chance for a very long time to attend such an event in Europe.)

I pointed out that the festival was that weekend, and suddenly we found ourselves back in the conflict we'd had some weeks ago, about which I wrote in yet another thread: What to do with the girls?

I have a strong sense of responsibility toward the girls. At least, I think it irresponsible to fob them off on friends while Vix and I go off and have fun. Knowing myself as I do, I know I wouldn't be able fully to enjoy the music festival - which is in the mountains, some hours from here by car, in a place that likely has spotty cell phone coverage, at best! - knowing the girls were back home with no other family around.

I am not willing to bend on this point, at least not for something that's really just fun, really just for my own enjoyment. If it were a business trip, that might be another matter.

So, we were at an impasse: it seemed I would have to deny Vix her last chance in Europe, or I would have to deny myself the chance to go to the music festival on my own.

My old bitterness and grumpiness came out and mixed with Vix's raw emotional state, this week of all weeks, when she's just trying to recover from recent developments with Doc.

Anyway, things were tense for an hour or two. Finally, after dinner, we had a chance to talk it out. I expressed how I was feeling about it, described what a struggle it was to hold these feelings at arms length so I could scrutinize them properly.

I was feeling basically disrespected. Vix clearly thinks my sense of responsibility toward the girls is irrational, almost pathological, and had told me so with some animus. She had even appealed to the girls themselves: even they would think I was being irrational.

That was a low blow, that was!

Anyway, we talked it out, examining the conversation itself and the raw feelings, apologizing for argumentative overreach where apology was called for.

I came around to a solution, which is imperfect but which at least doesn't leave one or both of us fundamentally aggrieved.

Vix will plan to stay in Europe that extra three days - a last hurrah - while I'll plan to take the girls with me to the festival. It's not what I was thinking it would be, but I can still get a lot out of the experience, and the girls will likely have a blast. We know many families who are likely to be there, so I'll likely be able to arrange a degree of independence while I'm there.

In the mean time, I'll be on the look-out for other opportunities I might want to take to get away on my own, and I'll be sure to stake my claim by getting them on our shared calendar right away.

As I say, I'm not entirely satisfied with this solution. Part of me still feels a little bit put-upon. Still, the fact that we worked through something of an implosion in about two hours is an accomplishment in itself.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 04-13-2013 at 07:52 PM.
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