Recently I was watching an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. I don’t know if any of you ever watched the show, but it was quite funny. The story was about Raymond, his wife Debra, their kids, his brother, Robert, and his parents, Marie and Frank. His parents lived across the street. In this particular episode the parents backed up their car into Raymond’s house, which caused a big hole in the wall.
Conflict ensued when Debra wanted Ray’s parents to pay the insurance deductible. Frank didn’t want to pay. Ray was his typical non-confrontational self and Debra insisted the parents pay. So his parents paid the deductible and the wall was fixed. When Ray came home he noticed the new wallpaper was slightly different than the old one (honestly you couldn’t tell at all). Debra explained that they don’t make their old wallpaper anymore and that it would have been extra to reproduce the original.
Raymond went crazy and insisted that his parents had to pay the extra money. He couldn’t live with the wallpaper the way it was. Debra, like any good wife, tried to talk Ray off the ledge. She wanted to know why he couldn’t be this upset when his parent's car landed in their living room. Raymond blew up at his parents when they stopped by, but the real issue wasn’t the wallpaper. The heart of the problem was he resented his parents not respecting boundaries. The wallpaper issue was just the straw that broke the camel's back.
When most people get upset, often there is something else going on. It’s usually their breaking point. Isn’t it better to just talk to the person who is making life crazy for you before it gets out of hand? Of course it is. No one really likes to confront someone that is making them nuts, but it’s better than waiting until your water boils over. When that happens the person is dumbfounded by your overreaction and it takes longer to resolve the situation if at all. I’ve learned the hard way that thinking before leaping gets me farther than leaping before thinking.
© Nadine Z. 2007