Before the Wrath

I have a confession.

I am an overreacter.

I really don’t like this trait in myself.  It drives me crazy, actually.  I wish that I could have normal reactions to things.  I wish I could think logically through them and then speak coherent, respectful words to work through the situation.  But, apparently, I’m missing that gene.  When something pushes me, I overreact.  My response is not proportionate to the action.  I know that.  I recognize that.  But, until last week, I didn’t know how to fix that.

Here’s the thing about overreacting.  No matter how right you are about something, if you overreact, you look like you’re a hysterical idiot and your rightness goes right out the window.  No one hears what you’re saying when you’re overreacting, so – right or wrong – it doesn’t matter what point you are making.  You’re just seen as being emotional.  Add to that the fact that I am pregnant and now I have become the classic hysterical, hormonal pregnant woman.

Lately though, I’ve been paying attention to when I feel those overreacting moments coming on and I’m starting to see a distinct pattern.

Take this weekend, for example…

During the work week, I get up with Bean every day.  I get him dressed, give him breakfast, pack my lunch and his school bag, and then about 15 minutes before we head out the door, Chris comes out to get hugs and kisses before we leave.  This is not a complaint.  It’s just how the timing of our days works out.  Everyone’s happy with this arrangement.  But on the weekends, I’d like a day off.  I don’t need both Saturday and Sunday, but for one of those days I’d like the chance to sleep in.  Or not even sleep in (since it is physically impossible for me to sleep past 6am), but just the ability to lay there and not have to jump right into Mommy Mode.  So, one morning a week when I hear Bean get up at 7:00 on the dot like he does every morning, I nudge Chris and tell him to go take care of Bean.  And Chris mumbles, “Okay,” and then he lays there.  And then 10 minutes later, Bean starts yelling for us again.  And so I nudge Chris harder and say something like, “Are you going to go get him?” and he says, “Yep,” and then he lays there.  And then another 15 minutes go by and Bean now starts crying because no one has come to get him and so I throw the covers back and I get up to go get him while Chris continues to sleep.

Annoying, right?

But the end of the world?  No.

A rational person would just say to Chris, “Honey, when you just lay there on the weekends until Bean cries, it makes me feel bad for him and so I always end up being the one who gets up.  Do you think you could go get him a little faster so that he doesn’t start crying and so that I can sleep in one morning?”

I mean, look at him…


He’s the most rational, kind, patient being on God’s green earth.


What part of Chris makes me think that I can’t say that calmly to him and that we can’t work through some small little problem like this civilly. Like real adults

But not me.  I don’t say anything to him.  I let it go on for weeks and months and except for the occasional mumble under my breath (which he probably doesn’t hear because he’s already fallen back asleep), I don’t make a big deal about it.  Until I explode.  After weeks of this, it all bottles up and then one morning – BAM!  It all comes out in a very irrational, overreacting manner and suddenly instead of just asking Chris to take turns, I have become the hormonal, irrational wife.

Which is always sexy and attractive.

I had a similar experience happen at work with one of classes, too.  The class is just driving me crazy.  Behavior problems make it hard to teach anything in that period and I was really starting to lose it with them.  After one particularly rough afternoon in which I stopped teaching altogether because of their behavior and just had them sit with their heads on their desks (productive, yes?), I went to our Dean and asked for some help.  I explained that the situation was probably more me than them and that, as a first year teacher, I think I just lacked the know-how of classroom management with a group like this and would he mind offering me some advice on how to get better control so that my students…oh, I don’t know…LEARN something???

The first thing he asked me was pretty standard administration speak.  “Have you called the parents yet?”

I explained that I had called parents numerous times, but nothing was changing.

“Okay,” he said, “but what are you saying to the parents when you call?”

“Well, I tell them that their child is having some behavior problems in my class.  That I know they have so much potential and that this is probably just a temporary age-related thing…” and then the Dean cut me off.

“Nope,” he said.  “You’re starting the conversation by mixing your signals.  Either the behavior is acceptable or it’s not.  You can’t tell them you need some changes, but then sugarcoat how great their kids are.  You have to just tell them, ‘Hey!  Your kid needs to straighten up!’  Otherwise, you just confuse them and they don’t understand how serious the problem is to you.”

