YourTango’s Jen Anderson realized her bad temper was a risk to her marriage. Her even-keeled husband would make tiny infractions to her house rules — like folding an afghan wrong — and she would fly off the handle and scream and say mean things.
Our relationship wasn’t in immediate danger. But I was leading us down a path that could’ve ended it. I’ve seen my husband angry twice in the eight years we’ve known each other. Once was in an argument about politics, and the other instance was when I’d hurled an unfair insult at him. Anger makes him speak quietly and shake with contained rage. It scared me to see that I had actually managed to make him mad. Mike is no doormat, and he wouldn’t tolerate being the target of an unreasonable temper for a lifetime. He put up with my shouting only when I was right. Left unchecked, I’d start yelling when I was wrong. And then he’d yell back. But between his parents’ happy marriage and my parents’ contentious one, we both believed that splitting up was preferable to years of discontent. We wouldn’t become world-class bickerers like my parents. We’d just get divorced.
I didn’t want to chase away the one person who thought it was cute when I made up songs about him. And I didn’t want to spend the next ten years hollering at him.
I love her solution: Screaming “Oh my God, you suck so much!”
She’s letting out her anger in a funny way without sugar-coating the situation. It’s like, you’re pissing me off so much but I’m cool about it enough to bring it to your attention and isn’t that kind of cute how I just did that?
I used to do something similar with my parents but we took it a step further. We were always telling each other that we sucked, to the point it was getting ridiculous. We were joking about it; we really loved each other and got along. But it was getting out of control. So my mom instated the rule that in the house you couldn’t say anything “sucked.” Instead it was “unfortunate.” As in: Mom, you’re being really unfortunate right now. Dad, YOU ARE SO UNNFORTUNAAATTEEEE. People eavesdropping might have been confused, but it made sense to us and it helped us get along and turn anything mildly annoying into a laugh.
So, it’s good to have a thing. Having a thing works. What’s yours?