At nine in the morning yesterday, I needed a nap and a redo. I woke up kind of grumpy, and my husband did too. Frankly, neither of us had space for the other, let alone our sweet son who was fired up and excited about the day in the face of two grumpy, groggy parents.
This was our own fault. It was our third night in a row of only four hours of sleep, because we were in the middle of binge-watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix for the second time. We can’t watch just one episode, especially with that roll-over feature Netflix offers—I don’t even have to move a finger to the remote, another show just starts automatically. Who am I to deny a service such as this?
Well, six a.m. comes quickly when bedtime is at one, and there is not enough coffee or prayers to get me through. My husband and I started bickering and snapping at one another. You know, the little things, like, “Well, how great that we are out of milk when I need a coffee.” Followed up by, “You need to calm down. Just relax.” To which I said in a tone that was absolutely uncalled for, “YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE.”
What a joy it was to be married to me yesterday.
If I’m honest, there are days like this more often than I want to admit. What sets me off varies: lack of sleep, stress at work, a hard day with our son, or that my legs need to be shaved. But what happens is: I take out whatever is wrong on my husband. In those moments, I’m seeing red and everything feels like his fault.
And the same is true for the husband: eagerness to get a new job, tired of the day-to-day, stress, and pressures of money and time. And we just blow up at each other. The best we have to offer in those moments has been reduced to the emotional awareness of a toddler who has thrown himself on the floor because the straw in his drink was the wrong color.
The remedy when stuff starts to boil over is a long, hard discussion. We have to look inward, and try to name the emotions and feelings we haven’t been addressing. Am I actually mad about the milk, or am I upset because I feel like I am the only one who is going to the store, in charge of the food, and doing the heavy lifting of cooking meals?
These discussions are hard because, in order to see change, they require us to walk through a season of painful course correction. We must take a look at the patterns we’ve fallen into and decide if these patterns are still a good reflection of our family unit, and honor each of our capabilities. If not, then we need to rearrange. This will require each of us to do something we don’t want to do, but do anyway. We also must edit our schedules and priorities: if we are stressed out to the point that milk causes a blowup before nine in the morning, then something is out of whack. We obviously are living an unbalanced life. To change this, we take a look at what we do each week, and then we start trimming it down. We set parameters and give each other permission to say, “No.” We prioritize couple time. We must decide together to be uninvolved; to not sign up if it means that we will not be sane and healthy.
This process is painful. It’s a season that takes time to get used to, and takes accountability and hard work. But in the end, it’s always worth it. After a hard season of correcting the trajectory of our boundaries, our lives, and attitudes, we begin to heal. No longer are we overcommitted and stressed out, hurting one another with our words and unrealistic expectations; but instead we are in a season of empathy, support, and encouragement.
The hardest seasons always yield the best fruits.