The Wrong Time to Read E-mails

January 3, 2011

Generally, I have discovered that if I read an e-mail after about 5 p.m. or on a Sunday, it’s going to be bad. The absolute worst time to read an e-mail or PM is about 11 p.m.

I almost always get too emotional about it. I have thankfully learned not to reply but then I spend the rest of the night stewing. Some times I try to talk through the issue with DH. Read “talk” as a one-sided dialogue. I never really want DH to respond. Maybe show some agreement, but I never want comments or advice. It’s never good.

This difference in Mars and Venus communication style has not served us well on numerous occasions. It took several late night arguments to finally agree that he is just trying to wrap things up quickly so it is unfair to him to hand him a loaded gun. I see his point–it is just as frustrating to me to be dealing with an issue that late at night.

If DH is not home, it’s even worse though. I never sleep well. I compose and recompose response after response. It makes rereading the e-mail or PM difficult. Did I read it correctly the first time? Is that what they really meant? Should I respond? What did I do to prompt this?

E-mail communication is just so difficult to begin with. You can’t tell a person’s emotional state, you can’t question if something is heard incorrectly, and often there is a lag time between responses. The only thing it is good for is a paper trail. You cannot unsend once you’ve hit send.

DH and I will argue over the phone but there is a mutual understanding that the time is precious. It’s rare that it will be huge unless the issue is huge. One of the things DH does is issue “Don’t Warnings” such as “Don’t ever repeat that” or “Don’t ever send that”. And this “advice” is almost always unsolicited. I have told him that he has the distinct pleasure of being my sounding board and if I say it/do it to him then I will never be tempted to say it/do it to the intended recipient. When he issues his “Don’t Warnings” it makes it sound like I am constantly making social flubs and am an imbecile and he does not give me the benefit of the doubt that I won’t do something stupid.

**In his defense there was ONE time when I did not consult him on a problem and I typed up an e-mail to a project head AND hit send, and I had to call up the spouse and ask that the e-mail be deleted unread. Thankfully the spouse understood my youthful indiscretion and complied. I have not repeated this but wonder about this blog… Please do not think I cannot think on my own–I wouldn’t be able to be a sea widow if I couldn’t, but as he’s my partner and my sounding board, he keeps me honest and out of trouble.**

Recently, he issued a “Don’t Warning” while I was telling him about one of three problems plaguing me (all from e-mails or PMs, btw). “Don’t ever bring that up in conversation!” Really? Really, don’t do that to me. I say these things to you so I won’t say it to them. Give me the benefit of the doubt that I won’t say something stupid! (I should clarify with “that” stupid because I do say stupid but not irreparable things.) For the first time, DH says to me, “I warn you because I say stupid things all the time.”

Um, I’ve never heard you say a stupid thing before. Not while you’re home, not to me or to your golf buddies.

“I say stupid things all the time. I just did.”

I appreciate his candor. I still don’t think he says stupid things. He wouldn’t be Chief if he did. That’s just my humble opinion. It’s taken us 15 years to get to this point where this didn’t become a huge blow up between us. I wonder if we would have made this common ground sooner if we weren’t apart so much. Well, look how long it’s taken me to realize I should never open, let alone answer, e-mails or PMs after 5 p.m. But right now, considering the triple whammy recently I don’t want to open e-mail period.

At least DH listened, and that really helped, and he’ll be home soon.



  1. I can completely sympathize here b/c I read emails on NYE that really made me have total meltdowns…mostly b/c they were work related and work is making me have massive meltdowns all the time, but still!

    • I commented rather than replied–I’m new to this blog thingy! LOL

  2. I opened your e-mail since it was before 5 p.m. and I’m glad I did! My first ever comment. LOL I hear you on the meltdown mode–I’ve been there all too often for the past six weeks.

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