Meg Luce: Generator, cheaper than divorce |

Meg Luce: Generator, cheaper than divorce

I had to smile the other day when I saw a neighborhood post that said, “Honey, a generator is cheaper than a divorce.” With a touch of humor, that said it all regarding the mounting tensions going on between couples in households across California.

The power outages have been tough, don’t we all know it. The threat of fire is so nerve-wracking especially during periods of high winds. It’s stressful to live with the uncertainty of when and for how long the power will be out. The absence of normalcy is exhausting, and it is enough to put everyone on edge.

It’s easy to let relationships slide when stress creeps in. Here are some of the outage priorities I’ve seen:

Safety plan, check.

Batteries, check.

Flashlight and radio. Yep.

Download favorite shows onto tablet, double-check.

Sense of humor with spouse, half-check.

Patience with one-and-the-same, ahem…skip.

When your stress level goes up and your resources are depleted—hello, power outages— you have fewer resources to meet the surmounting challenges. It’s easy to snap, especially at the ones who tend to stick by you no matter what. “Hey, quit opening the fridge!” “Could you PLEASE remember to gas up the car?” “Why ON EARTH didn’t you pick up coffee on the store run?” “What…you didn’t recharge the cellphone?”

It’s hard not to let relationship manners fall to the bottom of the list during all the chaos. Before you know it, it can breed some hurt feelings and a sense of alienation. So how do you manage the irritability with yours truly, with or without a generator?

Set Your Intentions

How do you want to be? Set your intentions because intentions affect behavior. If you set your mind to it, you can actually be nice. True story. You can treat the most important person in the world to you like, oh I dunno, the most important person in the world. Or at least as well as you’d treat your friends and acquaintances.

Try a Little Tenderness

Try some appreciation. A little gratitude can help you bolster each other and let everyone know you are noticing what is going right, not just what is going wrong. Go ahead and lay it on thick. It really can lift the mood. “You picked up chicken soup—yay!” “You swept up the (masses of) pine needles and I can now see our front walkway!” “You’ve got the kids working on an art project—cool.” A little tenderness can help everyone feel like their efforts are valued, despite the onerous situation.

Get Back On Track

You (and your dear spouse) are bound to blow it once in a while and get cranky. That’s okay; just get back on track. Show a little grace for your partner, or yourself, and move on.

How many generator stories have you heard? I’ve heard lots. There will be more to come before we are through with all of this. But, with a little thought and attention, generator or not, you can keep your marital discord at a minimum.

Meg Luce, M.S., is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Grass Valley specializing in helping couples create satisfying relationships. You can find her contact info at

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