Discomfort, Disappointments, Anger, and Love (part 1)

Part 1 is a whine about a rough trip, and a yay for how my husband and I rocked it emotionally (while explaining how you might use these ideas when your going gets tough). In Part 2 I explore the subject of anger in a loving relationship.
Phew, I hope you find all this useful.

 

Finally home, after three weeks away.
We are back from our annual pilgrimage to Israel, which is where my husband and I are from. We go every year, to share our kids with their grandparents and their cousins. We take them to our favorite  beaches, have them taste the foods we miss.

We go every year. We go because even after almost 20 years on this side of the ocean (NYC, then Ithaca, NY), and despite adoring it here, and really really feeling at home in this amazing town (seriously, I’m not sure there is another town that could make me happier), I’m not sure I will ever stop thinking of Israel as Home. Back Home in a nostalgic, never-can-get -it -back, not -sure-I-ever-wanna-go-back, but-still-sometimes-long-for-it Home.

We go because it is important to keep the family connected and keep in touch — the non-virtual kind: hugs and cuddles, and sometimes even jostles (cousins: boys will be boys).

We go because we love our family. I miss my parents, my brother, my sister, miss them madly. I still have a grandma who deserves a dose of grate-grandchildren. I am lucky enough to have in-laws that I love, and awesome sisters and brothers in law. And then there are my friends. People who after living on the other side of the planet for so long I still long for. The  people I couldn’t have enough of even if we lived next door to each other, those for whom my love overcomes the years and the distance, people I miss all year long.

The Whine: Discomfort and Disappointments
The trip is always hard: transatlantic flights with little kids, anyone? Sleeping on couches, living out of suitcases (why is it that whatever you are looking for is never in the first suitcase you search?) and all the stresses of being away from home.

Three weeks are barely enough time to get over jet-lag, soak up the family, and see our friends. I usually get to see each friend only once, and scheduling everybody is always a struggle. Three weeks is a long time to be away from home, away from our normal rhythms, but it’s never enough time to spend with those we love.

This year it was harder. We were sick a lot. Stomach viruses (me, the big kid). Colds (all of us). Bruised ribs (dad). There was even a day at the emergency room with the little one: high fever and stomach pain attacks in which he was screaming and writhing. I’ve never seen him like this, it was terrifying. The only thing the docs could find was an inflamed throat, apparently these viruses can cause severe stomach pains. And guess what? The big kid got it next, and then so did I.

Pain, discomfort, lack of privacy, and sick, contagious kids.
Which means that we couldn’t go see other people with kids, which is pretty much everybody.
We still spent time with our families, but not nearly as much as we normally do,  and I left Israel still jonesing for them. I mean, I always miss them, but this time I didn’t get to recharge my love batteries.

And we barely spent time with our friends. I didn’t get to catch up with all of  my girlfriends. I didn’t get to see a new baby, a new house, and a premiere of a movie one of my friends wrote the script for. Waaaahhh!

And the beaches? Covered in Jellyfish. Those buggers hurt. The one time we were not too sick to go to the beach, we came home with those nasty little burns. Ouch. Yuck.

So you see, the normal discomfort of going half a world away with our little ones did not yield the rewards we were hoping would make it all worth it.
Disappointments galore.

 

The Love (and lab):
So the trip was hard. Which gave scientist-detective me, lots of opportunity to observe and experiment with Ways of Being and Solution-Finding. It gave me tons of opportunity moments to practice Discomfort Tolerance, and Grump Management (I’m working on helping handouts (read homework assignments) that teach how to practice these skills. If you want to be the first to know about those when they are ready, be sure to sign up to my mailing list, on the top right.) This trip was one big lab, an anthropological expedition, in which the subject of research were me, and my family.

And I am both astonished and proud to report that while this trip sucked (!!!) it was proof that my husband and I have truly transformed the way we deal with each other, and with our own selves:
We didn’t fight.
Sure we disagreed and argued here and there, but we didn’t fight.

Instead of retreating into self-preservation mode through the hardships, we collaborated. We talked about having to go through this tough time as a team. We reminded ourselves that we have each others’ back. We gave each other time to rest. We practiced our Non Violent Communications skills. We took every opportunity to notice and thank each other for our efforts, and did our best to overlook less than optimal behavior.
The mode of operation goes like this:  when something DH did (or didn’t do) bugs you, instead of thinking of him as lazy, mean, or inconsiderate, start by trying to give him the benefit of the doubt: could he be is either unable (too sick, too tired, too distracted) to help, or just doesn’t know what you need/want, or doesn’t know how to provide what you need /want?

Instead of nagging and accusing (so tempting, but not exactly effective), I managed to ask myself this: since he has my back and I have his, this (whatever the incident was) is either a misunderstanding or a case of no-can-do. And now I have  two choices: I can either communicate gently, without being accusing, or I could choose to drop it. (hint: dropping it can be a very good choice.)
And I chose to drop it often. And so did he.

