True story: one day a few years ago, my husband was late. Well, he's been late many times, but this particular day, I modeled well for my kids. It doesn't always happen this way, trust me. Anyway, we were supposed to have lunch as a family. The girls and I were looking forward to it, and my husband was late. I can't recall why.
So, typically then, I tended to throw a mini-fit, in my tone and words, really whining, "Why are you late? Come on" and etc. (I'll spare you the full mini-fit experience.) Anyway, I had noticed that my kids were whining and throwing these mini-fits, and I believe God was letting me know these were on account of my behaviors. So when I started down that familiar path that day, I stopped and changed my tone of voice, and said sweetly (but not drippingly sweet), "Okay, honey, we'll wait until you get here. Looking forward to seeing you! Do you think I should tide the kids over with a snack?"
I then turned to my girls who were in the backseat of the van and told them, "Mommy really wants to yell and throw a fit and complain that Daddy's late, but do you know what? That only tears him down. We are to build each other up with our words. So instead of doing what I feel like doing, I'm choosing to change my attitude, words and tone because this is really not that big of an issue."
Later, when we got back in the car with my hubby, I was in a good mood, he was in a good mood and the girls were in good moods. I asked him about his morning and he kept looking at me cautiously, like he was waiting for the other shoe. It was then that I believed my suspicion about my children's attitudes was confirmed. I asked him if he noticed anything different, and he said, "Uh.." and looked at me like "I don't know how you want me to answer that..." I then said, "Did you notice I didn't say one complaining word?" And he, visibly relieved, answered that he had noticed that and was just waiting for it.
Wow. The power of being a wife and mom. Ladies, don't abuse it. Don't underestimate it.
Pass it on to your littles. They need a vocabulary for their feelings, allowing them to know how to communicate them properly, not stuffing them inside or numbing their feelings with food, games, TV or books.
6 Ways to Respond When You Are Angry at Your Spouse:
1. Is this a big deal? Really? In other words, in 10 years, will this be a big deal that shaped lives or patterns? If it's a big deal, it needs to be dealt with. If not, in the words of Elsa, "let it go!" And don't bring it back.
2. Look deeper. What is the underlying issue/pain point. Many times, it's really the same argument with a spouse or sibling or child...if so, look at the pattern and unpack it.
3. Take a look at physical needs. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) has a great saying: HALT! Never get too Tired, too Angry, too Lonely, or too Tired. It just makes sense. When we are any of these things, we tend to make stupid decisions and say stupid things. It may be as simple as getting enough sleep for all involved. Or as simple as feeding a snack to your child. Think of the Snickers commercial because people are not themselves when blood sugar drops. Teach these to your children and help them to learn to listen to their bodies.
4. Talk about your feelings and how you deal with them. Let them see what you do and help them understand your process. Give them a vocabulary so they can describe their feelings.
5. Take a time-out. Many times, in the moment it is hard to have these discussions as kids can, just like us, let their emotions get out of control. Teaching your kids to make the T symbol (think football: time out) with their hands and walk away can really help them to avoid letting them get into real trouble. Then they can return to discuss once they have had time to cool down...and teach them what they can do when they are cooling down (pray, listen to Christian music that reminds them of truth--not secular as music has power, breathe, organize or clean, take a shower, dance or exercise, etc.). You know where they will learn this? From you. So, truth moment: how many of you get on the phone with a friend when you're upset and tell your friend the whole mess? Guess who's watching and what they'll do when they are mad at you?? You guessed it. And you reap what you sow.
6. Ask God for wisdom into your child. Each child is different. God will show you what they need, but not always, as they need Him more than they need you. He is the perfect parent; not me and not you. He loves your child more than you ever will and can fill in the gaps between what we are able to give and what they need. So asking God to help you to be the parent your child needs, seeking wisdom only He can provide.
© 2018 Jen Wisdom-Schepers, MD. All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer: Jen Wisdom-Schepers, MD is licensed to practice medicine in the State of Tennessee. While Jen Wisdom-Schepers, MD may provide remote coaching and information products that are available outside Tennessee, such are not intended to be and may not be used for treatment purposes. Any information made available by Dr. Schepers on this website or through remote services outside of Tennessee are expressly and exclusively for education. If as a result of exposure to these resources, you are driven to seek psychotherapy, you are encouraged to do so promptly and locally.