Sometimes a couple can see the same situation entirely differently…
Mike was exhausted. Work was rotten. Traffic was crazy. He just wanted to get out of his work clothes, grab a cold drink and watch the video he rented last night.
Backing into the driveway, he could tell things weren’t going to go as he hoped. CRUNCH. He pulled forward and saw his daughter Kaytlan’s new two-wheeler.
He walked in the house and smelled dinner burning. Turning down the burner, he tried to act upbeat and not let his bad day show through.
“Are we eating Cajun or Creole tonight?” he joked. “Whatever it is, it looks blackened.”
“What’s wrong, now?” his wife asked entering the room.
“Nothing.” Mike said. “Dinner was burning. I turned the flame down for you. If it’s O.K. I’m going to change and take a shower before dinner.”
As he turned to leave he caught the look in Jennifer’s eye.
“What’s wrong?” he asked gently.
“Davy didn’t take a nap today and Kaytlan needs help with her homework,” she said. “You might want to think of your family before you think of yourself some night.”
“I just want to relax,” he said cracking open a can of Coke. “They’ll still be here when I’m done with my shower.”
“Just once could come home and help out around here?” Jennifer replied. “I’ve had a really tough day.”
“Me, too. Can I have just five minutes?” Mike asked.
“Mommy! Davy’s sticking Cheese Munchies in the VCR,” cried out Kaytlan.
Mike stood silent. He mourned as his lost video time.
“Don’t worry about it,” snapped Jennifer. “I’ll take care of it. You just worry about yourself! We’ll just pretend your not here.”
She slammed the TV room door. Mike walked upstairs to the bedroom and quietly closed out the frustrations of the day.
Jennifer had been running all day. Kaytlan overslept she had to drive her to school. Jennifer didn’t even have time for a shower, she just washed her hair and ran out. She couldn’t wait for Mike to come home from work and help her out…
CRUNCH. Uh oh. Did he hit Kaytlan’s new bike? Mike wasn’t paying attention again. He seemed so wrapped up with work lately. He’d even been ignoring the kids.
After tossing the rug in the wash, she hears Mike complaining in the kitchen.
“…Looks burnt,” she heard Mike say.
“What’s wrong?” she asked trying to act upbeat and not let her bad day show through.
“Nothing,” Mike said. “Dinner was burning. I had to turned the flame down for you. If it’s O.K with you, I’m going to change and take a shower before dinner.”
As he turned to leave he caught the look in Jennifer’s eye. “What’s your problem?” he said.
“Davy didn’t take a nap and Kaytlan needs help with her homework,” she said gently. “You might want to spend some time with them first.”
“I just want to relax,” he said spilling Coke on her newly washed floor. “They’d still be here when I’m done with my shower.”
He’s had his whole ride home to relax, she thinks.
“Could you help me out a little today? Just this once?” Jennifer pleaded. “It’s been a tough day.”
“And my day’s been easy? Can’t I come home and have some time to myself? All I want is five minutes.” Mike jabbed.
“Mommy! Davy’s sticking Cheese Munchies in the VCR,” called Kaytlan.
Mike stood brewing. Jennifer knew he was looking forward to seeing that video he rented last night. She felt badly for him.
“Don’t worry about it,” Jennifer comforted Mike. “I’ll take care of it. You just take care of yourself. Just pretend we’re not here.”
She closed the TV room door quietly behind her. Mike loudly marched up stairs to the bedroom and slammed the door.
In A Perfect World…
If you and your spouse write down how a quarrel looked to you after the anger has dissipated, chances are your transcripts will read like this. A good way to diffuse arguments can be to try seeing things from your partner’s point of view. The problem is that in the heat of the moment, it’s often hard to see things clearly.
Another solution is to recognize that conflict is part of relationship and not let an argument grow into resentment. And sometimes all it takes to understand your husband or wife is a little shift perspective.