It’s both hilarious and depressing when you think about some of the fights we’ve had with our loved ones. This story is meant to be equal parts funny, sad and inspiring. Hopefully, the following can serve as a parable for how to be self-reflective and radically candid to survive an argument, connect more deeply, turn a bad day into a great one and make it much easier to look back on and laugh 😆
My wife Kristina and I had a bit of an unnecessary blow up on an otherwise lovely day related to eating some ice cream together. Seems crazy right? Or maybe it seems familiar. We’ve all been there in some way shape or form…an idyllic day gets ruined by a seemingly innocuous situation.
The underlying premise of this story? It’s about a wife who does a lot for her husband vs. a husband who is appreciative but opinionated. You can probably tell where this one is headed…
I’m going to start this story at the end, after our fight, and to the email that I sent to Kristina 20 minutes after the Ice Cream Incident when we’d had time to cool off.
The email reads:
Why the Ice Cream Situation was Frustrating (for both of us)
Why did I write this list?
- To apologise! I’m sorry for frustrating you so much in that moment.
- You’ve shown me how useful and powerful it is to write this stuff down when in an emotional state to be clearer about where frustrations exist
- I want to show you that I do think about your side of the equation and feel I understand you even if I don’t get it perfectly right, hopefully the attempt shows you how much I care, and as I get better I will get more accurate and understand you more
- I hope that showing you your own methodology – but adding in trying to think about things from your perspective – makes this an even more powerful exercise – and as long as we both see and understand each other’s sides – I can recognise, accept, apologise, forgive, grow and move on together 🙂
Here is my perception of why you were rightly frustrated by me:
- You had the thought and idea of wanting ice cream
- You got an ice cream for yourself to enjoy quietly
- You nicely wanted to get me an ice cream when I looked like I wanted one
- You went out of your way to get me an ice cream
- I was annoying about wanting your ice cream when you got me my own ice cream
- I continued bringing it up with you, frustrating you even further
- You are a bit hung over and have a headache, making the whole thing more unpleasant
- You’d let me into your safe space the creative room, and I made it frustrating
- This all occurred after you had spent more time cleaning the house than me
- You had already asked me to leave you alone while listening to a book, and I interrupted you still
Here is where my feelings came from and what I wanted to get across:
- When we were shopping at the 3rd or 4th shop we had gone to when preparing for the bbq (I was trying to be as open as I could be and nice to get you to shop in multiple places as I recognise how much you like to shop, I was getting frustrated by being in such an enormous Continente and we were looking for ice cream at this point
- When we actually got to the ice cream, I got a bit excited because – because of you – I like ice cream now
- In the ice cream selection process, I let you guide what we were choosing
- Once we had chosen these delicious mixed mini ice cream bars, you said you only wanted 1 box of the mixed ones but I really wanted 2 boxes – after more pressure – I returned the second box – I wanted these because almond is my favourite flavour 🙂
- But when looking at the second location for ice creams, I then voiced my opinion here, saying I really like the almond ones but I was happy to listen to what you wanted (I should not have said this last part)
- You said that you wanted the pink ice cream bars – I was disappointed because I really don’t like them, in fact I find them quite disgusting
- So today when I saw you having the almond bar, I figured that was because there were no other ice creams left
- But when you brought me the second ice cream, and it was the pink one, I was frustrated bc you had demanded we get the pink ones rather than the almond ones – when I always wanted the almond ones from the beginning
- When you asked to save you a bite, at this point, I thought you must be referring to the pink ones because of my recollection of you enjoying the pink ones so much that you told me not to buy the almond ones and instead buy the pink ones
- This annoyed you more so I just saved the almond one for you and ate the pink one instead
- You do SO much for me so I am not saying you do nothing for me – however, I do all the time acquiesce to your desires and try to help give you what you want – and often on these smaller type things – I give in to you and your preferences (I recognise and appreciate that you do this a lot with me too)
- I didn’t want any of this to be a big deal or cause a fight!
- I just like almond ice creams much more than pink ice creams and assumed it was the opposite for you because of our interactions at the supermarket
I sent this as an email to my wife Kristina knowing that in the moment there was no way we could reconcile things. The mere act of structuring my thoughts helped me gather and craft my points to clearly articulate my side of things. It also allowed me to cool off and be able to be empathetic. I stretched to put myself in her shoes to understand what her point of view was. After 10 years of being together, I feel like I’ve finally learned that as angry as I am when she gets so angry, there are always two sides to the story. Doing this made me realise that she actually had many a leg to stand on!
I would not recommend this method to all people as it could backfire and really piss off your partner. Trust your knowledge of each other. Tread confidently yet carefully.
It was the weekend so I knew she wouldn’t check her email immediately. I knew that after she had taken the time to cool off and think as well, this two-sided message would land a lot better. I know my wife and felt comfortable and confident taking a calculated risk to write all this down and send it to her. Perhaps take an approach that is more tailored for you and your relationship. I do recommend writing down the feelings that you feel directly and that you perceive your partner feels as an exercise to see how this helps you to assess what has happened calmly.
This ultimately worked a treat. When we sat down and went through it together, and as it turned out, I had understood her side of things to a “T” which made us both feel even better. After we went through it, all was good in the world and in our relationship again. Therapy by email, who would have thought!
PS – For some light entertainment, this 4 minute video on Nothing Fights is 🤣