Marriage Monday: Picking Fights

by Andrea Cooley

couple arguing

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There's nothing like a silly argument with your husband to bring out the worst version of yourself. The ugly monster raises its head and before I can bite my tongue, I've brought up the topic I was going to avoid, said the thing I promised myself I wouldn't, and pushed the man I love away with a force I didn't know I had in me.

Recently I lashed out at Adam over something completely inconsequential, like the fact that he didn't eat what I thought he should for lunch. One thing led to another, and pretty soon I launched into a laundry list of his flaws. Finally I asked him to go work somewhere else. (Have I mentioned that Adam works at home? That's a topic for another post, but let's just say it's been an adjustment with me home most days with baby boy).

As soon as he left, I wished I could hit the rewind button and take back the whole conversation. I was wrong and I knew I needed to apologize. I stood over the sink, breathing deeply as I mindlessly washed the dishes and tried to think logically about the situation.

Of course the thing we argued about wasn't really the problem. I could say it was because I was tired from being up at 4 in the morning with a fussy baby, but that wasn't anything new.

I realized it wasn't Adam who I was upset with. It was me. I was feeling unproductive and unsettled in my new role as mom and instead of recognizing that, I turned my frustration on him. Does anyone else do that? I'm an expert at being critical of myself and then quickly turning the finger on someone else (and more often than not, the person is Adam). I was feeling discontent and wanted to pick a fight to make myself feel better, and he was the (un)lucky recipient.

And then, before I was able to pick up the phone and ask for forgiveness, he came home.  

I'll admit, I was surprised to see him pull into the driveway. If it were me, I probably would have driven to a coffee shop and spent the afternoon working and silently punishing him by not calling (I never said I was the mature one in the relationship).

But there he was. Walking through the door, coming over and giving me a hug, before I even had a chance to utter a word. He admitted that he was upset when he left, but then he said the last three words I expected to hear at that moment. I love you.

He told me that as he drove away, he said he realized that I was pushing him away and his first instinct was to run away (I can't say I blame him!). But then he felt like God told him that when I push him away, he needed to pursue me. So there he was, pursuing me.

I don't think I'll ever forget that. What an amazing example of Christ's love, right there in the kitchen! I'm sure it wasn't easy for Adam to turn around the car and come tell me he loved me, but he humbled himself and came after me. Our marriage is definitely stronger because of it.

I still needed to apologize and I also told him what was really bothering me. I wish I could say I haven't said anything hurtful since then, but that would be a lie. I have been more aware of the power of my words, and I am slowly learning to think before I speak.

I wish I hadn't lost my cool and lashed out at Adam. But I am so thankful God was able to redeem the situation. I have such a huge respect for Adam's actions! I am learning to recognize when I start to push him away and to instead figure out why I'm pushing him away. And when I bully Adam with my words, he knows that he can't run away. 

We will still have disagreements and times when we're frustrated with each other, but I am confident that as long as we keep Christ at the center of our relationship we can make it through anything.

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Andrea Cooley

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