In today’s article, we’re tackling disagreements. How often you disagree isn’t as important as HOW you resolve them. What patterns are healthy? What patterns are toxic?
This is an excerpt from our recently published book "Love Me This Way," Click here to download your free copy!
.....during my first couple of years of marriage, every time I felt that my husband had hurt me or disrespected me, I was ready to leave. I was ready to cut him off. And I would tell him so. I wanted him to feel the hurt I was feeling, so I would let him know that my love had its limits, and that I wouldn't be putting up with his shortcomings forever.
Can you imagine how that made him feel? Imagine telling someone who grew up feeling alone in this world that they're going to be alone again-soon. Needless to say, I succeeded in hurting my husband. I made him feel like if he didn't change himself quickly enough, I would be packing my bags and going back to my mother's, and he would be alone again.
One night things reached a breaking point. We had been beefing for a couple of days, and were trying to iron things out. But like many people, we weren’t really listening to each other. We each wanted to speak our piece and be heard. So things weren’t going well. I remember telling my husband that I didn’t know if I could put up with something that he had done. Like, I hinted towards the d-word. My husband did not take my words well. He basically had an emotional breakdown. He got so upset that he punched a hole in our living room wall and broke one of our dining table chairs. I was shocked and scared. My heart racing, I ran to our room and shut the door. I’d never seen him so upset. When I calmed down enough to listen, I could hear the front door slam shut. He was gone.
I was distraught. I couldn’t think straight. I kept imaging Jono getting into a car accident from driving while he was upset. All I kept thinking was that it would be my fault, and that he would die with us on such awful terms. I couldn’t handle the thought of anything happening to him. I called our best friends, another couple that lived nearby that Jono had grown up with, and tearfully explained what had happened. I begged them to pray for me and to let me know if they heard from him. Then I hung up and started to pray. And that’s when God told me all about myself.
At the end of it, I felt so ashamed at how we had handled the situation. I felt ashamed at how I had handled the situation. Who did I think I was to tell my husband that if he didn’t shape up quickly enough, that I would leave him? Was I that self-righteous, that selfish? In those hours that he was gone, God had to give me a mental shake. I realized that my marriage definitely would not last forever if I kept on threatening my husband into submission to my ideals, and that he would never feel comfortable enough to be himself if I didn’t give him room to do so.
Crazily enough, I don’t even remember what it was he had done that had irked me so much. But I do remember that it was a turning point in our marriage. When my husband came home that night, he fully expected to see my suitcases packed and me ready to go back to Florida to my mom’s house.
He later explained that as he drove off, the enormity of what he had done and how he had reacted came crashing down and he just started sobbing. He figured that he had finally messed up so badly that I would be leaving him. But when he came back at 3am, I was so relieved that he was okay that all I could do was jump into his arms and thank God he was still alive. It sounds melodramatic, but honestly, in that moment it seemed like life or death. I was so happy that we had a chance to make up. Jono was shocked. He was expecting a goodbye from me, and here I was hugging him and telling him that I was sorry. And from there we started to rebuild our trust in each other.
I had to constantly remind myself that I was in this for the long haul, that my husband needed to feel like he had room to grow and learn from his mistakes without being afraid that I would abandon him if he didn't meet my standards. And he had to learn to trust my love for him, knowing that I would love him despite his flaws....
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