It’s Monday night and I already feel as though I’ve had a very long week. My husband casually tells me that a podcast guest that I was looking forward to interviewing rescheduled (again) and that it’s okay because he scheduled someone else at that same time slot. The same time slot that I told him didn’t work for me the first time he scheduled someone. You see Wednesday all my children are home and they don’t even have school. That is just the “best” possible time to schedule a noon interview when they will all be clamoring for food and wondering if we are doing anything fun together. Let us hope that they can be quiet while I try to get this Podcast done. It’s always challenging when my children are home. The last time I interviewed someone Max decided to be in the kitchen watching a tv show loudly while eating loudly. I was so distracted. I really need to train my children. It doesn’t happen that often but if I actually have to work, they can attempt to be quiet or go upstairs for a little while. Seth knows what it’s like trying to keep our children quiet when he works at home.
Let us back up. Why did I snap at Seth? Let us talk about all the reasons why I was upset. First, I had already told him that time was bad for me. You are probably wondering why he is setting up my interviews and I am wondering the exact same thing. He says it’s part of the Podcast package. Second, I picked up Lillie at 2:45 and she had a total tired meltdown. My mellow day by myself went out the window the moment Lillie had a meltdown. I then dropped Ella and Lillie off at theater and drove Max to the chiropractor. He was in pain and wanted to be evaluated and moaned and groaned and tossed and turned in his seat right next to me the whole way there and home. Between football practice, soccer practice, and starting weight training, he had obviously hurt himself doing one of these things. By the time I got home at 6:00 PM I was fried from those few stressful hours with my kids. Third, I had already worked on a specific set of questions for my guest and was so excited to meet her and talk to her. Now I have to start over and find out who he booked and come up with new questions. Is that a big deal? No. My husband was trying to be nice. He was trying to book me someone to interview for my Podcast and was so sweet to want to do it a time that he could be home. Did he deserve for me to snap at him? No way. It’s so nice that he is finding successful mothers for me to interview and to also book the interviews for me. All he deserves is my appreciation. Calm and unstressed me knows all of this. Stressed out ready to snap me didn’t do a good job.
Seth is frustrated with my response and goes on to tell me that, “He quits.” He was going to get someone else to book my interviews. He went to, “That place” and then started to tell me what a bad client I am. I started to flash back to the days of working in my parent’s store. I remember my dad telling my mom she was fired. I remember thinking, “How on earth can you think that you can fire your wife? How rude is that?” You see, my mom ran a health food store in the front of my dad’s pharmacy when his pharmacy was open. I spent time being a pharmacy technician in my dad’s pharmacy. Now they own a health food store together – Marlene and Phil’s Vitamin and Herb Center in Depew, New York. Seth didn’t know that he pushed a button, but oh boy did he push a very fragile button. My anger escalated and I saw red. How could he possibly say that to me? I was livid. If he was going to quit, then I was quitting too. Why on earth did I think to combine our marriage with work? “This is why married couples don’t work together.” I thought to myself. “I just want to finish the dishes, please leave me alone!” I yell at Seth completely furious with him. I realize that I was completely wrong in snapping at him. I also realize that Seth could have made it better or worse and he chose at that moment to make the argument worse.
“How could he treat me this way?”
“He wouldn’t talk to a client like this.”
“Why on earth did I ever think I could work with him?”
“This was a bad idea.”
“This is negatively impacting our marriage. I quit.”
Negative thoughts swirl through my head as I start thinking about all the times we have fought since I went back to working. I started to think about the process with his clients and how differently he is doing this with me. I go on and on in my head and am in a place of totally wanting to quit. I’ll go back to “just” being a stay at home mom. I say just in quotes because it is a very hard job. There is nothing just about it.
My sanity starts to take over and I start to think about all the sweet text messages and phone calls I have gotten about my Podcasts. I start thinking about all the good reviews and what people are saying. I start thinking about the woman I interviewed who just told me how much she enjoyed talking to me. I started to smile thinking happy thoughts. What if I was helping people and making people smile? Seth and I are a dynamic and magical duo. I was letting us ruin something good. I was forgetting that the wind beneath my wings (Seth), always wants what’s best for me. I was on a positive role and heading in a new positive work direction and I wasn’t going to let us ruin this. What were we doing wrong and how was I going to fix this? Seth came over to me on the couch with his puppy dog eyes and I knew it was time to talk and work this out. This was an opportunity for our marriage to grow in a new direction that we weren’t expecting. We learned how to work together at home with the kids and our house. We hadn’t figured out how to work together professionally and it was time for us to do just this. I knew there was always room for our marriage to grow and get better.
In my defense, I did not know so many things:
I did not know the extent of which that Lillie had driven her nuts ahead of time.
