Experiential Impatience

April 20, 2011

in Marriage Killer, Seeing Clearly, Series

Hurry up! © Lisa F. Young | Dreamstime.com

Impatience is not a healthy thing for a marriage. Impatience communicates, “You are too slow” or “I am faster than you” or “I am more efficient than you”. Or, to sum it up, it says “I am better than you and you are getting in my way.”

I think familiarity breeds impatience. You know she is going to look over the whole menu and get the chef salad, so you don’t giving her extra time to look over the menu. You are so sure she is going to make you late for something that you start nagging her about the time well before she needs to do anything to get ready. You have heard the story she is telling a dozen times, so you roll your eyes, or try to beat her to the punch line, or try to hurry her along.

There are several problems here. First, you may be reinforcing the behaviour you hate. If you are going to nag her no matter what, or before you know it’s “necessary” then why should she bother trying to change? Second, if she has changed, or is trying to change, your failure to notice or take into account those changes will hurt her and discourage her from working on the issue. Finally, it’s rude and unloving!

My suggestion would be to replace experiential impatience with experiential grace. Do what you can to help with the situation without being obvious, rude, or condescending. Realise that these things are part of who she is – part of the “better or worse” you married. Look at these things honestly and dispassionately and ask yourself which, if any, are as big a deal as you have allowed them to become in your mind.

As to getting her to change, select a very few things that really bother you, and a very few instances of those issues, and ask her to work on those things. Ask her how you can help. If she is chronically late, pick one situation (church for example) and ask her to work on only that. If she shows any improvement (which includes being half as late as usual), let her know you are aware of and appreciate the change. Positive reinforcement works better than negative comments. Something else that helps is asking her what you do that really bothers her, and trying to work on an instance of that.

Image Credit: © Lisa F. Young | Dreamstime.com

2 comments
Brian Jaske
Brian Jaske

I love my wife very much. However, it bothers me how most of those reasons that I feel in love with her have been so easily forgotten by me or worse yet, have become little irritations to me over the years. I need to "look in the mirror" more often and give her a helping hand instead of putting my foot in my mouth.

John Delcamp
John Delcamp

Isn't it amazing that the very things that attracted us to her when we first met are the same things that drive us crazy and we lose patience with later on. We loved how organized she was, how through she was, or how care free she was when we first met, and usually they were opposites of us, but now we lose patience with her because we think she should be just like us.

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