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Speaking of Killing Each Other…

September 3, 2010

Does anybody out there ever fight? Maybe I can soften it and say, ‘have a disagreement’? I’m going to keep it real here and say we do, and not only that, but more often than we used to.

When our kids were growing up, and I’d get mad at their father, I’d tell them ‘cut me a wide path today.’ I didn’t tell HIM I was mad, I just avoided him for a day or three. And he did the same with me.

It actually didn’t happen that often. Both of us were raised in homes where our parents didn’t show they were mad at each other. Don tells me he always knew his mom was mad at his dad because she’d go downstairs and start banging out old hymns on the piano.  My mom’s feelings are about as transparent as mine, so if I’d known what to look for I would have seen it. Or maybe because she was busy raising six kids born within the span of eight years she was always miffed at someone and I quit noticing.

The first 25 years of marriage you could count on both hands the number of ‘heated discussions’ we had. Then two things happened: One – I heard someone, somewhere say “if two people are married and they always get along, one of them isn’t necessary.” Two – our church’s senior pastor started teaching a class every spring called “Marriage Enrichment’. We signed up, even though we weren’t newlyweds, and after twelve weeks we were amazed at what we learned – about marriage and about each other! My favorite part was that we were required to go on a date every single week. Don’s favorite part may have been the graph that showed I tend to act a little crazy when big things happen (like my cat dying). He already knew that, but the graph validated him.

The best thing we learned was to fight – more often, with each other and for our marriage. Almost five years later, two non-confrontational people are much better at being honest with how they are feeling, what they like and don’t like. So we fight more and we’re both still thankful for that class.

Since retiring together 6 months ago, we’ve upped the ratio of how often we have ‘disagreements’, or ‘difference of opinions’ or ‘I’m so mad I want to throttle you’. When you’re together almost 24/7 for six months, when nobody leaves to go to work all day where you don’t have to see each other, it’s bound to happen. More exposure = increased events.

In the past six months we’ve had a few good ones – over the cat, the sprinkler system, what TV shows to watch and one that was aired everything that was bugging both of us. That one was cleared out over miles of driving home from vacation, where we were a captive audience in the car, looking straight ahead.

If you look in our cupboards, in the one that holds coffee travel mugs, and water bottles, you’ll see a scratched up, dull green Stanley thermos. That thermos has huge sentimental value to the two of us, and even to our kids. They remember the miles and miles we traveled across the country, on family vacations and home to see relatives, when we would drive late into the evening, the inside of the car completely dark. The kids would settle in and we’d be up front, talking softly between the two of us. We made plans together and worked out many a kink over cups of coffee poured from that Stanley thermos.

And we’re still doing it. Both of us came home feeling a bit lighter, for the good conversation we shared over the miles. Both of us came home full of plans, feeling closer than we did when we left on that trip. Both of us hope our kids know the value of fighting for your marriage, thru the little and big things that come up, rather than going downstairs to beat on the piano, or just to another end of the house.

I’d love to give credit where it’s due for the great quote but I don’t know it. I will be thanking Pastor Ron Moore, at South Hills Bible Chapel, for all he taught us in his class, but especially for the lessons on how to fight fair without killing each other.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2010 5:38 am

    I think this is the key: “fighting FOR your marriage.” It’s like you realize you’re on the same team and the differences are worth working out. No team ever gets along perfectly but they work through disagreements to build a stronger working relationship. Yeah, Ron had good thoughts on marriage.

  2. September 3, 2010 8:58 am

    Fighting for your marriage … great, great, great. Love that.

    We are not fighters. It is not because we don’t feel our marriage is worth it (we’ve been married, I think, about a week less than the two of you if I recall correctly) but because we are just wired differently.

    We are both so very easy going we don’t have the energy. We just don’t bother. We once had a psychologist tell us (required temperment testing through my husband’s job) that we had no idea when either one of us was mad because neither one of us knew how to get mad.

    So there you go … different strokes. It works for us. Although neither one of us ever had trouble getting made TOGETHER at one of our boys. That worked well.

    • September 3, 2010 9:16 am

      I’m sure OUR kids would AMEN that too!

  3. September 3, 2010 3:16 pm

    I LOVE learning from your wisdom. This was such a good post…very thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing! {{hugs}} Karen

  4. September 4, 2010 11:21 am

    Skirting things under a rug doesn’t keep anyone’s house clean…even if it looks like it. It may be a little messy, and take a little more effort, but it’s best to go ahead and sweep the dirt all the way out the back door.

    • September 4, 2010 10:43 pm

      this was so good it should be a quote, seriously! See, our kids teach us sometimes!

      • September 6, 2010 4:19 pm

        Ha! Well, I had a good teacher! 🙂

        xoxo

  5. Chris permalink
    September 4, 2010 1:42 pm

    Appreciate this post Bev! I am a hard-core conflict-avoider and my goodness has God blessed me with a man who is commited to working it through until we’ve worked it out.

    Sometimes when we’re disagreeing over something and I absolutely without-a-doubt know that I’m right about this issue (rarely does this happen), I remember the times when Christ was accused of something and He remained silent.

    Chris in Canada

    P.S. Read this marriage post late last night and thought it was one of the BEST things I’d ever read!

    http://judifree.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/everyday_wonderful1.pdf

    • September 4, 2010 10:42 pm

      chris, thanks for the link. That is one wise woman!

  6. Debbie permalink
    September 6, 2010 11:12 am

    I think it was James Dobson who said that when two people always agree one is unnecessary.

    • September 6, 2010 9:11 pm

      Thanks Debbie – I’ll remember that!

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