Larry left his wedding ring on his bedside table again this morning. I hate when he does that. So, as I always do, I put it on my thumb and walked around with it on all day. I do that so when he gets home, he notices and gets the message. Sure enough he did, and I got that look from him like “Sorry, I know that bugs you.” (Larry is unusually perceptive, btw. A lot of guys would not get the subtlety of that me-wearing-the-ring thing.)
Anyway, once he put the ring on, I thought: If he knows it bugs, me WHY does he do it??? Why doesn’t he pay more attention? And there I stayed for a little while. Cogitating. Getting bugged. Getting mad.
Then I stopped and took a deep breath. That’s what I do when I feel myself getting mad at my dear man. It rarely happens, and when it does it feels really crappy…I hate it.
That stopping thing is something I do very consciously. I have a process. I talk to myself before I say a word to him. It goes something like this:
The loved and adored Bobbi: What did he do to make you mad?
The Pissed Off Bobbi: He knows that bugs me, and if he really cared he’d pay more attention and simply put on his freaking ring!
LaAB: Well, do you think he does it purposely to upset you?
POB: No, but he still shouldn’t do it. It bugs me that he forgets.
LaAB: Why does it bug you? Do you think he’s off picking up hot chicks at the local bar?
POB: Uh…hell no.
LaAD: So, you know he doesn’t do it on purpose and that even when he does leave it at home it has no significance…he simply forgot to put it back on.
No longer POB: Yes, I know both those things. Okay fine…pretty stupid thing to get mad about in the first place. I guess it’s me that better get over it.
See how that goes? This usually takes place in seconds as he’s standing in front of me. Sometimes it takes going off somewhere to be alone for awhile. We both do this. We start with knowing that we love each other and assuming our intentions are good. Then we process our feelings before we release any anger. This is a large part of why we have never e-v-e-r raised our voices or name-called. We don’t fight and always talk to each other respectfully.
Had I not had that little chat with my silly self, something like “I’ve asked you not to do that so many times! Why do you keep doing it?” would have come out of my mouth. And you know how that spirals down to two people being mad at each other. (Or, more likely, you being mad at him as he promptly forgets you even had the conversation.)
This works. And it’s the grownup thing to do. 99.9% of the time you’ll find that a pause to talk to yourself makes the difference between going to sleep feeling safe and loved or walking around pissed off and feeling insecure for the next two days.
I know which one I would pick every time. And let’s face it: we really are ultimately responsible for our own happiness.