You ever had a fight with your spouse where you feel embarrassed later when you remember the things you said?
I have. This week, as a matter of fact.
And because I always use my own life as an object lesson for our readers, I’m going to share this embarrassing tiff we had.
We were sitting down together on the couch. The lights were dimmed, the Christmas tree was lit up, and the kids were asleep. And there we were…..having a budget meeting.
I should pause here to mention that I can be a bit of a defensive person.
So there we were, about to end our meeting. We were done going through the budget for the upcoming month. We had discussed adjustments we needed to make in certain areas, and I was feeling so proud of myself for having made it through the meeting without getting frustrated or anxious.
I celebrated too soon.
My husband brought up the idea of debt consolidation. I was against the idea and I explained why. He disagreed with me and we went back and forth for a minutes trying to talk one another out of our different opinions. Finally, he told me in a tone dripping with sarcasm that maybe I should be the one to do some research on it, since he’s the one that “always handles stuff like this.”
Well. That did not go down well with me. I replied in a tone that was equally laced with sarcasm, “Well, maybe if you’d married somebody else, your life would be perfect.”
Yes, you guys. I took it there. It was super wrong, I admit it. But that’s what I said.
Things only went downhill from there. “You’d love that wouldn’t you? That way you could run back to your mom!” And with that he stomped down the hall to go sulk in our bedroom.
Of course, I wasn’t going to let him have the last word. “It’s not too late,” I called out as he left. Then I sat there in the dark room by myself looking at the Christmas tree. It didn’t take more than 2 minutes for me to feel incredibly childish and disgusted with myself for reacting the way I had.
I didn’t want us to go to bed angry with each other, so after a few more minutes of sitting there by myself (my pride, yal’ll!) I slipped off the couch and walked toward the room. When I opened the door there he was on the bed in the dark, scrolling on the computer. I stood there for a second, not knowing how to start my apology. Our eyes met and he immediately shut the computer screen and turned away.
I got into the bed and pulled up the covers under my chin and then scooted over so that I was spooning his back. “I’m sorry,” I whispered to the back of his head.
“Ok,” was his muffled response.
“I’m really sorry babe. Do you accept my apology?” I moved even closer and squeeze-hugged him from behind so that he could tell I was sincere about making up.
“Yes, but I don’t feel like talking right now.”
I felt so bad. I knew the words I said out of pride had hurt him. Now I was ready to make up, but he wasn’t, and I didn’t blame him. So instead of trying to force him to talk it out with me, I decided to let him have his space.
“Do you want me to move over?” I asked. He quickly, “Yes, please.” So I rolled back over to my side of the bed and closed my eyes.
A couple of hours later I felt his arms around me in my sleep. “I’m sorry too,” he whispered in my ear. Or at least that’s what I remembered him saying before I fell back into unconsciousness.
The next morning we had a nice long talk about the whole situation, where we both apologized for our behavior towards each other.
I’m glad I let my husband have his space to process his emotions and thoughts instead of trying to force him to talk it out. I know that talking about stuff in the moment seems like a good idea, and it can be for some people. But some types of people don’t do well with trying to talk about an issue in the heat of the moment. Sometimes the hurt is too fresh for them to just put it behind them and forgive right away.
This situation also showed me that even though I get angry quickly and cool down just as fast (most of the time), I can’t just let stuff fly out my mouth. Words can’t ever be taken back, even when you ask for forgiveness sincerely. The hurt takes time to heal, and sometimes it does permanent damage to the relationship.
I needed to sleep on the cold side of the bed that night to understand how much a few moments of temper can cause a bigger separation between my husband and I. I had made my bed and I needed to lie in it, so to speak. I couldn’t try to rush him into making up with me, especially when I was just as much at fault.
If your spouse is one of those people who takes a long time to get over stuff, don’t try to guilt them over it. It isn’t their responsibility to soothe your guilty conscience. Love, not force, is what conquers all. So love your spouse enough to give them the time and space they need to come to terms with their anger or hurt. Let them decide when they’re ready to make up. Otherwise that resentment and bitterness will always be simmering just beneath the surface of your interactions, slowly poisoning your relationship over time.
True forgiveness takes time to emerge. Forgiveness forced from a sense of obligation or duty isn’t real, and the cracks will start to show sooner or later. Do your spouse and your marriage a favor and give them the time they need to truly forgive you.
You won’t regret it.
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