Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mismatched expectations

DH and I had an argument last night. This morning, when I was in the train to work, I reflected on the events which led to our argument. I believe the root cause of it was a case of mismatched expectations.

I had to stay back in the office last night due to an overseas conference call. DH had brought Osh Osh home and my father in law came over to help. The call lasted longer than expected. I was mentally exhausted and hungry. DH has sent me a text message earlier informing me that he had bought my dinner. I looked for a snack in our office pantry to tie me over before I started my journey home. As it was late, the pantry had not been stocked up and I could only find two wheat biscuits.

DH offered to meet me at the train station. He asked me to send him a text message a few stations before my arrival. So, I did just that. I was feeling very low because this was not what I signed up for, job wise. The reason I joined this company two and a half years ago was because they offered a good work life balance for their employees. Now, with the onset of globalization and the related projects to bring this to fruition, all of us are working around the clock and taking on extra responsibilities on top of our day job. I hardly have any time to work on my writing, which is what I really want to do. I was mulling about this and it was making me very sad. I told myself, "You'll be home soon. You'll see your family again. Cheer up!"

When DH met me, he was grumpy. Osh Osh was fussing as DH was about to leave the house to meet me. So, DH was stressed as he wanted to meet me at the station to cheer me up and to help me carry my heavy laptop bag. However, everything went downhill from the moment we met at the train station.

I was angry because:

1) I expected DH to be happy to see me, after a long day apart. Instead, he was grumpy and spoke about how difficult Osh Osh had been that night.

2) I expected things at home to be calm. Instead, Osh Osh was fussing, refusing to listen to my father in law when we got home.

3) I expected DH to give me a hug to comfort me after my long day at work. Instead, we ended up arguing.

DH was angry because:

1) He expected me to be grateful as he had bought me dinner and met me at the station. Instead, I complained about being hungry and about my long day at work.

2) He expected me to be grateful for all that he has done at home in terms of looking after Osh Osh and tidying the house. Instead, I criticized him and questioned him about not disciplining Osh Osh the way I would.

3) He expected me to give him a hug to comfort him too as he had a tough time with Osh Osh. Instead, I was cold and hostile.

I don't know why Osh Osh was behaving badly last night. By arguing, we made my father in law feel sad and awkward as he is a very sensitive man. Osh Osh didn't quite understand what was going on but he was very quiet and kept sucking his thumb. Both DH and I went to bed angry, tired and drained. We prayed together but very reluctantly.

All this happened because my expectations were unrealistic. DH did his part of ensuring Osh Osh was home safe and sound, bathed, fed and taken care of. It's natural for kids to misbehave. Osh Osh was probably testing his boundaries as Grandpa was there. DH was tired too as he also had a long day at work and he had expected his wife to be sympathetic and caring instead of being the target of her attacks.

Lesson learnt: Do not go home after a long day on an empty stomach. Have a more realistic expectation of your spouse and your kid. Bite your tongue, until it bleeds if necessary, to avoid hurtful angry words. If all else fails, breathe deeply and leave the house, only to return when you are sensible and sane!

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