Picture this. Your spouse returns home from work. They’re nearly tap dancing with glee.
What would you assume about their excitement? Would you assume it had something to do with YOU? Perhaps. Or would you assume something occurred in their daily dealings that had nothing to do with you? After all…you weren’t there.
I don’t know about you… but my first thought would be, “Hmm, I wonder what happened today at work that caused such excitement. I can’t wait to hear about it!”
How about the opposite? Your spouse returns home from work, you ask them a question and they yell at you? Would you assume it had something to do with YOU? Or would you assume something occurred in his daily dealings that had nothing to do with you?
I think many people would be hard pressed to NOT assume a yell was a personal affront. “Even if he/she is angry with me about something, how disrespectful to yell! And if he’s angry at someone/something else, that’s even more disrespectful to take it out on me! He has some explaining to do—right now—doggone it!”
Long ago, early in our marriage, a similar incident occurred. I’ve never forgotten it. It set the stage for me to create a personal template for this type of incident. This template has proven a wonderful building block of trust between The Roddys:
I was taking a bubble bath. Bill returned from teaching an evening tennis drill class.
“Hey, Billy! How’d it go? I bet your students liked your new drills!”
Wow. He lit into me like…I can’t even describe it. He didn’t yell, but his tone (and words) were unreasonable, insulting, critical,
Then he turned on his heels and stalked out of the bathroom.
Shocking. In all the years I’d known him, I’d never witnessed Bill Roddy behave that way toward anyone, much less his wife—the love of his life.
How. DARE. You. Welllll…my first instinct was to leap up out of that tub, chase him down, and then dress him down. I didn’t. Because something within me whispered:
“Shut up, Gail. Just shut up and sit tight.”
So I remained in the tub… and waited.
Twenty minutes passed. I got out, got dressed, and walked into the kitchen. Bill was sitting at the table writing some notes. I had no clue if he’d calmed down yet but I was cool as a mango. Rummaging around in the fridge for stuff to make myself a sandwich, without looking at Bill, I spoke into the air:
“I bet this proved to be an interesting evening.”
I turned around and walked to the table. Bill looked up from his notes. I could see tears welling up in his eyes. I sat down in the chair next to my husband…
If YOU faced this scenario, what would have been YOUR first thought/reaction?