I get really snappy and moody. For as long as I can remember I have heard my mother say “God, you’re moody, Danielle Colley,” or “stop being so moody, Danielle Colley.”
I’ve usually just been short, and rude, and when she says that I go on an entire diatribe in my head about why I’m right and everyone else is wrong and it generally makes my mood an even darker shade of grey.
Because, der. Right?
In my marriage, we were both fiery. I’d be snappy, he’d snap back, my internal diatribe would not be so internal as it would spew forth from my mouth, he’d say mean shit back then he’d withdraw and that was pretty much our pattern.
At first, it only escalated to a major fight sometimes, but then, as our pattern solidified it happened all the time and communicating became practically impossible. We’re not bad people, but we had bad communication and conflict resolution with each other. Two yins.
Or maybe, two yangs.
I have noticed a pattern in my current relationship that is possibly one of the most profound lessons in love I have ever had.
When I’m snappy he might retreat a little or get a little quiet, but he’s still there, and then he will be nice to me. Not snap back, not needing to be right, not needing to tell me I’m an arsehole, but treating me with love.
If I’m retreating like my Cancerian crab self, and I’m being especially spiky and rude especially if I’m PMSing like a bitch and the whole world is conspiring against me, he’ll even buy me flowers.
Treating my ire with love. Treating my ugly behaviour with love.
Now, we hear about this concept with parenting all of the time. When kids are in wild tantrum, don’t push them away, don’t shun them, or punish them. Draw them in and hold them. Show them love. It’s not always easy because we become emotionally invested in their bad behaviour and wanting to control the outburst, but kids find it even harder than adults to control their emotions and impulses. The times I have adhered to this methodology in parenting I have found that my children want to be embraced, they calm down and we can get to the bottom of what they’re feeling.
They’re not lashing out because they’re bad kids, they’re lashing out because of some underlying issue, fear, sadness, something that happened that day, tiredness…. or just because they’re jerks but let’s stay with the idea of love here because I’m trying to work this lesson out.
When you train an animal the most success is discovered when you train them by rewarding positive behaviour. Dogs want to please. You don’t punish them for messing up, that can create an angry dog, a confused dog, a volatile dog. Rewarding positive behaviour grows a dog that wants to make you happy and wants to behave in a way that sees them loved.
So, back to relationships… even though technically giving love to negative behaviour can be deemed as a reward I actually think it serves a much deeper purpose. I feel bad for being a douche. If someone snaps back at me and it turns into a fight I feel justified in my initial snap because, clearly, the other person is a total arsehat.
But if the other person does not snap back and fill my arsehat role that I’ve created for them…. I take a look at the way I’m treating this person who I love, who is continuing to love me even when I’m spiky and who do I realise is the arsehat?
The fact is, we are humans. We will always have mood swings and be rude and short tempered with the people we love, that’s just life, but maybe next time instead of biting back you could consider showing them kindness? If you fear moving close for a hug will inspire you to punch them in the throat, maybe just stay at arms length and say you understand that they’re feeling frustrated and cranky and can you do anything to help?
Or just walk away, but do it with love and not anger.
I’m not a relationship expert, far from it, but for the first time in my life I’m trying to understand that not fighting back doesn’t mean you fear conflict or lose an argument, it means you win it without even stepping into the ring.