I went back to my classroom and thought about what he said.  And then I thought about how that was really good advice not just for teaching, but for all relationships.  If you don’t tell them what’s bothering you until it builds up and you explode in a classroom somewhere, making 12-year-old kids have a time out, then how can you blame them for not making changes?

I’ve really been paying attention to this in my relationships lately and I’m discovering that sometimes when I think I’m giving pretty obvious hints that I need a specific behavior or action changed, it’s only obvious to me.  For example, nudging Chris multiple times on Saturday mornings seems like a dead giveaway that I’m getting annoyed, but to him, it’s just me reminding him to get up.  He doesn’t even know there’s a problem until I explode during his morning coffee.  So, I’m making more of an effort to speak up before I get really irritated or mad.  And to speak up calmly and rationally, instead of exploding after I’ve been silently pushed too far for too long.  If someone pushes me far enough to make me overreact, then shame on me for letting it get to that point.

So, that’s what I’m working on this week in my marriage, in my personal relationships, and even at work.  What about you?  What’s a behavior that you have that drives you crazy?  Or am I the only one who annoys themselves????

(Please say it’s not just me…)


Today I am grateful for my Mom.

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48 Thoughts to “Before the Wrath”

  1. i share your perplexed-ness about this….on the one hand, it’s important to do what you say you’ll do and if he says he’ll get bean, he should! but on the other hand, who wants to be irrational and demanding? i really struggle with this, too. good luck!

  2. Lisa

    My hubby and I have always had a way in our relationship of coming out and saying what’s bothering us right away instead of letting it stew over weeks or months and I’m sure that has saved many a fight over the years. I’m the type that likes to internalize and dwell and worry about things so that can cause me to be a massive stress ball, but when my hubby came along and we changed the way that I react to things, its been totally different. So there’s that, and I tend to be a worrier over the silliest little things, and that drives me crazy!

  3. Nope. I hear you. I’m the same way. And I agree that’s annoying. We go through the same thing here. Since I balance working from home and being a stay-at-home-mom, I feel like I never get a break from my duties as Nate’s mom. I get a little jealous that my husband gets to leave his work behind every day when he comes home. My “work”? It comes with me. In fact, Nate comes with me when I go from the living room to the dining room to the kitchen to the car to the bathroom to the attic to the car. My work (and dear, dear love) comes with me everywhere. And, sometimes, it’s nice to take a break from the 24-7 job. And, sometimes, it’s easier to just not talk about it but then it eats me inside like acid and I kind of lose it. I’m getting better about it but still…there are days when I’m just too tired to deal with an issue….

  4. Melissa

    I have learned with my Chris that it works out best for both of us if I just say clearly exactly what is bothering me. I also give him very specific examples of what he can do to keep me from being so aggravated with him. For example – he is incapable (it seems) of picking up his clothes. Drives me nuts. I spent the first 4 months of our marriage seething and often making snide, under my breath comments whenever the seething flared into full anger. He didn’t get that I was slightly angry about it ALL the time and only expressing it occassionally. I thought it would be nagging to call his attention to it every time, but then he said, “Isn’t it annoying to you that I do this? I don’t know that I’m doing it, so I don’t know that you’re annoyed. I don’t want you going around mad at me when you could just say something and I would fix it.”

    Now, we have a rule – If you don’t tell the other person that something gets on your nerves, you’re not allowed to be mad about it. HOWEVER – if you tell the other person and they CONTINUE with the annoying behavior, you are allowed to pitch a mother of a hissy fit. It’s working great!!!

  5. This past week I have DISGUSTED myself with how nit-picky I have been. About EVERYthing. Everything. And it’s not that I’m being mean about it, but every thing that matt says that MAY have some negative/rude/mean context to it, I want to sit down right away and tell him why he’s wrong and how hurt my feelings are. When sometimes I need to just SUCK IT UP. So, yes, I annoy myself and WOW what a great Dean who will just speak truth to you like that! I hope this week goes well, speaking up!

  6. Don’t feel so guilty dear, we all do that. When I asked my husband’s help with the big word ” PLEASE” and he doesn’t respond immediately.. I’m not gonna say something but I will ignore him for the rest of the day. I think I need to speak up more often, rather than keeping it to myself. I’m a worrier too, but I’m not pregnant. So you’re excuse!:))

  7. Jordan

    I’m glad you’re trying to be rational and all but that whole nudging and not getting up thing would drive me crazy! I, too, would think my husband would understand that I’m getting annoyed, but maybe thats the difference between men and women? Sigh.

