Adam and I kind of have this joke about me.
I always say, “I’m neutral”.
He says when people ask him how his wife is doing he’s just going to say, “Oh, my wife? She’s really neutral”.
Let me explain.
In our house stuff comes up.
I’m sure none of you reading this can relate, right?
We are raising 4 children together.
4 of them.
Lots of issues come up with said children raising. Sometimes Adam will come to me and say, “Why didn’t so and so do this and that?”
This is how I first realized I needed to become neutral. I used to get all bent out of shape when this would happen. I assumed since he was bringing it to me he somehow viewed it as my shortcoming that the kids hadn’t done whatever the thing was. Once that happens…well… it’s headed nowhere good.
So now I simply say, “I’m not sure. You should talk to them about that.” Sometimes I say, “Nope, don’t talk to me about those people.” 😂
Another thing that tends to happen around here is various types of emotional misunderstandings….You surely know what I mean. People get hurt feelings, inconsiderations abound and various other forms of flawed humanity takes place while sharing life and sharing space.
I realized a long time ago that people process things differently. I have children who primarily process with logic before emotion. I also have children that mostly process with emotion first and then have to circle back around to logic.
Through my attempts to raise decent human beings I have had to take a good, hard and focused look at how I react to things and why.
I find that my natural tendency is to be emotional first.
I had to look at that.
I have had to practice keeping my voice low and without edges even when it is really hard to do it.
(Like it or not, mama, your mood is contagious.)
I do not want to parent out of emotion, irritation/exasperation.
I realize how easy it is to buckle right in beside my children on that emotional roller coaster and I had to consciously opt out.
I feel like I need to clarify a bit. When I say neutral I don’t mean cold, calloused and uncaring. I simply mean even, level and open.
This is why you find me here, sharing these thoughts.
Have you ever noticed when you’re talking to someone and their voice is going higher and higher in pitch and getting louder and louder in volume? Before you know it that little thing that started the conversation has grown and is becoming more heated by the second. If you pour your own unsettled emotions right back on it what almost always happens next is hurt feelings and regret.
I have learned a lot of things answering to that really short, long name…MOM.
But being a mom is not exactly what I want to talk about right now.
I want to talk about another extremely rewarding and extremely challenging title….WIFE.
The things I just mentioned about my relationship with my children also apply to my relationship with my husband.
I wish I could say I learned this the first year or second or even fifth. I’m afraid it took me a bit longer than that. Slow learner, maybe? 😂
How many times have you been annoyed and upset not by what your spouse said but rather HOW they said it?
I could write books about all the times things have flown out of my mouth and I wanted to snatch them right out of the air and put them back in.
I could tell you, sadly, many stories of my guy feeling disrespected by my tone and/or my body language.
I know how to say plenty without saying a word, and I’m guessing you do too.
I have to decide to stay neutral. I have to choose to be kind or be quiet. I have to practice controlling my tone (and my occasional eye rolling).
Adam and I have been married a long time….18 years. I’ve lived with him as long as I’ve lived with my own parents. That man has seen it all. He has seen every possible angle of my personality. He has felt the brunt of my frustrations. He has been loved with my whole heart.
ALL. OF. IT.
We don’t really argue much these days because honestly most things just aren’t worth the trouble.
But every once in a while there is a perfect storm of sorts.
All the conditions are just right for both of us to be inpatient, short, tired or sometimes just rude.
We had one of those perfect storm kind of nights last night.
The details are not that interesting or important.
We were both mostly just tired and needed sleep more than anything but there were things that had to be taken care of for Adam to travel the next day. He woke me up needing things.
I responded in a much less than graceful manner, the rest is history.
We both finally went to bed a bit disgruntled.
This morning when I woke my first thought was this: “Wow. I REALLY overreacted last night.” My second thought was this: “That was anything but neutral.”
Why do I share all this?
This not just a Dear Diary entry. ;)
I share this because there was a time when those misunderstandings of the night before would not have faded with the sun.
I would have hung on to it…
I would’ve maybe not talked to him for the next couple of days while I nursed my hard/hurt feelings.
You know exactly what I mean…let him feel my displeasure a bit.
Here’s the thing.
Don’t do it.
It’s not worth it.
Marriages do not just crumble one day. I believe it’s more of a slow, coming apart at the seams kind of end in most cases.
I’m by no means an expert on marriage (obviously, since I was just barking at my own husband last night 😂) but I do know that misunderstandings and hurt feelings are bound to happen.
Misunderstandings are like blocks that are set between you.
He snapped at me… block.
He didn’t appreciate me….another block.
He this, he that…block, block, block.
Pretty soon those blocks have formed a wall and you can’t even see the person you love on the other side.
I think…no…I know, a lot of people are hurting in their marriages.
I get it. Because, come on, marriage is hard.
It’s no easy thing to love someone more than yourself day after day.
I think one of the biggest enemies the church has is the family coming apart. I also think that happens slowly and incrementally.
I believe that happens one B.L.O.C.K. at a time.
I refuse to let those blocks stand.
I will gladly say,
“I wish I would have handled that differently”.
Instead of pouring gas on that fire, extinguish it.
Try it sometime.
When things are getting heated just back it down a notch.
Take a deep breath.
Instead of an irritated response be gentle, even if irritation would be just.
Protect your marriages, my friends.
I'm going to say that again for emphasis,
PROTECT YOUR MARRIAGES.
I promise you, they are worth it.
As for me, I will continue to practice being neutral.