Editor's note: This article was originally published on the Jacob's website, Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.
You read it right - "hangry." Hangry = hungry and angry. The solution is simple: FOOD.
You know the feeling.
You haven't eaten for hours. You are exhausted after a long day, and your spouse wants to talk about money, or the in-laws, or having a baby - any number of potentially tense topics...You explode! You aren't rational or logical or kind. You are hangry.
Hangry also describes a state of being. It describes when someone is in a bad mood - for one reason or another - where said "bad mood" could easily be cured through a simple act such as eating, kissing, exercising, massaging, taking a nap, etc. (We love "Kissing it out of them.")
Time Your Talking
Having a tough discussion with your spouse when either of you is "hangry" rarely yields the desired results. It's likely that things will be said that you will later regret. It is important to gauge where your spouse is at emotionally so that you can be cautious when bringing up sensitive/difficult issues.
Just like athletes pump themselves up before a big game or rock-climbers gather up all the essential gear before a technical climb, it's important that both you and your spouse's basic needs are met before jumping in to a "hot topic."
Having your basic needs met will help you both be in a state of mind where tough conversations can be successfully navigated. Perhaps you've heard the acronym HALT before. It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. If you find that one or more of these adjectives describes you or your spouse when you want to talk about something important, remember that you'll be much better off by first curing the mood before tackling the tough conversation. Trust us.
So, HALT, and don't try to push an uncomfortable discussion onto your spouse if he or she is experiencing any of the following feelings:
Your spouse hasn't eaten in hours. Her blood sugar levels have dropped, and she doesn't have enough energy to think clearly. She is HUNGRY. And not a normal, "I could use something to eat," hungry. Rather, a "FEED ME NOW OR I WILL DIE," kind of hungry. You get the picture.
Feed her. Hopefully something delicious - something she loves. While she eats, don't try to talk about anything deep - just keep up the normal chit-chat. As you help restore her blood sugar levels to normal, it will be easier to restore her emotional levels to normal as well.
Your spouse is upset about something at work, or a problem in his extended family, or with buddies, or even with you. He doesn't want to talk. He snaps at you when you say anything to him. You are a bit scared that he might blow up at any moment (keep in mind that abuse in any form is completely unacceptable).
Back off. Give him some space. Again, offer food (or even a little somethin' somethin' kind of love). Let him calm down. Tell him you care about his day and about whatever it is that's making him upset. Support him as he experiences a range of emotions. He will calm down soon enough, and all will be well again.
You've just come home from a long work week spent out of town. Perhaps it's even been a series of work weeks away from home. Just because you've been out of town doesn't mean that time has stopped at home. Issues came up that need discussing, and the weekend "to-do" list grew exponentially. To top things off, you and your spouse haven't been able to connect as much on a daily basis due to travel and time differences, and you're both feeling quite lonely and distanced from each other.
When you reunite with your spouse after several days or a week apart, it's crucial that you take time to reconnect. Don't jump into a Q & A session where you ask your spouse for an accounting of their accomplishments while you were away. Rather, give her a giant hug and kiss, let her know how much you missed her, and express how good it feels to be back in her arms. This will re-establish a team mentality that will be a launch pad for items that need discussing. Without that crucial time to reconnect, you may end up with a spouse wishing you were still away from home - or at least wondering how the reunion you've both been looking forward to got off to such a rocky start.
Lack of sleep or personal time, or simply running life's race at too quick a pace for too long, can be a real source of tension in a marriage. It's difficult, at best, to build unity and to get on the same page with your spouse when you are completely worn out.
Take some time to rest. We all could do a better job of getting more rest - not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. Rest and relaxation can come in many forms, either as a couple or individually. Our favorites include taking naps together, going for walks, cuddling up on the couch or eating frozen yogurt. For you, it might be reading a book, listening to music, watching a show or eating Cheetos. Whatever you choose, make sure you and your spouse both get time for renewal and rest on a regular basis (either alone or together). It can be very tempting to say, "There's simply too much to do. I can't afford to slow down and take a time-out." But trust us, taking time to rest will dramatically increase your efficiency and put you in a state of mind where you'll be much more capable of having hard conversations and making wise decisions.
What HALT really boils down to is gauging where you and your spouse are at emotionally and then meeting those basic needs so you can successfully negotiate the journey of life together. Life is wonderful. It is meant to be wonderful, and it can be wonderful as you and your spouse seek to meet each other's needs in loving and caring ways.