The Maddening Incident of the Last Egg in the Fridge

aka

Why Cooling Off Periods are Good for Your Marriage

I wanted to take a photo of the last egg, all alone in the carton. Alas, someone ate the last egg. That someone was not me.

I wanted to take a photo of the last egg, all alone in the carton. Alas, someone ate the last egg. That someone was not me.

My husband pulled a carton of eggs from the fridge and opened it. There was just one egg left.

“Momma! You ate all the eggs!” he quipped.

I tensed up and clenched my fists. But I said nothing. After all, he spoke the truth. Yes, I’d eaten all but one of the eggs. I eat eggs every day. We get new eggs every Wednesday. It was a Tuesday. On Tuesdays? There usually are no eggs left.

“There’s still one left,” I said.

“It’s not enough,” he said, closing the carton and stuffing the one egg back inside the fridge. He’d wanted to make Belgian waffles that morning, just as he’d wanted to make them on Sunday morning. He hadn’t made them on Sunday because he hadn’t had enough milk. He hadn’t had enough milk because I’d used most of it the night before when I’d made twice-baked potatoes. Usually, I’d put buttermilk in twice-baked potatoes. I didn’t have buttermilk, so I used regular milk instead. I’d used more milk than usual, too, because the last time I’d made twice-baked potatoes my husband had complained that they were not creamy enough. So this time? I used a lot of milk.

And I’d done that for him. He couldn’t make Belgian waffles on Sunday morning because he’d enjoyed his exceptionally creamy twice-baked potatoes the night before. As far as I was concerned, the lack of milk was his fault, not mine.

He made a special run to the grocery store Monday night, just to buy milk.

But he had not told me why. Had he told me that he would be needing eggs come Tuesday morning, I would not have eaten eggs for breakfast Monday morning. I swear, I would not have. I’m a caring spouse like that. I’m willing to give my husband my eggs if he needs them. I am.

But he hadn’t said anything. So I’d had no way of knowing. None I tell you. None.

“Well, sor-ree,” I said.

But, in reality, I wasn’t sorry—not for eating 11 out of 12 eggs anyway. At that moment, I was only sorry about one thing—that we were both standing in the kitchen at the same time. And I was thinking a series of very snarky things. Like I was thinking that, if it were me, I would have found a way to make Belgian waffles with just one egg—because I’m creative and smart like that.  I was thinking that, if it were me, I would have checked the eggs the night before, just to make sure I’d had enough.

And if it were me, I wouldn’t be blaming the lack of eggs on my poor spouse, who hadn’t done anything wrong.

And I was thinking that I should say all of this out loud, as I often blog here about how it’s never a good idea to expect your spouse to read your mind. How many times have I told you all to speak your voices? A lot, okay? A lot.

At the same time, I knew that saying anything would be a ginormous mistake. I knew if I opened my mouth, the wrong words would come out and they would come out just like this: Why are you such an asshole?

(Sorry, readers, I do try to not swear on this blog. But sometimes I just can’t get around it. This was one of those times.)

So I kept mum.

“I’ll say something about it as soon as I calm down,” I thought.

But I didn’t calm down. I just kept staring out him with the “I wish you would just drop dead” look.

He finally left for work. We didn’t say good-bye. That almost never happens. Usually? We’re good about saying good-bye, even when one of us is mad.

I tried to get ready to catch my bus to New York. I could only find one glove. I cursed my husband. Of course it was his fault that I could only find one glove. Why, you ask? I have no idea. But I was just as sure the missing glove was his fault as I was sure of the fact that he was wrong for blaming me for eating all of the eggs.

I couldn’t find the glove, so I grabbed a pair of his. Yeah, I’d be looking really fashionable when I showed up for my business meeting with my dressy outfit, leather jacket, and men’s ski gloves. Damn him for only wearing men’s ski gloves!

(And if you think my thoughts were irrational and crazy, I must ask you this: have you not had these very irrational thoughts about your own spouse? Be honest now).

I stayed mad at him during the entire 1.5-hour bus ride into the city. I stayed mad at him during the entire 30 minutes it took me to walk to the restaurant. I stayed mad at him during the entire meal. I stayed mad during the 30 minutes it took to walk back to catch my bus home.

