“Temper is what gets you into trouble. Pride is what keeps you there. “ -Anonymous
Picture this: You’re sitting down next to the woman whom you’ve forsaken all others for and you decide to remark rather offhandedly—by the way, please note that our remarkable English language has deemed it necessary to have such a word, one that describes both a complete lack of forethought and serves as a written warning that the road ahead in this story is indeed perilous and ornamented with danger.
But I digress…..so you’re sitting there and casually remark:
“Man, you know what I could really use? A new [insert general and non-specific noun]. Yeah, the next time we head to the motorcycle shop I think we should buy one. Maybe today, if you don’t mind, my most tempered and ever-loving bride.”
I don’t think this is verbatim, but you get the picture.
She retorts—“That’s funny.” (Was it?) ”…I’ve been asking you for months to fix my (insert car part here) and you haven’t lifted a finger. But all of a sudden your bike is more important and now everything needs to be done right away??”
“Whoa, now. I did say ‘if you don’t mind’. And you seem to be implying that I wasn’t open to both errands being run today for both vehicles. How about we get both errands done while we’re out and about?”
“That’s fine, Andrew.”
“It doesn’t seem fine.” —Notice the absence of provocation. I’m simply being thorough in ensuring my wife is wholly satisfied with the end product of this currently skirted argument.
“Yeah, I said it’s fine.”
*pause for effect*
“…It just seems like you weren’t really concerned about it until today when you needed something.”
There it is. A few back-and-forth’s, a few unsolicited clarifications later, and we’ve arrived at a little place I like to call: Heateddebatesville, Texas. Where it’s always sunny and tempers boil over.
But wait! What’s this? Wife-partner has made an unexpected play! Just as the big guns are about to come out (not literally), and the transition from implosion to explosion is about to unfold, she unexpectedly calls for a truce! A white flag of the “Look, it’s not a big deal. Let’s not fight, okay?” variety.
This is a problem for two reasons.
1.) I was just about to unleash a barrage of critical points that would have devastated her cause. And subsequently 2.) I’m so worked up I don’t know what to do with myself. This is where temper turns to pride.
Whereas a wiser man might have relaxed his grip and lowered his now-leveled barrel, I decided to go ahead give a lil’ crank-a-roo on my Gatling gun, anyway.
This is typically where you see the following fruitless responses:
“Oh, just like that? Just like THAT, huh??” –The I’m going to maniacally and rhetorically question this new-development…a lot method.
“NO, you started this, now finish it!”–The Arguments are like a sandwich and good meat is expensive approach.
“I knew it. You just can’t admit that you were wrong to begin with.” –Ah, the oft-used What a revelation. I wasn’t sure of my convictions till now, but this did away with my wishy-washiness. Thank you, my dear strategy.
Many a men have been known to try and navigate out of this Bermuda Triangle of love and marriage. Many have never been seen from again. Our moral compass tends to spin out of control at this point. Quite frankly, a few years later I can’t remember even half of what it was we were fighting about.
Our words of love and even righteous anger should be like your proposal, played out over and over during the course of your marriage and always presented with the utmost consideration towards reception and environment.
But I do know this: My pride has taken over where my anger should have burned out or bowed out long ago. It’s easy to let your commitment to an argument grow legs. How dare your spouse get you all riled up, just to call it all off in a moment’s notice! Ironically, a sudden change of pace is what you were initially looking for, but now that you’re fully invested in it, you feel like you have to experience that full release! The conflict arises when this Get-your-money’s-worth mentality starts to fuel a spat past the point of a healthy conflict–which promotes growth and accountability—to a place where bickering and verbal-sparring points are all that you’ll have left at the end of the day. Speaking from experience, it’s usually always better to make an extra deposit in the marriage bank and, in a few words, leave it alone. At least for a while.
“Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” –Proverbs 29:11 NLT
That’s not to say that there won’t be a time where you feel a burning desire to get one more piece of valid, edifying advice in. But usually, the “real-talk” that we put so much stock into is worth enough to save for a later time. And it grows with interest. We marry for the “forever” of this lifetime, but argue as if it’s the last five minutes we’ll ever have again. Our words of love and even righteous anger should be like your proposal, played out over and over during the course of your marriage and always presented with the utmost consideration towards reception and environment. Easier said than done? Well, what isn’t? I can’t think of anything I’ve spoken into existence, today. Or ever, for that matter. Action will always be harder than thought. But extremely rewarding.
Patience in the heat of the moment. Humility through reflection. Tactfulness in the calm of a pause. Silence isn’t a weakness. These are tools of the wise. Forged in restraint and wielded to cut through a dense and tense situation to a clearing where you’ll have a more welcomed opinion. Even if that means reversing course and revisiting a point of contention at a later time.
With everything to lose and even more to gain, I would recommend trying this the next time you find a disagreement gaining momentum and reaching a sudden halt. Feed the fire of passion in your marriage rather than stoke the flames of anger and pride. And whatever you do, do it now.