My husband likes to leave the kitchen cupboard doors open above the sink, where we store the vitamins. He believes that if the light above the sink is left on (which it usually is because our kitchen only has natural light at one end of the kitchen), it heats up the cupboard and it’s not good to have the vitamins heated. However, this means that whenever someone opens up an adjacent cupboard, the already-open door needs to be shut.
Sometimes it’s not completely shut and if my husband’s in the kitchen, the cupboard door is in his blind spot. So he hits his head. If I’m the one who’s left the door open, he blames me.
Now, I’m usually pretty good at making sure the door is open or closed, but if we’re both working in the kitchen with a lot of opening and closing of doors, the inevitable occurs. So he bangs his head. He yells, I offer background explanations that he feels are excuses and he yells, “Just close the *@)#*$& doors.” And we both feel terrible.
We brought this to our coach. And she (being a good coach) asked us what either of us would say if another couple brought this situation and asked for our advice. What resources or solutions could we come up with? This put the whole thing into the mechanical solution phase.
Here’s what we came up with:
- Install hinges that automatically close the door slowly
- Install hinges that either keep the door in an open or shut position (no in-between)
- Install cushions/padding on the edges of the door
- Move the vitamins
- Wear a bicycle helmet in the kitchen (which made us both laugh)
But then we needed to deal with the hurt/angry feelings. My husband had a head injury as a child, so he can’t believe I’m not more sensitive and don’t take the steps to protect him. (And as our coach reminded us, usually the anger is directed at someone who’s not there-usually an adult who didn’t protect us as a child). And I can’t believe that he would assume I was deliberately setting him up to bang his head.
Additionally, when my husband is angry, I’m not seeing a frightened child-I’m seeing a scary six feet four-inch adult.
In those moments, we both need to remember that we’re not necessarily dealing with the creative, resourceful parts of each other and that neither of us is in a position to give the other what they want. And while knowing that doesn’t ‘fix’ the situation (we both think the right hinges will!), it does help heal it. If we both understand the background dynamics, and commit to practical fixes, it opens up a new way to operate in relationship.
May we pursue our paths, calling out the resourceful parts inside ourselves to find new solutions and ways of being in this world,