…and his name is husband…
My husband is 95% wonderful: excellent dad, emotionally aware and introspective, kind and generally compassionate. BUT. When he’s upset about something, he doesn’t talk about it, he just kinda stews and is quiet and disengaged.
My own dad was not nearly as wonderful as my husband (still a decent man but dealing with a lot of his own stuff) but he would go into dark spaces for days or weeks and we kids would have to tiptoe around and watch our words so we didn’t set him deeper into his downward spiral.
I realize now how unfair that was, and that a child should never bear the responsibility for how an adult is feeling. But those channels run deep, and now when my husband retreats, I feel a mixture of the fear I had as a child that somehow it’s my fault, and also a really strong irritation and resentment because I don’t understand why it’s so hard to just say “I’m dealing with some stuff and I’m not ready to talk about it.”
I’ll give you three chances to guess how I behave in response to my irritation and resentment, but you’ll only need one.
I’ve come up with a few more appropriate responses than drinking:
– naming it: saying to him “You seem upset about something. Do you need some time away from family duties to work on it?”
A lot of my resentment stems from my dad getting into moods but still being around and crabby and we all had to deal with it and behave in front of him. Honestly, if my husband is going to disengage, it’s easier if he’s physically not present either.
– deep breathing and repeating a little mantra, something like “his bad mood is his problem, not mine. Drinking makes it my problem and doesn’t actually change anything. Sobriety remains my #1 goal.”
Even if it’s something I said or did that triggered the bad mood, it’s still HIS issue that he needs to work through, or at least have the guts to bring up to me instead of letting it fester.
– physically shaking it off: mini dance party with the kids or ten minute yoga session to break the momentum of crabbiness
Anyone else deal with this kind of thing at home? What positive coping strategies do you use?