A couple of months ago my husband and I spent the evening at my parents house. We had a great time but eventually we had to leave to go home as it was late and we both had work on the morning. We went to the door, put our shoes on and then my husband put his hand in his pocket to pull out the car key….it wasn’t there.
There are a number of different ways we could have dealt with this situation, getting angry at him for being careless would have been one of them! But at the time I was being very mindful of my actions and I realised that getting angry or upset would not help us find the key. I knew my husband would already be feeling bad about it, and I knew that whatever happened now he had already learnt that he needs to look after the keys better. So what would getting angry achieve??
Instead, I took his hand and told him it would be ok, we’d find it. Everyone stayed calm and we all looked for the key. After only about 20 minutes Simon found it in the garden where it had fallen out if his pocket and we were on our way home. My parents commented on how well we handled the situation, and potentially we could have said that the evening was ruined, but everyone was happy and it hadn’t been.
You’d think that I would have learnt something from this, that this must be the best way to handle the situation when accidents happen. Don’t pass out blame, don’t get angry, stay calm and figure out a solution. But being the plonker I am, I completely forgot this!
Yesterday we had parts of a shed delivered. The wood is untreated and I thought, as I came home from work, that we should put a tarpaulin over it in case it rained overnight. I didn’t go out and do it though as I was wearing work clothes. My husband came home and I suggested the tarp to him. He was also in work clothes so we agreed to do it later. Before dinner I suggested we go out and do it, my husband suggested after dinner would be a better time as we were busy cooking and chatting and enjoying each other’s company.
Well, after dinner I fell asleep on the sofa! My husband is so sweet, he carried me to bed and cleared up all the dinner dishes, but he forgot the tarp.
I roused at 3.30am and noticed it had been raining. I woke my husband up and asked about the tarp, it hadn’t been done. We both went out at 3.30am in our dressing gowns, cursing ourselves for being so lazy earlier and put the tarp over the now soaking wet wood for the rest of the night.
This is just ‘one of those things’ that happen but back in bed I was fuming!. I was incredibly angry and didn’t hesitate to blame my husband for the wood getting wet. I shouted at him and blamed him, I demanded that he apologise to me and I told him that I would never be able to give him responsibility for things as he wasn’t acting responsibly.
He told me the wood would be fine, and I am so proud to say that he stood up to me. He didn’t say sorry or accept all the blame, he calmly told me that he thought I was wrong and left the room so that I could calm down.
I am so, so pleased that he didn’t back down. It’s easy to agree with someone just to make life easier for yourself but then you will both be withholding what you really think, and the anger and tension just stays bottled up to be brought up another time. Contrition, when forced, isn’t satisfying for either partner.
In the bedroom, alone, I thought through everything I had said. Surely I was right? This was all his fault!! The wood may be ruined or at the very least we wouldn’t be able to build the shed while its wet. But he stood up to me, which means there’s an opposing point of view here. I thought about how this could be seen in a different light. It’s true that my husband didn’t put the tarp on, but neither did I. It was a joint responsibility and frankly we both just forgot. We were both responsible and both to blame for what happened. I was angry because I knew that I could have prevented this by doing it myself. I cared about that wood a lot, and so it was my responsibility to make sure the tarp was put on. My husband was not concerned, he thought it was fine if the wood got a bit wet. Therefore there was little impetus for him to put the tarp on as it was a minor detail for him.
Regardless of whether one or both of us were to blame for the wood getting wet, shouting at my husband hardly helped the situation. Placing blame and anger does not help anyone. We had both learnt from this mistake regardless of whether I shouted or not.
I should have handled this differently. It was just like the keys situation, an unfortunate thing that happened where getting angry or shouting or placing blame only serves to make everyone unhappy.
What should I have done? I think us both going out and putting the tarp on was a good, proactive start. Appreciating this as a learning experience is also a good way to handle things that go wrong- we won’t make this mistake again!! And finally, we should concentrate on how to rectify the mistake together.
What do you think? Would you say that this is a good code to live by or not?
We all make mistakes, we all forget things. Blame helps no one in silly situations like this. Proactive solutions are all that should be discussed.
I hope I learn this time!!