  8. This is the post I needed today. On Sunday morning Sullivan was uber fussy starting at 5 am. He wouldn’t calm down at all. After 4 hours if dealing with a screaming baby, I went to wake up my hubby. We had a full convo and he said he was getting up. After awhile I realized he fell back asleep again. Later while I was still fuming about this, he says he didnt even remember talking to me, which was infuriating. Thanks Katie for reminding me that not all communication needs to be at full volume 🙂

  9. Katie, I’m pretty sure you just described my relationship to a T. Sometimes, I don’t know how bad my reactions are until I see the look of incredulity mixed with terror on my boyfriend’s face. When he gets upset, he can explain things calmly and rationally; I, on the other hand, feel my blood begin to boil and my nerve rise, and I echo this in my voice.

    It’s funny how these situations are parallel in our lives. Thanks for calling me on it, too; hopefully it’ll help save my relationship! 🙂

  10. colleen

    it is NOT just you and now that you know how to solve it you have to hope Chris will recognize he needs to change. You can’t just say ‘sweetie, it upsets me when you do x’. You need to follow through with ‘sweetie, it upsets me when you do x and I need you to do y’. Think about it ‘sweetie, it upsets me when you lay in bed for 10 minutes’. He’s just confused like ‘what am I supposed to be doing to make you not upset’. But when you offer a solution and then ask if he can please do that in the future you’re setting up this situation the way you want it to play out. If he continues to lay in bed, you have every right to go hysterical- 🙂

    Good for you for recognizing this Katie!

  11. I am the exact same way as you. There are things my sweet, adorable husband does that irritate me… And 99 out of 100 times, I just go with it and bite back my irritation. But then the 100th time, I snap. And there’s my poor husband, thinking it’s perfectly acceptable!

    So you are NOT alone, and I have tried your “talk it through before it’s a problem” thing and that definitely helps. It doesn’t eliminate the problem, but it does help! Good luck – both with Chris and with your class!

  12. My most irksome behavior is complaining about things, and then not addressing them. Like…I’d like to hear from my friends more, but fail to call THEM more. Or I’d like more responsibility at work, but don’t embrace what I have to do right now. Etc…

  13. Oh, I’m the same way with my husband. I ask him politely to do things for me when he appears to not be doing anything. Then usually I ask him again, and then if he hasn’t done what I’ve asked I start to do it myself. he runs right in and says he’ll take care of it all annoyed. By that point we’re both annoyed. If only I could get him to take care of something when I ask him the first time. Then again, he just put away the air conditioner that’s been sitting on the floor in our home office since September that I have been bugging him about since October.

  14. Thanks for this post – sometimes I feel like the only one! I tend to over react, too. My husband calls it “going for the jugular.” I am totally guilty of that. For the month of February, I am going to work on not snapping and instead speaking up clearly when I am feeling frustrated.

  15. Nikki

    I totally understand what you are going through on this one. I’m terrible at keeping feelings to myself and endinh up having a freak out for no apparent reason. The Fiance is really good at reading my facial expressions though, so he knows when I’m stressing out. Another thing I have been trying to get better at is at work. While I’m not a huge talker, other people are, and sometimes I need to act like I kind of care about what they are talking about. So my goal is to be nicer in general, and it’s actually working!

  16. My husband and I both let things boil inside until it just comes out – for me, in a rage; for him, in some snide remark. We move past it quickly, but I can imagine that after 20 more years of this, it might not be good. I’ve been trying to express my thoughts when I think them as well. It’s hard because I hate conflict, but I know it is important. The morning is the worst for us too – how can men just lay there and fall back asleep like nothing is wrong when women hear every cry, every creak, every whimper? It’s a mystery to me! It’s good you’re trying to fix the problem – at home and at work!

