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Doing What They Felt They Should

The Windshield

After a recent move, James' garage was so full of boxes that he and his wife were not able to park their cars inside for a period of time. The weather was cold and almost every morning there was a heavy frost on the car windows. James had to leave for work prior to the time that his wife would need to take their daughters to school. As he was scraping the ice from his windshield in preparation to leave, he felt that he should also scrape the ice from his wife's windshield so that she would not have to stand in the cold and do it when it was time for her to leave. He scraped the ice from her windshield, and as he did so he thought about how much he loved her and cared for her and how this small act of service might somehow make her life a little bit easier. He was glad to do it for her and it was not a burden at all.

The Birthday

Steve and Becky had been friends for a long time. Steve had been dating Jen seriously for almost 2 years; they had even come close to getting married. Things did not work out between them and Steve and Jen broke up for good three weeks before Steve's birthday. Becky knew that Steve had been feeling down since his break-up and that his birthday might be an especially difficult time. She felt like she ought to do something to lift his spirits so she surprised him on his birthday by taking him some balloons and then taking him out to lunch.

Refusing to do What They Felt They Should

The Broken Date

About three weeks ago Kendra had mentioned to Jason, her boyfriend, that she wanted him to go see one of her favorite plays with her. Jason was not really interested in seeing the play but they talked briefly anyway about a day that would be best for both of them to go. Since Jason was not really interested in the play, he promptly forgot about the date he and Kendra had set. In the mean time, a couple of Jason's friends invited him to go on a camping trip they were planning for the same weekend as the play. Since Jason had forgotten about the play, he readily agreed to go with his friends since he loved camping. When Kendra reminded Jason about the upcoming play he had forgotten, he told her about the camping trip he had been invited on. Jason could tell that Kendra was disappointed and a little bit upset.

Jason's initial feeling was that he should keep his original commitment to Kendra and cancel the trip with his friends. Jason didn't cancel the trip though. He told Kendra that he was sorry and that he would make it up to her. After all, he told himself, "Why should I have to go to a play that I don't want to see anyway?" Besides, "I never get to do anything fun with my friends anymore." And the more he thought about it, the more resentful he became towards Kendra and the more justified he felt in going camping with his friends.

The Crying Baby

When James' oldest daughter was a newborn, he and his wife lived in a small two bedroom condo. James and his wife were in one bedroom and their daughter was in the other. James' wife was not working outside the home at the time and he had a 45 mile commute each way to work that required him to wake up at 5:30 a.m. One night about 3:00 a.m., James was awakened by the sound of his daughter crying in her crib. The first thought or feeling that popped into his head and heart was, "go attend to your daughter's needs," whether she needed to be changed, held, fed, or covered by a blanket. Almost as quickly as that thought occurred to James, he dismissed it and continued to lie in bed, although he was wide awake now.

At the moment that he refused to help his daughter as he felt he should, he began to have some strange thoughts and feelings towards his wife. He began to think how lazy and inconsiderate she was, although she was still sleeping and had not heard their daughter cry. He felt justified in continuing to lie in bed because he was the one who had to get up in a couple of hours anyway to get ready for work. She could take a nap later in the day if she wanted to and he could not. James was upset that she had not yet heard their daughter cry and he found himself not only accusing her in his heart of being inconsiderate of his need to sleep, but of their daughter's needs as well.

The crying continued and grew in intensity, and as it grew so did James' sense of being victimized. James' wife was soon awakened by the crying and immediately got up to check on their daughter. James did not let her know that he was awake, but as soon as she left the room he rolled over with a "humph!" thinking that now he would be able to get back to sleep. However, sleep did not come easily because he was still stewing about being unjustly treated. His wife soon returned from their daughter's room, got back into bed and promptly fell asleep.

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, November 28). Your Partner. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License