Learning to fight better, accept more, appreciate daily and stay in love with my husband

Posts tagged ‘argument’

My Pity Party In the Closet

Lately I have been standing center stage with the spotlight blinding me at my own pity party. There are only two people on the invite list, myself and my husband.  And my husband wishes he could just ignore the invite all together.  It is embarrassing to say, but it is true.

I am not sure what is up.  I just think that sometimes the stars align just right. They align in perfect order so that I can look at them and find everything wrong with the world.  Just in line to turn a normally positive and optimistic girl into a pessimistic stranger.

That is me.  The unrecognizable girl, laying in her husband’s lap in the closet, bawling for no real apparent reason, unable to pick herself up off the floor.

The stress of a bad business decision, unknown finances, an excess 10lbs that wasn’t there last year,  the undeniable stress of work and parenthood.  Stacking on top of each other all at once and, WHAM!  The once strong and happy woman of yesterday is the dark cloud of today.

I know that regardless of my list of excuses, sitting in the closet checking off all that is wrong is ridiculous.  In my moments of clarity I know that.   I know that I am quite capable of getting up off of the floor, dusting the carpet lint of my clothes and wiping the mascara smudges off my face.   In the heat of the moment though, I need to be reminded.

In comes husband, who provides his clothes as a snot rag, his lap as a pillow and his hands to move the hair out of my face.  Soothing and listening. Reminding me that I am better than this.

When I said, “I don’t know what to do.”  He replied, “Just start with what you do know.”   That simple statement stuck.  Start with what I know.

What did I know?  I knew I needed to get up off the floor.  I knew I needed a little time to myself and I knew I needed to move my body some so that I could start to feel good again.  That is all I knew, but it was enough.

I am still short-tempered and falling into tears easier than usual, but everyday is a new day.  I set new exercise goals, ones simple enough to do with minimal effort.  I cut some pages out of a magazine for inspiration and posted them on my closet wall where I can see them everyday.  I asked my husband to take over with children a couple of nights a week, so I can have some peace to think, I started writing in my daily accountability journal again.  Little steps that move me in the right direction.

Through all of this, there is one thing that I found easy gratitude for.  My marriage.  I am so grateful that husband and I have spent so much energy strengthening our marriage.  What would happen if our marriage was rocky on top of all of the stress that my meltdown has put on us?  It could be disastrous.

But, all of the work we have done has helped prepare us for times like these.  It has given us a real foundation that keeps us balanced when it feels everything else is going to crumble.  That foundation boosts me.  It gives me hope.  It reminds me that I have done something right. . . . .  A strong, loving, supportive, forgiving marriage.  That definitely has to count for something right?

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage:  Keep up the hard work.  It will pay off in ways you can’t imagine

photo credit: Evil Erin via photopin cc

Don’t Cry Over Loosing a Tooth

Sometimes life’s lessons come from the most unexpected places.  That was the case for me this week.

One lesson learned was at Panera, during one of my writing sessions.  In a place such as that it is hard to ignore what is being said at the table next to you.  I promise I wasn’t purposefully eavesdropping, but sometimes the ears just hone in on a conversation without really realizing it.

I don’t remember what the conversation was about, but I do remember the man at the table saying, “I’ve learned to lower my expectations.  It is much easier to go through life that way.”

I was stunned by the comment and felt an incredible sadness for the man and what he might have experienced in life that caused him to have such a defeating outlook.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t disagree more.

I couldn’t imagine having this attitude toward my life.  If I didn’t have high expectations, life certainly wouldn’t be as rewarding as it is.

In my marriage, I have very high expectations.  Do they get let down sometimes?  Absolutely! But because I expect so much, I work hard to achieve all that I hope for. Expectations and hope give me the drive to work at things to make them better.

All I could think was, I don’t ever want to be a person who sits in Panera and shares how low my expectations for life are.  Expectations are what drive us to greatness. I want greatness!

Another lesson came from my 9 year-old daughter.  She lost her second molar, in a week, a couple of days ago.  When she came out of the bathroom holding her tooth, this is how the conversation went.

Mom, “Wow, My baby girl is loosing all of her teeth.”

Girl, vehemently shakes her hear and says, “No, I don’t want to.”

Mom,” Why not?”

Girl,” Because I want to make it last.”

Mom, “What do you mean, you want to make it last?”

Girl,” I don’t want to grow up.”

Mom, “Well you still have several years left of being a kid.”

Girl,  in tears, ” I know, but this year I am going to be in double digits!”