  17. Sarah H.

    NOT just you. I LOVE the not giving mixed signals advice! As a people please I totally get the need to follow up something bad with something good. My quality that annoys me is I’m lazy when people let me be. At work–totally not lazy. But with my husband? He would do anything for me–bring me water, make me and bring me my dinner, switch the laundry because I don’t wanna get off the couch, take out the trash, go remove the ice from my car (well I am pregnant and shouldn’t be doing that). So sometimes instead of even trying to do it myself I just ask him–and goodness if he ever says no, I get angry….very charming. I’m working on it. But having a growing fetus in me is NOT helping. So I took some of your advice from before and when I get home from work I do some chores–laundry, dishes, pick up stuff- before I even sit down.

  18. Such wise words this morning Katie. You’re pregnant brain is no as irrational as you think if you’re making giant strides like this!

  19. I think that men are more patient than women in situations like that aren’t they? I think it’s ‘cos women are so complex – we read into everything – whereas men are more simple. They just like to please but sometimes they need to be TOLD what needs to be done to please!
    I annoy myself all the time by over-reacting!

  20. I have been dealing with this EXACT same thing. Because we have a puppy in addition to the baby, neither of us gets a morning in b/c one takes the baby and one takes the dog for a walk. But the hubby is definitely slower to get the baby than I would prefer and so I stew, stew, stew, until I explode and it becomes about eeeeverything he does wrong (or doesn’t do at all) instead of rationally talking out the items one by one as they occur. I spend SO much time seething internally and it’s gotten to the point that I’m considering anger management therapy because it’s really getting to me. I need to learn how to process, express, and release my anger. It seems I never learned that.

    I’m so glad to know I’m not alone in this.

  21. Becky

    Thanks for the post. I am the same way and your dean is absolutely right. If someone is doing something to annoy you, 99% of the time it is un-intentional and they have no way of knowing unless they are told about it!!! I am going to try it too. Good Luck!

  22. oh, no, it is totally not only you. I have the same problem, too. I kind of hold in all of life’s annoyances until I basically explode. All over T. Deserved or not, and it’s not pretty at all.

  23. Susan

    Your post hits the nail on the head. I do it too. Then once I blow up I get mad that Michael has not gotten all of my obvious hints of what I want from him. He usually responds with if it was obvious then he would have done it and in the heat of the moment that ticks me off even more… but he is right… don’t let him know that I said that :-). I also hate that I will let this happen with other people in my professional life and get so angry that I cannot even talk about it without crying. Why do I let it build up so much that I cannot address it without crying I have no clue. I will have a great argument worded in my head and go to address the problem and break down before I get two words out. Then I feel like an idiot and think back to my father telling me that you cannot argue your point if you are crying… Thanks Dad.

  24. I definitely do the saaaaame thing. And I’m always asked why I let things go for so long, until I explode. And when looking back after a blow-up, I see all the ways in which I could have been better. But in the moment? It flies out the window.

  25. I think this is a common girl problem. For whatever reason, maybe we don’t usually feel comfortable being direct, we like to hint. Guys just don’t get it, they have no hint decoder. I have this issue with my hubby sometimes. “Do you want to go get cheeseburgers for dinner?” “No, we can just eat left overs” “WHY WON”T YOU LET ME HAVE CHEESEBURGERS!”

  26. Ashley

    Oh, boy…this was a convicting post for me to read! I’ve been bottling up some emotions inside when I feel like my partner isn’t helping me when I clearly need it, so instead of asking for help the other day, I just EXPLODED. I am really trying to work on it now, because I realized after that incident how I was getting so mad at him for something he didn’t even realize was a problem. I think I expect people to see I’m upset without having to say anything. Thanks for sharing this!

  27. J

    Your message is music to my ears. I have a 9 month old and go through the same thing, and it is SO FRUSTRATING! All during the week, I get up, give the bottle, get the baby dressed, and ready for my husband to take her to school. I stopped breastfeeding at 6 months and foolishly thought that there would be more balance in the feeding of the baby since I was no longer the food source, but NOTHING CHANGED! In any given week, I feed the baby probably all but one of her bottles. Not a huge deal during the week when she is only getting 2 bottles at home and the rest at school, but on the weekends, I still give her almost all of her bottles and it just doesn’t seem fair. My husband contributes a lot around the house, so it makes me feel I am being unfair to him to ask him to help more with this too, but it drives me crazy that it is always assumed that I am the person to give the bottles and get up…every weekend. I completely feel your pain, and I am trying to figure out how to communicate this to my husband without biting his head off about it since it has been going on for the last 3 months. One of the most frustrating thing for most women, I think, is that we don’t want to have to spell it out for the men–we want them to see the difference, and make the correction themselves without us having to say anything–but in reality, that is just unrealistic most of the time.

