The other day I read something, written by a woman who was extolling the virtues of being single after having left a bad marriage, where she said "My husband had complete control of the climate in the house, depending on his mood." This completely resonated with me, because my first marriage was exactly the same way. My ex (who is a wonderful person and one of my dearest friends) is very dark, very moody and a complete pessimist. I've written about our differences before, but the one that was unbearable for me to live with was the MOODS.
The slightest thing would set him off. It could be that, on the way out the door to go have a picnic at the beach, I had to run back in the house to get our toddler's sunscreen. It would just irritate the crap out of him that I'd forgotten it, never mind that I'd packed everything else for the entire adventure. The rest of the day would be ruined, him mumbling under his breath. Pretty much every single vacation or weekend get away we ever took ended up with him withdrawn, angry and brooding because he resented spending money on, say, a hotel room when HE would have been perfectly happy to sleep in a sleeping bag in the back of the truck.
It's not as if he was abusive (he is, in fact, a sweet, gentle man) but his anger and disappointment in me was painfully obvious. His dark moods took a huge (HUGE) toll on me, as I struggled to avoid anything that would set him off. In an effort to fly under his radar, I had become someone other than who I am at nature: essentially a big, galloping, happy Great Dane of a person. I realized that I spent more energy walking on eggshells than I did enjoying him or our daughter. If, god forbid, something happened out of our control, such as needing to purchase a new vacuum or the car needing repaired, it was as if a gigantic black cloud would settle on our house. It would figure that our first home together was a total money trap: leaking ceilings, broken pipes to the master bath, and a re-occurring and very expensive water pipe leaking in our driveway. I can't tell you how I dreaded telling him when I suspected something needed to be repaired.
I bring this up now because my situation now, with my wonderful husband David, could not be more different. Saturday morning we woke up to a freezing-cold house: the furnace was broken. Of course it happened on a Saturday which meant getting a repair man out to look at it took time and cost extra. Next, I noticed that the filter in the fish-tank wasn't working. The furnace guy came, fixed the problem, and David went to get a new filter for the tank. That afternoon it was obvious that the heater STILL wasn't working, so we had to have the repair guy come out again. Meanwhile, I was doing laundry and the sheets just would NOT get dry. I took half the load out and started it again. An hour later, they were still a cold, damp ball of flannel. There was no heat. My old fears kicked in and I cringed at the thought of having to tell David about this latest problem. So I pretended everything was fine and started the dryer AGAIN. And again. Finally, I had to admit that there was a problem and I worked up the courage to tell David.
Do you know what he did?
No yelling, no swearing, no mumbling, no tantrums, no finding a way to blame ME. I couldn't believe it!! After he looked at the dryer and determined it was beyond his ability to repair, he did some research on whether it was worth fixing (it's an 8 yr. old dryer) or if it was time to replace it. We discussed it, a solution was reached, and that was it. IT DID NOT AFFECT HIS MOOD OR OUR DAY IN THE SLIGHTEST.
I am still a little stunned, to be honest. And when I told him how much I appreciated the way he'd handled the situation, he said "Well, I learned how NOT to do it from my father." He knows from experience that living with someone who gets angry over things beyond their control feels awful and that it is unproductive. And HE MAKES THE CHOICE TO BE DIFFERENT. This is an evolved human being.
And that, folks, is why I am keeping this husband forever.