I didn’t stop being mad until I fell asleep on the bus.

I woke up an hour later. I texted my husband, “On the 3:30 bus. See you soon.”

As soon as I sent the text, I knew I was no longer mad. The anger? It was gone. I was looking forward to seeing him, even if he was a grumpy pain in the ass who blamed his wife for things that were not remotely her fault.

Later that night, I hugged him and I said, “Do you remember what you said when you opened the egg carton this morning?”

He didn’t.

“You blamed me for eating all of the eggs,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” he said

“Maybe next time, when you are disappointed because you can’t find what you need in the fridge, you might just say, ‘Oh, there are no eggs. That’s disappointing!’ Do you think you could word it that way?”

He said he would try to word it that way in the future. We hugged some more. I was glad that I hadn’t called him an asshole earlier in the day.

What a difference a few hours and nap makes, eh? Had I tried to confront him that morning, it would have been ugly, ugly, ugly. I can tell you that. But because I waited until we were both calm, the conversation went much more smoothly. There were no raised voices. There was no stress. There was no sarcasm.

It was just a conversation about a conversation about eggs.

Do you wait to cool off before you confront your spouse? Are you able to speak your voice when you are mad? If it were you, would you have blamed your spouse when you couldn’t find your other glove? Do you think a better title for this post would have been, “That’s the last egg!”? Leave a comment.

21 comments… add one

  • Natalie January 15, 2010, 1:11 pm

    Do I wait to cool off? Sometimes. This is something I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to work on. Like you in this post, something relatively small can stay with me ALL DAY (if not into the next day) and everything is my husband’s fault. I laughed while reading your post, and yes, I would’ve blamed him somehow for not being able to find my glove… probably because he made me so mad I couldn’t concentrate or do anything right. (The reality for me, I go from being mad at him to feeling guilty to feeling my self esteem plummet to being mad at him all over again for making me feel so low. Ha!). When I’m mad, I have horrible, “Get-the-last-word-in-dig-deep-til-it-hurts-vomit-mouth” sometimes. I’ve REALLY tried to work on this within myself, as well as my reacting in a less sensitive way when he says/does something “off the handle” due to no sleep, work stress, etc.

    So, the short answer… I LOVE THIS POST!!! I think/feel the same things and have a very similar inner conversation with myself often.

    Reply
  • Rhyah January 15, 2010, 9:04 pm

    I wait to cool off most of the time, but the problem is, by the time I cool off, I’ve realized how silly it was and don’t even bother to talk about it later. When something similar happens down the road I revisit every past incident that was remotely related that I never bothered to bring up after cooling off and then I blow up. A vicious cycle, really. And, yes. I do blame him for things out of his control when I’m mad at him. All things that I really need to work on. It’s strange how clear things become when you read others’ experiences and revisit your own.

    Reply
  • Michael Dundas January 15, 2010, 9:54 pm

    This made me laugh because I can relate. I suspect if you asked my wife, she would say the same.
    -mike.
    .-= Michael Dundas´s last blog ..Authorized to shutdown the data center, update =-.

    Reply
  • Rosie January 15, 2010, 10:01 pm

    In response to your question about whether your readers are ever mad at their spouses about irrational things I can admit I am. I have been under a bit of stress lately and one day PMS hit me like a thunder storm. I found myself feeling mad at my husband because I couldn’t find my keys. It is interesting to note that the poor man was not in the room, does not have a habit of moving my things, and had not been anywhere near my keys for days. That realization hit me and I had to admit I was just mad that life wasn’t easy and I had cramps, and then I found my keys on the nightstand where I had left them. You’re not alone. We all go crazy. I find hugging our spouses often helps. Often the fights we could choose to get involved in have so little do to with how we really feel. It is great when we can talk about what is really going on and ask for support, set boundaries, etc.
    .-= Rosie´s last blog ..I can control these things with my mind. =-.

