An email from a reader who has been dating this really great guy since about October and my response:
I’ve got another question I’d like your perspective on. It may sound like a ridiculous question when I actually pose the situation to you, but I’m hoping it represents a bigger picture that you can help me with.
I should preface this with the fact that both John (not his real name) and I are incredibly stubborn people.
For the past 8 days I’ve been caring for John as he recovers from surgery. Not to toot my own horn but I have been by his side from the get-go, helping out with everything, spending the night in the hospital, cooking, cleaning, shopping, walking the dog, everything.
Last night, I was over at his house for the super bowl and I asked if he had anything sweet to eat. Naturally, I then went rummaging through the kitchen in search of a treat. He has told me many many times, “don’t be silly, you don’t have to ask, my house is your house” yada yada. SO, I found a pack of Swiss Rolls and returned to the game. You would have thought I took his last slice of birthday cake. I got a lecture on how that was one of the last two Swiss Rolls, he was saving that for his breakfast and now what would he do, etc etc…
Anyways, you don’t need any more ridiculous details but basically we were in a REAL fight about this for about 24 hours. He finally apologized but half-heartedly. I could not bring myself to apologize for having a pack of Swiss Rolls, but did apologize that the fight happened. For some reason I still feel so irritated with him. It’s like, how could I do so many things for him over the past week and he gets upset with me for having a snack.
Obviously, I can read through the lines, this is about not feeling appreciated enough, about being lectured about something I thought was ridiculous, about not feeling at home in his home when something like this occurs. Can you help me find some resolve and make sense over this silly fight? We are okay now of course, I’m just wondering why I am so irked by this silly incident.
THANK YOU in advance. I’m sorry I haven’t written in some time. Things have been really great overall. I still apply everything you’ve helped me to realize and it continues to be tremendously helpful in my relationship.
Great to hear from you! I’m glad things have been going really well. 🙂
Ok, I am going to have to do a bit of assuming here- so hopefully I am on the right track. but I assume that maybe he only eats Swiss Rolls for breakfast and that is his daily habit, possibly. So the fact that he wouldn’t have breakfast for the next day is an understandable issue. Maybe he didn’t have anything else in the house to eat the next morning. I’m guessing.
When he got upset – my recommendation would be to say, “I’m SO sorry! I had no idea that it was that important to you.” And maybe add, “I’ll go out and get you some more right now, if you would like.”
PROBLEM SOLVED – fight avoided.
It’s insane to fight with him about this.
It’s his house – he has his little quirks. Trying to tell him he shouldn’t be upset is not going to help.
And then from now on ASK specifically before you eat ANYTHING so that he can approve – be pleasant about it.
Then there won’t be a problem like this again.
To you – it was a very small thing. But to him, apparently it was a bigger deal. He is not wrong to want to have his breakfast the next day. He probably hasn’t been able to go shopping since he had surgery. And you didn’t purposely set out to deprive him. But if he gets upset about something like that – just apologize and DO NOT EXPLAIN yourself. 🙂
When you turn it into a big fight and try to tell him how he “should” act and make this little thing into a huge deal – that is really destructive and SO NOT WORTH IT.
He is not saying you are not welcome in his house.
Please do not assume that! He is not saying not to eat anything else. But this particular issue is important to him. That’s ok. If it’s important to him, then show him it is important to you and respect
the fact that he doesn’t want you to eat the last pack of Swiss Rolls from now on.
This is definitely NOT a big deal. There was no need at all for a fight. Now you know to not eat his last Little Debbie. One day, if you do get married, you will probably do the shopping and you can make sure you have a huge supply of Swiss Rolls so this never happens again. 🙂 Or, you can bring an extra box of his favorite breakfast every once in a while or bring some of your own snacks. Not a big deal at all.
What IS a big deal is him feeling disrespected. And that obviously happened. THAT is the thing to focus on – not the issue. The little issue isn’t the real problem.
Respecting his preferences – even if they seem insignificant to you- is the big thing here.
Does that help?
HER SECOND EMAIL
Thanks so much April! I really appreciate your help! You are very right that an “I’m sorry” in the first place would have avoided this whole thing. And I had no idea he liked Little Debbies so much for the record 😉 the part in your email made me laugh about having tons of Swiss Rolls around when we get married, lol!
Being quick with a sincere, “I’m sorry,” if he gets offended at some little thing can prevent a world of pain! 🙂
HER THIRD EMAIL
I actually muttered an apology today while we were both working from his house this morning and he laughed and said “that’s all I ever wanted!” 😉
Good job! Men are MUCH more simple than we think sometimes. 🙂 In a good way.