Friday, 13 July 2012

Confessions of a Newlywed: Avoid Always and Never

I'm not sure if our generation ever cooks with a pressure cooker. I don't even own one, and I don't know anyone who does. I have memories of my Mom cooking with one though, and remember the warnings we were given as children. We were NOT to touch the cooker. Even though the jiggling top was so tempting. If you mess with a pressure cooker it can quite literally explode all over your kitchen.

I think you see where I'm going with this, no?

Don't let the little things build up to a big thing that eventually blows up in both your faces. It was explained to me as the "toothpaste cap syndrome" It bugs you that he doesn't put the cap back on his toothpaste, but you don't want to be a nag, so you don't say anything. Day in, and day out, no cap. The more crusty the toothpaste tube gets, the more prickly you feel about it. If you want to take a look at my last post I talk about not letting the little things bug you. Sometimes that just won't fly, and sometimes they don't really feel like little things, so now I want to address how to handle the flip side. That cap bugs you, and you can't seem to will it away. What now?

Can I be quite honest with you? When I first wrote this post, I continued on with the hypothetical toothpaste senario, and then based the rest of my post off of that. Problem with that is that it felt a little dishonest because I wrote it with the unspoken assumption that Chris and I already had this figured out- that we have learned this and that and so we never have problems in this area.

Part of that is true. We have learned this and that, and I believe our relationship is stronger for it, but sometimes we still slip. Case and point- last week Sunday evening. We were having a nice day, and it came time to make dinner. It was one of those days where you really don't feel like putting any effort into cooking. A Kraft dinner day. Except that we stopped buying Kraft dinner 7 months ago (oh how I miss it sometimes!!) So what do you make when you want to put in minimal effort and have minimal ingredients in your fridge because grocery shopping day isn't until tomorrow? Butter, flour, milk, garlic, pepper and Romano cheese. Ingredients that we always have. Hello Alfredo sauce!

So things are goin' good. I'm whipping up one of our favorite things. Ooh, look at me. I'm so domestic.

My alfredo sauce doesn't normally have tears in it, however an exception was made. Right in the middle of whisking Chris said something that hurt my feelings- and it was something that has gotten under my skin a few times before without me mentioning it, and so it stung twice as much. A tearful conversation ensued;

"You ALWAYS do that!" *she said accusingly

"Always? What do you mean always? You've never said that bothers you before." *said the poor bewildered husband

"Well it DOES."

First mistake. The word always.

Here's the problem with always (and while we're at it, never) To say "You always ____ and it hurts my feelings" is an unfair argument because your emotions are higher because you have had ____ happen over and over, allowing it to hurt you more each time. On a scale of 1 to 10 if you had brought it up the first or second time it happened, you might have been sitting at a 4 or 5 on the hurt-o-meter. Now that it has happened multiple times, cutting deeper each time you're sitting at a full blown 10. Hurt, and maybe even a little angry that your spouse has disregarded your feelings this long. (Even though the poor guy didn't know it!)

Problem is, if your spouse had no idea that they were hurting you (remember, his emotions are not the same as yours) then it isn't fair to hold them accountable for the X amount of times this happened.

The word never can be just as dangerous because it is another absolute. For example, to say "You never ____ and I wish you would" yet again implies that the responsibility is on the other person, when in fact you should have told them that you want and/or need them to do such a thing a long time ago. Bottom line is that if you get to the point of saying never, this conversation should have happened way before now.

Discuss the here and now. Don't use the past as ammo for a bigger and better argument. It's true that you may have to explain that the reason why you are SO upset is because you have been hurt by this multiple times, but if that is the case- do so with humility. Accept the fact that your emotions are your own responsibility, and you could have prevented them from getting out of control. I have had to apologize for this myself- not only recently, but earlier on in our marriage as well- and let me tell you it's humbling and sobering to tell your husband you are mad, but part of that is your own fault. So worth it though, because it disarms the moment, and instead of one person being right, and the other wrong, suddenly you are on the same playing field. Suddenly, instead of pointing fingers (which can feel oddly satisfying) you are instead having a mature discussion.

You're going to have to allow yourself a little room for error here. Even though you can know these things, sometimes your emotions can get the better of you. It feels frustrating- I don't like to have to learn a lesson more than once. Thankfully my husband has unending grace for me. A beautiful reminder of how Christ loves his bride, the church.

Let's all learn from the pressure cooker. If used properly, and the steam is able to vent from time to time, you won't find that pot of potatoes on your ceiling. Sure, the steam is hot and you can potentially be hurt by it, but it beats being covered in a potentially dangerous, big sloppy mess.

This post was the seventh installment of a new series Confessions of a Newlywed. I hope you'll track along with me, as well as some guest posts as we explore the topic of marriage.

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Thanks for stopping by :)


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