My husband and I have had a weekly lunch date for many years. We enjoy going out together, without the kids, and having uninterrupted conversation. Last year, my husband took a job further away. Unfortunately, we had to alter our ritual. We had to go down to every other week and lately it’s been one time a month! It’s been hard, but with each of us driving 15 minutes there and then 15 minutes back just to meet in the middle, it’s become difficult. However, the time is even more cherished now that’s it’s less frequent.
Last week was a particularly busy week for the both of us. My husband was 30 minutes late in calling me to tell me he was leaving to meet me. While I was waiting, I was afraid to make any calls that I needed to make because I wanted to be ready as soon as he could go. I couldn’t get a hold of him to see what was up. I don’t do well waiting on people and I don’t like people waiting on me. I value my time and others time as well. So this is a button of mine, I know (I’m still re-reading that patience book! lol). But I have to confess, I was FUMING! I had SO much I needed to do. I felt so frustrated as I waited, killing time. After 25 minutes I realized I had wasted all of that time and started to get into doing something. So when he called, I was short and let him know I was not happy.
I am grateful for our 15 minute drive to meet. I was able to have a conversation with myself that went something like this (Yes I was talking to myself- we Therapists call this “self-talk”).
Me to myself: “Oh I am TICKED! I’m gonna let him know when I see him that I am NOT happy! He KNOWS how busy I am. I just blew off a half hour! Do you know how much I could have done in 30 stinking minutes?? We only get to do this once a month now- seriously? Oh I am MAD!! Well he can go get groceries now when he gets off work because I will have to return the calls and emails that I could have just completed during that time. I’m gonna let him know that as soon as I see him!”
This went on for about 5 minutes. Suddenly, I realized I had a choice to change this conversation.
Me to myself: (Deep breath!) “Wait a minute. You have been waiting for this all day. Are you going to be mad and ruin it because he was late? Do you think he really wanted to be stuck in work rather than be with you? Probably not. (But I’m still ticked!) Yeah, so you’re mad. Can you let him know and then get over it so you can enjoy your lunch? Or do you want to ruin the lunch? No, you want to enjoy the lunch. So you have a choice, you can be ticked, let him know, and punish him or you can let him know how you feel, let it go, and enjoy your lunch. It’s not worth it. I’m letting go!”
At that moment, I took some deep breaths and decided I wanted to enjoy the lunch. When I saw my husband, he immediately apologized and explained he was in a meeting that ran over and he had left his phone on his desk so he couldn’t even text me. He then asked how I was doing today. Very calmly I said, “I am frustrated because I had a lot I could of done while I was waiting. I’m disappointed.” He apologized again and I honestly let it go.
I am in no way saying I am the perfect role model of healthy behavior. Sometimes i choose to be angry and ruin my perfect moments. But I have learned from that and I am just giving an example of how we do have a choice in our self-talk and in our behaviors. When our conversations with ourselves are spiraling, we can stop those, too. We can choose to act differently than in the past or how we were taught. How many times do we let perfect moments pass us by just to punish others to show them we are mad? We really punish ourselves, too.
One note about this- I am not in any way saying to use this as an excuse to not tell your partner how you are feeling. I did tell my husband how I felt, I just chose to not make a big issue out of it. It was a mistake and there was nothing he could have done about it. So I let it go. There are times when issues need to be discussed further. This just wasn’t one of them.
I am so glad I chose, at least on this day, to let my husband know how I felt and then let it go. We had a great lunch together.
Thank you for reading this rather lengthy blog today. I hope you CHOOSE to have a great day!
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.