I am currently 7 months pregnant with a little girl. My hormones are constantly throwing me into a raging roller coaster of emotions. Recently one night, I sat on my couch discussing my concern about a suicidal friend with my husband. Obviously, it was quite a difficult topic to discuss and something that affected me deeply. To preface this story, my incredibly sweet husband has learning differences and often needs to be doing something mindless in order to sit and focus on a conversation. So as I discussed with him, he mindlessly played a simple video game on his phone. (This is a compromise we had previously discussed and reached.)
However, in the middle of me expressing my concerns, my husband let out a chuckle and interrupted with, “babe, you have to see this,” referring to an entertaining video on social media. Instantly, red hot lava bubbled up inside me. I gave my husband a look that would make hell freeze over.
He knows the look. He explains it the following way. “You feel the room suddenly get cold. A cavern rips open in the floor as flames erupt and all of a sudden you hear Latin being sung backwards.”
Needless to say, he knew I was mad. He immediately froze and asked what was wrong.
I stayed silent, watching him squirm in front of me.
He begged me to tell him what he did wrong and how he could fix it.
But that wasn’t good enough for me. Here I was opening up my heart and soul, talking about an extremely painful topic and he didn’t even give me the courtesy of his full undivided attention. (Even though it’s hard for him to do thanks to how his brain works).
Without saying a word, I stormed out of our living room and locked myself in our bathroom. I began brushing my teeth, a sign I was LIVID at him. ( I know it’s weird but it’s a habit that I got into at the beginning of our marriage.)
I brushed my teeth for a LONG time. My sweet husband bravely knocked on the door to check on me but I again gave a cold response.
He hurt me and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with him. I hit many a bath towels and yelled dozens of angry questions to myself in the mirror. “How could he do that?” How could he hurt me like that?” and other less pleasant remarks. The hum of my electric toothbrush luckily drowned out everything I said. (Another reason I choose to brush my teeth when I’m mad.)
After practically brushing away my enamel, I turned off my toothbrush and stared silently at myself in the mirror. And that’s when it hit me.
Holding anger without explaining or allowing my husband to fix the situation was a way for me to control him.
The longer I stayed in the bathroom, the longer I gave him the silent treatment, the more he suffered.
The man I vowed to cherish and protect, suffered.
Because of me.
And because I knew I had married a patient, loving, devoted, man, I knew he was sitting in the next room over, waiting for me to let him redeem himself. That thought melted my heart. Here I was stewing in hatred and hurting my husband just as much- if not more- that he had just hurt me.
Instead of fixing the problem, I craved control and power and his continued suffering. And that’s not a productive way to fix a problem in a relationship.
I meekly stepped out of the bathroom and confessed to my husband what I felt. I explained how he hurt me and why I reacted with such intensity. We discussed ways to solve the problem in the future; how we can both help each other if we find ourselves in a similar situation.
A toxic moment melted into a beautiful out-pour of love and respect.
After our discussion, as I rested my head on his shoulder, he asked what made me decide to come out of the bathroom. I told him that holding anger was a way for me to hold control over him and that’s not right. My job is to protect and love him, not manipulate him.
Holding on to anger, with-holding forgiveness, is a form of abuse and has no place in a healthy relationship.