The other night, while watching the Giants game (an event that would cause anyone to experience eye bulging abdominal pains), I went to my bathroom medicine cabinet for a few Tums. I had just polished off the leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner and drunk a fantastic IPA. We had arrived home a few hours earlier from my family holiday weekend in Virginia where the real focus is eating for about 48 hours straight and on the drive home, just for kicks and giggles, we had stopped at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. To be honest, I wasn't sure that even Tums were going to be enough at this point.
Image: Tom Huffman via Flickr
Imagine my horror when I looked in and there in the usual spot, I don't see any Tums. I stood staring at myself in the medicine cabinet mirror and thought, Ok, I am not going to have a breakdown, I am not going to go scream at my husband although I know I did not eat the last one because if I had, I would've bought more or at the very least put it on a shopping list. Calmly, I came downstairs, belching with each step, gripping my abdomen as it heaved and roiled and walked back into the family room.
There he sat, quiet, content, clearly not in agony. I knew he ate the last one. I knew this was all his fault. If I didn't feel so crappy, I would have enjoyed yelling at him right then. Instead, I sat down, seething, and began to think about it more. I was the one who had shoved all of the food into my mouth and topped it off with the beer. I was the one who knew full well that the bacon on the Five Guys burger would be rearing its ugly head for hours. (I am the one who loves the Giants.) So, I didn't erupt. I looked at him and I thought, Ok, I still like him, he's a good guy, he just traveled all this way to see my side of the family, he supports us, takes such good care of us, so he doesn't deserve my wrath just because we are out of Tums.
That sense of good will lasted about ten seconds and then, my stomach flipped over, my chest felt like it had bits of burger, bacon, stuffing and pie running around in it, and I could no longer contain myself . In the sweetest voice I could muster while belching, I asked,
"Honey, did you eat the last Tums, because I could really use a few now and there don't seem to be any left upstairs and they aren't on my shopping list either."
He looked up at me and I could tell he knew I was holding back. He knew he was about to be accused of something. That's when he gave me the good news that he has not eaten the last one, and that a full bottle was still in his suitcase on our bed. I hadn't really been listening because I was too busy forming in my mind a rant about how inconsiderate he is and that if he's going to finish something, he needs to get more or put it on a list, and then I realized what he was saying. Of course, he brought them with us; God knows we would never travel without them. How did I not realize this and how had I not remembered to pack them myself?
Thank God for him. Thank God I didn't scream at him. The man is a saint really. I headed upstairs to fish them out of his bag and while waiting for the physical relief from my gastric distress I patted myself on the back for handling this so well. It's taken 27 years of marriage, but I managed to think before I spoke and I considered my tone of voice when I did speak. Instead of screaming at him, I began to feel physically better thanks to the Tums and was able to enjoy the evening with my husband while watching the Giants actually win one.
We are always so quick to blame, so quick to think the worst of someone, and so quick to accuse. In this case, because I made a conscious decision to react differently, I saw that I could totally change the dynamic and still get what I wanted-- Tums and marital harmony too, I guess. I do have to admit though, as cynical as I am, a little piece of me thinks that he was lucky this time. All you wives out there know it; chances were damn good that he'd eaten the last one, right? I mean how often are we really wrong about these things?
Here's the lesson-- Even if he had eaten the last Tums and forced me into a night of abdominal agony or, at least, a trip to Rite Aid, was ruining an evening over Tums worth it? I mean, I love a Tums as much as anyone, but I could probably live without it. Him, maybe, not so much.