It’s not easy to get in a good argument at church, especially when you’re Mr. and Mrs. Pastor. You snipe when no one’s looking, and then smile when someone appears; you get in a good dig, then pretend all is happy for the crowd. But some days, we are simply so exhausted that my husband and I don’t have the strength to manage the happy Christian poser game.
Arguing at Church
Just as my husband was accusing me of never wanting to go his favorite restaurants (which I do all the time, even though his idea of a good meal is how many sauces are offered), a darling woman from church approached us. Normally, I would feign gaiety, but this time I turned to her and blatantly confessed, “Excuse us; we’re fighting right now.”
She looked slightly stunned and then laughed. “Well, can I interrupt your fight?”
Tim and I looked at each, snarled, and then turned to the woman and nodded our heads in agreement.
“I just wanted to say hi. What are you fighting over?”
“Where to go to lunch,” we said in unison.
“I have an app for that. I just shake it and it gives us the place to go.”
Tim and I looked at each and laughed. Maybe she was on to something.
I wish there was an app that went one step further and got to the root of the problem. You could shake it and it would translate Mars to Venetian – like a mini mobile counselor.
When my husband says I never want to eat his food, what he really means is, “I’m feeling sick, cranky and needy right now. I want to be taken care of and babied. I want you to want to eat wings and sauce, or maybe you could make me Top Ramen like my mom used to and then I would feel really loved. I’m grumpy because I have a paper for seminary due tomorrow, and I’m already exhausted before I even start the darn thing. Waa waa.”
When I say I don’t want to go to Wild Wings, it means. “I’m feeling overwhelmed and I can’t stand wings because they have 1900 calories before you add the sauce. I don’t want to go home and make you Top Ramen because you will then turn on the football game and I am so sick of the NFL I can barely breathe. I have two huge writing projects I am working on, and since you’re already sick and overwhelmed, I can’t ask you for help, but I guarantee you will assume that I will care for the children while you do all your work. I guess I will write in my sleep because clearly your stuff is more important than mine. Waa waa.”
But what the woman who interrupted us saw clearly, and we couldn’t see in that moment, was perspective. It’s never really about “Where we are going to lunch?” The fight is always about ten layers deeper than what you are bickering about, and it has far more to do with feeling understood, empathized with and cared for.
What’s The Real Problem?
When our bucket is full and we feel understood, we’d eat just about anything or anywhere – even wings – and watch endless hours of football for our beloved. When we bicker with our spouse about pointless things, it’s a red flag that we need to pause and address our heart’s condition. It’s time to stop, reflect on what’s really going on and treat the real problem, not the symptom. Do we really need to win, or do we need to lean in and understand our spouse better?
When the woman suggested we shake the app, it forced us to acknowledge each other’s real issues. Both of us felt overwhelmed, and neither felt understood. Once we were able to empathize, support and love one another as a team, the whole silly lunch discussion faded. The question now turned to “How can we help each other get through this day?”
Despite what the world and media will tell you, marriage is not a 50/50 relationship. If you want a marriage that lasts, it needs to be 100% all in for both individuals. Some days, one of you will stumble, and your spouse needs to give more than you because you don’t have it to give. There are seasons of health challenges, work obstacles, teenagers and a million other assaults that can potentially bring you to your knees as a couple. However, a good marriage built on the decision to daily sacrifice to one another to build something greater than yourself will be able to weather the storm time and time again.
So, where did we go for lunch?
We went to Nordstrom’s café, where I wanted to go, and then we came home and I let my husband study while taking care of the kids. It was a compromise, and that’s what we do in marriage once we get over ourselves, drop our selfish agendas and remember why we love each other. Sometimes, fighting in marriage is a good thing if we allow it to point us back to each other and grow in our understanding of one another. Don’t waste a fight on just “being right;” use an argument as an opportunity to make your marriage even better.
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