Just recently I had a revelation about dirty laundry (exciting stuff!)... I had had a tough morning, and on my return home to a workload larger than Ben Hur (right!) I looked to the fridge for the contents of my lunch, only to find well... contents of something, but not lunch. Being pregnant and perhaps slightly blinded by ravenous rage, I immediately jumped on the express train to blame and intolerance, instead of taking the tiny little lane way that leads to the kitchen of humble pie.
I had a quick conversation with my hubby on Skype - work related - but managed to throw in there something to do with lunch. Not only did I have the car that day, but he was also completely swamped with work and other personal commitments, yet I still managed to imagine that it was somehow his inconsiderate shortsightedness that had left me wound up in a hormonal ball of hunger pains.
Luckily I didn't express my full range of annoyance to him, but rather hinted at the fact that I was at home, with no time to spare (work coming out my ears) and no lunch. I think he got the hint and we both ended the conversation quite abruptly.
Clearly I had already missed my first opportunity to be graciously sane and, in suddenly realising this after the 'short' chat with hubby, I stopped to take a look at myself. Shock, horror! How could I be so irrational. Even though I didn't transfer my momentary frustration completely onto my husband, I still allowed my mind to slide down that slope way too quickly for my liking.
How could I have forgotten one of my most important mottos in life: Be slow to anger, quick to listen and slow to speak!
After discovering the child-likeness of my behaviour I wasn't going to let another opportunity to make the right decision slip past my fingers.
I then spent the next half an hour thinking through how I was feeling and putting checks in place. Yes I was hungry and yes I am pregnant and yes it is hard to prepare lunch when you are so busy with work! But my husband is not responsible for keeping the fridge stocked. We share that responsibility. And why didn't it ever occur to me that maybe he has no energy left from also being ridiculously busy to deal with something so trivial?
Suddenly I felt revelation come upon me. Most of our fights stir from something similar to this - misunderstandings due to misplaced feelings! If I can learn how to shift my process to be one with automatic checks in place before I come to any conclusions about fault, then I could save a lot of energy. My husband is one of those natural 'process' people - he always thinks before he speaks. He is brilliant at it, so much so that I feel almost mad at his ability to do that. However it has also taught me so much.
I love a good 'discussion'. I love to deal with things, get things out in the open, pick up the carpet to reveal the critters underneath and then blast them with a serious dose of the vacuum cleaner! My husband is sort of the opposite. He loves to keep the peace! Enough said.
But wait, I need to finish my point!
No one needs to see your dirty laundry, let alone wants to. Internal processes are so important. This is having the ability to swallow your pride and deal with something quietly even if you so badly want to react and make a song and dance about it. This is a huge achievement for me, as I have not always been the one to choose that 'deal with quietly' option.
Another way to look at it is to choose your battles. Is it worth talking about, or can you let it go? This is all great character building stuff! Trust me, I know it isn't easy. But choosing your battles wisely really does save you, and whoever you could have been in battle with, a world of pain.
My little lunch problem sounds so minor now, but we all have those moments where emotions rage and run wild for no real reason making everything seem a lot worse than it is (which is why reacting straight away is such a bad idea). PMS is no excuse! Neither is pregnancy!! Yes, it is OK to have a bad day, but to develop bad habits because we let our emotions get the better of us, is not OK.
I love my husband and want to be refreshing for him. He had a hard day that day too. Imagine the damage that could have surfaced if I had continued in my foul mood. He is worth more than that - he is worth the time and effort it takes to stop, put checks in place and deal with that dirty laundry in private.
Having said that, you shouldn't try to hide your true feelings from your partner - always be honest, but not reactive! Blame comes from a place of insecurity and pride. Dealing with that will help then give you a fresh mind to proceed to talk about how you are feeling. Sometimes all you need to say is "I am angry but give me time" so they understand you are processing something and can allow you the space you need. Transparency is most important, but so is the way you handle your emotions.
It isn't always the same with our friendships. We don't need to be as transparent, because it is a different level of love and interaction. But the same goes in terms of our internal processes! We ought to know where the line is. When do we share and when do we deal with it on our own? When do we choose to discuss an issue and when do we just let it go? These are very important questions to ask if we want healthy relationships.
So go do your own dirty laundry, and clean yourself out of all those old reactive ways. No one else will do it for you, and they shouldn't - it is your responsibility. Dirty laundry that just sits there ends up going mouldy, so don't let your deals fester for another second. If you do, you'll become septic and bitter, which can take much longer to deal with than if you just did what you had to in the first place. If you feel your emotions start to run riot, give yourself a time-out. Go for a walk and put checks in place. Figure out your dirty laundry plan now so you don't have to think too much about it when these moments arise.
Heids Xx Xx