During the 70’s, growing up in a large Italian American family had some specific guidelines about interacting with the outside world. It was a different time.
Mother would say, “Listen here kids! When you walk out that front door, you are representing the entire family. You will look proper and act proper. You will not disrespect our name, and you will not embarrass me.”
And Dad would add, “Remember, believe half of what you see and none of what you hear. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. And never tell anyone what goes on behind closed doors.”
That was quite bit of pressure for a seven year old heading to the bus stop carrying a Star Wars lunchbox.
But in the family way, you embraced the feeling of belonging and loyalty.
Time for change
Now you’re all grown up. You have kids of your own. But you aren’t nearly as strict about rules in public.
You mostly attribute the change in expectations to your wife. It has nothing to do with her nationality or upbringing. Basically, she has a refreshing perspective on the development of children.
Since they were young, she encouraged the kids to be individualistic. She wanted to inspire unique personalities.
If your son picked two different colored socks, then go for it. And if your daughter disagreed with the teacher’s explanation of the origin of man, then she should voice her opinion.
Of course, you’d still fulfill your parental duties and remind them to not misbehave and act respectfully.
Some lessons die hard
But in terms of your own personal behavior, you’re still stuck back in time.
You could have had the worst day at work with hardly a good thing to say about anyone on the planet. But if the old lady from across the street grabs your attention when you pull in the driveway, you run over to her like she’s your grandma.
You’re physically exhausted, but she desperately needs that one tiny branch removed from her gutter. You’ll get your ladder immediately and perform the extraction with a smile on your face, and all the while jabber about the weather and her mechanical hip.
Then you’ll go inside to see your loving wife.
She’ll have a beer in hand all ready for you and be eagerly waiting to tell you about the awesome day she had. The project she’d been working on for months received high praise, and her boss said the funding will continue.
Flipping the switch
But just as your wife begins, “Honey, guess what…” You interject, “Hun, I’m beat…the delivery was late today…the contractors were impossible…and the inspector is putting a hold on the plumbing permit…I need some quiet time to decompress.”
And disappointingly, this type of reaction has become all too familiar.
If the following day was rotten as well, but your buddy happened to pull up to your house around the same time, you’d give him the same wonderful treatment as your neighbor. You’d lean up against the side door of his truck and talk everything from the price of copper to the football game.
But again, when you’d meet your wife inside, you would have the most miserable scowl on your face.
The last thing your wife wants to do is ask about your day, even if she desires to share hers. She’s stepped in that bear trap one too many times.
Your wife knows that it’s been ingrained in you to present an appearance of confidence and good nature outside the home. Image was a cornerstone of your youth.
And obviously, you still believe it’s imperative for people to think highly of you, basically getting their stamp of approval that you’re a marvelous man.
Also, she knows your job is extremely stressful.
But she wonders why you don’t see that the order of preferential treatment is backward. If you believe it’s necessary to make friends and neighbors feel special, why don’t you see that making your wife feel special should come first?
She daydreams of a time when you swept her off her feet. She loved how you’d always give her your undivided attention, making her feel most important. Now she’s losing her confidence.
How should she word her Callemonit to get him to understand her feelings are hurt? Will it change his personality? Is there an underlying problem here, possibly having to do with ego, excessive love of self? Have you ever had a similar Callemonit? Did it work?