I did not know that Max was in one of his dramatic, moaning and groaning, “I think I’m going to die,” moods. I’ve been there during the long drives to soccer – that’s enough to send anyone over the edge. For those of you unfamiliar with this emotional display of Max’s, I refer you to the chapters of Rebecca’s book Whinypaluza, about Max’s infamous foot injuries, parts one and two.
So, you add all that up, and I was screwed no matter what I said.
Then of course, it’s all my fault that her guest rescheduled for the second time, and that makes it worse. It wasn’t my fault, but that actually doesn’t matter. I’m just collateral damage in the first part of this scenario.
I thought I was helping by rescheduling at the exact same time she was already expecting, because then her schedule wouldn’t have to change. I thought I was the hero here. Silly me. I thought I would get hugs and kisses, maybe some flowers, not fireworks. I forgot she didn’t want to do a show on a day the kids were off in the first place, so it wasn’t good that I booked her that same time slot again. I DOUBLE screwed up. Can you believe it?
So, she wasn’t happy, and instead of trying to understand her darn feelings for the millionth time, I gave up. Why do women have so many feelings anyway? Seriously. My coach has me do a little mood meter app during the day to monitor the emotional states I have. When he first had me start using it, he asked me if I understood how to use it right. I was doing it right. I just am generally happy throughout the day at work (most of the time).
I think my youngest daughter would break the app in the first five minutes of waking up.
I did NOT KNOW that saying, “I QUIT” would provoke such an intense emotional reaction. For the record, I wanted to QUIT UPSETTING HER! I think for that sentiment, I should get the husband of the year award. She totally took it the wrong way.
There’s a lesson for you husbands out there – REMEMBER your secret decoder ring! You know the one that shows you all the key phrases that have nothing to do with you, but that if you say them, they will instantly transport your wonderful wife to another time and place where you are suddenly the evil enemy.
Oh wait, she never gave me a secret decoder ring, bummer. That would have been really helpful.
Maybe I should ask her to make me a list. She could add that to her to-do list. She would love it if I gave her more work to do.
On the plus side, I did not know that I have puppy dog eyes and will make sure to use them more often. I did eventually come around and say all the right things (including giving her a typewritten apology).
Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and do a better job than I did (and make sure to stop keeping the secret decoder ring secret from your husband)!
Steps to improve our work relationship:
- Work on learning how to manage the technology part so that Seth doesn’t need to be home for Podcasts. Technology makes me nervous, but I think I have it figured out. It’s really not that hard (I think). Then interviews can be scheduled when most convenient for me and Seth doesn’t need to worry about being home. I would prefer to get them done the two days the children are in school while they are actually allowed to go to school. We will see how long that lasts. I don’t think I’ve actually gotten to do one with the kids in school but that sounds heavenly. I’m guessing they are about to go full remote so who am I kidding. My kids will always be home.
- Use a professional tone with each other when work related. How would we talk to a boss, employee or client? We can use that calm rational tone in our marriage more often too. If we talk to our spouse how we talk to others, then we will have less marital issues.
- Don’t take out our stress on each other. We are not each other’s punching bags. Discuss the stress and ask for help vs. venting and displacing the stress at each other.
- Realize that Seth is always trying to help me.
- Seth forgets steps because I am his wife. Go through the proper steps to have the most success.
- Show and tell appreciation for all that Seth and his team do for me to make Whinypaluza a success. I have so many positive and appreciative thoughts and I don’t tend to share them. He only hears the one thing that may be wrong.
- Be specific and have clear expectations with each other.
- Understand each other’s roles and team members roles in the process. It’s a whole amazing process that results in a fabulous product. I am so thankful for my Whinypaluza products. I don’t always understand what I am supposed to be doing and what the team is doing.
- Ask me more questions and make less assumptions. Ask Seth questions. Assume the best.
- Think before we speak. How will we make each other feel?
- Being in love is so much more important than work nonsense. Remember that.
- Work boundaries get very fuzzy when you live with one of your clients. I ask Seth questions at all hours of the night. It’s 10:40 PM and if I ask him a question, he will go take care of whatever it is right now without hesitating. I need to be courteous of some boundaries. First, we need to establish non work time. Second, he needs to realize this in reverse and not expect me to drop everything and do work if I am in the middle of something at home.
- It all comes down to communication. If we communicate clearly and calmly with each other we always have success.
- Watch our tone. I get bitchy and Seth gets abrasive. We can do better than that. Let us treat each other the best.
I hope that if you work with your spouse that this can be helpful to you. If you don’t work with your spouse, I hope that this can just be helpful in your every day relationship. I hope that Seth and I can learn and grow from our few work related conflicts. I hope that we can make our marriage even better and can develop a better working relationship. I know Seth loves what I am doing and is my biggest fan. I know that Seth and his team are very talented, and I greatly appreciate them. Tell your spouse what you appreciate. Tell them every day. Go make a better marriage. Seth, I love and appreciate you so much and will tell you and show you more often!
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R