Yesterday was a stressful day. I was scheduled to play in a concert in the evening, and before that happened, I needed to sterilize the breast pump, pump some milk for the baby, sterilize the bottles (they were still in the package), take a shower, get my instruments and music from the car, write and print out some music for the concert, fix up my hair and make myself presentable.
While this may not seem like a lot to do, take into account the toddler who needs to be fed and mommied, and the infant who needs to eat every two hours, and it becomes a bit overwhelming. Okay, a lot overwhelming.
Fortunately, my husband was only working until about noon (which meant he came home at 1:30).
Unfortunately, I was already on the way to certifiable at that time. He called on his way home to ask if I could make him noodles for lunch. Normally, this would be fine, but my counter was full of dirty fleishig dishes, and the only milchig pot I own was crusted with the remains of last week’s noodles with white sauce (yeah, you try to keep up with dishes three weeks after having a baby). The part of me which wants to be a “good wife” wanted to clean the pot and make noodles for my husband. The part of me which is realistic and was overwhelmed wanted to go “AAAAaarararggghhhhhhhhuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”
After hearing a response which was somewhat a mix of those two sentiments, my husband decided that it would be better to pick something up at the store.
When he came home, I was still feeling guilty about not making him lunch (though I did clean all the fleishig dishes, to my credit). I also hadn’t quite figured out the best schedule for the evening. When should I leave to make it to the sound check? How much in advance of the concert should I get there? My band sisters did tell me that I could show up when it worked for me, but I also wanted to get there in enough time to at least run through each song once. My brain was too cluttered to be able to make a cogent decision, so I hadn’t decided yet.
Hubby attempted to ask me how long I thought I would be gone. Me, in total overwhelmed and guilty mode, said that I hadn’t decided yet. He, in nervous-to-be-taking-care-of-both-the-kids-for-the-first-time-especially-since-the-baby-hadn’t-ever-taken-a-bottle-yet, asked me a couple more times, in slightly different ways, when I would be going and how long I would be gone and maybe I could take the baby with me at least until the concert started?
Enter crazy-flipped-out version of me.
It was too much, and I wasn’t able to maintain the most level head (haha understatement).
During my little freak-out session, a friend called. I was completely cordial to her, and even joked around pleasantly. All the while, my husband, who I had just been quite rude to, was siting maybe eight feet from me.
What is WITH that?
Why can I be pleasant to my friend on the phone when I’ve just been unpleasant to my husband three seconds before?
There’s some law in human interaction where the ones we love the most bear the brunt of our less ideal traits. My mother definitely gets to see the worst side of me (sorry, mom), and my husband is a close second. Thankfully, my friend calling jerked me back to reality and I realized that I was reacting because of my stress level. And that wasn’t how I wanted to interact with my husband.
You and your spouse are faced with constant choices about how you will speak and act with each other. Some choices will make you partners in fulfilling the blessings that you received at your wedding. Other choices will take you far away from those blessings. Hopefully, you and your spouse will make the wise choices that will make your life “an echo of the Garden of Eden.”
(From Rabbi Pliskin’s book “Marriage”, Chapter One, pp.21-2)
It’s hard for me to really accept that my behavior with my husband is my choice. True, I have certain triggers and am prone to certain reactions, depending on the situation. But it’s my responsibility to be aware of those triggers and reactions, and try to circumvent any, shall we say, unpleasant interactions.
Marriage can be either the source of life’s greatest joys… or the root of much misery, even tragedy.
There is a five-word formula that is the key to a joyous marriage. “Don’t cause pain, give pleasure.” Both with words and deeds, be careful not to cause your spouse needless pain. And do as much as you can to give your spouse pleasure. Your capacity for kindness is unlimited!
(From Rabbi Pliskin’s book “Marriage,” Chapter Two, p.123)
Yes! That’s more like it. However, it’s not always easy for me to remember this formula when I’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed or tired (which are, unfortunately, some of my main feelings in this crazy post-partum time). But it is so worth it. My husband is a fantastic husband, and I want to let him know this by my actions, not just by me telling him.
What are some ways that you let your loved ones know how much they mean to you?