She proceeded to tell me how she loved being a kid and didn’t want to be  a grown up, because kids get to do things that grown ups can’t do.

I was all choked up.  I couldn’t help but think, either I am doing an awesome job as a Mom because my daughter is enjoying her childhood so much, or I am doing a lousy job as an adult, because my daughter dreads the day it is her turn.  My guess is a little of both are true.

Being a Mom, naturally full of guilt, I couldn’t help but focus on the latter.  Do I portray adulthood as so bad?  Maybe.  She sees me constantly on the computer working. She sees my fatigue and short temper at the end of the day.  She sees me struggle to make time for play. She sees the endless  and dreaded chores.  She sees me trying to balance finances.  She hears me argue with her Daddy.

It is haunting to think about how she sees my life, a mirror as to how my husband and son see me.  How I see me.

I am far too often wrapped up in life that I forget I have two little admirers taking notes.  Showing struggle and resolution is important, but more important is showing the joy.  I feel it inside, but am certain I don’t express it as I should.

I want her to imagine the beauty of adulthood.  Falling in love, parenting, freedom.  I am certain that I don’t show the affection I feel toward my husband often enough in front of her.  Maybe if I did, she wouldn’t fear adulthood like she does.

It is quite apparent that I need to lighten up.  Stop making life so hard.  Show the joy and affection in my marriage so that my daughter can look forward to experiencing that for herself one day.   Express  and point out the joys in life, rather than just the struggles.

Maybe, I just looked too far to into it.  I mean, who doesn’t wish to still be a kid?  Free of worry and stress?  But, being an adult sure has its perks too!

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage:  Don’t forget you can learn a thing or two from strangers and 9 year olds.

Caution: Rough Road Ahead

Why is it that the learning never ends?  The second you think you have got it all figured out, Wham!!!!  Guess what? You don’t!

It would be so nice if the road of marriage was similar to driving on the highway.  At least on the highway there are endless signs to warn you and prepare you for what is to come.

Marriage, not so much.  How nice that would be!

These past couple of weeks I wish there had a been a sign to warn me. Caution: Rough Road Ahead!  At least then I could grip the steering wheel and brace myself.

Here is the problem; the second that I start to get a little cocky thinking, ” I’ve got this.  I have this all figured out,”   I am smacked over the head with the realization that, frankly, I have a lot to learn.

Here is what I mean.  I can’t say what where it started or what exactly happened, but things between hubby and I have  just been off these past couple of weeks.  We find ourselves bickering and arguing regularly.  We can’t seem to dig our way out of this little ditch that we are in where the smallest things set each other off. 

I feel like I am a child, regressing back to all of my old behaviors.    Trying desperately to remember all of the things that I learned last year about fighting better, taking accountability for my actions, being appreciative.  It seems all that flew right out the window.  “What is going on?”, I scream to myself while hubby and I are delving into the same  arguments that have haunted us for years.  Didn’t I learn how to deal with this better?  Aren’t I better than this person that keeps pointing the finger away from herself?  It certainly hasn’t felt like it.

I can’t say what triggered this little rough patch.  It seemed things were moving along smoothly, then one argument leads to another and before I know it I am a 4-year-old in an adult body.

Here is what I realize when I step away and force myself to get some perspective;  rough roads are just part of the deal.  “In good times and in bad.”  It is not the end of the world, as it feels in the heat of the moment.   

I see now that these rough patches are a test.  Can I rise above? Can I put into play all of the things that I have learned about maintaining a healthy marriage, or do I run and hide?  

I will not hide! 

So, our last big argument 2 days ago, turns heated.  Me yelling and stomping upstairs and forgetting I am a grown up.  I take a moment to breathe and think, “Come on.  Our marriage is better than this.”  And even though it is hard when I am upset, I take  a moment to think about everything that has been working for us in the past.  All of the tools that I have learned to fight better.  Be a good listener, be accountable  (no finger-pointing), show appreciation, be understanding of where he is coming from, don’t yell, remember that I love this person that makes me crazy.

I put these tools into play and painlessly, the argument dies with apologies, hugs and a feeling that everything is going to be okay.  

Things are not back to perfect yet, but I have spent a lot of time thinking and  have realized that a significant key to being in a healthy marriage is to always know that the “light is on the other side of the tunnel.”  I have seen it!  I know it is there.  I just need to hold on to the wheel.  Be cautious, proactive and  loving and we will get to the other side.

