Small and petty relationship irritants usually are the roots to bigger issues…such as feeling blind-sided by a remark, not being listened to or having unwarranted or unreasonable demands expected of you.
Recently, a couple that I’ve worked with for some months shared with me a recent issue that they dealt with. She was upset that her husband hit her out of the blue (as they pulled into the driveway from church) with the declaration that in their many years of marriage, they are always late because of her tardiness…for everything!
Visibly upset and feeling caught off guard, the wife pointed out that she only takes an hour to get dressed. And that she felt that taking only an hour, for a woman, is very reasonable.
The husband then explained that she used an hour to put her clothes on. But at the hour mark, she then announces that she only has to brush her teeth which means her teeth, her hair and her make-up…another 30 minutes!
The wife had no argument. She knew that her husband was correct. So they let the conversation drop. But she tried to follow some of the suggestions that she received in our trainings and decided to figure out why he brought the issue up at this time. She realized that it was because he was late (maybe 3 – 5 minutes) for arrival time at church that morning. He had to sing on the men’s choir. It caused unnecessary stress and embarrassment for him. They both were scheduled to sing later at another church event. And he did not want a repeat of that morning. That’s where his seemingly out-of-the-blue comment came from.
She decided to try and do better. She tried to time herself that afternoon to be ready at the designated time to leave. However, when she pulled the slacks that she decided to wear out of the closet (five minutes prior to leaving), they were wrinkled! So, she ran downstairs, set up the ironing board, turned on the iron, ran back up stairs to get her purse and music in order to have everything needed in order to not have to go back up stairs once the pants were ironed. In doing so, she would be ready to go directly to the car.
And she did beat her husband to the car. He was two minutes past the agreed ‘ready’ time because he thought he had misplaced the car keys until his wife admitted that she moved the keys! She did so when she was running around like a person with their head cut off in order to buy herself a few more minutes in order not to be late…again!
They both laughed, he commended her for really listening to what he said, taking responsibility and trying to do better. And she agreed to continue to do better with her time management.
The wife got over her hurt feelings, they did not spend the rest of their afternoon in silence and he remembered one of the reasons why he married her…her humor! All of us in relationships have to learn how to search for the bigger issue. The process usually provides the best solution as to how you should act and react when small irritants, such as a blind-sided statement from a partner, arise in a relationship.