A reader emails:
I want to hear about the days when you could just strangle your husband, want to board the next jet for Paris, France and find a glass of wine, along with a sensitive, dark, sincere French man to take you to all of Paris’ finest sidewalk cafes and tell you that you’re wonderful for about a week. What about those kinds of days? Aren’t good, God-fearing Catholic women entitled to those kinds of days, too? My next stop is expedia.com, I believe. Let’s get real and talk about the good and the bad.
I have no tolerance for groups of catty women who gather around to swap “Stupid Husband” stories or try to one-up one another with bad-behavior horror stories, so that’s not what I’m looking for here.
But the writer of this email has a point: Let’s be real. Even the best of marriages are made up of two imperfect individuals who are going to have their ups and downs. I think most of us can handle the ups with grace and style, but how do we handle the downs?
I once knew an older, wiser wife who told me she kept a journal of little things she appreciated about her husband. It was just a small notebook in which she jotted down little things that he did for her regularly as well as descriptions of times when he went out of his way to make her happy. She did this so that when the two of them were involved in a nasty argument and she was tempted to reject her husband as an ugly or impossible human being, she could remind herself who this man really was that she fell in love with in the first place. You may not be organized enough to keep a journal (I’m not) but referring to a mental list of your husband’s more “shining moments” could be a handy way to change your attitude toward him, even in the throes of a heated… ahem, discussion.
The people we love and count on most are the ones who have the greatest potential to hurt us. I think that prayer can be an enormously helpful way to get through times of disagreement. Even if the only prayer you can manage to spit out is, “I am so angry right now, please God help me to be patient, or fair, or loving (you fill in the blank).” And confession. It humbles us to focus on the ways in which we have let down our God and opens our hearts to forgiving others—even the spouse who blew off your birthday in favor of a baseball game. In fact, the woman who originally emailed me about taking off for Paris wrote again a couple of days later to let me know that she had been to confession and added, “I happen to be madly in love with my sweetie again.”
So what are your thoughts? How do you and your spouse avoid arguments in the first place or get through them with fairness and love?