Have you ever noticed how nice you are to your friends, acquaintances and even total strangers? You smile. You say “Hello”. You extend such courtesies as holding doors open for them. And in some instances, you even ask: “How are you?” and even make small talk. They can do something we don’t like and most often it’s like water on a duck’s back. It rolls right off!
I remember having a very DEEP and heated conversation with my husband while we were dining outdoors at a restaurant. You know the kind of conversation that’s so involving that you’re no longer aware of your surroundings. Naturally, there were passers-by and I briefly caught the eye of an old college classmate who decided to come over to our table. As I turned to greet her, my tone changed. It seems as though my facial expressions softened, my demeanor changed and the intensity dissipated almost instantly. My husband said I went from night to day in a split second. I smiled warmly, I got up to give an embracing hug and mentioned several times just how great it was to see her! After she walked away, my husband jokingly said that I flipped the switch and went right back to angry!
Why are we like that? Why are we so kind to strangers and endearing to our co-workers and friends, but when it comes to our spouses, we are not so quick to be the same way? The answer is simple, but then again not-so-simple. You would think that since we chose our mates for a lifetime, that it should be easy to be kind and polite to them without thought. But, in my opinion, it’s the opposite. When a stranger or just an acquaintance offends us, it generally means nothing and most often we forgive and forget. But, let your spouse say something a little off-color…it sets off all five alarms! We have so many deeply rooted emotional ties to one another that it causes us to be vulnerable or “hypersensitive” to our spouse’s actions. And truth be told, our mates are the ones who know exactly where our “buttons” are, so its a little easier to push them, if you know what I mean.
Don’t get me wrong…Of course my husband and I exchange pleasantries and are kind and courteous to one another as a part of our norm. Its just a lot harder to do so when it comes to disagreements and matters of the heart. Ever since my Jekyll and Hyde “Aha” moment, I’ve made a conscious effort to treat my husband with the kindness of a stranger when I’m less than pleased with him – smile and be pleasant. No, this doesn’t happen overnight. Thankfully, the longer we’re married, the more we learn about each other. We’ve developed a sort of “don’t sweat the small stuff mentality” and “pick your battle” philosophy. Everything isn’t even worth the energy and oxygen it takes to argue.
BMWK – Think about yourself and your situation and take note of the contrast between your home demeanor and your face for the world. Is there a vast difference?