A few days ago I was really upset with my husband. Upset enough that I went for a drive because I HAD to get out of the house. Upset enough to have a (very brief) fantasy about taking a friend on an adventure that would include a convertible and a young Brad Pitt in a cowboy hat. (If you don’t understand that reference, please don’t tell me. It will only make me feel old.)
And then when I got home there my sweet hubby was, was loading the dishwasher, completely concerned about me and wanting to help me feel better. It all melted away. I remembered why I love him and forgot, for a moment at least, why I was upset. I started to just let it go but then I realized that this was our old pattern…
get upset > feel better > pretend nothing happened > have the same argument in a few days/weeks/months.
Neither of us like conflict so it was an easy pattern for each of us to fall into. But it wasn’t conducive to a happy marriage, which is why we don’t do things that way anymore. We still get upset, we still eventually feel better but now instead of burying it only to rehash it later we talk about it, even if it’s uncomfortable, so we can learn from it. So, I sucked it up and calmly told him why I was upset. And to my complete and utter astonishment he had no idea what I was talking about.
I’d been feeling rejected and it turns out he simply wasn’t feeling well. I knew he wasn’t feeling well but hadn’t put it together that this was the reason he’d been quiet and (seemingly) withdrawn all week. I’d been tired due to some pretty serious insomnia so it was easy for me to misinterpret the signals. But that’s the point; isn’t it? It’s way too easy to focus on our own issues and feelings and not give our partner the benefit of the doubt.
When I got over myself and actually communicated how I was feeling we discovered that we’d both been guilty of this all week. We’d been unconsciously retreating from each other because we were misinterpreting the other’s actions. He was sick, I was tired and we were both cranky. It seems so simple and silly now but, if we hadn’t talked about it we might have harbored some feelings of resentment or rejection instead of figuring out that the real problem was that we had both been making it about ourselves instead of each other.
What a rookie mistake.