Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Strategic Retreat!

Mood: Neutral. Don’t laugh, that’s the best description I can come up with right now. Not good or bad, just meh.
Listening to: My Daughter play Spiderman on the PS2

One of the greatest skills you can employ when you’re married is knowing when to throw in the towel and make a strategic retreat. No, I’m not talking about leaving your spouse, I’m talking about the moment when you realize that logic isn’t working anymore and anything you say will either be misinterpreted or will lead to a much larger fight involving screaming and possibly throwing things. This, my friend, is the best time to remove yourself for a few minutes and cool down.

Yesterday, we had such a situation. Daddy G and I had a dinner with some friends of our family that had come to Bangalore. Daddy G came home from the US the day before and was still fighting jet lag pretty badly. He was, however, up all day and seemed to be up to going out to dinner. We don’t get too many friends (even new ones we don’t really know) drop by, so I really wanted to make this happen and since he had been gone for 2 weeks, I really wanted him along too. I did tell him earlier that he didn’t have to if he didn’t feel up to it. He assured me he did. At 5:00, Daddy G passed out from tiredness. I figured if he took a half hour nap, he would be fine. We roused him at 5:30 to get ready to go. He proceeded to pick on my clothing choices (and whether or not I cared if I wore a band tee or an Indian top), and his kids clothes and hair. I pretty much brushed it off because everyone can be grumpy when they wake up. 

Daddy G then proceeded to flip the hell out when I tried to call my friends and confirm and didn’t know their last names, making it difficult for the person in the hotel to confirm I knew them. They are friends of my Aunt’s, so I was only told their first names. I got a little irritated then because I hate it when Daddy G flips the hell out for little things. I yelled back a little and he backed down. As we were leaving, my daughter wanted to bring along a marker and a piece of paper to write about her evening. I think she was afraid she would be bored, as these folks don’t have kids. Daddy G told her no and she talked back. He then started screaming about nothing at all. He was super out of control.

It was exactly this moment when I realized that there was no way he could get through the evening in the state he was in. I told him that I wanted him to go back to bed and sleep it off. I wasn’t mad, but we couldn’t be out in public with him flying off the handle about everything. He stomped off muttering and cursing under his breath. The kids and I took a deep breath and headed out the door. The best option at that point for everyone was to just change the plan and just roll with how it was.

We ended up having a lovely evening (and Daddy G got some much needed sleep!). Looking back, asking him to stay home was the right choice. Had I fought with him at all at that point, it would have turned into an epic battle that would have been pointless and probably would have scared the crap out of our kids. Sometimes, you just have to beat a strategic retreat.

When I got home, I woke Daddy G up and tried to get him to eat something as he hadn’t had dinner.  He asked for coffee, which I got for him. He got up and started doing a little bit of work. When Daddy G is mad, I pretty much just let him grumble/sulk/pout until he’s ready to talk about it. Bothering him about it and picking has never done me any good at all.  He will open up when he’s damn good and ready.  The first thing he told me was that he was really mad when I asked him to stay home, even though he knew it was the right call at the time. Looking back, it really was the best call because while the evening was pleasant, it did contain several unexpected turns that definitely would have set Daddy G off. The thing was, he still seemed pissed. When I asked him about it, he said he wouldn’t have worked from home that day if we weren’t going out to dinner. He started looking a little sheepish. This made me mad and I decided to insert some reality into the conversation. I told him that people who had just flown around the world had no business being at work the next day anyway. Luckily, Daddy G had a little bit of sanity from his extra sleep and tried to backtrack and say he was going to stay home anyways.  Whatever, ya work a holic!

Sometimes, it’s best to confront your significant other; sometimes a strategic retreat is much better than World War III. I’d venture to say that if your spouse is absolutely postal, for whatever reason, in front of your kids, it’s just not worth it, no matter how much you want to scream back.

We haven’t had too many situations that have reached this level of defcon, but the negative half of the coin that is getting comfortable with your spouse is that you feel much more comfortable saying what you mean and confronting him or her when needed.  It’s happened much more for us recently. Moving to India has brought on a whole new level of comfort and reliance on each other, and also a whole new comfort level about disagreeing.


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