On Day 6, it coincided with the first day of my trip so I had left hubby behind but fortunately, the day’s challenge was something I could reflect on without effort/action.
Today’s challenge is: CHOOSE TO REACT TO TOUGH CIRCUMSTANCES IN YOUR MARRIAGE IN LOVING WAYS INSTEAD OF IRRITATION.
When I initially read this challenge, I reflected back to Day 1’s picnic basket incident. (I promise, it’s laughable now). While the circumstances were not tough, the underlying reaction I had has a deeper context. It wasn’t always like this that we were financially stable. We really had a lot of struggles financially – like everyone – living paycheck to paycheck. We were also young parents – 20 years old – barely getting our feet wet with real life issues. And, the picnic incident was a smaller semblance of times where things were far worse and arguments use to cry louder for far pettier things. Not star shining moments, but they were defining in our journey and characters as partners, parents, and individuals.
The picnic basket itself, was not the issue. It was the fact that my husband was telling me “I couldn’t or shouldn’t” buy anything because he found it pointless. That has been a deep seated issue with me, long before we met. For a long time, my upbringing was wedged in between being a first generation Hmong American and the expectations of how a young Hmong woman should behave. I was often told I shouldn’t or couldn’t by family and washing the dishes was where “my place” was (among many things told to me). Hearing my husband bar me from what I know I am capable of doing really triggered me. I make no excuse for my behavior but I share this as a reflection of my deeper self.
I felt I have worked hard for a lot of things in my life and a damn picnic basket shouldn’t be significant enough to be a point of contention. However, it was.
From my journal (separate from my blog):
This one seems a bit difficult to write about since there’s a lot of missing context. However, I guess, there’s always a willingness to try to do better in a lot of our personal relationships. We can always choose to be nice so that things don’t have to blow up. I know emotions can run high but you can choose to take a break and come back to discuss things civilly.
The most recent annoyance I can think of that didn’t end up in a messy mix of emotions was that my husband put me up for making something for a family dinner which he did not ask or inform me of. So, I make a pepper sauce that is ideal for just about any meal. I was informed there was a family dinner but I had no idea what any of the plans were or what was for dinner. I was clueless. By the time we were getting ready to go, I ask if we needed to stop by anywhere or bring anything. He says, “Pepper sauce. You’re going to make it.” and, I REALLY WAS ANNOYED! Like, how do you volunteer me to do something you did not communicate to me about, that takes at least 30 minutes to make, we don’t have ingredients for, and we’re supposed to be at dinner in 30 minutes (and the drive is 20 minutes from home)?!
I seriously HATE when he does this to me. Just drops it on me and I’m just supposed to magically make shit happen out of thin air. It really pissed me off because I’m a planner; I need to prepare myself for these things so we can get to where we need to with no resistance/backtracking.
You know, when he told me this, I was literally in the shower. So, as he casually told me I’m going to make the sauce, I sputter back how annoying it was that he volunteered me to do something that he said nothing about. He shoots back with, “Well, you’re going to be eating too.” (so I should be making something to contribute.)
Um, yea, HAD I HAD KNOWN ANYTHING, I WOULD HAVE PREPARED SOMETHING. I just thought it was super rude and inconsiderate to drop something on me without even telling me anything. So, before the conversation moved into a negative, I just tell him, “Enough.” He mutters something but with me being in the shower, I didn’t hear it. Lucky him.
Also, just an FYI, I made a mistake volunteering him to help my family – maybe once or twice, many years ago – and from what I recall, he was LIVID with me because apparently, I made no considerations to ask him (out of respect.) Cue the eyeroll. So, I never did that again. But for some reason, that same elementary lesson does not translate to him. I know I’m painting like it’s one sided, but this is how I recall the details. I understood the frustration and stopped. (Maybe, this goes on the “annoying list”? LOL).
So remember, Day 5’s comment about “assuming” to “know” your spouse – yes, this is one of those moments where it’s not a time to assume anything. Just because your spouse excused it once or twice, doesn’t mean that the same outcome will happen a third time. Hell, even the 30th time. Acting out of respect will usually draw a better outcome than expecting a (predictable) result simply because it’s happened the same other previous time.
Being that I was able to check myself in real time, helped me get over the situation pretty quickly. He ended up making the sauce and he had SOO much sass about it. Like a teenager who was told to stop playing their video games. When, I was done getting dressed, he was barely getting back from the grocery store and chopping away at the veggies. I could tell he was annoyed but I attempted to assist him with getting whatever else ready to go anyway; 1) making sure the kids were preparing their dogs for their kennel while we were gone – feed and bathroom breaks, 2) making sure the house was ready to shut down and leave asap once the sauce was made, and, 3) inquired if my hubby needed his jacket or keys set aside so it’s ready to go (this is where he had an attitude and made it a point to say, “I don’t need anything, I got it” – like as if, I was unneeded/unhelpful so why bother to help him. Well, then, if you don’t want my help or need me – why you mad about making the sauce?! LOL. You know what I mean?).
Truthfully, I shrugged it off. I figured he can go figure it out and mellow out to think about this situation or not – it doesn’t matter to me how this situation floated. All I know is, I’m not going to be volunteered for something I have no knowledge of. And it’s also not my responsibility to make up for the failure of his communication either. To be clear, I’m not trying to scapegoat on being a team player. The point is that we BOTH have to make things work and it stems from the smallest effort; the root of the matter was to take the approach of consideration/care of the other person. Which, in my opinion, he didn’t do.
I could have reneged and helped even though I was annoyed. But I chose not to. Simply, because I didn’t want to do it. Is this very “team player”-like? No, of course not. I could have jumped in to help even against his want but I didn’t. You have to take the cue and know when to stop. I mean, I wouldn’t want someone’s help after they shot down the opportunity to help. I don’t want the petty “I feel bad now, fine, I’ll help” attitude. It’s not genuine so, I think I read his cues the way I understood and let things be.
Also, I made it a choice to not take this issue personally. I let it go. He made the sauce – even though he was grumpy about it. We went to dinner. While at dinner, he initially had an attitude but later dropped it. He even extended to me a Truly and, as settled before, I take it as a truce and we move on. If anyone considers this a method of just “sweeping it under the rug” — there’s a lot that is missing for why this is simple for us to do. (I’ll have to break this into a separate post down the future.) Just know, we choose each other in the morning and at night and by knowing THIS MUCH is true, we will do the best thing for each other and for our family.
There are times to go to war and times to make peace. If you’ve only ever knew war – your only hope is to have peace. If you’ve only ever knew peace – it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t prepare for war.
So while the “pepper sauce” incident didn’t happen on Day 6, I leave it for context of handling a situation in the perspective of a more “loving” approach. Did I do a good job? Probably not 100%, but I do think my moment of love was pushing the BS aside and not let it become a wedge between us. Gotta keep focused on moving forward together, not taking steps back. Even WHEN you’re annoyed AF. LOL.
With that, I leave you some space to follow me into my next post. XOXO!
Ok! I’m getting there! LOL! I’m resuming the nightly writes and late night posts. Hang tight!