Irritation: it is more dangerous than you think

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Irritation! It is neither anger nor disappointment; it is not always dramatic but it is rarely subtle; we don’t remember why we feel that way yet the feeling is the hardest thing to forget. It does not always issue in confrontations or resolutions, sometimes it has no words at all. But when it is, it is undeniably there, like an insignificant typo you are trying to ignore in the newspapers. (Or whatever gets your goat like that.)

Ever since I started this project I have been more aware of when I do not encourage my husband. It is when I feel… irritated! It surprised me that it is not feeling betrayed or hurt, being too busy to talk, or taking things for granted that prevents me from encouraging my husband. After all, irritation is that distant cousin of anger, so it must be less sinful right? No; we just notice it less.

Since irritation is never a big thing (though we are fully capable of making it one), it follows that its causes are usually petty and minor too. Things to do with my personal comfort irritates me faster than anything else.

“The fan speed is too high!”

“Don’t step all over the place with your dirty feet!”

“Move over to your side of the bed!”

But what is more shocking is discovering how my irritation affects Graham. My poor husband feels like I am scolding him, that I am angry, that I am frowning upon, it seems, everything he is doing. In short, he is MAJORLY discouraged.

Actually  what I’m really feeling is: I feel too cold, I don’t like dirty floors, I have no space. Now that I know how my careless words can impact the way Graham feels about himself, I want to try 1) just being less petty in general — Cold? Layer up! and 2) expressing myself more gently — Dirty floors are really gross to step on, do you mind washing your feet right away?

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