When Marriage is hit by the Grumps

We went to sleep last night in a pretty good place, I thought.  We had drinks, we watched The Daily Show in bed, and went to sleep holding hands.  All was well in our little kingdom.  Sometimes, though, one or  the other of us wakes up with a case of the Grumps.  It was Bryan’s turn this morning, apparently.

He got ready and went to make breakfast while I wrangled the kids- it’s our typical routine.  After a flurry of diaper and clothing changes, I plodded downstairs to feed myself and the boys, pack Bryan’s lunch, and get everyone out the door in time.  His first greeting to me was, “There are two big messes.  The oil spilled in the pantry, and I spilled coffee beans.”  Silence.  Let me translate:

“I’m pissed off because when I went to get my cereal, there was freaking oil all over the box because you put it away on its side and it leaked.  Also, I was struggling to open the coffee with one hand (he has a paralyzed hand), the beans spilled, and it pissed me off further. I’m late to work.  So it’s your problem.”

Not even a please or a thank you for heaven’s sake.  And it just seemed to get worse from there.  I won’t go into detail, but a boneheaded mistake on my part led to a late fee that resulted in a flurry of pissy text messages when it was discovered.

None of these things were big, but his grumpy reactions to all of them were just all little jabs.  All day, no warm fuzzies, just little stings.

sting….sting….sting….sting….sting

My heart hurt, I went into defense mode, and I was like, “Seriously what the hell.”

I don’t know what makes days like this rear their ugly head, but I do know that they are GOING to happen.  Unfortunately, I seem to have married a human being.  It’s part of the package.  That goes both ways here- goodness knows I’ve had my share of the Grumps.

A very good friend who has been happily married for multiple decades once told me that the secret to a successful, happy marriage is not just communication, but a refusal to let stuff fester.  If you let discontentment settle in, it just breeds ill will.  Soon you start having imaginary conversations in your head that escalate, you make jabs at each other, you forget you’re on the same team.  You’ve got to choose to love and push through the crap.  Even if you’re the one being hurt, you have to suck it up and be the bigger person to say, “Honey, really.  Please stop.  Go calm down, and let’s talk about this constructively.  I’m hurt, and I love you.”

It’s the same idea as the cliche, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” and as an anniversary card from my bestie finished the saying, “stay up and fight.”  Hash it out.  TALK.  Refuse to leave it be until it’s resolved and you remember that you love each other again.

So that’s what I did.  And I got a little preachy, I’ll admit, with the scriptures about love and how gentleness is a fruit of the spirit and stuff.  Sometimes my upbringing as a Pastor’s daughter shows.

But, thank God, he listened.  I told him I was sorry.  I told him I forgave him.  I told him to stop sending hurtful texts.  I told him I’d still hug him when he walked in the door as he came home, and that I’d appreciate it if he chose to forgive me and hug me back.

And he did one better.  He brought flowers.

Image

I allllllmost made a joke over text (before he came home) about how flowers would be nice, and here he went and got them anyway.  Delivered with a hug, kiss, and a sheepish smile.  🙂

We aren’t perfect.  Our marriage isn’t perfect.  But dammit, my man cares.

So the secret to a happy marriage:  Don’t let stuff simmer.  And know when you’ve been a butthead and should probably bring home flowers.

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