So Dh and I have what I consider to be a pretty good marriage. We really don't fight much ever, mostly because we are good at reaching compromises and taking turns and acknowledging when one of us really wants something and the other doesn't care as much.
But we both have temper problems and both of us are liable to explode. We've learned pretty well over 3 and a half (plus) years of marriage and another four years of being a couple that blowing up at each other only results in hurt feelings and shouting and nastiness and silent treatments.
But we still blow up over situations (especially when it comes to home repair and decorating) and we've talked about that. It's something we both learned from our fathers, but it's also something that neither of us really wants to put forward in front of our kids. While our fathers didn't scream at us or throw things at us, they did scream at objects and throw them around, and I'm ashamed to say it's the sort of response we both have when we are angry and frustrated. But I've told DH how it makes me feel - how my dad would fume in silence (trying not to unleash his anger at his family) and how we would all tiptoe around him, terrified to upset him or make it worse because while it wasn't directed at us then, we didn't want to focus it on us (again - not that he was ever violent or abusive! Ever.).
I don't want that for our kids. I don't want them to wonder if they did something because they don't understand the frustration involved with car repair or a broken garbage disposal when there isn't money for a plumber. I don't want them to tiptoe around us, afraid of us, or feeling anxious and uneasy.
It's a behavior we want to change. But we sort of suck at it.
Today was a good example. It was stupid - our gate opener isn't working properly. Likely, the battery needs to be replaced, and we haven't got any 9-volts. We'd forgotten to get any when we went to the store, and consequently were having trouble getting in the gate. DH got out of the car to see if it would work closer up, and barring that, to run back and retrieve the other gate opener. While he was trying this, another car pulled up and one of the two of us opened the gate. Being the closer car to the entrance, I turned in first. As I slowed down to cross the bump, DH opened the door unexpectedly to get back in the car. I was trying to get out of the way so the car behind us could get in while the gate was still open, so I was still driving, which meant DH had to quickly shut the door. As soon as I was clear, I stopped so he could get in, but he hadn't understood what was happening, and he was pissed, because he nearly got hurt trying to get in while I was still driving. Instead of getting in, he threw the remote into his seat and started stalking off towards our house. Now I'm pissed off, so I left him, drove up and parked the car. I opened the trunk for him, the gate and the back door so he could unload the groceries and walked inside.
I stayed out of his way until I was calm (and avoided slamming doors and huffing and whatever else I was tempted to do). When the groceries were put away, I went to him and said, "I'm really sorry. I wasn't trying to hurt you or upset you, I was trying to get clear of the gate so the car behind us could get in as well."
And he said, "I know, I saw them just after. I'm really sorry I was an ass. I behaved poorly."
And now it's ok. No sulking, no slamming doors, so throwing produce into the fridge or being angry. Just an acknowledgement that there was a misunderstanding and recognizing where the poor response was.
I think we're both growing up a little.