    Reply
  • Kelly J. January 15, 2010, 10:06 pm

    I’m trying to be better about cooling off before I say something. I get easily angered and he does not and has pointed it out to me (on a many numerous occasion!) So I completely understand where you’re coming from and so I so Kudos! I don’t think I would have blamed my husband for not being able to find my glove per se. I think I would be mad at the fact that he ‘just had to say something!’ and blame the fact that I am frazzled on him. So, I guess that I would blame it on him…
    I liked the title that you chose, by the way :-D

    Reply
  • Kathy January 16, 2010, 12:16 am

    With counseling I’ve learned to speak my mind without the snarkyness, most of the time. But it is always better if I cool down. I have a wicked tongue. I’m proud of my wicked tongue when I’m doing one-liners. But they aren’t conducive to a happy or even comfortable marriage.

    Had I been in your situation and pissed at my husband, damn straight it would be his fault that I couldn’t find my other glove. LOL!!!

    You’re title was fine. It definitely made me read the blog, since I wasn’t quite sure what you meant. LOL!!!

    The last time there was only one egg left, hubby made a single egg something instead of his 2 raw egg protein drink. I’ve been pleasantly surprised when he hasn’t gotten mad at me for only leaving one egg or something else that I’ve done or more likely haven’t done. There are a lot of “haven’t done” around our house lately with my health situation.

    Last week when he said he wanted to go with me to Florida for my surgery, I was very surprised and had to ask “why do you want to go?”. He looked at me with “duh, you’re having surgery”. I’ve had such a bad opinion of my husband of late, that I was truly taken aback by his interest/desire in going with me. (The surgery isn’t that big of a deal – 20 – 30 minutes. But a very necessary surgery.) I’m now trying to have an “open mind” where my husband is concerned. He’s not the big bad guy that I currently have stuck in my head. (Hopefully the surgery will fix my head on my husband.)

    Reply
  • Elisa January 16, 2010, 3:40 am

    Your thoughts are not irrational. We all have them EVERY single day! I try to step away from the situation to cool off. I think about it. Think some more and then come to talk to my husband to talk about what happened.

    I like how we women think about and think about the word, sentence that made us angry yet I find it hilarious (NOW-after no longer mad) that MEN (your husband) don’t even remember what they said!

    I like the title as is!
    .-= Elisa´s last blog ..Expats In Croatia Sing Old MacDonald Song =-.

    Reply
  • Maureen January 16, 2010, 12:35 pm

    Two days ago I got angry at my husband for leaving me to bring the groceries into the house, on my own, during a torrential down pour. I went into the TV room and yelled my fool head off. LOL
    I told my husband once that our relationship was the safest place I’ve ever been allowed to be angry and not fear about damaging the relationship. So when I start slamming kitchen cupboards and pots and pans he knows that I am blowing off steam and to enter into my domain is risking his life.
    However if it goes on for too long, we have this little game we play. He grabs me by the wrist and drags me into the bedroom. The dogs go insane barking at the both of us locked in fake combat. He pins my arms down and proceeds to tickle me until I yell “Uncle”. Then we kiss and make up.
    When he is angry I just give him space and act like nothing is going on. I know if I give him that space he will eventually calm down enough and share with me what bee is up his butt. I will go through this little act of pampering him. Getting him a drink of something, something to eat, rub his neck. All the while saying nothing about his anger. I pretend there is nothing going on just a little pampering.
    Then he breaks down and tells me whats bugging him. I’ve tried the tickling thing but he needs time to process his anger.
    We’ve even talked about this process with each other and how we believe it honours how we feel. There is nothing wrong with anger. But anger needs to be channelled into action and this is how we worked out doing it.
    This last time though I went out of character and yelled. He stomped into the kitchen and I knew immediately I had crossed the line. I stammered back at him. I’m sorry I need to ask for help and not just assume you know I need it….
    Title is fine and most certainly IS his fault you can’t find your glove

    Reply
  • Marissa January 16, 2010, 3:52 pm

    Do you wait to cool off before you confront your spouse? NO, I should – but I am still lacking a filter between my brain and my mouth, and not just with my spouse.

    Are you able to speak your voice when you are mad? no, i say stupid thing s like: you stink. because when i am mad, my fairly extensive vocabulary goes to a place in my brain that I cannot reach. and even if i could reach it, Anger makes me unable to string sentences together.

    If it were you, would you have blamed your spouse when you couldn’t find your other glove? YES, why on earth was he cleaning up, on the one day i didn’t need him to move my jacket from its rightful place in the floor! Why did he move it, AND lose my glove in the process?!