  28. I SO do that! I say nothing until it is driving me to the point of no return and then I snap, and usually when I snap it’s not about the real issue but about something unimportant.

  29. I think it’s awesome that you noticed that you let things build until they explode and that it’s not healthy. At the beginning of our marriage Brad and I would hint at whatever it was we wanted and because we’re COMPLETE opposites, we never took the hint! So one day Brad said to me, “next time just throw rocks at me”. So that became our saying. If we’re hinting that we want/need something and it feels like the other person isn’t getting it we say “I’m throwing rocks here”. It’s awesome to have the air clear. To answer your question though. the thing that drives me CRAZY about myself is that I cry every time I have a conversation where I feel like I’m exposing my heart. It’s ANNOYING.

  30. I am very much the same way. I overreact all the time and I’ve been like this my whole life. But for me, it isn’t so much that I let things go for too long. In my case, I just overreact immediately sometimes. For instance, my brother would push my buttons when we were younger because he knew I wouldn’t just ignore him. Instead, I would yell really loud and get very upset and sometimes cry. My mom would then say (and this is burned in my brain) “Michelle, you need to quit overreacting.” I now hate that phrase. It brings back terrible memories of sibling arguments.

  31. Amy L Butler

    Yeah, I totally do this. My husband does it as well. I’m glad we’re not the only ones who do it. Hopefully we can all overcome this together!

  32. Um, I’m pretty sure I just read my own biography. When my husband says, “You’re overreacting,” I respond with, “I AM NOT OVERREACTING!”

    Case in point. You’re not alone. 🙂

  33. Laura

    In your defense, Miss Katie, this isn’t a “new” agreement between the two of you – you’ve posted about this in the past! Which is better: to bring it up so many times that it sounds like you’re nagging or to blow up every twentieth time? Good luck with the challenges and good for you for working to be better!

  34. claire

    I know those exact feelings Katie – the simmering annoyance that erupts into a full on burst of crankiness. I don’t like confrontation, and so I really try and keep my head and not get too worked up over stuff. But you know what – when Dan walks in after work day after day, and heads straight to the xbox – walking past piles of washing, or dishes, or me in the kitchen – I’m gonna start getting peeved. For a long time though I did it out of love. I thought, he’s had a hard, long day – he deserves to sit down and have a break. I still let him get away with it too often – but I do blow up every now and then and leave him to do everything.

    Also, you’re scaring me re: classes of uncontrollable kids! I’m studying to be a high school teacher at the moment – got any tips for classroom management strategies?

  35. Tressa

    Love this post!! We can’t fix it, if we don’t know it’s broke!!! Some people (men and 12 year old kids included) need point blank facts. Tell ’em like it is!!! 😉

  36. Brittany

    This post really resonated with me, because I have the exact same problem. Things bug me, but I don’t actually *say* so until it’s driving me so insane that I flip! I’ve blogged about this as well, and I’m working on getting better about it (and also letting things go that I don’t need to get worked up over at all!)

  37. I’m amazed at how often these Understanding Katie posts resonate so much with my own personality! I am right there with you — for me I think it’s a combination of THINKING that I’m giving hints (when I’m not being as clear as I think) and just an inherent nature to try and people please to an extent that I put EVERYONE before myself until I go crazy. Plus if I don’t say something right away, I feel like I missed my window…until I freak out months later, that is. I’m glad you’ve found a way to work on this though, and I think I may take a couple pointers from you!

  38. Meredith

    OH my GOSH I TOTALLY do this! and I know it’s something I need to work on but I don’t… well I’m getting better… but it sure isn’t just you!!! 🙂

  39. halcuri

    Oh the joys of being a first year teacher! I remember my first year as being a simple act of daily survival. I went from my fairy tale days of being a student teacher in an affluent middle school where the students adored me to teaching a special needs class of sixth grade boys in a somewhat less desirable district. And yes, only boys. ADD, ADHD, executive functioning issues, etc. I still don’t know how I survived. I do know that once I began to set strict behavioral expectations, things improved slightly. For some kids, positive reinforcement works and others need consequences. The reality is, if you’re planning to do this for the long term (especially middle school), the classroom management issues will never go away. You’ll just get better at managing them. And it really comes with plain, ol’ experience. Keep truckin’, you’ll be off on maternity leave soon enough!

