Being unpleasant to the ones we love the most.

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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?



18 thoughts on “Being unpleasant to the ones we love the most.

  1. Of course you were overwhelmed. You just had a baby! Going out and performing three weeks later sounds difficult, tiring, and nerve-wracking. Luckily for us humans, there exists words and concepts such as, “I’m sorry” and “understanding” and “forgiveness.” When things have settled and you feel more in control, you just let him know that it wasn’t anything personal but you letting out a lot of tension on the one person who loves you unconditionally and therefore can take it and still be forgiving. I’m sure he realized it himself.

    Rest up!

  2. Of course not! So take it easy and don’t take too much upon yourself. Remember that you just gave birth and your body and emotions are probably a little out of whack. Nobody expects perfection.

  3. I think what you responded to SIR is the MOST important thing people in a marriage can do … don’t take your spouse, or any of his/her wonderful qualities, for granted. Your friend calling was a pause in the chaos and it “jerked” you back to reality, allowing you to regroup. Sometimes that’s all it takes. I’m sure your husband is well-aware of the guilt that comes over you when you fall short of your own (pretty high) standards. That’s why he stopped to get something to eat on the way home. He doesn’t want to take you for granted either. And I’d be willing to bet that he thinks you’re a pretty fantastic wife, too.

    It’s funny, I remember after you had Little Man, it took a few months to get back into your blogging. Now you have two children, and not only are back into blogging (really good, coherent posts, too!) within days of RLM’s birth, but you played in (and did a lot of coordinating for) a concert less than three weeks later. If you hadn’t flipped out at your husband, I would be worried you were a robot!

    What you proved is that you are human. A really amazing human, but only human, nonetheless.

    1. Aw, shucks. Thanks for the compliments. I’m glad that I’m not in danger of being a Stepford wife! As for the blogging, thanks to an *amazing* community, I’ve been getting dinners (made by my fantastic friends) since RLM was born, so that’s one less thing to worry about, and being up in the middle of the night nursing gives me time to think/write. As for the concert, we were performing at a school event, and we couldn’t get the date moved (which was understandable), so it was sink or swim!

  4. I just forwarded this post to my wife as I have the same problem. I think I am sometimes in my own world and when interrupted I often blow up (I refer to this as my “pepper pot” temper and I am constantly working on it).

    Other times I am overwhelmed with the questions my wife asks, or the stress she is experiencing over helping me take care of my aging parents, and I have to admit that I am not proud of my “screaming” at her. I know that I should do better, and I think that is a good thing, so I try to show that I still love her in spite of my behavior. I am so lucky to have my wife, and I recognize it every day–and I’ll continue to struggle with this and I will never be perfect, but she doesn’t deserve to have me yell at her regardless of the cirucmstances!

  5. I recently put myself on a therapy regimen to combat this exact problem. I could be all nice and social at work, and then I come home and put the baby to sleep and, after being woken during the night and getting up for work at 6:30, I realise how cranky and tired I am and feel like I can’t be nice any more (not consciously, I assure you). I saved about 100 articles about marriage onto my computer and each night I try to read one (they’re only 2 pages or so). It’s really forcing me to think about marriage and how I can approach it differently. Without being preachy, it’s helping me to stop and think before blowing up or snapping at my husband. It’s definitely worth the 10 minutes it takes to read each night.

  6. That’s such an important point! It is always easier to be friendly and nice to strangers than to close family…because you know your family will still love you back no matter what, while friends can get hurt quicker and they take it more personally.

    Family is always there for you but you should never take it for granted!

  7. Wow. This sounds exactly like me. Especially after having a baby!

    My poor husband gets the brunt of all my emotional outbursts, and lately they have been happening with alarming frequency. Still, he can usually remind me that I’m being an idiot (in a very nice way) and I can usually calm down. Or start crying. Whichever happens first.

    Take care of yourself. Caring for a newborn and a toddler is so exhausting.

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