Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How gratitude saved my marriage last night

Doing this daily gratitude list saved my marriage last night! Here's what happened:

I have not gotten a lot of sleep this week - which is a chronic issue for me since I get up for work at 4am. I TRIED to get a nap yesterday afternoon, but our dang dogs were especially rowdy and noisy yesterday, which prevented any nap from happening! So, my fuse was a lot shorter than usual when S came home from work and started going through the mail that I had sorted and left out on the counter. He started going through MY stack (because I hadn't bothered to tell him which stack was which) and dismissing it as "junk".

Also important to this story: I'm a little sensitive to the mail issue because my beloved husband and I have VERY different views about what to keep and file and what gets tossed. He tosses pretty much everything - and I keep pretty much everything. One of our biggest fights was me trying to convince him that I needed a desk because I wanted a place to file things - and he just thinks it's a place for me to hoard papers. He eventually bought me a desk (because he's sweet and wonderful), and now, I have to get it all organized to show him how helpful it is to have a place for everthing! I have been procrastinating on all of that while planning the wedding - but now, I have NO excuse. I have given myself a deadline of working on that this week, so that is another reason I was on high alert: GUILT. I know he hates how messy my desk is, and I feel guilty that it's not organized like I know he'd rather it be.

So, with all of that going on, when he started dismissing all of my very important mail as "junk", I snapped at him and told him it wasn't f-ing "junk", and that he should just stick to his OWN mail. The poor guy had just walked in the door from a long day at work and was only trying to go through the mail - and I jumped down his throat because I was tired and feeling guilty. He was obviously hurt (and surprised!), as I grabbed my mail and shuffled off into the other room. He announced that he was going to go get changed for the long walk we had planned with the dogs.

Now, if I hadn't been actively trying to have more gratitude in my daily life, I probably would have sulked for the whole night, thinking about what a jerk HE was, and probably would have passively aggressively started loudly making efforts to clean up my office. Not a fun night for either of us.

Instead, when I walked off into the other room, I actually had the thought: "Ok, Jeannine, you know you are being a little ridiculous right now. How can you turn this around by finding something to be grateful for in this scenario?" In just a few seconds, I came up with a LOT to be grateful for:
1. That I have a husband that didn't snap back at me when I was a jerk.
2. That I had a husband at all (hey - it took until I was 35 to get one!).
3. That my husband is concerned with neatness (I know a lot of husbands aren't!).
4. That he wanted to go out on a walk with me because he knows it's important to me to be active and healthy.
5. That it was cool enough outside to go for a walk together.
6. That we were healthy enough to both be able to go for a walk.
7. That we live in a place that is safe to go for a walk.
8. That we had the time to go for a walk together.
And so on...

By the time he came back out of the bedroom, changed and ready for our walk, my whole attitude was turned around. I ran up to him, gave him a hug, and apologized for snapping at him. He was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. I am sure he was dreading being held hostage during our walk by a cranky, sullen wife - and instead, I had brightened up and was actually being pleasant and grateful for our time together.

That NEVER would have happened if gratitude hadn't already been a habit, and doing this daily blog has made it a habit for me...and I am grateful for that today, too!

Have you ever used gratitude to turn a yucky moment around? I'd love to hear about it!

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