My mom reminded me of a piece of advice I’d given her awhile back. Do not make any big decisions when you’re angry or agitated. That is not the time. Wait it out, then see what you think.
If you’re yelling at the driver who cut you off in traffic or rude to the grocery store clerk who didn’t get things right, that is misplaced anger. If you’re slamming the kitchen cupboards (what did those poor cupboards ever do to you?), then it’s time to stop and take a good look in the mirror to examine what it is that’s really upsetting you.
No Thank You
Feeling angry is usually when you want to give someone or something a big, “No Thank You!” A line has been crossed and you probably expect the other person to understand that. My guess is that they don’t. The reality is, you’re in the driver’s seat. You have to teach people how to treat you, even when you think it should be obvious (it’s not).
The Johnny Paycheck
Before you give your boss, roomate, spouse, or whomever a Johnny Paycheck (he recorded the tune, “Take This Job and Shove it!”), give yourself a timeout. Anger is a sign that you need to give yourself a bit more care; take a walk in nature, go get a massage, listen to your favorite music or watch a favorite movie. Give a minimum of 24 to 48 hours to sleep on the problem at hand, as hard as that may be. This pause will allow you to figure out a strategy that works best for you. Ask yourself what do you need to feel better? Maybe you need to ask that person for an apology. Maybe you need to tell your boss that you’re not going to be able to give overtime next week. Whatever it is, you deserve to take care of yourself. If everyone took responsibility for their emotions, we wouldn’t really have as many problems as we do.
Feeling anger is natural
If you drive a car, at some point you will get cut off in traffic. Grocery store clerks and waiters at restaurants won’t always get things right. Get to the real bottom of your anger, so that these little things won’t upset you anymore. Let’s choose to be adults and take responsibility for our emotions and well being. It may be a little painful and scary at first, but eventually, it will make your life much better.
Relationships are hard work. I don’t care what your economic, political, ethnic or gender background is, if you’re in a great marriage for the long haul, you will need to create some space and time for it. Here are the best pieces of advice we’ve used to help get us through the rough patches.
Ask yourself this…Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be married?
You cannot be both all of the time. If you want a healthy, long-lasting relationship, the answer is married. When things are heated and intense, let go of being right and choose marriage. This can be a day-by-day, hour-by-hour or even minute-by-minute decision.
Treat your spouse like you would like to be treated
This is very simple in theory, but often the most difficult. If you were in their shoes, would you like how you’re talking to or treating them right now? Think about it. We’re not talking rocket science here.
Visualize the detailed effects of what breaking up would look like
Do you have the means to fund separate households? Who gets which automobile? What about the pets? Someone will have to buy new sheets, bed and move all the stuff. That might be reason enough to try and work things out. If you have children, how will you split up parenting responsibilities? You will never see your kid every day again. Say goodbye to what your children eat, do, or who they hang out with when they are with the other parent (in worst cases, you may not even know where they are).
Men and women are wired differently and that’s okay. You might be facing a gender issue and not a ‘my spouse’ issue. Understand the difference.
Resolve to not bring up hot topics 30 minutes from entering/leaving your home and after 8pm at night
Everyone needs transition time from out in the world/to back at home, including kids. Give everyone 30 minutes before you start making demands. Save intense discussions for a weekend morning after breakfast or better yet, together in the bathtub- it’s hard to stay mad when you’re naked.
Don’t criticize or complain about your spouse, especially in front of others
Most of this requires just a bit of forethought for your future self. You might have to sit across a holiday table someday with the same people.
If you have children, do not undermine each others parenting
Discuss parenting issues and come to some form of agreement. Employ a unified front, otherwise children will play you like a fiddle.
Handle your respective extended families separately
I handle my extended family and MKISA handles his (this includes, visits, obligations, gifts, etc.). We discuss with each other first, then talk to extended family.
If you need a time out, take one
You recognize when you’re getting activated, so take a break. Go in another room, take a walk, or listen to calming music.
Are you hangry (angry because you’re hungry)?
When was the last time you ate? Go eat something nutritious and filling.
Get 8 hours of sleep a night
It’s pretty much impossible to feel good about yourself or others when you’re sleep deprived.
Recognize that this too shall pass
Just like anything in life, there are seasons to marriage.
Openly discuss your personal deal breakers
Know that if you cross that line, you aren’t ever going back to life as you know it. If you break up, it affects more than just YOU. It affects the children, extended family, friends, teachers, neighbors, coaches, and the list goes on.
Just pick one of these suggestions and try it for a week or two. Let me know how it goes. As I like to say around here, better is better!
What has worked well in your long term relationships? Please comment below so that everyone can learn from each other.