Diffusing Anger (Email from a Reader)

 

Sometimes, my readers will send me emails asking for help with a relationship issue they are having. I received this one recently and thought I’d share it with you guys here.

 

Dear Jodi,

My husband and I were planning a long weekend away from the kids for over a month. I even took Friday off work so we could really enjoy ourselves. Right as we were about to start packing, his buddy called and said he had tickets to the hockey game on Saturday night. My husband immediately told him how thrilled he’d be to go and then informed me we’d be postponing our trip. Needless to say, I was more than annoyed.Β  I freaked out, yelled at him, then didn’t speak to him all weekend. Things are still a little tense between us and it’s been over a week. What can I do? How could I have handled this differently?

Thanks,

Annoyed wife

 

Dear Annoyed Wife,

I’m pretty sure my first impulse would have been something that would have landed me in prison; I’m glad you didn’t go that route! In all sincerity though, it is completely understandable that you were upset. Typically, we get all excited and build up in our minds exactly how the weekend will go. Tons of romance and fun and sex and good food–all the stuff we dream about for a long weekend with the man. We excel at visualizing the perfect vacation. Then to have it dashed at the last-minute for a sporting event? My head would have exploded. But, as we all know, an exploding head is not only painful, but incredibly unhelpful when dealing with a situation like this. So what to do?

Since the jackass behavior of your husband happened last week, you can’t pull a Superman and spin the world backwards to zip back in time, but you can keep it from getting worse. While this may not be the easiest thing in the world to do, you need to talk to him about it and tell him why your feelings are hurt. But it is critical to do this in just the right way. No one knows your husband like you do, so tailor my suggestions to fit your own life, but here are some things to say and some to avoid in this conversation:

Do not say, no matter how desperately you want to:

  • YOU ASSHOLE! Why am I always last on your list of priorities?
  • You always ruin everything. Why do I even try?
  • Are your buddies that much more important to me?
  • How could you DO that to ME???

While those things are probably what you are thinking, they’ll put him on the defensive, which will then usually put him on the offensive too. That does not lead to a healthy resolution. Instead, let’s look at a more constructive way of communicating using healthy and helpful strategies.

A couple of things to keep in mind before you start. First, stay calm. I know I’m asking you to probably do the exact opposite of what you gut is telling you. I’d want to chuck a hammer at him. But men typically respond better to a concise, verbal bulleted list spoken in a calm, tear-free way. Next, take him somewhere private that is not the bedroom–that room is for sleep and frolicking only.

Then try a conversation that goes like this, even if it is physically painful to do so:

“Honey, I want us to get back on track. I don’t like the way it has felt between us for the last week. I want you to know that I was very excited to go on a long weekend trip with you. I was really looking forward to time alone, without the kids, where we could just lay around, eating, relaxing, having fun, making love (If he’s not listening to you yet, saying, “making love” will perk up his ears!). All week long I fantasized (another man-attention-getting-word) about what we’d do and what a great time we’d have. Β Taking off a day of work wasn’t easy, but I was happy to do it so we could have extra time together.

When your friend called and invited you to the hockey game and you decided that we weren’t going on our trip it hurt my feelings and made me feel like our time together didn’t matter to you–that us having some well-deserved time alone wasn’t important to you. As a result, I felt like I didn’t matter to you.

I just wanted you to know why I got so mad.”

Then let him talk. This may be the hardest part, but just be silent and see what he does. He’ll need to process what you’ve said. He’ll need, in all honesty, time to think of his excuse. Hopefully, his response will be one of understanding, but even if it’s not, you’ve said your peace in a responsible, adult, direct way.

At this point, especially if he doesn’t respond in the way you want him to, don’t beat a dead horse–you’ve said what needed to be said and repeating it over and over to try and make a point will just make his brain float off to La La Land. Give him time, it may take a day or two, to process what you’ve said. If it isn’t better at that point, you may want to briefly mention that you’d hoped the conversation you had the other day would have helped smooth everything between you–is there something he wants to discuss? Put the ball in his court as now it’s up to him to finish calming the waters.

To sum it all up, while our first reaction to a situation like this may be to scream and throw stuff at his head, that rarely solves anything. It may feel good to you in that moment, but learning how to communicate in a way that will work on him, in particular, will lead you to a much happier, healthier relationship. Then, if something similar happens in the future, he KNOWS exactly how you will feel and if he does it again, you have quite the leg to stand on in that situation, as it’s been previously addressed by you.

Good luck, Annoyed Wife. I hope he makes it up to you with a fabulous long weekend in the near future.

Take care!

16 comments on “Diffusing Anger (Email from a Reader)

    • No kidding, right? Where’s my cast iron skillet? I think I can hit him from here! πŸ˜‰ You make a very good point. It often works very well when you ask someone to walk a few steps in your shoes. You see the dawn of realization burst across their face and you can secretly think, “Nanny nanny boo boo. See what an ass you are??!!” πŸ˜‰

      Like

    • Lol, I can relate. I’ve been asked by a few people at work if I even bother to bring the filter between my brain and my mouth with me in the mornings. A few even started calling me Gordon Ramsey. Now everytime I lose it they say “uh oh, he’s about to go Gordon Ramsey on him again.”

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  1. That is a riot! No wonder we get along so well! “Gordon Ramsey!” What a riot! I figure as long as my filter-less mouth doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, that I’m good to go. I just never met a 4-letter word I didn’t like! πŸ˜‰

    Like

    • Chefs can be the worst! I used to be a waitress in high school and college and I learned more cuss words, and combinations thereof, then I’ve ever learned anywhere else. I love me a foul mouthed chef!

      Like

  2. Now you see? THIS ADVICE IS GOLD!!!! (And others wonder why I sing the praises of an “unknown author”.) IF everyone and any one were to read this blog when having an issue that is similar to the Annoyed Wife, There would be far less break ups and dramatic issues to come in any relationship.

    You certainly are the golden voice of reason, Jodi.

    I should bookmark this one as well.

    Like

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