Anatomy of an argument
We’re expecting a baby boy.
The first of fall we will welcome Chapel James into the family. We’ve waited 11 years for him, and “incredibly excited” understates how we’re feeling.
We’ve reached the nesting part of the pregnancy. Right now, my wife wants me to hang a TV in the nursery, repaint the bathroom and rehang the living room TV two feet higher.
Chapel will never know the trauma of eye level nightly news.
My wife does an amazing job of making our house look good. The nursery speaks for itself. The only thing holding back her homemaking ambitions is the fact she chose to procreate with a man who is as handy as a toothless hacksaw.
That’s the setup for last night’s main event.
The first round began with me rushing home to meet the unrealistic expectations I had set for myself. There was no way I was going to paint a bathroom and hang two TVs before eight. Big Daddy goes to bed early.
The second round started in the nursery. I was going to do this one right: hang this TV at the perfect height, solid enough for Chapel to hang off.
I’d bought cable track to hide the wires – just not enough. I thought there were 10 feet to a package, but there were only five.
I pushed on with half the materials.
The TV ended up six feet high instead of eight.
It looked like socks on a rooster. I should have gone back to Lowes for more track, but that would have messed up my schedule, so my hope was my wife would see it and decide it looked even better there.
She did not. She could see the socks on the rooster.
In the third round, I rigged the TV at seven feet with what track I had. My wife declared it was “fine,” not “looks great,” so I popped off a bunch of negative words about being positive and grateful then told her I was going upstairs to “relax.”
I’m very mature.
A ways back I figured out that often when I am upset with someone, it’s because of my feelings about myself.
My wife is not an ungrateful person. She shows me how thankful she is for me. Still, in the moment, I was unable to recognize the frustration I felt was not from feeling unappreciated. It was from feeling inadequate as a home husband.
Marriage is a process in which a person can grow through spending life being taught by shared experiences with someone they love. Some of those experiences exceed any concept we have of happiness. Those are like life school recess.
Life’s hardest lessons come from the unhappy experiences. Our pain is life’s pop quiz.
Last night’s lesson on misplaced frustration hit me this morning on the way to work. Eventually I will recognize I’m projecting and stop before acting unlovingly.
For now I’ll say I’m sorry, take accountability, head to Lowes and declare us both still undefeated.
Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville.