Should I be Mad at My Mate?

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A comment I received yesterday on this blog encouraged me to write this. I am so glad she asked! I’ll bet most readers have asked this same question at some point in their marriages.

I’m writing this as I need to blow off steam and see if I am right or wrong about getting mad at my husband. I was busy Sunday afternoon catching up with work. My husband and I weren’t planning on doing anything. His family calls him up to invite us somewhere. He automatically says he’ll go since I was working, but didn’t even bother
to ask if that was OK with me. Next thing you know he just tells me…”hey honey, I’m going to such and such place with my family. I’ll see you later!” I was furious he didn’t bother asking me if that was OK. I let him know too. Should I be mad? Thanks so much!

Should you be mad? I remember wondering many times if I should be angry over something my first husband did. I was angry, but I needed to ask other folks if I should be. And, of course, since most of them wanted to please me and be my friend, they said yes. I believed them. As a result, I lost any chance to feel the love of the marvelous man I had married during what turned out to be the last two years of his life. He died at age 35. It still brings me to tears to realize what I lost by asking the wrong question.
Unless your husband’s going out to a family event without you posed an immediate threat to your wellbeing, you have plenty of time to use a technique I call “Assume Love.” (Can you tell from the blog title how valuable I find this technique?)
Here is how it goes.

  1. Interrupt the search for evidence of wrong-doing. We don’t really want to know if we should be mad. We want to know if we are no longer loved and respected.
  2. Ask, “What might explain this behavior if I am still loved and respected by my spouse as much as ever?”
    • Is he doing for me what he would want done for him in the same circumstances?
    • Is he mistaking my current circumstances for other ones in which I actually suggested he should do this?
    • Was he torn between two loyalties and trusting I would support his choice?
    • Was he saying yes to his family while I am busy so he can say yes to me without any family guilt when I am not busy?
    • Was he unaware of any possible way his staying home could benefit me?
    • Did he grow up in an environment where everyone was free to do as they please as long as it hurts no one else, rather than one where family members ask before taking their leave of the others?
    • Could he be angry at me and doing this to keep his anger from interrupting what I must get done?
    • Could he be angry at me and trying to get my attention by doing something he knows will upset me but not harm me?
    • Are there any other possible explanations for a husband who adores me not asking my permission?
  3. After considering the ways a loving action might have accidentally pushed your “done me wrong” button, let your spouse know if you’re feeling loving or angry or if you need more information to decide.

There are many, many ways to love a person, and many, many ways to be mean.
Some are so loving that we do not need to ask if we are loved. Some are so mean we will not need to ask if you should be mad. But most fall in the middle, and it makes a big difference whether we ask “should I be mad?” or “could I be loved?”
When we react to a loving act as if it were mean, our action is likely to discourage more loving acts from either of us.
When we recognize a loving act disguised as a mean one, because we Assume Love and look for possible loving explanations, we feel loved, safe, and able to ask, lovingly, for something different in the future. And then love grows and so do respect and trust. And that’s why I write this blog.

About the author

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

1 Comment

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  • Wow! I had the same kind of day on Sunday. I think your advice is dead on. However, if this is a recurring action that bothers you, you should have a comversation about it.
    But, examine your heart, thoughts, and motives first.
    I think this is great advice.

By Patty Newbold

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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