Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Contending Against Contention

Proverbs 21:19 "It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman."
           Proverbs 21:9 "It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide                                                                           house"
Proverbs 24:24 "It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.'

If two sinners spend much time in each others proximity, they will eventually disagree.  Husbands and wives have ample opportunity to experience this unfortunate fact of life.  How we express that disagreement will affect how we feel toward each other and ourselves.  It will affect the mood of our home, and the relationships of those who are our closest friends.  The children will react to our actions and will imitate what they see.  So how we disagree is important.

Recently, HBON and I have been having a fuss.  Discretion insists that I not go into details on the World Wide Web, but suffice it to say that we have opposing views concerning a pretty significant topic.  And that is unusual for us.  In 15 years of marriage, I do not believe we have ever disagreed over something significant.  I remember a fuss we had in Dallas while in the midst of heavy traffic, difficulties agreeing over which sofa to buy, growing pains as we learned what offended our new spouse...but never a disagreement over something significant.  I attribute this blessing primarily to HBON.  He is a patient and kind man, and while he sometimes drags he feet in making decisions, he usually is right on target when he does make them.  But right now, we are struggling.

We've been kicking this topic around for about five months, and doing so fairly amicably.  He states his view and we discuss it pros and cons.  I state my view, and we discuss that.  All this discussion taking place with mature, quiet voices.  But a few days ago something changed.  He brought a friend over to me and asked him to tell me some facts that pertained to this topic.  And I got mad.  I felt like I had been set up.  The whole time this friend is telling me his story, I get angrier.  I maintain my composure until we get in the car to go home, with, unfortunately, my children in the back seat.  At this point I should keep my mouth shut and wait until we are alone to calmly discuss how I am feeling.  I SHOULD do that.  Instead, I start pushing.    I push on the way home, and while we get ready for bed.  I ask him why he set me up, and he said that was not his intention.  Disbelieving, I continue to push until his amazingly, long fuse has burned itself out and he gets aggravated with me. I tell him to make his decision and that is what we will do.  And then I shut up.

Now, ladies, we all know that shut up is the proper term for what I have done...not close my mouth, or be quiet....shut up.  I quit talking about that topic and most others.  I am dutifully affectionate.  I care for my children, do my chores, attend to our needs, but the whole time I keep myself closed off emotionally from my husband.  And I feel so justified in doing so.   I am submitting to my husband.  I am fulfilling my duty. I am keeping my mouth shut, refusing to discuss the topic anymore. I am NOT being a contentious woman.

The days roll on, and I am not sleeping well.  My son starts acting out in ways he hasn't in weeks.  My daughter gets sassy.  My patience is thin, and inside of my heart there is a seed of resentment that is blooming into a plant.  I want him to come ask me about the problem; to approach me so I can tell him how hurt I am by his bringing someone else into the discussion on his side.  But I am unapproachable.  I keep on....and on...and on...until finally I find myself leaving rooms he is entering so I don't have to try to pretend nothing is wrong.  And I realize I am miserable   So the next time we are alone I say we have to talk, and I explode.  All of the hurt and frustration and anger come bursting out, and I say things in a way I should not.  I realize I am out of control...apologize for that...and ask him to say something.  He tells me he had not intended to set me up, but just thought to give me the information first hand instead of second hand.

And here we are at the turning point.  He hadn't meant to set me up.  I was faced with a choice.  I could continue to be mad and hurt and not believe him.  Or I could choose to believe him.  

I have been married to this man for over fifteen years.  He has loved me, provided for me, been faithful and kind to me for fifteen years.  I could choose to believe he had somehow morphed into a manipulative person, or I could believe he had made a mistake. I was faced with this choice the first night, if you remember, and I chose not to believe. I was contentious. 

But this time, I trusted that he would not lie to me. And I believed him. And the world righted itself.

We still have not come to complete agreement about the topic, but we are discussing it....calmly, rationally, lovingly.  I am not mad or shutting myself off from him.  The children are calmer and more obedient because they know we are a team again.  I have been sleeping better.  Our home is a happy and relaxing place for our family.  Choosing rational, adult conversation; choosing to believe and trust the man I have loved for years and who has loved me; choosing a discussion over an argument or the silent treatment; choosing to walk according to scripture instead of my own pride; has paid off....again.

I have more to post on this subject, but this is lengthy enough for now.  So we will say.....to be continued.

Disclaimer.....this post has been HBON approved.

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