HOW ANGER, HATE, AND BITTERNESS RUINED A VACATION
Alton and Joan, his wife, went on a skiing vacation. It was to be a pleasant, relaxing time. No problems. They arrived, checked in at their motel, and were even able to change their reservation from a more expensive room to a cheaper room, which pleased them. They had a pleasant week with evenings spent around the fireplace after a day of skiing.
Finally, it was over. Reluctantly, they went down to check out—only to run head on into an unexpected complication: they had to pay the more expensive rate for their room. They argued, but the management stood firm:
“You reserved a room at the expensive rate, so we’re charging you that rate whether you stayed in that room or not.”
Alton bitterly paid the more expensive rate and went muttering to the car. As they drove away, he fumed and fussed.
Their entire week was ruined. Suddenly, they couldn’t find one thing positive about the whole week in spite of the fact it had been a perfect week until checkout time.
That glorious week of skiing was clouded by what was really a dirty trick.
What had really ruined their week?
The decision of the management?
No. It was the couple’s reactions to that decision. They were filled with hateful, angry, bitter emotions that wiped out a beautiful experience.
THE EMPTINESS OF POPULARITY
Joe came to see me because his marriage had collapsed. He was depressed, disillusioned, and a flop as a salesman.
It wasn’t like this a few years back. Joe, from a small town, enrolled in a major university and went out for football. He hardly expected to make the team. Then the regular fullback broke his ankle, and Joe was picked at random to run some plays. To everyone’s surprise, he became the starter.
What followed was three years of weekly headlines, interviews, the roar of the crowd, and autograph seekers. He was allowed to choose easy courses, and his teachers gave him good grades for very little work.
Joe loved every minute of it. He was completely and happily taken up with the attention and popularity that was his, and his choice of pretty girls on and off campus.
After graduation, at age twenty-three, Joe was sobered to realize he was unprepared for any kind of work. His reputation got him into an executive training program, but he quickly dropped out for lack of basic knowledge.
AII he knew was football. When he was stripped of the glamour of being a varsity football player, all he had left was a big body going soft. He was no longer sought after, and his big body became a liability.
Without any knowledge or skills, and a badly mismatched marriage, Joe suddenly had to face the fact that he had been on a glamorous, pleasant, sensuous road that led to a dead end.
Now, his life was empty. Three happy years of incredible popularity turned to ashes, and he was miserable, bitter, and frustrated.
THE FRUSTRATIONS OF DEALING WITH REBELLIOUS BEHAVIOR
Mr. Somers provided his family with a beautiful, roomy home and plenty of money. But the children drove him wild.
For instance, one evening, while the family was having a delicious meal, one of the children refused to eat the peas on his plate. Mr. Somers was determined that the child eat them.
The child flatly refused, so his father threatened a spanking.
“STOP PUSHING HlM!”
Mr. Somers’ wife told him to stop pushing. Angrily, he continued the issue, finally slapping the child. Mrs. Somers started a heated argument with him.
Finally, he stormed out of the room, and they ended up not speaking to each other for a week.
We would think that two college graduates could resolve such a simple issue. Mr. Somers had no problem with his wife or the child when they did what he asked. Nor did she have any problem when she got her own way.
They both agreed that hostility and stubbornness over so simple a matter was an inappropriate response, and it turned their lovely home into a battleground.
THREE SIMPLE CONFLICTS
Kelley was enraged because he couldn’t take two glasses of orange juice instead of one as he went through a cafeteria line.
His wife was furious when their preschooler spilled her milk.
Pete became highly agitated when two people pressed in ahead of him in a ticket line. On the way home, he was angry because the traffic moved slowly.
Strange, isn’t it, that simple, normal details of life can stimulate emotions that are as intense as if we were facing a major crisis.
What can be done about it?