Why are we often the meanest to the one’s we love the most?
This is a question that is probably asked over and over again on a daily basis and while I know what the “standard answer” is, I still don’t understand it.
Conventional wisdom is that we are meanest to those that we love the most because those that love us often put up with all of our crap…warts and all.
Think about the last time you came home from a job that you hate or after a particularly stressful day. The commute home may have only added to the crappy mood that you were in. Maybe there was traffic or some moron cut you off or went through a red light and it pissed you off. As you make your way home, you begin thinking about all the things you have to accomplish once you get home. If you have children, it might entail getting dinner ready, lunches made for the next day…baths/showers to take and kids to put to bed, before you have any time for yourself let alone your spouse or partner.
If you are single, well lucky you. It really doesn’t matter the kind of mood you come home in because there isn’t anyone there waiting for you. Your wrath of meanness can be aimed at anything.
Life is filled with pressures and anything can set us off during the course of a day. However, I have always looked at my home as an oasis from the outside world. I always look forward to coming home because everything that I love most in the world is there…my wife and children. When I set foot in my house, I am shielded from outside stresses. The problem is, everyone else who lives in my house is also exposed to those external stresses that result in bad moods and sometimes the sanctity of our house isn’t enough for them to leave their meanness at the front door. Often times, it finds its way in and spreads through the house like a virus.
Bad moods are the worst…not only for those who are in them…but those who are on the receiving end of them. Whats even worse is being in the wrong place at the wrong time and coming into direct contact with the person who is in that bad mood.
I know that when my wife or children are in lousy moods and are mean to me, its not deliberate….we all have bad days..right? But, it still is an unpleasant thing to experience. More times than not, there is really nothing I did that put them in that rotten mood in the first place. But it doesn’t matter how hard I try to not set them off when they come home, everything that I say or do just makes them more miserable and nasty.
The biggest bummer about bad moods is that they are infectious. My wife can come home in a very good mood and I can walk through the door filled with piss and vinegar and invariably, my bad mood will leach onto her good mood turning it into an equally bad mood. Same thing can be said of my kids. They can be in crappy moods and if I come in through the door in a good mood, say goodbye to my happy smiling mood…its wiped away when their vileness permeates the rest of us. The ultimate is “bad mood through association”. The best example of that is when my wife is angry at my daughter for some reason. I might not have a clue as to why my wife is angry at my daughter but I must be angry and pissy at her too just because I am her father and my wife and I must stand united.
I know..it is very silly.
So what happens is the rest of the day is ruined. There is yelling, screaming…and then finally silence as we all go our separate ways to live in our funk. Sometimes the bad mood is exorcised miraculously and things begin to improve…other times, the rest of the day is shot and the next day starts off with a clean slate.
But, is it really a good idea to end the day in bad moods and to go to bed angry at each other…the people we love and cherish the most? Not to sound morbid but, what if something horrible happens and that next day never comes?
In light of the recent and unfortunate loss of New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton to cancer way too soon, I am reminded of some of the words he left us as he got ready to leave this world: love is better than anger. We need to love the people we love most…not be mean and ugly towards one another.