One aspect of romance that’s baffled me for years is the fact we’re much nicer to strangers than we are to the ones we claim to love. OK, not all the time, not every day, but in moments of stress. We will snap and insult our lovers in an instant when stressed well before we dare do so to a stranger in the streets.
Given how mean some folks get in the streets (think road rage), makes one wonder how things get at home when tension levels falls off the high side of the chart. This same puzzlement applies not just to lovers but also family members and friends. Not neglecting the reality that some folks are abusers, most people don’t realize the lashing out on close relations is a form of abuse.
I’m not talking about the time you elevated your voice out of frustration. I’m talking about the time you elevated your voice and looked for the right words that would really sting and hurt… because you were stressed out and frustrated with no good outlet coming to mind. That deliberate extra that hurt that much more. That kind of verbal abuse. (which is one of the worse forms of abuse one can do)
When Hard Times Arrive… talk nicely to one another
Everyone goes through a rough patch. There are short rough patches that last an hour to a day. There are medium rough patches that can last a few months. There are long ones that last years.
No matter how hard the moment is, should we really take it out on the very people we profess to love? Should we just unleash without restraint? Do they deserve that kind of affection?
One of the harder things to remember, when facing hard challenges, our partners, family, lovers, and friends generally aren’t the enemy. (that’s not ignoring the times when those people are the actual problems… that’s a different topic)
Worse, our significant others may be facing the same challenge and looking to us for some support and guidance instead of being screamed at.
It goes without saying that a degree of emotional self control and maturity is at play here, but that’s not the only thing. Many times, when things get difficult, we wrongly think that our venting is communicating affectively.
I don’t know about you, but being spoken too aggressively with accusatory tones and words… is not very loving a feeling. In fact, you’re going to catch professional grade defense and if you don’t stop, I either walk away or go on the offensive. I reserve the offensive for belligerent assaults… which I’ve not had to do in decades.
But I digress.
The point, when things get really hard, one has to really go out of one’s way to be nice to our loved ones.
How do you do nice when life is hard…
Two mentor of mine once told me something along these lines:
”When life gets very hard, that’s the time to show how loving you can be to those who depend on you. That’s the hallmark of a gentleman. That’s how trust is upheld. That way, in the rare event you lash out, they will know to forgive you. Habitual verbal abusive lashings destroys trust fast” – paraphrasing of two mentors.
In the situation of two people romantically involved for more than a few months, your partner already knows that life is hard for you. They’re there seeing it happening to you. They want you to succeed. Their interventions are usually motivated by love. They may not understand how you’re feeling if you’ve not yet shared that, but they’re trying their best.
Those are the moments when you’ve got to act your best. Take a break, be real… in a smart way.
Real in a smart way…
Few expressions sets the tone like the following words… “Babe, I’m very stressed right now and need a little space to process… will talk to you as soon as I decompress”.
Especially if said calmly… or as close to calmly as possible using one’s library (indoor) voice.
Phrases, like the one used above, communicate more than just feelings. It let’s the partner know you’re working on something, let’s them know you’re not cutting them out or cutting them off, assures then you’re going to return to being your usual partner self, and politely asks for what you need… space.
In that space, instead of trying to press forward and fix things all alone, it’s advisable to take care of yourself to cool off. Meditate… for some. Self-care of whatever variety for the rest. This is the time to assess, take a bit of distance, and gather one’s thoughts in a useful way.
I know for me, of late, I’ve been under a lot of stress. A lot of changes happening in my life. I also know about myself, I can think I’m speaking calmly, but I’m actually biting words and spitting out rapid fire incomplete thoughts that raises my lady’s defense.
By taking a bit of time to gather oneself, one can better and more clearly express oneself to ones partner…
“Babe, I’ve been stressed at work. Everything is fine, but I’ve got some huge deadlines. I have to push back date night to next week. Is that cool with you?”
Such a statement is far more loving, productive, understanding, and representative of the love you’ve professed than something like “Can’t you see I’m stressed, why must you bother me when I’ve got a big deadline?!?!”
When that appointment to talk does come around… ie date night
In the example of postponing date night, many think that they can jump into date night as if nothing happened. For some, that works, for most… it doesn’t.
Let your partner know how you’re doing. Focus on catching them up to speed. Let them know you managed to get your deadline met and you greatly appreciate their support by giving you space. Ask them how they feel about the period of tension you’ve just had. Ask them if they need anything from you.
While you were given space to handle your stress, they picked up a lot of the behind the scenes things to allow you that space. That added stress to them. It would be very appropriate to acknowledge this, address it, and even support. Do not take their support for granted. It was not an entitlement but a favor.
Yes. A favor. Couples do each other favors, it’s just not recommended to keep tabs for reimbursement purposes. It’s just wise to acknowledge the favor so that they’re not regretting being so nice to you. Love is a verb… and a noun. Act lovingly.
In time of hardship and stress, those are the times adding love and value to your relationship pays the biggest dividends. You may not be able to douse the relationship with all the love you’d like. You may even have to draw on the account of love the relationship has, but… invest what you can into your love.
This could be something as simple as saying… “honey… times are hard… but I’m glad I’m facing them with you”.
Whatever little thing you can do, do it. Don’t let stress ruin you and your love. If anything, these acts of kindness help safeguard you from the deleterious effects of stress.
What will you do this week to show your partner, your family, your significant close ones… that they’re important to you? It doesn’t have to be massive. It could just be a text message. Or a sticky note on the fridge.
Feel free to share below if you’d like.
All it takes is a few seconds to invest a kind moment with your love. The return could well be priceless.
While you’re planning an act of kindness, thank you for reading and sharing this post with someone who could benefit. For those who took the time to click like, thank you for the encouragement as well.
Go out and have a great relationship on purpose… starting with one act of kindness… and adding more as you’re able.