This is something that I am really struggling with right now. It’s not because I can’t be positive. It’s not because I don’t have hope. It’s mostly because of the crazy ups and downs that I briefly posted about late last night (Rollercoaster).
I think out of everything it’s the inconsistency that is the most difficult thing for me. We really have so many positive things going on. If you don’t believe me, read back through Being Thankful. I only listed a few things in that post… there are so many more.
For example, we have been working through some exercises from The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. We are doing at least one every Saturday, and sometimes more. We have been discovering that our marriage has a much stronger foundation than we thought. We do well at connecting, romance, affection, and a ton of other stuff. The things that we need to work on we were already aware of for the most part – like flooding and avoiding harsh start-ups.
I could keep going with my list of positive things, big steps forward, and continued progress. There are tons of comparisons I could make between where we came from and where we are today. I generally don’t have a problem looking on the bright side of things.
But when we have a bad day, boy do we have a bad day! I am the first to admit that my triggers can take control of my emotions and leave me a much different person than the rational, compassionate, positive woman who I normally am. I can become a downright nightmare. I have gotten better at recognizing my triggers and handling them in a calm way, but some things really send me over the edge. Lying is a huge one.
That is why I was surprised last week when my immediate response to finding out lies wasn’t outright anger. As I admitted, that did come later. Even the fact that I have a delayed anger reaction I think of as a positive thing. It means that I am working through those triggers and emotions a little better, even if it is just at the very beginning or the very end.
Last night was not one of those days. I uncovered a few more lies about his school which I took in stride (for the most part). But then he really ticked me off about something that is relatively small, especially in the grand scheme of things. Long story short – we had a huge blow up fight over dinner. I mean that exactly. It was over dinner and it was about dinner. It had more to do with my triggers, his forgetfulness, and my primary love language (Quality Time) than with the actual dinner, but that’s what set it off.
Here’s where the runaway rollercoaster takes over. Mr. Mess really doesn’t do well handling his anger. It takes over and turns him into this raging, sarcastic, yelling ball of spite. He says everything he can think of to make me angry and hurt my feelings, and then he yells over top of anything I try to say in response. It doesn’t always happen. In fact, it really hasn’t happened like that in a while. For the most part our disagreements have been more in the way of conversations. When I trigger he has been willing to talk to me about it and not get defensive.
Again, that was not last night. Things got so carried away and out of control that he was threatening divorce. Well, not really threatening – just saying that he was done, it was over, and he had no desire to keep trying. It wasn’t a threat, it was reality and it was happening now. He packed his things and left. That’s where the whole, “He says everything he can think of to hurt my feelings…” part comes in. I said some pretty bad stuff, too. I called him names. I said he was a liar and a coward who runs away when things get tough. I’m not going to recount everything, but it was a dirty fight. He ended up coming home a few hours later and we were able to talk a little bit more sensibly.
I’m not thrilled that things got out of control. I’m not proud of those moments. But it doesn’t change everything for me. The positive things are still positive things. That was just a really bad night, a really unfortunate fight, and big dip in the rollercoaster. On the other hand, we can learn from that. We can figure out what set us off. How we can react better. We can renew our promise not to throw divorce around in an argument. We can take the opportunity to talk about those things that led to all that anger boiling over – unfulfilled promises, realizing each other’s love languages, figuring out how to deal with triggers better, not keeping secrets, and improving communication.
I see this as just another tool to improve our marriage. Albeit, it’s a crummy, unpleasant tool that could have been avoided. The only way to know how to do that, though, is to learn from it. I can be realistic in saying that arguments will happen. We will have more fights. It’s just a fact of life, especially the part of life that we are going through.
My husband, though, has such a black-and-white, all-or-nothing mentality that it throws me off. It is a struggle to be positive for me AND positive for him. He honestly would have told you things were going great on Saturday. We had worked through the lying issue, he had a plan of attack, we connected really well over the exercises, and we worked together to clean up the house a bit. He was on top of the world.
Then after our argument last night he was at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. An argument meant we couldn’t understand each other well, which in turn meant that everything was falling apart, which in turn meant that we may as well divorce. Saturday the world was sunny and wonderful. Last night it was dark, gloomy, and despondent. Saturday the marriage was strong. Last night it was crumbling. There is no in between.
I don’t know how to combat that. Even my positive doesn’t seem to be positive enough for him. I talk about hope. He says that means I don’t have faith in him, that I may as well have ended in a big “BUT…” I tell him I see faith as something religious and irrational. In fact, the very definition of faith according to the Encarta Dictionary is “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.”
I can’t have that anymore. Hope is what I have. I’m proud that I have gotten to this point because several months ago even the sight of the “HOPE” sign above our therapist’s door made me want to scream, tear it off the wall, and stomp on it. Hope for me means that I can see a brighter future. The Encarta Dictionary’s definition of hope is “to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely.” That is much more positive in my eyes! I would much rather be looking hopefully towards something that is possible than having faith in something without logical proof.
So I’m going to keep the dialog open. I’m going to keep sharing my thoughts, feelings, and yes – my hope. I’m going to keep seeing shades of gray instead of just black and white because that’s what allows me to keep going on the bad days. I’m going to hold on tight and do my best to slow down this rollercoaster and get us back on solid ground. That’s how I’m going to stay positive.
- Positive Monday Ramblings (ifhappyeverafterdidexist.wordpress.com)
- Couples See Anger But Miss Sadness When Fighting (livescience.com)
- Romance in Real Life: Rollercoaster (bookworm2bookworm.wordpress.com)
- Awestruck Wonder (notoverit.wordpress.com)