Learning Not To Take Our Bad Days Out On Our Partners

by Wendy Wisner
Originally Published: 
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I just lost my shit on my husband.

It’s a Sunday afternoon after a long week of stress, sleeplessness, illness, and more stress. I have been trying all day to get some work done, and my husband is taking the kids to Grandma’s for a few hours so I can finally accomplish something in peace.

Except, this is what “taking the kids to grandma’s” looks like: The 4-year-old is heading out into the cold without a jacket, and my husband is trailing after him without the list of spelling words that my 9-year-old is supposed to study — the list that I reminded my husband three times to take.

Not only that, but the dishes I asked my husband to do this morning are piled high in the sink. And I’m suddenly hangry because I spent the last hour fetching snacks for everyone else besides me, as usual.

So I run to the door, peek my head out, and scream at the top of my lungs, “Come fucking back here!”

And then I list everything he’s done wrong, shoving the jacket and spelling list into his arms, and gesturing wildly towards the overfilled sink.

My husband, saint that he can sometimes be, looks me right in the eyes, and says, “Listen, it’s been a long week for me too. I’m sorry. Take a breath. Get some work done. We’ll be back later.”

Jesus Christ, he’s right.

Things don’t always end this smoothly, and sometimes he’s the one who is snapping at me. But the fact is that no matter how inept he sometimes is, and no matter how difficult life sometimes is, there’s no reason why I have to take it all out on him.

The thing is, I do. A lot. More than I should. He does it too. We are both generally pretty patient people and kind to others. Our kids drive us up the wall sometimes, but we make a point of not taking all our frustrations out on them.

But for each other, these basic rules of conduct sometimes go out the window.

So if I’m having an awful day, having nothing to do with him, and I see his freaking underwear next to the hamper instead of in it, I’m liable to lose my temper with him in an instant, even if he’s been nothing but kind to me all day.

And if he’s had a crappy day at work, and he tries to tell me something but my head is buried in my phone, he’s apt to go on a tirade about how bad I am at listening — not just today, but always.

Both of our accusations might have grains of truth in them, but for some reason, we are both quick to blow things way out of proportion sometimes, and we let our bad days and high stress levels get the better of us.

I wonder if it’s a sign of love, somehow. Of trust? I’ve realized it’s similar to how my kids are sometimes. They’ll be on perfect behavior at school, or with their friend and relatives, and then they’ll come home and let all their angst out on me, in the safe arms of a person who loves them unconditionally.

I do think that’s part of it, and I feel lucky to have a partner in life whom I can trust with my feelings with in that way. Still, I don’t think it’s always for the best.

I know I need to be able to criticize my husband when it’s necessary. I know it’s normal for me to lose it when he leaves his stuff lying all over the house or can’t remember how to properly dress our kids for the weather.

But I also think it’s too much to expect our partners to be perfect all the time. After 15 years of marriage, I’ve learned that the phrase “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset” applies to marriage too. The only way to make a marriage last is to accept your partner for who they are. And if you can’t, your marriage might not be meant to survive.

So however much your partner drives you nuts, and however stressful your life can be sometimes, you kinda need to grit your teeth, take a few deep breaths, and curb your desire to scream your face off at top volume all the time.

No matter how much you apologize afterward or come to a truce — no matter how unconditional your love is — lashing out at each other just isn’t nice. It can hurt. It really can. All those little blows can add up.

Listen, the struggle is real. I get it. I see PMS on the calendar for next week, and I’m sure I’ll be screeching at my husband for leaving the toilet seat up and eating all the good junk food.

But I’m going to try my best to keep my lips sealed, stock up on Oreos before he can get to them, and then lock myself in the bathroom shoving them into my pie-hole instead of blowing my fuse at him.

At least, I’ll try.

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