I remember at my orientation for the Pastor school. One of the graduating students stood up and said, “Protect your marriages.” Satan does not want you to be a minister, and he will attack your marriage. Well good old Satan, if he is nothing else, he is predictable, and reliable. He came at me with both barrels from the minute I said “I do.”
I remember driving back home from my honeymoon. Maybe it’s because everybody and their brother decided to leave at the same time, and it took hours to move yards (and we had hundreds of miles to go), and our wounds from the rafting trip from hell were still healing, but my Wife and I got into an argument. I don’t remember about what, or who, etc., but I do remember that hours later we had crossed state lines a few times and we were still upset with each other. We are the classic example of a guy being logical, and a woman being emotional. Consequently we often have arguments where I’m talking about A and she is talking about B, and neither one knows it.
Now me in my logical sense, I’m explaining things and my wife doesn’t understand (she's not stupid). I re-explain time and time again, and I get frustrated with her. Why? Because behind the scenes she is on another page. Consequently, whatever I’m saying is more than likely making her more upset. While there are times when I think we won't let go of an opinion cause we want to convince the other person we are right (and that's wrong), for me being a teacher, I just feel I can get anyone to understand anything. Consequently, I always think if I can make just one more point, the light bulb will come on. When you have two people in this situation, in a car, with no escape hatch it isn’t pretty.
I had signed on to become a minister in training for my small church. We thought it would take a year. I had just finished school, and while it would suck we knew a year would fly by. SURPRISE! The school is three years. My wife had been sitting at home while I put myself through college, and just as she was ready to get off the couch and start enjoying time with her husband, he goes back to school. As this seemed like a good cause, she supported me in this endeavor. But the marriage was starting with too many surprises. When I got my payment book from my student loans I freaked out. The first time I went to school, my payments were $50. Now I was paying on two loans, and they might as well be another car payment. So much for cutting out all the consulting.
Now let’s go back a bit. When I was growing up, there was another person I argued with. He was my Dad. We were both stubborn. I remember once he threatened to pull the car over and let me walk home. I told him to do it. He did. I got out and started walking. My Mom made him stop and told me to get in the car. But this tactic of stopping cars to get attention was now engrained in my head. It was a tactic I would pull on my wife. It was not normal to her. It scared the bejesus out of her.
This did not stop me from doing it a few times. The last time, my wife and I were arguing with each other unfortunately in front of her son. He eventually told us to shut up. Now in my world, if I had told a grown up to shut up I would be killed on the spot. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. So I checked my mirrors, slammed on the brakes, and pulled the car to the side of the road. This again freaked out my wife (who swears I didn’t check my mirrors), and both her and her son got out and walked home. When I told my brother about this episode he replied, “Oh you did the old attention getter.” Different cultures, with different values lead to issues. To this day the nurse would say I didn’t check my mirrors when I do this (and I would again disagree). This is not the point. The point is when I get frustrated; I was releasing my frustration in ways that was freaking people out. This is bad. I don't have to convince someone I check my mirrors, I have to acknowledge that the way I handled my frustration was scaring people – and that was wrong. It was wrong when my Dad did it, and its wrong today. There are about a billion options you can choose besides going bonkers.
So let’s talk about getting frustrated. What about those times when I didn't blow up. I thought I was being the good Christian man by putting things off, and putting my wife first. Even when I disagreed with her, I would put her fist and me last. At the same time, there were plenty of times when I would get consumed in my own projects and spend hours on the computer (and not put my wife first). None the less, planted into the soil of selfishness, the feelings of resentment started to take hold and grow.
My wife will tell you I have an anger problem. I will tell you I have an assertiveness problem. I like to fall on my sword. Well I guess I don't like it, but I do it. The problem is I later regret this, and resent the person I sacrificed for. The long fuse of Dave Jackson is whittled down. With no communication, I continued this pattern. Consequently, with less fuse, more blows ups happened like the ones mentioned. Anger is a natural emotion. We all get angry. People do things that are wrong to us. We feel abandoned, disrespected, etc. The question is how do you react to that emotion? Our response is our responsibility. This is one of the little catch phrases you learn as you go through therapy.
So let’s stop here a second and reflect on a couple of things.
Your spouse loves you. They are not wrong. Just different. If you can’t come to an understanding, try to come to a compromise.
There is one thing to give for your family, but if you become a martyr for your marriage it won’t work. Remember, a martyr is someone who DIES for the cause. The bible says the two shall become one. If one dies, you both die.
Anger is a natural emotion that needs to be expressed in a healthy way. If you stifle it, and attempt to bury it, it will come out like a coke bottle filled with Mentos.
You can’t fix what you don’t know about. If you are not lovingly telling your spouse about your hopes, fears, dreams, and desires, you may want to head left, and she may want to head right. Why not get together, and chart a course for both of you.
Dictionary.com defines the word “Forgive” as “to grant pardon for or remission of.” We were both trying to forgive. I thnk we did. But forgetting was another story. Because of this baggage, it distorts what we see and hear from our spouse. We hold on to this stuff as we don't want to get hurt again. We have the Kung Fu death grip, and refuse to let go. We try, but our survival instinct convinces us we need it.
Next Episode. “Tales From the Couch…”