AFTER 40 YEARS ◽ MARRIAGE
When you’ve been married for decades, you can almost finish each other’s sentences. You know what the other one likes/dislikes, you recognize his/her moods, and just know each other pretty darn well. And then…there are the other things that occur…like phrases we become accustomed to saying and hearing. All of them are not sweet…at all. And I don’t think it’s ever too late to take note of what we say and change it, because some habits aren’t so good to fall into, in a marriage.
Sometimes, especially when I’m tired, I hear myself saying a few pat phrases, things I say quite often, that when I think about it – they aren’t so nice. And then I listen, and I hear him say the same ones! One of us starts a bad habit, and the other picks it up, and pretty soon those phrases are normality, but they’re not uplifting or encouraging one bit.
Here are a few I’ve noticed that come out of my mouth that I’m trying to change:
“You weren’t listening” – Maybe I say something and an hour later he comes in the room and asks me about the very thing I told him earlier. That pat phrase is the first thing out of my mouth. And maybe sometimes he isn’t listening, but there are often times I think I’ve told him and I haven’t. And other times I tell him when I know he’s busy and preoccupied, instead of stopping and waiting until I have his full attention. When I say this pat phrase I’m judging him as being inattentive, and that puts him on the defensive. Never a good place to be!
“What in the world” – I walk into the room and see him doing something I’d rather him not do, or he tells me something I think is absurd and silly, and instead of responding with a nice affirmation…this pat phrase pops up. I’m basically saying I think what he’s telling me or what he’s doing is stupid. Only I didn’t use the word “stupid.” It’s all there though, behind my words, that judgmental spirit.
“What do you mean?” – He says something I disagree with. And sometimes I don’t really disagree, I’m just disagreeable! Maybe he states a fact or a statistic and doesn’t get it quite right. Or he gives his opinion about a news story or an event, to which I rear up and make him feel “less than” because he didn’t fully understand it like I did. Wow, how self-absorbed of me!
“Uhghhgh” – I wasn’t sure how to spell this sound that comes out of both of our mouths when we say no discernable words but we utter this sound of disapproval. Maybe I hand him the remote and he has forgotten again how to exit Netflix, or he’s told me something (I wasn’t listening because I didn’t care) and I tell him he didn’t ever tell me. You know those times…when he acts or does or missteps and we just roll our eyes and grunt.
“What’s wrong with you?” – This might be the worst of all, when I attack his character. I’m saying I’m right, he’s wrong, and even more that that – he’s rotten to the core. This phrase is like lighting a stick of dynamite, because there’s sure to be an explosion that follows. Anytime I come out with a phrase that implies that sort of attitude, I feel bad. And yet, sometimes it happens.
We all find ourselves in ruts of rash phrases that if said too often then become a pattern. And I personally realize it when I hear both of us do the same thing. We’ve fallen into a pattern of pat responses, the same ones over and over again, and it almost always causes frustration between us.
There’s never a time when we say we’re too old to relearn, repent, and reestablish good practices in relationships, especially with him. I’ve found that those phrases slip out when I’m just too lazy to stop and think, pray for self-control, and walk away before I speak.
Reading self-help books and books on marriage and attending seminars are all good things for relationships, but until we’re aware of the heart behind the hate that spews out, we don’t really change.
I’m working on listening to myself and changing my words.
Words are powerful. They can shape a child. And they can hurt, or bless, a husband.