(The following is written by a wife discussing the relationship struggles and marriage problems she and her husband face on occasion. And the couple’s “solution” has nothing to do with some magical secret, but rather represents hard work and a commitment to one another. Thank you, Lynn, for your honesty and for keeping it real! ~ Dr. Rich Nicastro)
Today I woke up in a bad mood (fueled by difficulty sleeping), and, if the way the rest of the day played out was any indication, I would have been better off staying in bed. I got the kids to school late (after power struggles about what to eat, wear, and who should be allowed to sit in the front seat of the car), my commute was slower and more congested than unusual, and work was as stressful as ever (my boss is unsupportive and incompetent—there’s a consensus among my officemates about this. He must be someone’s nephew). By the time I got home around 6pm, I was agitated and emotionally on edge.
When I walked through the door, I wished I was anyone but me. And I definitely wouldn’t want to be married to me in these moments. It’s easy to dump on your loved one when you’re feeling this way. (Sometimes, frighteningly enough, it feels almost automatic.) God knows, I’ve done this more than once (and then I end up feeling awful for being such an idiot to my husband, who of course has his own burdens to shoulder and who wasn’t the cause of my rotten day in the first place!).
I wish I could tell you something magical happened that allowed me to shed what I was feeling and lovingly connect to my husband Javier. That didn’t happen. What did happen, though, was important and really meaningful to me. It’s happened before, but it felt like I was paying closer attention now.
Javier could tell I was off, that I had been drained emotionally from the stress of work and what felt like an endless day. And after being together for over ten years, he knows I can’t talk when I’ve reached my emotional limit, so, thankfully, he didn’t inundate me with questions about what was wrong (what do you say to your spouse when life feels wrong?). So he gave me exactly what I needed: Space.
And in order to give me space, he had to shoulder all the stress of his own day and take care of the kids (feeding them dinner, helping them with homework, bathing them, getting them ready for bed…). Keep in mind, he works full-time, too, and I wouldn’t classify his boss as a gem either.
Later that evening when he got into bed, he reached over and kissed me and said, “If you want to talk about it, just let me know.”
I didn’t talk about what I was feeling–I felt like I wanted to wind down before bed, rather than ramp myself up by listing all the annoying highlights of the day; but I appreciated knowing I could share specifics if I wanted to. And similarly to what has happened in the past, the next day I felt better—like the day wasn’t out to get me. I made sure to thank Javier for all he did the night before, and then we got on with our day.
In the past we’ve both covered for each other in this way.
In essence the message has always been, “Hey, I know life sucks sometimes and that things can feel totally overwhelming… If I can help when you’re feeling that way, I will—I’ll cover for you.” But let’s be realistic, we can’t always cover for each other. There have been times when Javier and I both needed the other to cover because we both felt like crap. And because of our dueling lousy days, we’ve clashed. When this occurs, life is definitely more challenging; but thankfully, this type of clashing hasn’t happened too often.
So thanks, Javier, for taking over while I zoned out the other night. And the next time you need to zone and unwind, please know that I’ve got your back too.
Your grateful wife Lynn
by Dr. Nicastro.