When we were short tempered or grumpy (which we were, of course) we gave each other permission to not be all smiley and sweet all the time. Grump was unavoidable and therefore tolerated. We gave each other room to be us-who-struggle. We were kinder and more patient even as we were exhausted and short-tempered.

So we managed to have a tough time while being really really good together, really good to each other.
Because when the going gets tough, the tough can choose to be gentle. (Hard, but rewarding, so it becomes easier.)

Which means that on the love front, this trip was a huge success. It was magnificent.
And we gave each other credit for it.
So while this trip was full of pain, there was very little suffering.
Which in my book means: Dingdingdingdingding, Jackpot!
After having a long struggle with depression and anxiety, the de-coupleing of pain and suffering is even more impressive. I sure was impressed with us.
(Can you hear the PPDemons rubbing their hands and cackling “just you wait?” )

We soldiered through the lo00ng flight and the long drive home, and we made it back safely.
Breathe sigh of relief.

So good to be back home, right?
Right, but not just good.

The part about Anger:
Back home, in our normal surrounding, the solidarity didn’t hold up. We had a big fight.
Anger, which didn’t get a foothold while we were in the bubble of the trip, finally had its way with us.
It wasn’t pretty, and I am still processing it. Scientist/detective me is back on duty.

This past week, my beloved friend Robin wrote this post about postpartum rage, and how it effected her relationship with her husband . It’s an amazing post, go read it. Read the comments too. Add your comment if you can, because there is no way you will read this post and not have something to say, so do consider sharing it.

Reading about other mama’s rage against their men, made me think about my fights with my husband in a larger context. I am thinking about being angry, the right to be angry, the inevitability of it, and the ways out of it.
And I’m getting some very interesting ideas, I hope to finish writing the second part of this post by the end of the week. Stay tuned.

Much love,

Yael.

4 Responses to Discomfort, Disappointments, Anger, and Love (part 1)
  1. Yael
    July 27, 2011 | 10:23 am

    My Lovely Robin,
    I’m so glad that you and your husband are finding your way to communicate better through hardships. Loving communications is so key. You two are amazing, the work and the progress you are making are so inspiring. I am honored to witness that.
    And thank you for the kind words. You warm my heart.

  2. Yael
    July 27, 2011 | 10:19 am

    Oh, beloved girl!
    So happy to read your voice here. (Guys, Shir is my oldest friend. I adore her. While I did get a couple of hours of her magnificent company in Israel, it was farrrr less that enough (it’s never enough). Still better than none).
    You are making so much sense. I agree with your thought that too many couples loose their sense of team when in the stress of parenthood. It’s hard not to, but essential for happiness.
    I miss you.

  3. shir
    July 26, 2011 | 6:34 am

    I love you Yaeli.

    I also think you chose your husband well.

    I find that many couples when becoming a family, the-good-of-the-kids,
    their needs and the exhaustion that usually follows (and a bundle of
    other stuff too), tends to make them forget that it all began because
    something went really good between them. and suddenly they find
    themselves as two sharing parenthood as opposed to one team.

    So I was happy to read you two are Heart-Smart enough to give each other
    a shoulder/back to lean on. and that you remember that before everything
    else you are a good and loving team.

    I never met a perfect couple/family. everybody fights from time to time
    and I belive we just have to know HOW to fight..
    not to burn bridges and mostly to remember, even through anger and hurt,
    that the unpleasentness is felt on both sides..and both want it to stop.

    I find that making time in your schedule for a date with your beloved
    (just you two. no kids(
    doing somthing you share the love to (a good concert? ammusement park?
    treking? or whatever makes the two of you happy) helps to touch base
    on the mutual interests and care.

    besides, never underestimate the power of fun sharing….

    I’m not saying it’s a magic solution but I feel that sharing a laugh
    through hard times is priceless.

    love you!

  4. MamaRobinJ
    July 25, 2011 | 6:20 pm

    I can’t even begin to express how fabulous I think this is – and not because you referenced my posts, though I do love you for that ;)

    This line sums up so much for me: “We gave each other room to be us-who-struggle.” I’m cranky sometimes. All that rage stuff aside, I’m cranky much less than I used to be, but we all get like that, and in the situation you described I’d have been downright miserable. (That sounds like an exhausting trip, on all fronts.) It’s so great to be able to acknowledge it, especially in the moment, instead of letting your struggling and his struggling build on each other into something even bigger.

    My husband doesn’t get cranky often, but if he does I know he needs something. Time by himself usually. Same with me. And if we can’t get that we’re getting much better at managing it in the moment but to do that you have to be able to talk about it.

