I’m sure we’ve all seen the cliche. A couple screaming at each other — red-faced and angry, insults hurled in every direction, and one turns into a fire-breathing, evil monster and consumes the other.
Or wait. A peaceful meal around the table, chatting over half sandwiches and pleasantries, a thinly-veiled accusation is suggested along with grey poupon, and one turns into a fire-breathing, evil monster and consumes the other.
Or no one is talking to anyone or doing anything that could remotely be construed as acknowledging the other person’s existence, an invisible boundary is crossed, eye contact is made, and both turn into fire-breathing, evil monsters and consume each other.
Or… okay, fine this probably isn’t the cliche, but let’s be honest. Humanity is great at fire-breathing. Or more accurately, your spouse is. While mine is a goddess (see what I did there?), she’s also human. And unfortunately, I am too. Which means we’re both plagued with that fateful condition of occasionally believing we ourselves are 100% righteous and the other is 100% evil. To the core.
Which isn’t quite true. Maybe for you it is. But for the rest of us, our spouses are infected with momentary insanity not because they are evil monsters at heart, but because we are really bad at turning potential fire-breathing moments into Stuffy from Doc McStuffins*.
(*Disney Junior dragon stuffed animal, for those not yet indoctrinated into pathetic-ness.)
Basically, we’re none of us incinerators at our core. We’re mildly clumpy, fluffy white stuffing. Volatile stuffing.
But none of us are too good at keeping fluffy white stuffing happy. We’re instigators of stuffing-madness, poofing puffy clumps in all directions, rather than being masters at patching monster problems. Doc McStuffins-style.
So this is how to turn your fire-breathing, evil monster (spouse) into a regular person.
1. Think of anything you may have done wrong, no matter how ridiculous or minuscule (or big, cuz, you know), and approach your monster-in-training by asking forgiveness for that. FIRST.
This is the key to winning in relationships, and I’m surprised so few people/stuffing receptors know it. We always attack first in a dispute. But that makes the other person shore up defenses and attack back. If you want to win, aka live, let’s get smart about it. Always ask forgiveness first. It doesn’t matter what the other person has done. After that, there’s nothing to attack. And that’s more Christ-like than flame-belching, anyway.
2. Let the other person add a long list, even ask if you’ve done anything else you can repent of. Make it all about them. Ask forgiveness for all of it.
Isn’t that love? Putting another person’s feelings before your own? It’s also wisdom, and the least known, quickest way to prevent a fire-attack. Always ask forgiveness for every little thing first, before you address the big things the other person did. (Hint — they probably think yours are bigger.)
3. Nine times out of ten a funny thing will happen next. They’ll ask forgiveness for what they’ve done wrong, without you even having to bring it up.
Wow. You level up and earn Master Stuffing Problem-Patcher. And if they don’t…
4. Tell them to.
No, not really. Respectfully bring up how you feel hurt and ask that they ask forgiveness. At this point, they’re lumpy stuffing-filler in your hands. I haven’t met actual humans who resist repenting when you’ve fully gutted your own fluffy innards first. Maybe evil monsters do that.
5. Hug, hold each other, share a friendly not-Disney-Junior-appropriate show of affection. Say “I love you.”
This is about love. Even jousting or slaying metaphorical dragons. All love. So every near-incineration experience should end with a show of love. A crowning of heroes on the victory stand. Every time. To remind you you’re both made of the same stuffing.
(Secret monster-slaying review of conflict resolution:
1. Ask forgiveness FIRST. 2. Let them add a list 3. Ask them to ask forgiveness. 4. Show of affection. “I love you.” Doc McStuffins-style.)
There’s more of cuddle than crackle to you, after all.
It just takes someone who knows how to turn fire-breathing, evil monsters into slightly volatile, but mostly adorable, stuffing-filled regular people to see it.