The Happiness Project

Husband Screws Up but Somehow Avoids Enraging Me

You know those unpleasant marital tasks that one of you has to do—and the question is who’s going to do it? Yesterday, my husband and I had one of those chores, and he had agreed to do it. Then at the last minute, he backed out because he had a work conflict—a legitimate conflict, but one he would’ve known about, if he’d been paying attention.

I was very annoyed.

But instead of following his likely first instincts, my husband deployed some of the strategies that get recommended for such situations. He said, “I know, I really screwed up here.” He said, “I know it would be a huge pain for you to have to deal with this now.” He said, “What would happen if we just bailed? Can we do it another time? Can I show up late?” After some discussion, I said I’d do it, and later he sent me an e-mail that said, “Thank you, honey.”

And you know what? It really did help.

* I talked to Kimberly Palmer at U.S. News & World Report about her ” 5 Ways to Be Happy in a Recession .” Interesting topic!

* Interested in starting your own happiness project? If you’d like to take a look at my personal Resolutions Chart, for inspiration, just e-mail me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. (Sorry about writing it in that roundabout way; I’m trying to thwart spammers.) Just write “Resolutions Chart” in the subject line.