Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Temper, Temper

Yesterday we were packing to go to a family wedding a long drive away. True to form, my beloved husband asked me all details of the plans (route, times, places) about 4 - 5 times. As we were loading the car this morning, he did it all again. At various times during the drive, you guessed it. It's in him, and it's going to come out.

I find these repeated reviews unhelpful. My first instinct would be a snarky retort, but I know that love means biting my tongue. If I just answer the litany of questions with good humor (and a little feigned interest) we move on to the next topic relaxed and casual. If I let my temper get the better of me, we all end up stressed and snippy.

Years ago I learned that if my husband came home tense and in a bad mood, my reaction made all the difference. Instead of taking offence, I decided to think about how hard my beloved husband works, the frustrations and stresses he deals with every day. I realized that he just needed a safe place to express all of this. With a few minutes of my responding to his agitation in a loving way, he would be telling me about things that happened at the office and thanking me for listening and understanding.

It works the other way too. Times when I have been annoyed at something and fussed about -- what? silly, trivial things ... he has responded to me with patience and tenderness. He knows me so well...knows that I was not really upset at him. He just listened while I let off steam until pretty soon we would be laughing together.

Some say that love is most rewarding in the early days of marriage.  (Then what?  It's all downhill?)  But I have good news for newlyweds:  in my experience, love gets better with the years.  In my case, after almost 23 years love is smoother and easier.  Beloved husband and I have continually striven over the years to anticipate and care for one another's emotional needs. With the passing days, months, and years we accumulate more and more instances of love and caring for one another until it has become our instinct to (mostly) respond to an angry word with a soothing gesture.

Love is a choice, a discipline, as much as anything else. It is a living, changing thing that we are continually creating. Keeping my temper doesn't come naturally to me -- I have to work hard at nurturing my loving relationship with my husband. I know how to value a husband who works just as hard.

When we wake up tomorrow, I know I'm going to hear, "What time is the wedding? Where is it? Do we have the directions? Is it casual or dressy? Is it...?" I'll try to answer with a smile as if it's the first time I've heard it all -- and I will not roll my eyes.


  1. My hubby would lose his mind if he did something annoying and I didn't react. Intersting post, made me think about how we compliment others (especially our spouses)...or not.

  2. Sole, maybe it's not about whether or not we react, but how we react. Whatever works ;)


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