The anger burned in me last night. I sat there depressed, rejected, and filled with regret. I call these moments “off-days” in marriage.
I was so excited for my husbands break from work. I always look forward to our weekends together. We had plans to do a pizza and movie night.
The day moved quickly. We had a museum play date then I had a bible study planned at my house. I squeezed a run in between the two, and ate hurried bites when I could throughout the day. I was definitely running on empty, but just wanted to squeeze in as much as I could.
Evening came and I was still in my running outfit, un-showered. I needed to run to the post office and thought I could also do a quick exchange at Kohl’s just in time to get home, shower, and get ready for movie night.
On the way out I nonchalantly asked my husband if I could leave my daughter with him to get a brief break. He said yea, then sighed out loud the kind of sigh you know means he doesn’t actually want to watch her while I was gone. I packed her and left, determined to get home as soon as possible to enjoy the evening. I looked forward to it all week.
Well, my daughter had a melt down at Kohl’s. She cried and arched her back and threw herself on the floor. A quick errand turned into a long, exhausting event. By the time I got home, I was so angry! I was secretly hoping my husband had dinner ready, but he didn’t. I was in such a poor mood. He noticed, immediately, and asked what was wrong. It went something like this:
Me: “Lilly had a meltdown in Kohls. I am gross and tired and need to shower.”
Him: “Well, why didn’t you leave her with me?”
Me: “Because you sighed like you didn’t want me to.”
Him: “I would have. You need to have better boundaries. What do you want for dinner?”
Me: “What?! You should have just happily offered to watch her! I don’t care anymore”.
Ridiculous, right? I spoiled an entire evening over my crappy attitude. I tried to do way to much instead of enjoying my day off with my husband. Instead of having boundaries and just asking him to watch her, I decided to people-please and do it all. Sure, he realized a few things he did poorly as well.
Well, we spent the next hour angry at one another and arguing over what to do for dinner. Sound familiar? We had a long talk. I apologized, and he did too. The evening turned out great. Thanks be to God!
Do you have “off” days in your relationship. One person says something off-handed, and everything goes downhill from there? It happens to everyone. Here are some strategies I have found help me over the years when I feel this begin to happen:
1. Get some space.
I usually go somewhere where I can breath deep, pray, and collect myself so I don’t say something I will regret.
2. Decide what really made me angry and communicate.
When I am ready to come back (I feel calm and able to communicate respectfully), I share exactly what hurt my feelings. I try and avoid using the words “always”, “never”, or “your fault”.
I also try to listen to my husbands needs. It isn’t easy. Sometimes I hear things that aren’t fair or right and I want to but in. This part is more for him than me. He needs to be heard, and sometimes as he is talking out loud he realizes where he is going wrong.
4. Make amends.
As I’ve learned through counseling and studying the bible, all conflict should have an end goal in mind: resolution. I need to long to resolve my conflicts with my husband and be in good standing with him. If I enter a conflict with this goal in mind, it will end much differently then if I enter it seething mad and trying to get my way.
What ideas do you have for conflict management?
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