On second thought, I suppose complaining has not blessed my relationship at all. ~smile~
The Daily Growl
When Eric and I were both working at the same university, I got off work at 4:30 pm and he got off at 5:00 pm (or later, if he needed to finish a project). So, I enjoyed a little down time before he came dragging inside. Then, the daily post-work grievances would begin:
Me: Okay, so I am so sick of the (fill in current aggravation here) which keeps happening at work.
Eric: Blank stare.
Me: It makes me so mad that they (fill in current injustice here).
Eric: ~sigh~… and blank stare.
Me: And, it would be nice if they respected us enough to (fill in action here).
Eric: Blank stare and look of sheer exhaustion.
He tried to listen attentively, but he was so tired; and, the last response he needed from me upon his return home was a list of complaints, even if the list was not about him. He did a lot of listening, but one day he started taking action. When I started complaining about something at work, he went online and looked up the classifieds.
Eric: Hey, what about this job? Do you think you’d be happy doing something like this?
Me: What are you talking about? I don’t want to quit my job.
Yeah, I didn’t want a new job. I just wanted to complain about the one I had. ~smile~ I called it “letting off steam,” but Eric would often ask me, “Do you feel better after complaining?” Had I been honest with myself at the time, the complaining was not helping me feel better. Talking out certain situations helped alleviate some pressure, but my daily complaining sessions only caused my discontentment to grow.
A few years later, while attending an amazing Bible study, I remember a stay-at-home mom talking about a recent discussion she’d had with her husband. Much like I was during my daily gripe sessions, she was grumpy and touchy when her husband came home from work. I’m not sure if she complained to him the way I did to Eric, but at any rate, she was not warm and inviting.
Finally he told her (roughly translated), “You set the tone for this home. If I come home and you are in a bad mood, it affects my mood. If you are pleasant and kind, it makes me relax and feel calm.” Wow. That was like a shot between my eyes. All that time, I had been poisoning Eric’s home experience. It is not like he had a stress-free job and I had a horrible one. If anything, he had the extremely stressful job and I had a moderately, sometimes minimally, stressful work environment. He probably wanted to come home to a smiling wife, a bear hug, and peace – just a place to plop and say “ahhhh.”
To the Ladies
Ladies, as you prepare for marriage, please keep this in mind. You will be the heart of your home. You will be the feminine presence. Regardless of whether you are a stay-at-home mom, you work from home, or you work outside the home, you will set the tone for the home. One of the biggest gifts you can give your future husband is to make great strides to create an environment of peace and tranquility. This is not to say that you can never talk to your husband about anything serious or negative. You certainly can, and should, let your husband know what is going on in your life. That is part of keeping a strong connection, but there are right and wrong ways to do it.
Since I wasn’t yelling at Eric, I thought it was okay to fuss and raise my voice about my frustrations; but, later, I realized Eric was receiving my wrath even though he was not the source of it. If you have ever been in the presence of a chronically negative person, you can attest to the fact that his or her bitterness, sarcasm, and tone of voice eventually penetrated you.
It would have been okay for me to share my concerns about work in a calm manner, but my explosions only added to his stress.
Now when Eric comes home, I rarely jump on him with a list of complaints, and as a result, our home is generally much calmer and happier. It is far easier to connect with someone who is not throwing fiery darts all over the house!
Now, I just need to refrain from meeting him at the door with a list of questions and stories. Hopefully, I will learn to save my “data dump” for after he’s had a chance to rest. ~smile~ What can I say? I’m a work in progress. ~smile~
What are your thoughts about the idea that the wife/mother sets the tone for her home?