Sometimes all you need is a cup of OJ and some time to cool off

How do you make amends after knowing that you’ve hurt someone you love?

The other night, the hubby was taking time to show me the goals that he’s set for himself, in relation to the family’s finances.

He had made an entire powerpoint presentation just for this. (Well, it was also part of his work.)

About halfway through, I was wondering when he would finish. The night’s to-do list had started to scroll through my mind.

Then JJ started wailing. He had roused from sleep and was expressing his displeasure at being awake. I went into his room and tried to pacify him. That took about 10 minutes. I came back out with an impatient and generally nasty attitude.

I probably said something that I shouldn’t have. Or maybe it was the way it came out. The hubby promptly stopped talking and I was left by myself facing the screen. The night went quiet. Suddenly, I could do what I had planned to do, but I didn’t feel like doing these anymore.

When you know you’ve hurt someone you love, something in you twists and turns and you can’t sit still or concentrate. I tried, for about eight minutes.

Then I tip-toed into the room and found him tucked under the blanket with the iPad. I went up to him, apologised and asked the obvious, Are you angry? To which he nodded his head, barely glancing at me.

I know this scene pretty well. We’ve had episodes like this in the early days, and we’ve worked out various ways of coping with each other’s emotions. It’s more of a struggle for me, because I tend to need to confront the issue and work through it (asap) while he needs his own space to think and process. So I know that I can’t force him to talk.

So I went out again. I took about five minutes. Tidied some toys. Shifted books around. Then I poured myself a cup of OJ, which I brought into the room and offered to him. He shook his head, but I persisted.

Finally, he accepted the OJ, taking a sip before handing it back to me. I said sorry once more and I noticed that his facial expression had softened. He forgave. We made up.

Thinking back, I realised how insensitive I had been; he had put in so much effort and thought into this presentation, but I had treated it (and him) with a careless attitude. I was even trying to justify my bad behaviour by telling myself that he also had a part to play for being long-winded!

But as I gradually saw the need to make amends for the hurt I’ve caused, I realised that it was no longer important who was more right or more wrong. We don’t really need to find excuses for bad behaviour. We do need, however, to resolve the hurt and the tension caused to the relationship.

Thank God we didn’t have to wait till the next day to sort things through.

Thank God we had some cooling-off time, which helped to clear our heads.

Thank God for the OJ.

What I learnt: Love can be messy and unpredictable. But conflict is an inevitable part of love, and it often helps us grow in our understanding of each other.

How do you work to resolve conflict in your relationships? Do you find that you need time or fresh air to clear the air too?  

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  1. Darienna says

    Hi June,

    Good timely reminder that it’s not abt who is more right than the other.

    Glad that u guys made up so quickly! In fact, if u didn’t already know, it’s biblical to do so. 🙂
    Eph 4:26 in case u are interested to find the verse. 🙂

    As my pastor said.. Infatuation is fun, love is hard work!

    So to all of us married (myself included), keep working at it!

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Hi Darienna, I’ve read the verse on not letting the sun go down in our anger, and I do see the good in being able to work through the issue before going to bed (as opposed to trying to sleep and being not fully able to rest because of the hurt / anger). In practice though, I find that it’s sometimes hard to resolve disagreements immediately and it can be tiring and unproductive trying to force it through. :/

      I really like what your pastor said, love is indeed hard work, and we need to keep working at it! The more we work, the better we get, I suppose! 🙂

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Hi Serenely, I guess it helps when we see that it’s not about fighting and winning/losing, but about being able to work things out in partnership and in a way that honours and protects the other rather than hurting them. I think the minutes spent trying to be distracted with something else (key word is try) actually gave me the space and allowed me to regain control of my emotions. I hope you’ll find something too, that helps to diffuse the negativity of the moment, the next time the situation calls for it.

  2. says

    I agree with Jiahui that your HB is amazing. 🙂 my HB’s idea of ‘budgetting’ is just simply checking if there’s still money in the bank. It’s great to have a partner who’s equally concerned with the family’s well-being and sustainability. That said, I think you are amazing too! I would have made a drink for myself and holed up in my home office. Thanks for this very honest post. It’s a great reminder that egos must be set aside for a partnership to truly work. The relationship is more important than finding out who was right or wrong.

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Hey Steph, I guess I felt really bad because I was really giving him a bad attitude despite all the effort he put in. (If I were him, I would have been pretty miffed too, and I’m not even sure if OJ would do the trick for me.) Plus I think the time spent facing the computer and sudden onset of loneliness did give me the jolt I needed.

  3. says

    That’s something I still struggle with, after four years of marriage.

    I tend to be a little passive, retreating into myself when I get mad/hurt. I find that in general, I usually take some time to get over it and move on so it’s better if he leaves me alone. As for him, he gets over conflict relatively quickly so all it takes is a “sorry” and an offering much like your OJ. 🙂

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Hi Yann, thanks for sharing…actually this was the first time I tried the OJ and it was really just an excuse to give him something and make eye contact. =P Previously, I’ve found myself wishing and willing him to speed up this “processing period”, but I realise that it also depends on how I’m able to control my emotions and how much space I give him. For me, I just need to talk, hug, and be verbally assured that things will be okay.

  4. says

    Glad that you were able to work things through that night. I find it so hard going to sleep with something unresolved but my husband sometimes needs time to sleep it over. Loving another sometimes means waiting for the other person to be ready.

    Also, I think conflict is important and healthy for a relationship. It is as we work through these times of conflict that we can deepen our understanding for another and build that long lasting relationship that stands the test of time. Not easy but with lots of grace and forgiveness, i believe we can.
    Jasmine – Gift Wrapsody recently posted..Quotes :: Inspiration Exists…My Profile

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      I believe so too, Jasmine…it’s definitely not easy when you’re going through tough periods or when there are lots of stress sources within the family / relationship. I don’t wish to romanticise things but after each conflict, if we’re able to understand something better about each other, where we’re coming from, our fears/worries, I think the “fight” was worth it.

  5. says

    I certainly can identify with this. I tend to be the one who wants to talk it out. I often tell hubbs “How can I understand you when you don’t tell me what you’re feeling?” But I have come to realise that he sometimes doesn’t know what he is feeling, and needs time to think about it and that sometimes I should wait for him to be ready to talk about it.

    I like how you offered OJ as a peace offering :p haha!
    Pamela Tan recently posted..Happy 5th Birthday, Isaac!My Profile

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Hehe Pam, I always ask the same question. And I’ve also come to the same conclusion. About the OJ, it was a light bulb moment, I must say. 😛

  6. says

    *now that little boy is listening to the chinese storytelling, let me quickly write this* 🙂

    Thanks for sharing the post! This sounds so familiar. I, too, when things go wrong, would want to settle it as soon as possible and try not to delay or wait, I am impatient! Over the years and with the LORD’s guidance, I am more ‘tame’ now and would wait patiently to settle disagreement instead of just rushing into it.

    When we cool off, we would be able to communicate better and more ready to forgive and I remember we used to leave it like 2-3 days to talk about it, reduced to 1-2 days and now on the same day we can settle or say sorry, by the grace of God.

    🙂 i like what Pam’s said, OJ as the peace offering, very nice and I think I can also use what you did, June 🙂

    blessed day to you!
    jean recently posted..:: being thankfulMy Profile

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