I’m getting better at getting mad.
What I mean is, I’m slowly learning the skills of fighting fairly while in a romantic relationship. I’m getting “better” at being mad, if that makes sense.
As Jared and mine’s wedding approaches faster than the upcoming Oscar snub of Leo (jk he’s probably going to win) I’ve been thinking a lot about how a marriage will probably consist of just as many challenging moments as joyous moments. Love is the bread holding this meaty sandwich of chaos together.
To put it simply: I’m not the best at being angry. I don’t handle negative emotions very skillfully. I’ve never been an expert at navigating conflict. I fear being mad or frustrated reflects poorly on my character as a whole. I feel a lot of guilt, shame, and fear. So one of the things I’ve been forced to get better at, now that my life is so intimately interconnected with another human, is how to be mad. Like, how to be mad.
Being upset is the easy part. But being upset in a way that doesn’t cause things to unravel like one of those lanyards I used to try and make during summer camp is a whole different ballgame. Being upset in a way that is mature is HARD. Negative emotions often cause us to revert to earlier years of our life, when pouting was an appropriate response and shutting down was the emo answer to everything. But I’m an adult. I gotta get better at this!
My great-grandmother was 100% Italian. I never met her. But from the stories I hear she was a fearless woman, a devout vegetarian (and the wife of a butcher..THAT’S a romcom waiting to happen NBC call me) and she didn’t take no sh** from no one.
The reason I’m introducing you to Noni is that she’s my conflict spirit animal. While I’ve never heard any stories of her handling conflict like a champ, I’m guessing she did. And I’ve seen enough films with Italian grandmothers to reduce her to a Hollywood cliche and assume she was feisty.
Here’s what Noni does:
- Noni gets to the point.
- Noni is clear and concise.
- Noni doesn’t wait to acknowledge something.
- Noni says exactly how something makes her feel.
- Noni isn’t embarrassed to show strong emotions.
- Noni makes a mean marinara sauce (I just like to think she did this even though it doesn’t really apply to conflict).
When I start to feel ashamed for being upset about something, I think of Noni. Because being upset is unavoidable in life. And it is especially unavoidable in intimate relationships. One of the scariest things about love is how closely the emotion aligns with hurt. They’re like awkward neighbors who share a fence line but pretend they aren’t peering into each others windows at night.
If you are sharing your life with someone you will encounter conflict. You will feel mad at times. And you could probably learn to get better at being mad.
Maybe you need to embrace the importance of bringing things out in the open. Maybe you are learning the power of clear, precise, and accurate complaints that acknowledge the specific thing that made you upset. Or maybe you need to practice not only focusing on the negative aspects of a situation.
No matter what, we could all hone our conflict skills in one way or another. Forever and always. I don’t imagine I’ll ever feel like I’m “there.” But as long as I’m working on it, I’ll be okay.
Find your conflict spirit animal who reminds you how to be a positive champion of moving past difficulties. Remind yourself that conflict is unavoidable, but learning how to be better at it is the key thing to focus on. Love might be a sandwich filled with chaos, but damn if it isn’t the most dangerously delicious sandwich there is in this world.