Mr YFG and I were on holiday recently, sat on the beach in the delightful Mediterranean heat. All you could hear were the waves and seagulls….and an elderly couple bickering.
This couple had been on the same beach as us for a few days and the theme had been the same. The elderly lady barked instructions impatiently at her (very frail) husband, moaned about how she was too hot or felt ill and was just generally mean to him. She hissed his name (Alan, if you were wondering) again and again until he responded.
Given that they were both in their 80s and he seemed to have difficulty hearing, I’d have given him some slack. He could do nothing about her feeling unwell, and he could do nothing about the heat. I felt rather sorry for him.
It made me consider how I am lucky to have Mr YFG and he has the patience of a saint. I am the one with, let’s say, the more fragile emotional spectrum and he is more steady. I can get frustrated and angry about something and he just shrugs and moves on. Sometimes I am incredibly excited about something; he will again shrug and move on.
Despite our differences, Mr YFG and I don’t fight. We disagree on certain topics (sometimes severely), we negotiate and we can debate about things which we each value differently. We don’t argue in the normal way couples do. Where we disagree we don’t hold grudges, go to bed angry or give each other the silent treatment. We don’t snap at each other or let things heat up so one of us storms off.
I’ll share a few things that I have learned through being married and keeping the peace…
Our policy is honesty: say what you really mean, what’s really bugging you?
I often get frustrated if Mr YFG takes me on a trip which involves relying only on his sense of direction (which is good, but it ain’t Google Maps). I’m not frustrated by the walking, I might well be thirsty, hungry or need the loo and I just want to address my thirst or hunger. If I can’t do that then I may well get snarky with Mr YFG. I have learned to just say I’m hungry or thirsty. He’ll then take us by the path of sustenance. Rather than grumpily pad along behind him asking if he knows where we’re going.
Get it out in the open
If I’ve had a bad day at work, I may come home and look for things to moan about. Just because I wanted to moan. I used to come home fuming. Mr YFG would take the brunt of my complaints about everything he hadn’t done that day and less praise for what he had achieved that day. If Mr YFG has not taken the bins out, rather than sniping about it, I just tell him I’ve had a tough day and I’m sorry if I am miserable. Going to the gym has also helped me release the frustration from work.
It’s the situation, not the person
Let’s say a train is late. Old me would be angry and frustrated, I’d snap at Mr YFG whilst waiting for the train. Nothing he or I can do about it and it’s certainly not his fault. I feel we have a tendency to blame others for problems that happen, especially those physically closest to you. The reality is that there’s rarely one sole reason for something going wrong, and it’s unlikely it’s the fault of your nearest and dearest.
It was a great shame to watch poor Alan get roasted on the beach (and I’m not talking about a killer tan). What should have been a fun vacation appeared, at least from my view, to be utter misery for the couple. Given we control how we feel and interact with others, it was self-imposed misery.
One of the things I like about FIRE is that it takes negative elements in our lives and takes a sanguine philosophy. We could sit around and complain about how much we despise work, or we could actively do something to make our lives better.