This is a story of how one woman came to understand, through reflection, something that may be a challenge many marriages and relationships face. While this story is of a woman realizing how she was treating a man, this can be applied in any case to both genders.
I truly believe we are in a very transformative time when it comes to relationships. It seems deep inside many are longing for a “different” experience when it comes to relationships. I believe stories like this, even though not incredibly profound or anything, touch on that growing awareness within us that is challenging us to question how we operate in our relationships.
She begins by explaining what happened:
“My “Aha Moment” happened because of a package of hamburger meat. I asked my husband to stop by the store to pick up a few things for dinner, and when he got home, he plopped the bag on the counter. I started pulling things out of the bag, and realized he’d gotten the 70/30 hamburger meat – which means it’s 70% lean and 30% fat.
I asked, “What’s this?”
“Hamburger meat,” he replied, slightly confused.
“You didn’t get the right kind,” I said.
“I didn’t?” he replied with his brow furrowed.” Was there some other brand you wanted or something?”
“No. You’re missing the point, ” I said. “You got the 70/30. I always get at least the 80/20.”
He laughed. “Oh. That’s all? I thought I’d really messed up or something.”
This might be a conversation, experience or situation many of us can relate to. One partner does something with good intention but unknowingly didn’t do entirely what the other had asked. What can happen next is where we realize our unconsciousness in certain situations.
Her story continues:
“That’s how it started. I launched into him. I berated him for not being smarter. Why would he not get the more healthy option? Did he even read the labels? Why can’t I trust him? Do I need to spell out every little thing for him in minute detail so he gets it right? Also, and the thing I was probably most offended by, why wasn’t he more observant? How could he not have noticed over the years what I always get? Does he not pay attention to anything I do?
As he sat there, bearing the brunt of my righteous indignation and muttering responses like, “I never noticed,” “I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” and “I’ll get it right next time,” I saw his face gradually take on an expression that I’d seen on him a lot in recent years. It was a combination of resignation and demoralization. He looked eerily like our son does when he gets chastised. That’s when it hit me. “Why am I doing this? I’m not his mom.”
I suddenly felt terrible. And embarrassed for myself. He was right. It really wasn’t anything to get bent out of shape over. And there I was doing just that. Over a silly package of hamburger meat that he dutifully picked up from the grocery store just like I asked. If I had specific requirements, I should have been clearer. I didn’t know how to gracefully extract myself from the conversation without coming across like I have some kind of split personality, so I just mumbled something like, “Yeah. I guess we’ll make do with this. I’m going to start dinner.”
She goes on to explain how she realized her nagging was over something very small and that she was putting her partner in a number of different negative lights that were not accurate to his true character. Why do we do these things so often? We assume that our partner should know exactly what is in our heads and when they don’t, or they get something wrong, we pick them apart for it.
She later goes on to realize:
“In my case it’s my husband of 12+ years I’m talking about. The same man who thanklessly changed my car tire in the rain. The guy who taught our kids to ride bikes. The person who stayed with me at the hospital all night when my mom was sick. The man who has always worked hard to make a decent living and support his family.
He knows how to change the oil in the car. He can re-install my computer’s operating system. He lifts things for me that are too heavy and opens stuck jar lids. He shovels the sidewalk. He can put up a ceiling fan. He fixes the toilet when it won’t stop running. I can’t (or don’t) do any of those things. And yet I give him grief about a dish out of place. He’s a good man who does a lot for me, and doesn’t deserve to be harassed over little things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.”
I can say from my own experience that this exact thing has happened to me a number of times. I have my things that I do and am good at and my partner will have things that she does. Yet it isn’t very welcoming to get torn up about what I’m not doing without getting recognition for all of the things that I am doing in a day. It’s really not the greatest feeling. So why does this happen in relationships so frequently?
So often we hear about how relationships are very hard and that they are very difficult to deal with. To a certain extent I will agree with that, but more often than not we may just simply be with the wrong person, or we may lack the very basic foundations of a relationship – tools which we were never taught in life but are essential to maintaining a healthy partnership.
Lack of Communication
Communication is probably one of the biggest -if not the biggest -factors that causes situations like the one above. Think about when she found out the meat was the wrong one – all that needed to happen was for her to ask a simple question: “Hey any reason you got the 70/30 meat?” The other partner responds however they do and then the next response would be “Oh okay, no worries but in the future I usually grab the 80/20 as it’s a healthier option.” It simply comes down to not creating stories in our minds about why the person may have done what they did and instead just using our words in a kind manner to understand the full nature of the situation. Communication is key!
Fighting Over The Small Details
This is another big one in many relationships and a lot of times it can also be something we struggle with entirely within ourselves. We sweat the small stuff way too much. There’s no telling how each of us truly perceives or feels about a certain situation, so what’s small to one person may be huge to another. But typically with a situation like the example above, it’s one meal, one time, one instance that can be adjusted so very quickly. Is it worth getting angry and reacting to something that when you take a step back truly means very little? It’s always good, in the heat of the moment or at the height of intense emotions, to simply go inside and feel out what’s really going on. Take that step back and consider, is this particular instance really a big deal?
We Don’t Put Ourselves In Each Other’s Shoes
Understanding where our partner is coming from is another huge thing we overlook or forget about. In this case, one partner thought he was doing everything right, while the other simply assumed that he didn’t listen, didn’t pay attention, and didn’t do things correctly. Again if we go back to communication, one of the steps that leads to communication is asking yourself what may have led the other person to do what they did, say what they did, etc.
This doesn’t need to come from a judgmental, condescending or angry space, but simply a neutral reflection, asking why things unfolded the way they did. Why does our partner feel this? Why did they say that? What makes them react this way or take certain actions? Instead of coming up with your own judgments or gossiping about it amongst friends, communicate with your partner and find out what is going on. This will make a huge difference.
I believe that if these 3 basic strategies were brought into every type of relationship it would transform everyday life in a huge way. We wouldn’t judge strangers the same way, we’d work more effectively with co-workers, we’d have a much easier time with family and friends and we’d even be able to achieve personal growth more quickly. The reality is that so much of what we fail to recognize about ourselves keeps us stuck, perpetuating the same problems over and over. We can’t very easily move on to new experiences when we don’t have the awareness of what’s playing out in front of us to begin with.
She ended off by saying:
“It takes two to make a partnership. No one is always right and no one is always wrong. And you’re not always going to see eye-to-eye on every little thing. It doesn’t make you smarter, or superior, or more right to point out every little thing he does that’s not to your liking. Ladies, remember, it’s just hamburger meat.“