Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Third Time. {Thoughts on our Marriage}

    I've always been a person who has struggled with patience.  It's a fairly common human fault, but one that I have put a lot of effort into and one that I have - most days - gotten the upper hand on.  

    Marriage has refined me in a lot of ways. Every day you get to see your 'ugly' in a fresh light and, rather than ignore it as one who is single or living alone might be able to do, we married folk must deal with it.  (If we want to be happy together, anyway.) Surely, I can't be alone in thinking that it's got to be one of the toughest parts about eternally binding yourself to another's soul.

    On that note, have I ever mentioned in this space that I hate repeating myself?  Because I do. HATE IT. I always have. Perhaps growing up in a full (and loud) home with four siblings all seeking to be heard conditioned me to be this way, but if I have to repeat myself a third or, heaven forbid, a fourth time, I lose my ish a little bit.  To give you an example, a conversation might go something like this:

Me: "Hey, can you pass the butter?"
Josh: "What?"
Me: (A little louder and clearer, still calm) "Um, the butter. Can you pass the butter?"
Josh: "Sorry, what?"
Me: (In an icy, angry, loud tone) "CAN. YOU. PASS. THE. BUTTER."

(If a fourth repetition is necessary, the question presumably no longer is, as I'm already throwing elbows and retrieving it myself. Butter in hand, martyrdom in heart.)

    For some reason, I've always felt that by the time I have to say something for the Third Time, I'm allowed to be mad.  I'm allowed to be impatient.  By the time we reach that dreaded Third Time, it clearly isn't my fault that the other person hasn't heard. They should have focused harder, turned the music down, turned off the faucet, inclined their ear my way, read my lips... who cares, really, but it's their fault.  Except, every time this would happen with Josh, regardless of my 'right' to be annoyed, my impatient tone would really hurt his feelings.  For a long time, I continued with my progression through conversations like that, fully entitled to be icy and annoyed by the end.  But every stinkin' time, Josh's feelings would be hurt.  

    So I decided to stop... to just stop it.  Occasionally I slip back into my old ways, of course, but now when I reach the Third Time, I make a conscious effort to keep the tone of my voice exactly the same.  I might slow the words down, or say them more clearly and loudly, but my tone stays exactly the same. and can I tell you that it feels like torture? That detaching my words from my emotions takes genuine mental effort? That even though my insides are all twisted up in irritation, my vocal chords have also been wrestled into the submission of my brain and heart who are calling the shots. "Stay calm. Love him. This isn't a big deal. Just say it again. He'll hear. It's not worth hurting him."

    I don't know how big of a deal it really is, you know?  That "Third Time". But part of me thinks it's kind of huge. Dying to ourselves in the small things; in the things that we feel entitled to - solely because we love another... it's a beautiful thing. It's a really, really hard thing. Usually, it's a thankless and unnoticed thing. But it's also a deeply important thing, and I think that it contributes to what makes a marriage work and a love last.  At least, it's what contributes to our marriage working and our love lasting.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure if you we have talked about this or not but I have the exact same problem when it comes to repeating myself. At 3 repeats my adrenals start. If there needs to be a 4th the comment is no longer worth sharing. I literally have to talk myself out of hanging up my phone on the other person if I repeat 3 times. It's pretty bad... I thought that I developed this pet peeve during my tech support days but now I am thinking it is deeper rooted. Twin thing!

    Love you sis, love you sis, love you sis! That wasn't so bad... ; )