Tonight my wife and I met some really good friends for dinner. It was great to catch up with them. We live in a sort of rural area for now, and most of our friends who are still nearby live in a neighboring city. So we traveled there to meet up.
The restaurant is surrounded by honor box parking, but since it’s residential too, sometimes you can find a free spot. We drove around for a very short while, but my wife’s patience was wearing thin. She HATES searching for parking. Always has. And her mood changed quickly because of having to search a bit.
After another turn around the block, we found a free spot and headed toward the restaurant. I could tell without her even saying a word she was pissy. I made a mental note to just go it alone the next time I met up with these friends because she made me feel like she didn’t want to be there. I could have used my voice to explain how she was ruining the mood, but I refrained.
I probably need to back track a bit. The other day, I got irritated because she grew irritated with me about something I didn’t do. She felt like she could never say anything to me without me getting angry or defensive. So that left me feeling like I can’t say anything to her because I’ll think she’s going to go on the defensive no matter what I say. And we left it there, not knowing how to really resolve it.
So fast forward to when our friends arrive and the tension between her and I melted away and we had a blast catching up with our friends. We’re heading home and it’s trash night, but it’s snowing out, and we have a crap ton of trash to deal with. So she gallantly says she’ll do it herself, but I tell her, “No, we can both do it together.” We start out fine. I’m dumping leftovers into the trash and then when that’s done, I remember that we still have to dump bedroom and bathroom trash cans. So I leave to do that.
Well, then she just blows up. “There you go again. Going rogue! How many times are we going to have this same conversation? You know how trash is done. Why would you … ” and on and on. Apparently, I was to stay on task and finish rinsing out the recyclable containers once we were done dumping. She acted like I had gone somewhere and just started texting. I was completing part of the task too, just not in the linear way she had hoped. Heavy sigh.
And as she was ranting and raving, I decided to not say a word because even though I felt so pissed off that she would yell yet again about something I was not doing, I didn’t say a thing. And I went to break down some boxes that too had to go into recycling. She kind of just kept ranting and raving. And then she stopped and we managed to take garbage and recycling out to the curb.
When we got inside, she wanted to talk. And I told her, I feel like I really can’t say anything because you feel like you’re always the bad guy. So she said she was listening and she wanted to hear how I was feeling. So I told her basically that I did not mind her telling me things, but it was how she said it that made a difference and would trigger my response or shut down. I guess I had never expressed it quite that way and she told me that she thought she couldn’t say anything to me. I was like, “What? No. Just gently let me know what’s going on vs. feeling like I’m trying to intentionally sabotage any mission you set out on.”
I always thought I was clearly expressing myself, but I guess not. And maybe the energy is just different around us now. Whatever it is, I feel glad that we talked, and I feel heard, which makes me feel even more glad. It was a breakthrough moment, and one that I know will only make us better individually and stronger as a couple.