There are three things we hear the most in regards to our marriage and relationsip.
1. You guys should try out for the amazing race.
2. I don’t feel like a third wheel when I’m hanging out with you guys.
3. If I worked with my spouse like you two do, I’d kill them.
We’ve only been married five and a half years. Not long by most standards. In those years, however, we have been together almost 24 hours of every day. No joke. Our desks at work are side by side, and because of this we feel like each year counts as more than one…sort of like dog years. You know, one year of our marriage counts for seven or something. So we’ve been married 35 dog years.
We never did premarital counseling or read any books about what to expect out of marriage. Granted, we had some great examples in our parents. Plus we just aren’t assholes (most of the time). Too many people marry assholes and then think a book will fix everything. So our first bit of marriage advice…Don’t marry an asshole. That will take care of a lot of your problems right off the bat.
But here’s the second best bit of advice we have. You can learn all the love languages you want and none of it will matter if you don’t know your “Anger Trap”. Seriously.
An “Anger Trap” is a recently invented cliche* term that applies to anything that makes you angry at a person when they didn’t actually do anything. Everyone has “Anger Traps” I could make a quiz for you to take to find out what yours is, but instead, I will just recommend that you take about fifteen seconds of self-reflection and figure it out. Here are some possible “Anger Traps”.
Hunger– For the first couple years of our marriage we would have a conversation that would without question result in a fight. Every time it was the same conversation. It would usually go something like this.
Allison: What do you want to do about food?
Josh: I don’t care what do you want?
Allison: I don’t care either. Just pick someplace… It really doesn’t matter, we could go to Insert restaurant.
Josh: Ok, that sounds fine to me… (as we drive to said restaurant) Oh look its Insert restaurant, we could go there. Does that sound good?
Allison: Fine. Just go wherever you want. Whatever.
What Allison THINKS she is angry at is the fact that I am an unfeeling, selfish asshole. What has really happened is that Allison has fallen into an anger trap. She’s really just hungry and I have done nothing wrong. Even though she is yelling about some deep emotional flaw, all she really wants is food. This realization has reduced the arguments in our marriage by an average of 75%. The second I see her teetering on the edge of falling, I just offer her a snickers (just like the commercials). Eventually she realized that I am almost perfect and she shouldn’t be angry at me pretty much ever, she learned to just eat instead of fall for the anger trap.
Being Hot– So Josh’s anger trap is an easy one and it happens fast. We’re going about our business, working on the house or the boat. I am doing my thing, say…doing laundry. Josh is pretty much just wandering around the house. A bead of sweat starts to collect on his forehead. He starts mumbling about watching too much tv because the tv is on even though no one is watching. I see him wipe his brow. Next, he starts up on a “project” which means he turned off the tv while still ranting about watching too much of it, and is pushing stuff around the house. I can solve this problem simply (so could he but he’s too far gone). Seeing that we are middle class Americans, I crank the air down a few degrees and turn on a fan. By the time I see the sweat through his shirt though, it’s too late. He’s fallen over the edge. He’s a raving lunatic. He is angry that I like to watch reality television and that his life is a dismal abyss of complacency because of this fact. We get nothing done, ever. This is what he THINKS he is angry about, but really, he is just hot. After a few minutes under the fan he is back to normal and apologizing.
Most (decent) people have the ability to figure out their anger traps and apologize for them after the fact (unless you’re one of those people who married an asshole and then you’re SOL). The key to a happy marriage is catching yourself falling into the trap BEFORE you take it out on the other person and being able to fix the problem yourself. There are probably a million other anger traps but understanding ours has made marriage easy peasy for the most part. Honestly, realizing your friends anger traps would probably make friendships easier. In fact, if we could all take a step back and assume that when anyone is angry it probably has nothing to do with YOU, the world would be an easier place to handle.
Feel free to pin this crap… Its going to change lives.
*As a fun fact and side note you should all know that we argued for a long time over the use of the word cliche. Allison maintains it’s the wrong word choice. Even happy marriages aren’t perfect and knowing your “anger trap” doesn’t mean you never argue.