    Really looking forward to your thoughts on anger in part two. Really a lot :)
    MamaRobinJ recently posted..Hello, Inspiration: From My Heart

Discomfort, Disappointments, Anger, and Love (part 1)

Part 1 is a whine about a rough trip, and a yay for how my husband and I rocked it emotionally (while explaining how you might use these ideas when your going gets tough). In Part 2 I explore the subject of anger in a loving relationship.
Phew, I hope you find all this useful.

 

Finally home, after three weeks away.
We are back from our annual pilgrimage to Israel, which is where my husband and I are from. We go every year, to share our kids with their grandparents and their cousins. We take them to our favorite  beaches, have them taste the foods we miss.

We go every year. We go because even after almost 20 years on this side of the ocean (NYC, then Ithaca, NY), and despite adoring it here, and really really feeling at home in this amazing town (seriously, I’m not sure there is another town that could make me happier), I’m not sure I will ever stop thinking of Israel as Home. Back Home in a nostalgic, never-can-get -it -back, not -sure-I-ever-wanna-go-back, but-still-sometimes-long-for-it Home.

We go because it is important to keep the family connected and keep in touch — the non-virtual kind: hugs and cuddles, and sometimes even jostles (cousins: boys will be boys).

We go because we love our family. I miss my parents, my brother, my sister, miss them madly. I still have a grandma who deserves a dose of grate-grandchildren. I am lucky enough to have in-laws that I love, and awesome sisters and brothers in law. And then there are my friends. People who after living on the other side of the planet for so long I still long for. The  people I couldn’t have enough of even if we lived next door to each other, those for whom my love overcomes the years and the distance, people I miss all year long.

The Whine: Discomfort and Disappointments
The trip is always hard: transatlantic flights with little kids, anyone? Sleeping on couches, living out of suitcases (why is it that whatever you are looking for is never in the first suitcase you search?) and all the stresses of being away from home.

Three weeks are barely enough time to get over jet-lag, soak up the family, and see our friends. I usually get to see each friend only once, and scheduling everybody is always a struggle. Three weeks is a long time to be away from home, away from our normal rhythms, but it’s never enough time to spend with those we love.

This year it was harder. We were sick a lot. Stomach viruses (me, the big kid). Colds (all of us). Bruised ribs (dad). There was even a day at the emergency room with the little one: high fever and stomach pain attacks in which he was screaming and writhing. I’ve never seen him like this, it was terrifying. The only thing the docs could find was an inflamed throat, apparently these viruses can cause severe stomach pains. And guess what? The big kid got it next, and then so did I.

Pain, discomfort, lack of privacy, and sick, contagious kids.
Which means that we couldn’t go see other people with kids, which is pretty much everybody.
We still spent time with our families, but not nearly as much as we normally do,  and I left Israel still jonesing for them. I mean, I always miss them, but this time I didn’t get to recharge my love batteries.

And we barely spent time with our friends. I didn’t get to catch up with all of  my girlfriends. I didn’t get to see a new baby, a new house, and a premiere of a movie one of my friends wrote the script for. Waaaahhh!

And the beaches? Covered in Jellyfish. Those buggers hurt. The one time we were not too sick to go to the beach, we came home with those nasty little burns. Ouch. Yuck.

So you see, the normal discomfort of going half a world away with our little ones did not yield the rewards we were hoping would make it all worth it.
Disappointments galore.

 

The Love (and lab):
So the trip was hard. Which gave scientist-detective me, lots of opportunity to observe and experiment with Ways of Being and Solution-Finding. It gave me tons of opportunity moments to practice Discomfort Tolerance, and Grump Management (I’m working on helping handouts (read homework assignments) that teach how to practice these skills. If you want to be the first to know about those when they are ready, be sure to sign up to my mailing list, on the top right.) This trip was one big lab, an anthropological expedition, in which the subject of research were me, and my family.

And I am both astonished and proud to report that while this trip sucked (!!!) it was proof that my husband and I have truly transformed the way we deal with each other, and with our own selves:
We didn’t fight.
Sure we disagreed and argued here and there, but we didn’t fight.

Instead of retreating into self-preservation mode through the hardships, we collaborated. We talked about having to go through this tough time as a team. We reminded ourselves that we have each others’ back. We gave each other time to rest. We practiced our Non Violent Communications skills. We took every opportunity to notice and thank each other for our efforts, and did our best to overlook less than optimal behavior.
The mode of operation goes like this:  when something DH did (or didn’t do) bugs you, instead of thinking of him as lazy, mean, or inconsiderate, start by trying to give him the benefit of the doubt: could he be is either unable (too sick, too tired, too distracted) to help, or just doesn’t know what you need/want, or doesn’t know how to provide what you need /want?

Instead of nagging and accusing (so tempting, but not exactly effective), I managed to ask myself this: since he has my back and I have his, this (whatever the incident was) is either a misunderstanding or a case of no-can-do. And now I have  two choices: I can either communicate gently, without being accusing, or I could choose to drop it. (hint: dropping it can be a very good choice.)
And I chose to drop it often. And so did he.

