By Maggie Reimherr
Picture this: it’s a Thursday night during a rough week. I’ve gotten some news I don’t like. I’ve stayed at work a little later than usual that evening to make up for the hour and a half I missed that morning for a grand trifecta at the doctor’s office: blood tests, a tetanus shot, and a, er, women's exam. Then my commute takes over an hour.
When I finally get home, Derek is barely 5 minutes into cooking dinner. I’m usually a fairly reasonable person. But when I get home at 7:30 and my spicy sausage and bell pepper pasta isn’t ready, I am outraged.
I start stomping around the apartment passive-aggressively cleaning whatever I can find. What else am I supposed to do while Derek makes dinner? Relax? I can’t freakin’ relax. I am HANGRY.
Derek tries to cheerily chat with me, and I am NOT HAVING IT. We finally sit down for dinner, and at the table, he tries to make friendly conversation. I brush him off with one-word answers.
Finally Derek asks, “What is going on?”
I look at him like the answer is obvious and say, “Dinner wasn’t ready when I got home. For ONCE, I would just like to have my dinner cooked and ready. IT’S THE LEAST YOU CAN DO.”
Oh, okay. That’s how we’re going to deal with this, Maggie. We’re going to be a diva.
I stomp off with our plates and start furiously (and still passive-aggressively) cleaning. Afterwards, I storm into our bedroom to calm down.
It took me a little bit, but I eventually came out to apologize. “I’m sorry for being rude about dinner. There was no reason for that.”
When Derek comes over to hug me, I immediately break into sobs: “I… just… wanted… sausage… pasta!” **weeps into Derek’s chest**
Then: “This… isn’t… really… about… sausage… pasta…” **blubbers** **hyperventilates**
Does this ever happen to y’all? There are larger issues going on, and you don’t know how to deal with them. Instead of confronting your feelings, you decide to take them out on your partner. It’s pretty easy to use the person you live with as your punching bag, especially when they do something that feels unthinkably awful. Like not cooking dinner on your timeline. (This is sarcasm.)
Well, here’s my advice, and please allow me to scream it at the top of my lungs: DON’T. DO. THIS.
In this circumstance, my feelings were related to some outside issues that were beyond my control. They had nothing to do with Derek or our marriage. Faced with something sort of irritating, I projected the real issue onto sausage pasta. Instead of sitting with my feelings and processing through them like a mature adult should do, I made Derek the scapegoat.
I’m not perfect and will never profess to be, but I could’ve done better.
It was clear my frustration wasn’t hanger. Half an hour of quiet reflection would’ve revealed this. Or a quick cardio session while Derek was cooking. Or journaling. (Wow, lots of alternatives to yelling about pasta.)
Luckily, after we hugged it out, Derek was supportive and understanding. He knew I was having a tough week that was causing me to act like a crazy person. He quickly forgave me for taking out my anger on him. I married a good man, and I’m super grateful.
Next time, I’m going to do better. (I originally worded this as “try to do better” but then I thought Yoda would be disappointed in me.)
It’s a 3 step process:
- Recognize my feelings.
- Work them out.
- Make Derek my teammate, not my opponent.
Oh, and Derek? Thanks for making that pasta. It was v. tasty.