    Do you think a better title for this post would have been, “That’s the last egg!”? probably not….

    Reply
  • Sheryl January 16, 2010, 5:11 pm

    No, I don’t wait until I’m calm, but instead always blurt it out. And it always comes out wrong. So, thanks for the reminder that patience and waiting DO pay off when it comes to conflict. I’ll have to kick myself next time I am tempted to say what will amount to the wrong thing (or remember this post, or both!)

    Reply
  • MarthaandMe January 16, 2010, 6:54 pm

    I had to laugh because I’ve definitely done the thing with the gloves where I blame him for something that is not his fault, just to make myself feel better. Then I feel badly for having felt that way afterwards!

    Reply
  • Nakita January 16, 2010, 9:24 pm

    Worse. When my husband and I have arguments… he often recognizes that the ONLY productive thing that can happen is to stop talking and walk away. Because sometimes in the heat of the moment, neither of us can back down. Neither of us can say, as rational people should, I’m sorry. So I’ve always been the type to talk through things in the moment. Because I know if I take time to cool off, I’m going to let it go. And I had let too many things go over the few short years that we have been married.

    Anyway, I understand (much better these days!) the need to take some time to cool off before talking things out. I no longer force my husband to stay and talk when he says “we should talk about this later”.

    Reply
  • Alexandra January 17, 2010, 8:21 am

    I would not have blamed my husband about a missing glove, but this egg thing happens all the time at our house, only he’s the mad egg-consumer. I love omelette. My husband has eggs for breakfast AND/OR lunch, so I don’t get to eat omelette much anymore for dinner because that would really be egg overload. I have learned to always check the egg box. I have also explained that eating the last two eggs, for either of us, must be a no-no, because I run a B&B and often need those organic eggs for guests.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..What’s Happening in Wellfleet? =-.

    Reply
  • Meredith January 17, 2010, 1:46 pm

    I read this and laughed. Just the other day I had my heart set on eating…(what was it? I can’t even remember!). Which is why I think this is terrific advice you offer–the cooling-off period.

    Reply
  • Meg at Demanding Joy January 17, 2010, 7:04 pm

    Ha! I definitely hold my tongue for awhile (most of the time). I find that if I fight with him in my head for awhile, I either get over it, or I get better prepared to argue/discuss it later. We call it “the moment of silence” and it prevents us both from saying things that we don’t mean.
    .-= Meg at Demanding Joy´s last blog ..Words of Encouragement =-.

    Reply
  • Kari January 17, 2010, 10:41 pm

    It has taken years for me to learn to keep my mouth shut sometimes during situations like this one. Most of the time I used to say all the mean things I was thinking and something little would become WW3 in our house. Now that I think about things and give myself time to cool-off over the small things, I realize that most of the time what I was upset about was not that big of a deal to begin with.

    BTW: maybe you should think about buying the 18 ct carton of eggs next time LOL! :)

    Reply
  • OneHotTamale25 January 18, 2010, 3:19 am

    Sometimes I wait, sometimes I don’t. I’m reasonably moody? I do a lot better when I give myself time to think before speaking.

    I like, “That’s the Last Egg” as a title.

    This blog gave me déjà vu . Have you written about eggs and used the above photo elsewhere?

    Reply
  • Alisa Bowman January 18, 2010, 7:26 am

    OneHotTamale25: Yikes–I think I might have. I think I wrote something about stages of a bad marriage, and used eggs as the analogy. I might have used that picture… You have a great memory. Apparently better than mine!
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..Rumors of My Relationship with Russell Crowe Have Been Greatly Exaggerated =-.

    Reply
  • Andi January 18, 2010, 4:40 pm

    I DON’T wait and God do I need to learn to do that. It would save me so much grief!
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..Misadventures with Andi reader survey results and how to do one yourself =-.

    Reply
  • the quiet type January 24, 2010, 3:55 am

    OMG I hope I can remember this blog the next time I want to pop some smart ass remark off to my fiance. Thank you Alisa, you have no idea how much you help!

    Reply
  • Amanda February 11, 2010, 9:23 pm

    “Cooling off” before speaking when angry is the best advice anyone can give a new couple.

    Reply

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