Fatigue is one reason many couples argue, but it’s possible to avoid quarrels by taking this simple action.
Fatigue is a warning sign. At the physiological level, it indicates the need to rest. At the emotional level, it can call our attention to the weight of what is going on in our life and be a signal to take into consideration the impact it is having on us. From a psychological point of view, being tired tells us that we may not be in a good place or that we are dealing with something that is too much for us. Spiritually, it is an invitation to balance our life, to rest in God or, paradoxically, turn to others. For a couple, it effectively reveals what is wrong, and is an opportunity to double down our efforts for care and attention. When our ability to control ourselves or take charge of our daily life is weakened, it pushes us to find relief, mainly from our spouse (that is, if they are not just as tired as we are).
A quarrel provoked by fatigue is a moment of truth
A wife says, in a certain humiliating tone, that her husband has not done things as he should. The husband is overly sensitive. When he isn’t tired, her tone doesn’t bother him. When she isn’t tired, she doesn’t get angry. One day, the predictable spiral suddenly stops when she says: “We’re tired.” The tension dies down in both of them and also in the children, who know this rather absurd conversation all too well and even make fun of it.
Of course, not all arguments can be attributed to fatigue. But the difficulty of self-control that fatigue provokes can actually be an opportunity. An argument or inappropriate attitude is a moment of truth about yourself. Fatigue attacks our omnipotence and our perfectionism. It makes us vulnerable, it relativizes our autonomy and underlies our need for others. It reminds us that we have a body and that we have to take care of it.
The first step in getting rest: Give yourself some space
Conversations with your spouse can be exhausting if they turn into debates and leave no room for listening. Could you set up some rules for discussing things without getting tired? Unfair situations are also very tiring, often provoking a repressed rage that uses up a lot of energy. How can we deal with the fact that our spouse does not assume their responsibility for one thing or another? Getting a certain distance will be necessary to clear up what is at play. Sometimes, the feeling of unfairness is based on a distorted idea or expectation that needs to be examined.
In a family that highly values self-sacrifice, just being aware of fatigue may not be enough. Jesus told his weary disciples that the first step for getting rest is take time to be alone. Retreating allows you to determine what type of rest you need — sleep, physical exercise, nature, music, a relaxing book, body care, etc. and also to reflect on the necessary changes to make to avoid wasting your energy, to get through certain situations in a different way.