When we were short tempered or grumpy (which we were, of course) we gave each other permission to not be all smiley and sweet all the time. Grump was unavoidable and therefore tolerated. We gave each other room to be us-who-struggle. We were kinder and more patient even as we were exhausted and short-tempered.

So we managed to have a tough time while being really really good together, really good to each other.
Because when the going gets tough, the tough can choose to be gentle. (Hard, but rewarding, so it becomes easier.)

Which means that on the love front, this trip was a huge success. It was magnificent.
And we gave each other credit for it.
So while this trip was full of pain, there was very little suffering.
Which in my book means: Dingdingdingdingding, Jackpot!
After having a long struggle with depression and anxiety, the de-coupleing of pain and suffering is even more impressive. I sure was impressed with us.
(Can you hear the PPDemons rubbing their hands and cackling “just you wait?” )

We soldiered through the lo00ng flight and the long drive home, and we made it back safely.
Breathe sigh of relief.

So good to be back home, right?
Right, but not just good.

The part about Anger:
Back home, in our normal surrounding, the solidarity didn’t hold up. We had a big fight.
Anger, which didn’t get a foothold while we were in the bubble of the trip, finally had its way with us.
It wasn’t pretty, and I am still processing it. Scientist/detective me is back on duty.

This past week, my beloved friend Robin wrote this post about postpartum rage, and how it effected her relationship with her husband . It’s an amazing post, go read it. Read the comments too. Add your comment if you can, because there is no way you will read this post and not have something to say, so do consider sharing it.

Reading about other mama’s rage against their men, made me think about my fights with my husband in a larger context. I am thinking about being angry, the right to be angry, the inevitability of it, and the ways out of it.
And I’m getting some very interesting ideas, I hope to finish writing the second part of this post by the end of the week. Stay tuned.

Much love,

Yael.

4 Responses to Discomfort, Disappointments, Anger, and Love (part 1)
  1. Yael
    July 27, 2011 | 10:23 am

    My Lovely Robin,
    I’m so glad that you and your husband are finding your way to communicate better through hardships. Loving communications is so key. You two are amazing, the work and the progress you are making are so inspiring. I am honored to witness that.
    And thank you for the kind words. You warm my heart.

  2. Yael
    July 27, 2011 | 10:19 am

    Oh, beloved girl!
    So happy to read your voice here. (Guys, Shir is my oldest friend. I adore her. While I did get a couple of hours of her magnificent company in Israel, it was farrrr less that enough (it’s never enough). Still better than none).
    You are making so much sense. I agree with your thought that too many couples loose their sense of team when in the stress of parenthood. It’s hard not to, but essential for happiness.
    I miss you.

  3. shir
    July 26, 2011 | 6:34 am

    I love you Yaeli.

    I also think you chose your husband well.

    I find that many couples when becoming a family, the-good-of-the-kids,
    their needs and the exhaustion that usually follows (and a bundle of
    other stuff too), tends to make them forget that it all began because
    something went really good between them. and suddenly they find
    themselves as two sharing parenthood as opposed to one team.

    So I was happy to read you two are Heart-Smart enough to give each other
    a shoulder/back to lean on. and that you remember that before everything
    else you are a good and loving team.

    I never met a perfect couple/family. everybody fights from time to time
    and I belive we just have to know HOW to fight..
    not to burn bridges and mostly to remember, even through anger and hurt,
    that the unpleasentness is felt on both sides..and both want it to stop.

    I find that making time in your schedule for a date with your beloved
    (just you two. no kids(
    doing somthing you share the love to (a good concert? ammusement park?
    treking? or whatever makes the two of you happy) helps to touch base
    on the mutual interests and care.

    besides, never underestimate the power of fun sharing….

    I’m not saying it’s a magic solution but I feel that sharing a laugh
    through hard times is priceless.

    love you!

  4. MamaRobinJ
    July 25, 2011 | 6:20 pm

    I can’t even begin to express how fabulous I think this is – and not because you referenced my posts, though I do love you for that ;)

    This line sums up so much for me: “We gave each other room to be us-who-struggle.” I’m cranky sometimes. All that rage stuff aside, I’m cranky much less than I used to be, but we all get like that, and in the situation you described I’d have been downright miserable. (That sounds like an exhausting trip, on all fronts.) It’s so great to be able to acknowledge it, especially in the moment, instead of letting your struggling and his struggling build on each other into something even bigger.

    My husband doesn’t get cranky often, but if he does I know he needs something. Time by himself usually. Same with me. And if we can’t get that we’re getting much better at managing it in the moment but to do that you have to be able to talk about it.

    Really looking forward to your thoughts on anger in part two. Really a lot :)
    MamaRobinJ recently posted..Hello, Inspiration: From My Heart