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How to Communicate When Cranky

When you need help on the domestic front, how to enlist family members.

How to persuade family members to help out at home
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“You’ve been cranky lately,” my husband said, in a rather edgy tone. 

I bit my tongue and aimed a look-who’s-talking glare at the dirty dishes in the sink, to forestall a curt reply. Then it occurred to me that since the comment was true, I should swallow my pride and simply accept the observation for what it was. 

We both knew what Andrew was talking about. In the past month I’ve taken on full-time caregiving for my very sick adult daughter, and while I don’t mind the extra work, I do mind when others neglect their chores. I mind it more than usual now because I’m working harder than usual, and I expect others to step up and cope, too. I’ve communicated this rather tartly.

Read More: 3 Ways to Pray Through Pain

Unfortunately, what you give is often what you get, and people have been getting testy around here. This may be why Jesus chose not to say, “Snarl at your family, all who labor and are heavy laden” but “Come to me…” (Matthew 11:28). It occurred to me that perhaps instead of griping I could pray as I wiped down the counter.

Spending a few minutes of connection with God shifted my focus from “How do I get them to behave?” to “How do I need to behave when I communicate with them?” It then dawned on me to talk one-on-one with my slackers at calmer times, when I wasn’t irritated. I was able to ask for greater cooperation so that I could move “reminding people to do their jobs” off of my very full to-do list. Not surprisingly, they could hear me better when I was rational, and family life has improved.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to obey the command to “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden.” It doesn’t even take much time. What it does take is to remember that how I behave is in my control, and to put God first.

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