So I’m just getting used to being married. It’s great. And I’m way better at it than I thought I’d be. All the stuff I worried about before getting married turned out for naught. Betsy is great. And we’re great together.
One thing I’ve had to learn, though, is not to allow my moods to affect the weather in the house.
What I mean is, when I’ve failed at something or missed a deadline or can’t seem to get the words turning in the typewriter, I can’t mope or get defensive like I could when I was single. These days, there’s another person in the house who is affected by that stuff.
Neither Betsy nor I are fighters.
We pretty much talk things out. Perhaps that’s because I got married so much later, I’m not sure. But recently, after I’d had a particularly rough day in fits and false starts trying to write, I brought my bad mood out of my upstairs office and right into the kitchen at dinner time.
I didn’t say anything; I just pitched in to help around the kitchen with a less-than contended frown on my face. I didn’t even want to process it with her; I just wanted to mope.
Betsy and I ate and then did some work filling our downstairs bookshelves with books we still hadn’t unpacked from the move. After an hour or so of hardly talking, I wondered whether she was mad at me. So I asked. She said she wasn’t, that she wasn’t upset at all. I kept unpacking books, realizing something was wrong with my wife. She’s not the least bit passive aggressive, so I know she’d tell me if something was wrong. Then I realized what was going on. She was mirroring my emotions.
We all tend to mirror each other’s emotions, after all.
That’s how we connect and relate. And because I was in a grumpy mood, all the weather in the house went dark.
Betsy and I finally sat down and talked about it. I told her I was feeling insecure about the book and I wondered whether it was any good and I wasn’t sure how to fix it. I assured her this had happened with every book, but I apologized for bringing the bad mood into the house.
Betsy said bringing a bad mood into the house wasn’t a crime, of course, and affirmed me for talking about it rather than letting it stay a mystery to her.
Anyway, after we talked about it, I no longer felt alone in that place, and felt more confident that, somehow, the words would come. And the weather in the house broke and there was some sunshine again.
That said, I’d say that’s been the biggest paradigm shift for me– that my emotions, my actions, my thoughts, and feelings are no longer only mine; they directly affect the people closest to me.
I want to take more responsibility for my emotions.
When they’re dark, I want to openly process them with friends or teammates to point them toward a more hopeful place rather than drag people into them with me.
Turns out we aren’t islands after all. We are mountains that create our own weather patterns. And that weather feeds or destroys crops.