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage:  Rough roads are inevitable, but take the scenic route whenever possible.

He Will Never Change!

For as long as I can remember, my husband and I have had the same fights.  I mean, we fight about a lot of things, but there are two things that we always fight about.

Money and sex.  Do you fight about them too?

I am going to leave the sex argument for another time.  Today, let’s talk money.

Let’s first address our very different “money” backgrounds.

My husband grew up with his brother and his single mother.  His mom worked and struggled to make ends meet.  At one point, for a short time, they were on welfare.  He didn’t get new things. Didn’t have the toys the other kids have.  Christmas and birthdays were meager in gifts.  Money struggles were at the forefront of his life at a very young age. His grandfather, who was his father figure for much of his life, saved every penny.  This is no exaggeration. He literally saved everything.   When he died he had amassed over a million dollars in savings.  I had no idea he had that kind of money.  By the way he lived, I thought he had been struggling financially.  Quite the contrary.  He was rich, but chose to live poor and put it all in savings.

I, on the other hand, lived with both my parents.  They both had good jobs.  Money worries never crossed my mind when I was young.  We weren’t rich, but had all of our needs met.  I got new school clothes every year.  We went out for meals often.  We traveled and I always brought home souvenirs.  Christmas and Birthdays were full of gifts. When I wanted to go to the movies, I would ask my dad for money.  He would always give it to me.  I was spoiled, I suppose.  Not in a bratty way, but in a naive “I don’t know any better” kind of way.

Bring these two backgrounds together and look out!!!!  My husband doesn’t spend enough money and I spend too much.  At least this is how we see each other.

The truth is, as a couple we have never hurt financially.  We own businesses and work hard.  We have money in the bank and savings.  We get to travel and have a nice house.  We have never had a time where we didn’t have enough.  Regardless of that, we still fight about our funds.  My husband often acts like we are poor.   When I go out to lunch it makes him crazy.  When I bring in grocery bags he has a look like, “how much did you spend now,” which drives me crazy.  He is often in a panic, and I mean a real panic, over our money.  His worst fear is loosing it all, often to the point of lack of sleep and shortness of breath.  I am usually the logical one in our finances. Pointing out what is really the situation, not what is made up in my husbands head.   He knows that his fears are unfounded, but nonetheless we still fight and he still panics.

One day, last year, I’d had enough.  We were fighting about the fact that I was going to spend money on a gift for someone in the family.  I can’t remember who, but I do remember it was going to be about $40.00.  All he had to do was get that look on his face, and I was in tears.  Really? Were we going to fight about a family gift? One that I had cash for, that is a very reasonable amount? Really? Again?

I remember thinking, “I can’t keep doing this.  Why can’t he just change?  Be more like me?”

I got up and stomped away to the bathroom in tears.  As I was taking a shower, I had an epiphany.  A real, true epiphany.  Here is what occurred to me in a very matter of fact realization.   He is never going to change.

I was either going to have to live with him as he was, or give up. Giving up was out of the question.

He has always been the same man with the same fears, that clearly stem from his upbringing.  He was never going to change.  I realized that I had, unknowingly, been the cliché wife “hoping” her husband would change.  How silly I was being?  How unfair to him!

After my shower, I went back into the room and gently told him what I had realized.  That he is who he is and that I love him for who he is.  I said that I understand why he worries and that I know that his fear over loosing money is why we have such a nice life.   It is because of him and I am grateful for that.

Acceptance.  It is a key part of marriage, I have learned.

After this epiphany, our fights about money have diminished significantly.  I have taken a completely different approach to fighting.  I go to a place of understanding and acceptance.  Does it mean that he is always right?  No Way!  Does it mean I just give up the fight?  Absolutely not!  What it means is, instead of saying, “Why do you have to be that way. Why can’t you change?”  I try to say, “I understand that you are worried that we will lose our money.  I understand how important savings is to you.”    As much as I don’t like it, it is a part of who he is that will not change.     If I can accept my husband for who he is, truly understand why he feels the way he does, then I can fight better.  I can come from a place of understanding rather than blame and anger.

Guess what?  When I do, he feels heard and understood and not  as defensive.  He feels more apt to compromise on an issue.  Wow!!!

Am I perfect at my new method?  Of course not.  I slip up often.  But, somewhere along the path of an argument, I find my way back.  I remember that I love my husband with all my heart.  That he is a good man, just trying to look out for the best interests of his family.  That he wants to be heard and understood and valued, just as I do.  That we can work this out.  And we do.

Tammy