One complaint we often hear from couples is how negative their spouse is and how he/she comes across when talking to them. It reminded me of something I recently heard that happened between a father and his two-year old daughter. The father said his daughter turned to him and said, “Don’t talk to me!” In return the father explained, “You don’t talk that way to Daddy.” Well, I over analyze everything so I started thinking is this going to communicate to her that she can’t express how she feels? I’m afraid the issue is not so much she can’t express her feelings, but rather how she needs to express them differently. For example, he could have shared with her, “When you don’t want to talk, say Daddy, I don’t want to talk right now.” Or, “Daddy, I don’t feel like talking now.” We’re thinking these type of comments would come across less offensive. Perhaps if we started telling our children, at a very young age, how to better express their feelings, we would have less adults feelings disrespected in their marriages by their spouse.
We know lots of relationships skills and we know when we use them they make all the difference in the world. We just have to buckle down and use them. We did that today. We worked through an issue using several of the skills we have learned over the years. It was a great experience and we each took ownership of how we contributed to the problem and what we were each willing to do about it.
I don’t have space here to explain the specifics so I’ll give you the basics and, if interested, you can google and read more about them and try these techniques to see if they don’t work for you. Try them. We think you will like them. The tools we used were first, understanding what the experts call the “Fear Cycle.” Then, identifying what’s behind the fear. After that, we talked through our reactions using “I” messages and reflective listening. After we had a good understanding of where the other was coming from, we used the ten-step plan for problem solving. Ta Da = issue resolved and we are happy campers.
I’ve been working on trying to be more humble. Isn’t it funny how when you pray about something the Lord gives you plenty of opportunities to practice what you are asking for? Well, today was one of those days. We had only been up a few hours when our first disagreement started. It just so happened it was as we walked in the doors of church.
Disagreement #1 – “Look. They have taken down the extra set of doors,” I said.
“I don’t remember there being another set of doors,” my husband replied.
“Well there was. I remember there have always been four greeters – two at each set of doors.”
Disagreement #2 – I leaned over and mentioned to my husband that the man who just spoke sounded a lot like our neighbor Todd.”
David replied, “He did not.”
“Well, I think he did!”
Thank goodness the service started or things could have gotten ugly.
On the way out of church, the door debate started came up again. “You mean there was another set of doors?” David asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Well, it’s just going to make the hallway and sanctuary colder in the winter,” he commented.
Probably true, but no need to comment on this one. I’m thinking, “Leave it to the maintenance crew to figure it out.”
Do you ever have those silly arguments? This is where humility can come in. I didn’t say I was there yet. I’m working on it. But I know I need to be able to control how I respond. I don’t need to try to prove I’m right and he’s wrong. This is so hard sometimes. But some things just aren’t worth the high cost and are simply futile and unnecessary. Is it better to win the argument or cause a rift in your relationship?
I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 2:23-25, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. . .”
So there you have it. Another peek inside our marriage where we are continually learning and striving to do better. Just because you may have a lot of knowledge about relationships, doesn’t mean you are on top of things all the time. We are fellow strugglers just like many others.
Grace and peace,
Penny and David