Wait Until Tomorrow

By Dr. Patricia L. Bay, Psy.D.
Published in W Magazine, November 2009

My grandmother was a dynamo. She was sharp and witty with a wry sense of humor. A no nonsense kind of woman who always said what was on her mind and made no apologies for standing in her truth. I remember lots of advice that she gave to me over the years, but the one that always stands out was her cryptic remark, "don't kill him today, kill him tomorrow." Grandma told me that this motto was how my father made it from childhood to adulthood. I guess my dad was a handful when he was little. As an adult, he has always been able to try the patience of a saint so I can imagine what he was like as a kid.

My husband and I have been together for 32 years and I am often asked the question, "how have you made it so long?" I usually laugh and say, "I always follow my grandmother's advice and I don't kill him today, I wait to kill him until tomorrow." I'm joking, of course, but if you stop to think about it, maybe this is how relationships last.

No one is perfect. We all inadvertently, and sometimes not so inadvertently, hurt each other throughout the course of a relationship. Everyone has that "me" filter that our world must pass through before we can make a decision or take action in our lives. Sometimes that filter gets out of balance and someone gets hurt. I suppose if we wait until tomorrow to get really angry, we might just save ourselves some heartache and keep ourselves from doing something dumb.

This tongue-in-cheek advice of waiting until tomorrow is similar to the old "count to ten" mantra that is supposed to keep us from saying something stupid. I think I like the waiting until tomorrow part of my grandmother's adage because I know myself and I can still be pretty upset after only ten seconds. Although, waiting until tomorrow does not always keep me from being mad. My husband says, much to his chagrin, that I have a memory like a steel trap that never lets go of anything. If he really knew how many times he has lived another day, he would be on his knees thanking my sweet little, cryptic grandma.