Like any good wife, I have let things in my marriage bother me, to the point where Joe would ask, “Are you mad at me?” You know, what is your deal, and what is it this time? 🙄
Has your spouse ever used that phrase with you? I absolutely hate that phrase and it has served zero purpose in our relationship. Ugh. But it’s an easy phrase to just throw out there, if you sense that something is off with your spouse. Instead of actually figuring out what might have gone wrong and if you might have played a role, all you have to do is accuse the other person of being “mad”. Communication is shut down, and the other person is clearly in the wrong for being “mad”.
Joe and I have made an adjustment in that area and we have found this phrase, spoken tenderly, to be more helpful:
“Have I hurt you?”
Much better. Then I’m able to say, either no- it’s not you at all, I’m just cranky about this other thing- or I can say something like, “Yes, I am feeling hurt. It hurt my feelings when you….” Then usually it’s followed by him saying he had no idea, and that he’s sorry for communicating that. And then I can say, I forgive you, I just wanted you to know how that made me feel. Then we hug and we’re good and we can move on (and all the men cheer).
We’ve also added: “Did I offend you?” Even in marriage it is so easy to get offended by an off-handed comment. Then we let those small comments bother us to the point that they hurt our connection. When either of us asks that question, it opens up the opportunity to clear up any offense. Or we simply ask, “Is anything bothering you?”
If he had just asked me if I was “mad”, I would have clammed up and gotten defensive, and at the end of the day I would be more hurt and truly mad, convinced that Joe didn’t care about the way he had hurt me.
It takes vulnerability to admit when we have been hurt especially if it’s over something silly. It also takes a ton of vulnerability to ask someone if you’ve hurt them. When we both let down our defenses and are honest with each other, we resolve those hurts so much more quickly. And no one is mad anymore!