After the storm, I found two injured wasps on my windshield. They were very subtly trying to move their injured wings, not making much of a fuss, didn’t want to disturb anyone. What WASPs, I thought. Should I just mix up a mini pitcher of gin and tonics and leave them to it? If it were two injured bees, there would have been mayhem with buzzing and writhing. They would be saying, “Call an ambulance! Call ARF — I mean insects are animals too! Call my lawyer! I am going to sue! Or at least sting someone!”
This is why wasps and bees don’t mate.
People from different types of families have entirely different approaches to conflict, and this can be a challenge in a relationship. There is a reason for the stereotypical depiction of a woman in an apron with a smile on her face mixing cake batter in a bowl with the caption, “The secret ingredient is resentment,” and on the other hand the fiery woman taking the spoon and throwing the mix at her husband. If you were raised in an environment of passive-aggressive versus outwardly aggressive, there can be communication problems.
Yelling and throwing a glass at the wall would signal a divorce in a certain home, or that might just be Friday night in another. I definitely fall on the former side of the spectrum. This can play out when a partner asks what’s wrong and we say nothing and they walk away. They are now in double trouble as they haven’t realized that clearly something is horribly wrong and “nothing” is code for “You idiot! Of course, it’s not nothing!” Or when you are used to having discussions about issues in very calm and respectful tones, and your partner starts yelling and swearing and you are wondering how you are going to pack all your stuff and the Yorkie and her pee pads and sneak without him knowing. Then he calms down and asks whether you’d like to stay in or go out for dinner.
Those of us from the passive-aggressive realm also tend to take on our own problems without reaching out for help. I said to my friend in the city that it might be nice if she visited and saw my roses. She later said, “Oh my god, you are such a WASP.” That really meant, “My life is falling apart now, and I need you to get on the first Jitney without even stopping for a latte.” On the other end of the spectrum, it’s horrible to constantly be walking on egg shells because you never know what is going to set off your partner’s verbal anger storm. I sometimes hear children using the most vulgar and disrespectful language and think, “Where did they get that from?” You can bet it started at home.
Meeting in a healthy communication middle is the goal. Be clear, but calm in discussing difficult topics. Timing is key, such as a beach walk in the morning and not midnight after cocktails. Absolute statements are to be avoided such as “You always” or “You never.” Reach out in need for help with specific suggestions and time frames. Don’t break things, as you just have to go back in humiliation with a dust buster. If it’s getting really heated, take a “time out” and go to separate corners and binge watch the Netflix show the other hates. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but do bring up the big problems before they become even bigger. Do pay attention and be intuitive so you will notice if something is amiss with your partner. That makes them feel seen and understood.
And reach out your wings to each other, being careful because they may be injured.