Opinion: Bitterness makes everything worse

Many times, we are frustrated or disappointed because of things we wish. You would like a romantic evening with your spouse, or to go for a long walk, but there he is, lying on the couch again.

Instead of telling him what you would like, you ask him if someone spilled crazy glue on the couch, or if he is paralyzed from the waist down. (Waist down because he can still use the remote.) He gets angry at your snippiness, and then there is even more distance between you.

The weekend is coming, and you would like to do something with the family. He has golf planned, so instead of asking for what you want, you accuse him of loving golf more than you. He says nothing, but you fear that for once he just might agree with something you said.

You might want to make love with your wife, but instead of taking the time to connect with her, you ask her if there is any chance of getting any. She rolls her eyes, lets out a big sigh and hands you the remote. You hope that your children will do something nice for you on Mother’s Day, but you say nothing and wait. They disappoint you, so you are depressed all day.

These four scenarios plant seeds of discontent, which will continue to come up like weeds. They all require another person to know what you are thinking. Your happiness also depends on others changing. It’s not working, is it? There is another approach you can try. It requires that you take full responsibility for your own happiness.

Tell your husband that he means the world to you, and that you want some special time with him. Ask him if he could set aside some time during the next week. Let him pick the time. Try not to get into hassles, especially just before that time. Let him know that you are looking forward to having him all to yourself for a while. If he’s a golf nut, don’t try to make him choose between you and golf. Tell him it’s going to be a beautiful weekend. You want him to have fun, but you also want to do something special with the family. Have a couple of ideas to suggest or ask him for his ideas. Tell him that if you both can get your needs met, you’ll both be happy.

If you want to make love with your wife, and she hasn’t been that responsive, there’s a message there. If she’s been sick or exhausted it’s probably nothing personal. Otherwise, you need to do something special. Few women can resist a man who truly cares about their feelings and will take the time to look into her eyes, and really be with her. It’s a bonus if the man will connect with her, hug her, show her he loves her, without expecting sex. Then she knows that his affection is genuine, and not just because he wants something.

Finally, if you want people around you on Mother’s Day, or any other special day, let them know. If you want a party for your birthday and it might not happen, then plan one yourself. If you want to have dinner with your children, invite them. Do these things and enjoy the people. It’s much better than being bitter about it not happening as we would wish.

You would like a romantic evening with your spouse, or to go for a long walk, but there is anger in the way you ask. When you take things into your own hands, looking at how you can create the outcome you want, then the energy around you is positive, and others will want to be around you.

Gwen Randall-Young is an Alberta author and award-winning psychologist.

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