Do you or your spouse ever come home from work irritated, jumpy, or stressed? Do either of you seem to lash out over silly things? If this sounds like you, then you may be suffering from a common condition known as being, “Hangry.”
You read it right – hangry.
Hangry = hungry + angry
The answer is simple: FOOD
You know the feeling.
You haven’t eaten for hours. You are exhausted after a long day. And your spouse wants to talk about money, or the in-laws, or having a baby – or any number of potentially tense topics. You explode! You aren’t rational or logical or tempered or kind. You are hangry.
Hangry could also describe a state of being. It’s a way to describe someone who is in a bad mood, for one reason or another, and where the said, “bad mood,” could easily be cured through a simple act such as: eating, kissing (we love Kissing It Out of Them), exercising, massaging, taking a nap, etc.
Timing Your Talking
Having a “tough” discussion with your spouse when either of you is “hangry,” rarely yields the desired results. It’s likely that things will be said that you will later regret. It is important to gauge where your spouse is at emotionally, so that you can be cautious when bringing up sensitive and/or difficult issues.
Just like athletes pump themselves up before the big game, or a rock-climber gathers up all the essential gear before a technical clime, it’s important that both you and your spouse’s basic needs are met before jumping into a “hot topic.”
Having these basic needs met will help you both get into a state of mind where tough conversations can be navigated successfully. Perhaps you’ve heard the acronym HALT before.
It stands for,
If you find that one or more of these adjectives describe you or your spouse when you want to talk about something important, remember that you’ll be much better off by first curing the mood before tackling a tough conversation. Trust us.
So, HALT, and don’t try to push an uncomfortable discussion on your spouse if he or she is experiencing any of the following feelings:
Problem: Your spouse hasn’t eaten in hours. Their blood sugar levels have dropped, and they don’t have enough energy to think clearly. They are HUNGRY. And not a normal, “I could use something to eat,” hungry. Rather, a “FEED ME NOW OR I WILL DIE,” kind of hungry. You get the picture.
Solution: Feed them. Hopefully something DELICIOUS. Something they love. While they eat, don’t try and talk about anything deep – just keep up the normal chit-chat. As you help restore their blood sugar levels to normal, it will be easier to restore their emotional levels to normal as well. Having fed your spouse, it is likely that more positive communication will flow and you won’t have to be afraid that your spouse will explode.
Problem: Your spouse is upset about something at work, or in their extended family, or with buddies, or even with you. They don’t want to talk. They snap at you when you say anything to them. You are a bit scared that they might blow up at any moment (keep in mind that abuse in any form is completely unacceptable).
Solution:Back off. Give them some space. Again, offer food, or a nap, or that he or she go for a run or go to the gym. Let them calm down. Tell them you care about their day and about whatever it is that’s making them upset. Support them as they experience a range of emotions. They will calm down soon enough, and all will be well again.
Problem:You’ve just come home from a long work-week spent out of town. Perhaps it has even been a series of work-weeks away from home. Just because you’ve been out of town doesn’t mean that time has stopped at home. Issues have come up that need discussing and the weekend “to-do,” list grew exponentially. To top things off, you and your spouse haven’t been able to connect as much on a daily basis, due to travel and time differences, and you’re both feeling quite lonely and distanced from each other.
Solution: When you reunite with your spouse after several days, or a week apart, it’s crucial that you take time to reconnect. Don’t jump into a Q&A session where you ask your spouse for an accounting of their accomplishments while you were away. Rather, give them a giant hug and kiss, let them know how much you missed them, and express how good it feels to be back in their arms. This will re-establish a team mentality that will be a launch pad for items that need discussing. Without that crucial time to reconnect, you may end up with a spouse wishing you were still away from home – or at least wondering how the reunion you’ve both been looking forward to got off to such a rocky start.
Problem: Lack of sleep or personal time, or simply running life’s race at too quick a pace can be a real source of tension in a marriage. It’s very difficult, at best, to build unity and to get on the same page with your spouse when one, or both, of you are completely worn out.
Solution: Take some time to rest. We all could do a better job of getting more rest – not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually as well. Rest and relaxation can come in many forms, either as a couple, or individually. Our favorites include taking naps together, going for walks, cuddling up on the coach, or eating frozen yogurt. For you, it may be reading a book, listening to music, watching a show, or eating Cheetos. Whatever you choose, make sure you and your spouse both get time for renewal and rest on a regular basis (either alone or together, when possible). It can be very tempting to say, “There’s simply too much to do, I can’t afford to slow down and take a time-out.” Trust us, taking time to rest will dramatically increase your efficiency, and put you in a state of mind where you’re much more capable of having hard conversations and making wise decisions.
So, what HALT really boils down to is gauging where you and your spouse are at emotionally, and then meeting those basic needs so you can successfully negotiate the journey of life together. Life is wonderful, it was meant to be wonderful, and it can be wonderful as you and your spouse seek to meet each other’s needs in loving and caring ways.