A Marital Lesson Learned

October 3rd, 2008 will mark the completion of 10 wonderful, joy filled, adventurous and at times challenging years of marriage. As everyone that’s been married a while knows, there are ups and downs. I’m fortunate to be married to my perfect match. : )

Monday night I was working late with our team doing a presentation to our executive team. Unfortunately, I had a family conflict that caused my wife to run late for an appointment with the ladies leadership team at church. I arrived home around 6:45 PM, about 45 minutes later than normal. I thought I had communicated effectively that I may need to work late. Later that night to my chagrin, I realized that we hadn’t quite been on the same page.

What seemed to me a run of the mill issue was so much more to my wife. I had heard that men are often baffled by the seemingly illogical emotions of their wives. Well, after almost 10 years, I finally got a taste of it. I’ve been blessed for Beth to share her emotions with me before, but on this night, my logic served no purpose. It truly was the first time in our marriage that we had reached this point where it just boiled down to something that was really important to her that I had no control over. It’s odd how we as men can feel attacked and defensive in those moments. Our natural reaction is amazingly not the right one. Or at least it wasn’t for me that night. Honestly, I must say that I’m a bit spoiled. We worked out, and today she got flowers.

Beth and I are blessed to have a wonderful communication style, and we rarely have arguments. The occasional argument we do have usually lasts about 15 minutes. We were very fortunate early on to attend a pre-marital class. This class gave us some invaluable tools that helped us through our first 5 years of marriage and continue to serve us well. Here are few breakdowns of some things we have learned and used.

  1. Every year, do something to improve your marriage. We’ve tried to either read a book, attend a class or a retreat each year. With these tools, we’ve been able to improve specific areas of our marriage over time. Family Life Marriage Conference, Family Dynamics
  2. When you are angry and arguing with your partner, hold hands. This has been a crazy great tool for our marriage. It’s extremely hard to be mad and yell at a person you’re holding hands with. I must confess, when I’ve suggested it, Beth hasn’t been to happy about it. She can be a real fireball. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  3. Talk and listen. Learn to have deep conversations with your spouse. Many marriages never really hit this as a standard. Instead, they operate mostly on a superficial level without ever reaching that 4th level of communication. We recently attended a class that addressed this. Real Relationships

My lessons for the evening. It pays to prepare so that when you have moments like these in your marriage, you are somewhat prepared. It’s easy to really mess up. A potential nightmare ended up being a 15 minute communication breakdown discussion…and how we could both do better in the future.

The Delightful Quandries of Marriage

After finally exorcising our house of pets last December, we’ve finally gotten around to replacing the stain ridden, pet saturated carpet. Yuck, and way overdo. The crew has been in this week pulling up carpet and putting down the new hardwood floors. Last night, we needed to move my wife’s 75 gallon fish tank and oak stand so the work could continue today. Not an easy task to say the least…especially around 10:30 when I was ready for bed.

As Beth got started, we ran into a few little issues. The place where we wanted to put the fish tank was not floored yet, so that meant we’d have to move the tank at least 1 more time. If you know anything about fishtanks, a 75 gallon tank has about 2 inches of gravel in the bottom. Practically a 2″x18″x60″ concrete slab. We had to figure out where to put the fish during the move. Wifey’s plan, put the fish in bowls all over the kitchen.

I’m a planner by nature, so I was more than a bit frustrated by the situation…which seemed to have not been thought through. Wifey got a little testy. She does that under pressure sometimes. It’s cute. ๐Ÿ™‚ In that somewhat heated moment, which I contributed to, I found myself asking/thinking, “Why do I always have to do this planning for you?” Then it hit me, that’s my part of the marriage. Opposites attract, etc. Honestly, I smiled, felt a little guilty, then did my part by executing on my marital contribution. Planning and problem solving.

Bowls weren’t going to cut it. Moving the tank 2x wasn’t going to cut it either, so I looked for options. I found a cooler in the garage and voila. The 30 fish had a home for the evening. No I didn’t freeze them. ๐Ÿ™‚

These types of interactions are typical of our marriage, and quite often I think about how other marriages handle these exchanges. It would be easy to look at a spouse and say “Why can you just take care of this? Why do I always have to do this for you? Can’t you just get the kids to pick up? Can’t you…” You get the picture. As we approach 10 years of marriage this year, I am increasingly beginning to “own” what I bring to our marriage rather than let myself be frustrated. Opposites truly do attact, and if we really learn to respect the opposites that our spouse brings to the marriage, it becomes a truly marvelous and enjoyable thing to be married…most of the time.