Some time ago, we had to implement a rule. We don’t often issue strict rules within our relationship, but some battles require it. That list would include the, “We have to pray before game nights because Kyle can’t control his competitive spirit and makes board games zero fun for all.” We conquered that season, but only by the marvelous grace of God. This most recent rule was for me.
I can sometimes be critical. This characteristic manifests itself most in certain situations:
1. When I’m really hungry and my body starts to physically shut down because the meal we ate six hours ago suddenly seems like six days ago.
2. When we’re running late for something or going somewhere I don’t feel like going at the moment.
3. When my husband drives on an empty tank of gas.
The first two are beyond Kyle’s realm of understanding or control. He doesn’t enjoy them by any means, but he also does a pretty good job of diffusing the situations. Yet when it comes to nagging him about how much gas is left, I am the continual dripping on a rainy day. The wife that makes him wish he was left in the desert to die.
The new rule: I’m not allowed to say anything about how much gas is in the car until we actually run out.
Simple enough. And I’m getting better at it. But for the last 6 months, there have been times when I was literally writhing in the car, hand squeezing the door handle, feet squirming, trying to keep from saying something. I’ve tried holding my breath, turning off the AC to save the fuel, picturing pedestrians getting run over, praying- and I still couldn’t squelch the urge to scream, “Pull over RIGHT NOW!!! We aren’t going to make it!!!”
And yet somehow during the last few months, I’ve started to notice a change in my own heart. Not about the gas issue- I think I’ll always be doubting in my heart- but about the way I speak to my husband. This rule we implemented has taught me that I actually have self control with my words. That I don’t have to say every single thing that comes to my head about what Kyle has done wrong or what I’d rather him be doing at the moment. I can actually be silent! Even if it’s by self-implemented physical force. (I once almost pinched my lips completely off.) But the things it has done for our marriage are countless. Anger in my heart is still there, but it stays there until I can pray it out. Until I can talk to Kyle about it later if it’s something that’s really bothering me- which it usually isn’t. So many arguments are dispelled before they ever start, all because I didn’t open my mouth.
I know this is merely a season and that something new will arise that we will have to combat together, but for now we are really enjoying the joy the comes from long practices of discipline. And we’ll be even more confident in the next battle.