I was brushing my teeth before bed, and my thoughts were stewing negative feelings deep inside me.
I had asked my husband to do something two days ago, and reminded him again of the less than 5 minute task earlier that day. He promised he’d do it that evening. Now here I was, almost in bed, and that task still wasn’t done. And on top of that, couldn’t he tell I was upset about it? The cool way I responded to him, no smile on my face, and disinterest in what he was saying?
I crawled into bed, and started thinking of the other things that upset me that I thought I had forgiven (or at least forgotten). And here he was, so cheerful and chatty as I was getting ready to sleep. It upset me even more. Why was he happy and I angry?
Noticing our contrasting moods, I took a moment to look back on my thoughts and behaviors. I realized it was unfair.
It wasn’t unfair that he was happy, it was unfair that I was judge and jury, accusing him and passing a verdict without giving him any representation. I was upset at him for not doing a simple task and even more upset that he didn’t recognize that I was upset at him. He had two strikes against him and he didn’t even know it! How fair is that?
I immediately felt some of my anger disappear. It’s not his job to always wonder if I’m upset. They are my emotions, and therefor it is my job to responsibly express them. He was acquitted of strike two immediately.
Now to address the first grievance. Calmly, and without finesse, I told him that I was upset at him for not completing the task. He seemed shocked that I had been angry at him the last half hour – he had not noticed. However, he did apologize, and set out to complete the task he had promised to do.
On his return I asked for him to forgive me. Although he may have forgotten to do something, I had intentionally let myself grow angry at him, rather than address it. He forgave me, and we went to sleep happy.
Relationship lesson takeaways from this story:
Own your emotions. If you are upset, then that is your problem, not your partner’s. It is your responsibility to address it and bring it up, not his or hers.
Do not play judge and jury in your mind. Talk about the transgression with your partner before passing judgement.
Notice the dichotomies. If your partner’s behavior is the opposite of yours, this is a red flag. Take a moment by yourself, and then with your partner, to find out why you’re feeling differently and address any problems.