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Don't Take It Personally

A friend contacted me recently, upset. Or pre-upset, if we can declare this a word. Her husband would be miserably uncomfortable the next day, doctor's orders, and she knew this would make him say mean things to her. It always did.

Her Love Language is Words of Affirmation. There would be none tomorrow. Instead, there would be grumbles, complaints, calls to hurry up or move aside, maybe even snide remarks. She was already hurt, and they hadn't even started yet.

I almost said, "Don't take it personally."

I heard this advice when my marriage was going sideways, when I was taking everything personally. But it was useless. How could I not take it personally when it was driving me crazy and coming from the man who promised to love me until death do us part?

So, instead, I said, "Did you ever work with someone with Tourette Syndrome? Did you ever listen to the unexpected words or sounds, watch the twitches, and realize it was just the way their body shakes off stress, that it wasn't aimed at you or a response to anything you were doing?" She had. She'd had a client with Tourette Syndrome. She assigned no more personal meaning to these symptoms than to an accidental cough, sneeze, or fart from any other client.

Everything she was fearing from her husband the next day was predictable and a reaction to following the doctor's orders. It was going to happen whether she was there or not, whether she was helpful or a nuisance. It was just something that happens. It was nothing personal.

And she asked me to share this with all of you, even before they survived their thoroughly predictable next day that turned out so much better than all the ones before it had.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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