Tempering Rage with Eileen MacDougall

Eileen MacDougall hosts Book Stew on WCTV.

To offer your own advice, call Zak @ 844-935-BEST


ZAK: Before I get going, you should know today's episode contains the F-word. Twice. This Sunday is Valentine's Day, and I thought I'd use the holiday, as bogus as it is to some people...to share some relationship advice I've been collecting. If you've been at home, all day, every day with your partner for the past year or so, you might be looking for some strategies to deal with spontaneous rage.

EILEEN: If we hit our ultimate point where we're really in conflict and going after each other, we came up with a way to slow that process down. Other people might find beneficial. It's like a stop-gap measure before your rage goes off the charts.

ZAK: This is Eileen MacDougall.

EILEEN: So, I had been thinking about when our daughter played soccer. Someone did something particularly egregious on the field, the refs had the ability to drop these flags. There was a yellow flag that was a warning and red flag that was ok, you're out of the game. And I thought that was such a great way to stop people from doing stupid things without screaming at them, because obviously, refs can't do that.

ZAK: Refs can't, but, of course, we at home do have screaming as an option. But that's what Eileen and her husband were trying to avoid. Bless them.

EILEEN: So, I have some index cards. Two purple index cards. That's a tribute to Prince cause I love Prince. And on the first one, in big block letters is WTF in red, red Sharpie...which is obviously What The Fuck. And the second one in big block letters is WTAF in gold Sharpie. Which is What the Actual Fuck. And that is the ultimate...that's the equivalent of a yellow card and a red card. And we keep the cards in our napkin basket and our napkin basket sits on the dining room table.

ZAK: So, just to clarify, WTAF is worse than WTF?

EILEEN: Oh, absolutely. You throw the actual in there and that's like, forget it. That's the extra emphasis. So, one time it was a stupid pandemic thing and this one time, which really had to do with Chinese food which is so stupid. So, the protocol behind bringing food in is pretty established. Whoever does the ordering goes out and gets it gets to come home and see a set table. So, that was one time that that didn't happen.

ZAK: Wait, what didn't happen?

EILEEN: He hadn't put glasses of water down at the table. So, it wasn't like there was a completely unset table for Chinese takeout. It was like, he left out one thing and I had just come in from outside. It was cold. I had to schlep to the Chinese place and pick up the food so I think came in and I was, like, a little bit mad about me being the one to go out and then when I looked at the dining room table and there was one element missing, I just lost it. And I was probably on the verge of losing it about everything, anyway. So, I actually threw the WTF card. I picked it up and I dropped it in-front of him at the table. And he looked at me and he picked up the WTAF card and threw it at me. So we had these two cards sitting on the table and we were still in a rage but as soon as the cards came down, we just started laughing cause it was so silly and funny. It forced us to just look at each other and go does this matter? Does this mean anything? Can we get past this? Just the laughing which never would have happened without the cards broke-up the whole disagreement and put us back to maybe merely grumbling at each other and some muted apologies. And that was all we needed. So now we have the cards there and they reside there permanently and I think we've agreed that when we get vaccinated and when things get better, we can either burn the cards or we can just keep them enshrined somewhere in the napkin basket on the dining room table so that they're always there if ever need them.

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