Shake It Off Like Mariah Carey
On our way to meet the in laws for brunch on Christmas, we were going back and forth about hurt feelings. We were both feeling sensitive and taking things the other did personally. When Mark told me what was bothering him, I felt the same. As if he spoke my thoughts precisely.
I started the conversation by rubbing his shoulders and saying, “I don’t want to fight, can we just shake it off?” I was determined to turn things around. But after hearing him express himself, I started to heat up and take things personally all over again. We went back and forth for the next 10 minutes down the canyon.
He asked that I not bring up every little thing he did wrong. I asked the same. We were both overwhelmed by a slew of family things, hosting 8 family members at our house for the week, and hosting the upcoming holiday feast. We were yearning for quiet time together as a family and we were about to enter a full day.
But even after we heard each other out, made our requests and agreements, and apologized, there still wasn’t much of a connection. Silence went on between us for 5 minutes, while I watched Wes process this conversation. He looked more serious than usual and I have no doubt he felt the heaviness in the air.
I was committed to getting us back to a good place. Tapping into his love language, I reached over and rubbed Mark’s shoulders again. “I really don’t want to fight with you, baby. We’re both being sensitive. Can we shake it off and start over?” I felt his muscles relax in my hands. “Yes. I can shake it off. I don’t want to fight either.” Finally, we were disarmed.
After getting settled at the brunch table, forehead-to-forehead, we paused for a moment, said ‘I love you,’ and kissed. We were back to normal! [Enter confetti emoji here.]
It would have been so uninspiring to keep blaming each other for saying this and that and wait until one of us eventually got over it. We’d eat with family, open presents, and move on at some point. It wasn’t just the fact that it was Christmas day that drove me to stick to getting back to good ASAP – it was seeing Wes in the back seat with his serious-face as Mark and I initially disagreed with each other – that really hit home. When mom and dad aren’t happy, no one’s happy. And after all was said and done, it felt special that Wes saw us work out an issue, full circle, and get back to a loving place. I love Mark so deeply and when we’re in a funk, I remember that he’s the same sweet and thoughtful guy I fell in love with years ago, whom I love unconditionally today and who I would never want to hurt. Getting through these issues promptly lets us enjoy time together again.
On Christmas day and the weeks leading up to it, I felt like I was doing everything wrong. Too much going on led to poor communication in planning. Not enough of me to go around to spend the time everyone wanted between Mark, my nephew, Wesley and other family members. And instead of sharing these stresses with Mark, I projected it onto him.
Being committed to peace in a relationship takes effort. It doesn’t mean that there are no bad days, but that the days you have that are bad, you recognize your partner is impacted. Sharing openly and vulnerably, and being committed to keeping peace in our relationship when the world around me seems chaotic, quickly brought us back.
If you’re interested in learning more about what fills your partner’s “love tank,” and want to know how you really like to give/receive love, check out The Five Languages of Love. It’s how I learned that touch will disarm Mark every time ;).