One of the things that I love about my husband is his irreverent sense of humor. He says things that are outlandish and inappropriate because he finds it amusing, and fortunately for him I also find it funny. Most of the time, anyway.
This week, I found myself not appreciating my husband’s humor. Instead of laughing when he made a comment that was sarcastic or outrageous, I felt offended, like he was attacking me. His remarks started to feel like jabs instead of lighthearted joking.
Then, last night, I was cleaning up the living room. My husband, who was relaxing while the baby played on the floor, saw that I had picked up his wallet and keys from the mantle and was moving them. He came over, grabbed them out of my hands, and said, “That’s mine! Don’t move my stuff!”
Now, I knew he meant no offense by this. Believe it or not, he would not have been offended if I did the same to him. In his mind it was a “I’m saying this so dramatically that I can’t actually be very serious about it” kind of thing. I, however, was unimpressed. I’m ashamed to say that instead of responding maturely, I snapped, “You clean it up, then!” and stormed out of the room.
I recognized pretty quickly that I had let a small comment become a big deal, so I went to him a few minutes later and apologized for snapping at him. The comment was, after all, not that big of a deal. Instead of just leaving it there, though, I took a minute to think about why the comment had upset me. I’ve often found that when I get upset about something seemingly small, there is something larger behind my reaction. On reflection, I realized that the comment had upset me because I had started to feel like I was doing more than my fair share of the housework and because I want to make sure that our daughter grows up seeing her parents speaking kindly to each other. Oh, and because I’m very tired, and being tired kills your sense of humor.
I explained this to my husband, and sharing it made me feel like he understood better what was going on in my mind. I’m not sure that we’ve fully resolved this issue, since that is my husband’s natural sense of humor, and that’s unlikely to change soon. Even if he could change it, I’m also not sure whether I would want him to change it. So we are still in dialogue about it, but I think maybe that’s enough for now.
We talked on Tuesday about not blowing small comments out of proportion, and after my experience this week I want to add that instead of blowing up, it may help to look deeper and see what is causing the temptation to overreact. If there is something larger underlying the reaction, try dealing with that instead of focusing in on the specific comment, since the comment itself is not the problem. It worked for me!