If only we could go through life with a spouse who never makes us upset, annoyed, or sometimes full-blown angry. That would be so nice, but definitely not reality. Due to the heavy dose of human nature of which we are equipped, there will be those times. They're not deal breakers. They're simply small speed bumps in the matrimonial road. They happen. What to do about them, is the question.

Here are two "what if" situations that may shed a little light

1. What if

your spouse said he would be home for dinner at a certain time, and he's late. You took the time to make a delicious meal for the family and it's close to being ruined. Dinner can be on hold just so long before it takes a dive. "Where is he," your mind yells. "This is so inconsiderate." Dinner is cooling down, and you're heating up. Moreover, the kids' tummies are growling.

Finally, he walks through the door. Dinner is far past its peak, and you are fumin' mad. What do you do? Greet him with the stink eye? The cold shoulder? Or maybe you could be like Loretta in The Lockhorns cartoon. He walks through the door and she, with a scowl and hands on hips, says, "You're late, Leroy. Dinner would be ruined if it were ready." Only, this is different. It was ready, and it is nearly ruined.

So what do you do? Stop. Blink away the wicked stare and wait just a minute. Think. There must have been a reason for his being late, something beyond blatant irresponsibility. Bite your tongue and do the following:

Put yourself in his shoes. Have you ever been late?

Greet him with a kiss. A loving kiss, not a reserved peck.

Say, "I was getting worried. What happened?"

Then listen without criticism.

There are many legitimate reasons for being late. Stuck in traffic, a meeting with a client ran late, he had to stop for gas or maybe there was an accident and he stopped to help. Give him the benefit of the doubt, and just listen. You would want this same courtesy if you were the late one. He'll be offering you a sincere apology for not being able to arrive home on time, and will be so grateful for your understanding.

2. What if

your spouse leaves his clothes strewn around the bedroom, yet again. You're getting sick of picking up after him. After all, you ruminate, you're not his mother. And you've told him that several times. Now you're fightin' mad. You have had it.

Stop. Why continue doing what has not been working?

Think. What would cause a change? Try a different approach.

Later, out of the heat of the moment, have a private conversation with him. Say something like, "Honey, I've been troubled about something and I need to talk to you about it. A clean bedroom is really important to me. Could you help me out by putting your dirty clothes in the hamper and hanging up the ones that are still clean? I would be so grateful if you could do that. It would mean a lot to me." That beats nagging all to pieces. And you'll be surprised at the good results it will bring.

This works

These two what-if methods apply to almost all "fumin' mad" situations. So when your anger level starts to escalate because your honey didn't meet your expectations, stay calm and remember:

1. Step into his shoes

, and listen to him without criticism.

2. Talk about the situation from an "I" position

without pointing fingers and nagging.

This will put the kibosh on what could have been an unproductive spirited discussion, and will bring a lot of peace and love into your marriage.

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