  40. It’s not just you, I do it,too. And you want to know what’s worse? I didn’t realize how annoying it must be and how bad it is until I read your post and really thought about it. It makes perfect sense and kind of explains why I don’t get the reaction I am looking for when I do explode. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s overreacting, though, it’s more that you don’t speak up when you should (at least not in a way that the other person is hearing) and so it eventually eats at you until you explode.

  41. Maren

    I do the same exact thing! Well, not so much with my son…I pretty much tell him right away when something he’s done, or not done, is, or is not, working for me. But with my fiance….I let it build up, then I’m angry and crying and he’s trying to figure out what the hell he did wrong. Most of the time it’s a lot of little things built up…maybe not even about him…then I blow over some little thing that’s not even a big deal, really.
    And now that I think about it, I do that with my son as well…I’ll let little things go, then one day I’ll explode over something and he’s in tears and I feel like a horrible mother…
    *sigh* I really, REALLY, need to work on that!

  42. Alexandra

    I procrastinate! I hate that about myself so much!

  43. OH MY GOD You just described my household. Since we’ve had Peanut (it’s only been a week and a half), I’ve experienced the exact same thing. She will start moving around in her little co-sleeper and make little squeaky sounds so I’ll nudge Jon and say (since she sleeps on his side until I recover), “Peanut’s up. Can you grab her and change her so I can feed her?” He says, “uh huh” and continues to sleep. I nudge again and again but get the same response until I either freak out and cry (I’m still hormonal lol) or push him and shake him. Thankfully we had the “talk” the other day about how unfair it is that he doesn’t wake up with her and he says he’ll work on it. I’m glad I’m not the only one who overreacts to things like that. I guess the lesson is not to let it build up but deal with it earlier but….really….is that even possible?

  44. Heather Ben

    no, you are not the only one! i have the same issues!!

  45. Melissa

    oh my gosh! i was so happy reading this (well not for your situation, but to know i’m not alone!)….our son is 4 months old and on a very good schedule now (of course now that I wrote this, it will change tomorrow) but anyway, i like him to be up and having his first bottle by a certain time in the morning so that then he can eat before bed at the same time and we’re not staying up later to feed him……anyway, my husband does the same thing, says he’s getting up to get him and then 5 min. goes by, 10 min. goes by and then he’s crying his head off starving for a bottle…..if I throw back the covers and get up, my husband gets mad at me! if i lay there and listen to my son cry, it breaks my heart! i cannot win……i do NOT know how calmly discussing this would change anything

  46. Nova Kristin

    psssst push him out of bed 😉
    You’ll only have to do it once. I even warned mine first just to be fair LOL

  47. Katie, I can TOTALLY relate to this whole post! The whole morning scenario fits me and my husband to a “T”! Once in awhile, I also remember that he is a rational man, so I calmly ask him to get up and he does. The part that drives me crazy is that this only lasts for a couple of mornings and then it all starts over again! That’s when I really wig out. 🙂 So no, you are NOT alone! I am going to try to look at this like you are: how can I change what I’m doing?

  48. Lily

    I too can relate to this exact post. I try to let my husband parent in more of his style and not tell him how to care for our daughter…Though he’ll lag a little longer to get up for her…or even bring her back to bed with us when it’s HIS morning to get up. I just lay there thinking “doesn’t he know she needs attention – this is her post-breakfast playtime….I can’t just lay here with my eyes shut and ignore my happy giggly baby…AND HE’S KEEPING ME UP ON MY DAY TO SLEEP IN!!!!”.
    I think that men just don’t feel the same way when their children need attention. Mothers have a physical connection – I can only take so much before I have to jump in.

    Yes, I think there will always be some bitterness, but we both really strive to let each other know when something is bugging us and not let it fester. It’s so much better than having it come out in a hormone driven rampage…that’s just not safe for anyone. haha

    Good luck – and thanks for posting about this. It seems that this is a standard difference between men and women – we’re not alone. – I’m not sure if that’s good or bad? lol

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