For example: If I notice a problem with bedtimes slipping further and further along the Time/Space Continuum until Martin children get to bed late next week on any given night, I let my Watchful Momma handle it. Watchful Momma brings such issues to my husband's attention
I don't know about your marriage, but when my husband invites Irritated and Dismissive over, the Jerk always comes along. She doesn't want to miss the fun.
My inner Jerk responds predictably to my Irritated and Dismissive husband. I tend to emphasize certain WORDS and PHRASES. Sentences take on the form of emphatic one-liners. Language is my weapon of choice, being an English major, and my use of it has been so finely honed that I can wield it with the skill of a sabred ninja (I mean, really, I was an English Major. I didn't have anything else to do in college). Although this is handy on Twitter, it's not as helpful outside of a universe where people can simple press an Unfollow Button to be rid of anyone as obnoxious as I can get. In fact, if I am a Jerk long enough and well enough, my husband's own inner Jerk will come out to play!
That's never very helpful.
What I realized in my never ending quest for self improvement is that my timing is atrocious. My husband is not a multitasker. Asking him to even think of two things at once creates a mental state closely resembling this actual MRI image....
|MRI of the male brain, multitasking.|
On my husband's part, he needs to act and react to my needs other than those times when I am blowing it. Although he tends to be a person who lets things go until the last possible moment, every time he waited until I behaved badly enough to get his undivided attention, he was unwittingly reinforcing me to behave badly! I was learning that only Jerkiness worked, so I was even more tempted to be a Jerk. I don't need any help going from Jerk to Harridan, truly. All it takes is falling further down a slippery slope.
So if you, like me, find yourself frequently exasperated by spousal inattention, check your timing. Try again later. Rare is the family emergency that has to be discussed RIGHT NOW with NO DELAY if the timing is off. As a last resort, you can leave a sweet note (and I mean SWEET) asking him to be thinking of input and solutions to a given problem so you guys can hash out an action plan later.
If you are like my husband and find yourself often feeling nagged and harassed or blown up at, you may want to ask yourself if you work on the philosophy that most people problems magically "go away" with time. Are you waiting until your spouse is mad at you before you will make any reasonable changes? If so, you are training up a real Jerk in your wife. Reward gentleness by listening and reacting long before the problem becomes complicated with emotions. And if it is too late and she is already angry and upset and feeling unheard, apologize with something like, "I'm sorry I didn't listen to you about this until you felt this frustrated with me. Let me make you some tea first and then let's see how we can tackle this together." Then, while she is staring blankly in surprise, go in for the hug.
Repeat after me, "A man can hug a porcupine and live." It's my husband's mantra.
|"Every TIME I try to talk to you, you shut DOWN like a light switch!"|
is Porcupine for "Hug me!"
Source: Google Translator