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Thursday, December 02, 2004



Empathy vs. Resentment

Husband: "How do you want to seal the envelope. By glue or stappler?"
Wife : "Anything will do, you decide."
Husband: "I mean, how do you normally do it?"
Wife : "Just do it lah! Why everything also must ask me."
Husband: "Hey! Its your cheque I'm sealing. You're acting as if its MY job."
Wife : (face black like charcoal) thinking "Why must I be the one to do everything around here."
Husband: (face black like charcoal) thinking "Why must I be the one to do everything around here."

Sounds petty? Why do couples fight about the most ridiculous things. If you look deeper its easy to see. There is always a bigger underlying issue. In this case its "division of household chores and baby/childcare." No matter how you divide its hard to find a balance when both parties feel rushed and stressed.

In my household, we have the traditional, husband = main breadwinner/wife = minister of home affairs role. Back in our parents time, there was no conflict because the roles were clearcut. These days its different though. We get drummed into us that men must take a more involved role in childcare and the wife although home all day is doing "work" too so she needs a break when husband comes home. Husbands not being used to this new role (because their dads did not do this) feels resentment when doing it and wifes feels resentment when they don't. How not to feel resentment when your "work is 24/7 and you don't get any breaks, certainly no lunch break, not even a toilet break and not even at night.

Tough! But not so hard to resolve actually. All it takes is a little bit more empathy to replace the feelings of resentment. Here is my example:

Dinner time: I need EMPATHY for poor hubby who has been working hard all day dealing with difficult people and impossible bosses in a stressful environment. He needs to chill out and eat dinner while watching his favourite show on tv instead of the RESENTMENT I feel thinking "Why can't he help me feed toddler or baby so I can at least eat in peace just once today."

Leisure time: I need EMPATHY for poor hubby who has been thinking hard all day trying to write his reports and trying to manage his staff. He needs to chill out by fixing his pc game so he can conquer the world in Civilization III (the game) instead of the RESENTMENT I feel thinking "I've had no relief ALL day dealing with the SILMULTANEOUS whining of a toddler and baby crying. Why can't you help pick baby up so I don't have to still deal with this on my own now that you're home."

Bedtime: I found EMPATHY at last for poor tired hubby who has fallen asleep on the floor too tired to watch his favourite show or play his pc game so I quietly get the kids ready for bed without any feelings of RESENTMENT and off we go to read our books and sing our songs until they both fall asleep happy and contented and I even had the time to give hubby some reflexology after that which he loves.

I guess all it needs is a bigger dose of EMPATHY to replace the feelings of RESENTMENT and to lower our expectations just a little as well as to be a bit more relaxed about everything. Not everything needs to be resolved or done RIGHT NOW!

Another rule is FOR EVERY ACTION THERE IS A REACTION. Hmm.. I'm still trying to drum this concept into hubby. When he speaks to me with a frown on his face and a "tsk tsk" I get mad and he will ask me "What are you so mad about? I'm just asking you a question. I'm not criticising you, just annoyed at the situation, not you." Hubby cannot understand why I am so affected by the 'look on his face.' Maybe this is a universal battle of the sexes kind of thing or maybe its just me....... Frankly, I have not quite figured this out yet at the point of writing. :-)

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