“I don’t understand how to recognize when I’m sliding down the slope to becoming a overbearing, angry tyrant. If I have five minutes, or so, I have a chance to digest what was going on before the break. In the middle of a disagreement that is turning south though, I end up in an out of body experience seeing myself gripe and I don’t know when it happens”
-Me during counseling this morning
My Therapist, from now on known as Therapist (which replaces our former marriage lady), had a really good answer to my quandary. You have to be aware of what’s going on at all times. You have to think about what’s rattling around in your mind, how your wife is reacting to you, the tension between you. Then you have to take a timeout. The days of you barreling through everything have to be over or you lose everything.
Take A Timeout
This was something our marriage counselor tried to establish over and over. I wasn’t able to do it. “Let’s do this, if the two of you notice things getting really heated, call time out. Are the two of you ok with that?”
A few days later we’re arguing full force. I need a timeout. I’d tell her that she was trying to run from the situation. She would lie in bed next to me silently as I would go off on her.
“This is do disrespectful. I cannot believe you would act this way. How can you just lay there ignoring me when we have an issue we need to solve?” After a time she couldn’t take it anymore. She would roll over and smack between the eyes with truth. Only I didn’t realize it was truth. Since it was coming from her it must be wrong. 45 minutes later in still trying to prove my point and get her to admit I was right.
The Good Doctor (former therapist) put it this way. “You seem to have this need to be right. You can either be right or you can be happy. You have to choose one.”
There ARE times that you have to pursue an argument. Some things are worth fighting over. Every discussion, however, does not require pursuit. The cliché is to pick your battles. I picked every battle.
Time to pay attention to what’s going on.