(This is the conclusion to a two-part blog post.)
To read the first post click here:
In she walked…and she was stunning!
She had beautiful long dark hair, perfect teeth and the most gorgeous face I had ever seen. She was the type of girl who would turn heads as soon as she entered a room. I could see him studying my face as she walked in. He stepped a little too close to me. “This is Jessica” Dan introduced. “She’s my new girlfriend”. “I hope that doesn’t make you uncomfortable” he stated with a coy smile on his face.
I forced a smile. “Of course not”, I lied.
But I knew that making me uncomfortable was exactly what he was trying to do…
“It’s nice to meet you” I said to Jessica and shook her hand.
I excused myself and quickly walked to the washroom. I paced around the washroom for a few minutes trying to sort out my thoughts. I knew what he was trying to do. He was trying to make me jealous. He was trying to get to me. Should I ask them to leave? I didn’t want to spend the every week with Dan and his new girlfriend. The reason I broke up with Dan was to get away from his manipulative ways…I certainly didn’t want to spend every week with him!
After thinking it through for a minute I decided that I wasn’t going to say anything. I wasn’t going to allow him to get to me. He no longer had any control over me and this situation was no exception. I was going to go back into that room and be the kindest, nicest person Jessica had ever met! After all, this had to be pretty awkward for her too!
The 3 of us spent the hour together working with the kids. I have to say, Jessica was amazing! She was so sweet and she was incredible with the kids! They all immediately loved her! I spent time talking with Jessica and getting to know her. I worked hard at being kind to Dan too. He still said inappropriate and hurtful things, but I set my mind on extending kindness to him (even when he didn’t deserve it) I’ll tell you- it wasn’t easy. There were many times driving home from the kid’s program where I had imaginary conversations of what I actually wanted to say to him!
Have you ever encountered a person who can be snappy and combative?
What do you do when you are married to person who is moody and prone to hurtful outbursts?
What do you do when members of your family, your spouse’s family, or co-workers are difficult and unkind?
What do you do when it seems that someone close to you is purposely trying to make you uncomfortable?
I was chatting with a girlfriend the other day and she was talking about how hurt she had been by some things her husband had said. Most of the hurtful comments were said in a moment of anger and frustration (we’ve all been there) and he likely didn’t mean them. Even so, it still hurts. She told me how she had responded to her husband by saying ” You are on your own for dinner and don’t expect me to be home when you get home. I’m not going to speak to you or be nice to you until you apologize and take back what you said.” She went on to explain that she was basically planning on “freezing her husband out” by being cold and distant with him to teach him a lesson. Now, I agree that was her husband said was wrong. It was hurtful and unacceptable. I also understood why she would feel the desire to pull away and treat him badly in return. We all have a basic self-preservation instinct that can kick on in hurtful moments. It’s the “I’ll hurt you before you can hurt me again” response and it can be fairly natural to feel that way. I know I’ve felt that same way many times in my marriage and have acted on that defensive feeling. Over the years, I’ve learned that method is ineffective. It affirms in your spouse that the frustration they have with you is justified (even if it’s not).
Responding to anger with anger does not subdue and repair your conflict. In fact, it does the opposite.
When you respond to anger with anger it only ignites and prolongs your spouses anger. Responding with love and grace is the most effective way to diminish anger. I know, I know, it really stinks because it is SO hard! Responding to a hurtful word or action with only love is often the LAST thing you want to do! (especially if you are prone to “hot head” type of behaviour) It feels wrong! It feels like you are rewarding their bad behaviour. It feels like they are winning and that you aren’t standing up for yourself.
Something about anger; using a loud voice and sharp words can make you feel powerful in the moment. But it’s actually a very shallow and temporary feeling. The REAL power is in mustering every ounce of self-control and biting your tongue. It’s in making the choice to respond with kindness, even when your spouse doesn’t deserve it- even when you have every right to bite back. When you have the best comeback on the tip of your tongue- yet, you still choose Grace-now that’s REAL power.
Grace is so much more powerful than anger because it so so much harder to give.
I really work on this! I worked on it with Dan and Jessica and I still work on it in my marriage. On that first day that Dan brought Jessica to kids club, I wanted to tell him to leave. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind and I didn’t want to be friends with his new girlfriend. It was uncomfortable and inappropriate and everything inside of me was screaming to lash out back at him. I’m glad I went to the bathroom to compose myself and gather my thoughts that day. I needed a moment to remind myself to do the right thing- even though it was hard. I needed to extend grace. I needed to show kindness beyond what was deserved. If you want to be a nice, kind person – then BE that way. Don’t let someone else’s rude and hurtful behaviour change who you are. Don’t believe the lie that it’s okay to be mean to someone just because they were mean first. How quickly we forget that old childhood adage, “two wrongs don’t make a right”. It’s so easy to excuse our own sinful behaviour by pointing the finger at our spouse and essentially saying “well he started it!”
I am going to set a high standard of kindness for myself. I am going to purposefully choose to be kind and grace filled when I feel like it the least. I know that this is a tall order! It’s hard for me because it’s not my natural response, but I’m going to work on this until it IS my natural response! This will not be easy but I’ve seen the long-term benefits of choosing grace over anger and it’s well worth it. My marriage is worth it!
Even if your husband wakes up with his cranky pants on; choose grace. Treat him the way he should be treating you!
Why not do something extra special for your spouse today?
* Jessica and Dan dated for a while and eventually broke up. I haven’t seen or spoken to Dan in over 10 years but Jessica and I are still friends to this day!