Monday, June 7, 2010

Complain Ye Not

Last night my husband said something to me in conversation that I have been thinking about since. He is such an easy-going and good-natured man that I could count on one hand the number of times he has said a less-than-positive word to me since we met seven years ago.

Basically what he said is this: because I am a person who notices the details and has high standards, when there is something that is not done well, that colours the enjoyment for me and then for him because I am unhappy.

It could be a terrible entree in a restaurant or offhand/unreasonable service in a store. But the example that started this brief discussion was mineral water and fruit. This weekend we stayed two nights in a suite (a suite! with a living room as well as a bedroom!) in a gorgeous hotel in our city.

They had a two-nights-for-the-price-of-one deal. Part of the package was ‘daily delivery of fruit and mineral water’. The first day when we arrived there was a dish with four pieces of fresh fruit and two bottles of mineral water on the coffee table. The next day passed with no such delivery.

When I mentioned it my darling husband offered to ring reception. No, they said, you don’t get fruit on the second day but we do bring up more water when we turn your bed down. ‘But it’s here in black and white that it’s a daily delivery’ I moaned to my husband when he got off the phone.

This was halfway through a hugely enjoyable (so much!) two night/three day stay at a five-star hotel where the furnishings are very French and ornate and the whole place is just gorgeous. For the sake of a few pieces of fruit and bottles of water (which was freely available in the club lounge which was also part of the package) I was making my husband unhappy because I wasn’t satisfied.

He said when I am unhappy about something, it makes him unhappy as all he wants in life is for me to be happy. I felt terrible but I am so glad he felt able to speak up about it. Sometimes it takes others to open your eyes and it was quite brave of him to do so.

I want for him to think of me as sweetness and light, as someone who is easy to live with, easy-going and forgiving to others. It is so clear now for me to see myself through his eyes, so this is an area I am going to work on. It’s easy to be self-focused and think how something is going to affect me (and speak of it accordingly). In fact, most of the time I just don't think about it and complaining words simply tumble from my mouth.

What I don’t think about is my sweet husband who really does worship the ground I walk on suffering as I complain (and others around me too – family and friends) about some perceived slight that others may not have even noticed. I already know that I am too sensitive and perhaps could learn to just go with the flow.

My thoughts are to now:

- Think before I speak – is it necessary and kind?
- Stop complaining – incessant daily moans are not good for serenity and happy relationships.
- Appreciate the good things and dial down the times when my high standards are not met. When I think someone else hasn’t reached my 'high standards', look at my own. No-one is perfect, least of all me.
- Remember that ‘high maintenance’ is not an attractive trait.
- Remember that complaining and whining is not chic.

My mum has always said 'if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all'. It applies to a slightly different situation (speaking of others), but I'm going to use it for general everydayness as well.


  1. I applaud your self awareness and willingness to work on it. Sometimes it's hard to change your way of thinking but the first step is always admitting what needs to be changed. The hotel sounds fabulous!

  2. I'm turning the ship around Stephanie!

    The picture above is our exact bedroom. It was blissful.

  3. My mom said the same thing about speaking. (your comment about not saying anything if it's not nice), but she also said "pretty is, as pretty does"

    When I was young, I thought she was telling me that I was not pretty, and had to had "act pretty" to become so. Can you imagine what the "self esteem" folks would make of that one?

    Being upbeat and positive leads to the "pretty does" state. I am now 62 and my mom 87. I am still trying to "act pretty". Kind of hard sometimes.

  4. Dot, I like your mum's saying too! I can tell by the way you write and your friendly photo you are very pretty, in all senses of the word.

  5. I really appreciate you freely sharing your life and input on how to be "lady-like". I am a wife and a mother and I am simply trying to find my balance in life and within myself. I've owned a catering company since I was 18 with my husband and I've found myself becoming very "business like". I desire to be more CHIC! I thought becoming a mother would make me softer. In a lot of ways it has... but not as much as I would like to be. Anyway, I sincerely appreciate your blog. I plan to read from your very first blog! I am 26 years old and unfortunately I don't have a mother to look to when I am in need of this kind of advice. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    California USA


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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