This is NOT going to be pretty. I will just go on and be honest right out of the starting gate. So, whatever you learn about me today, just don't hold it against me or think any less of me okay??
We all know that even in the very best of marriages there is going to be some conflict. We all express it in different ways, but it is still there nonetheless. After the "honeymoon" is over, so to speak (and the length of time varies for each couple), you begin to see your spouses secret habits and little quirks and there are no more public facades. Welcome to fallen humanity!
Right about the same time, real life kicks in. Work, IN-LAWS, finances or lack of them, friends... finding the balance of it all adds much pressure to our relationships. This causes many disagreements for the majority of us. We argue. We fight. Someone gets their feelings hurt.
Every couple goes through this. But not every couple will survive this.
We do the most damage to each other in the heat of "battle". That's because it's when our pride is the strongest, our anger is at its peak, we are the MOST selfish and judgmental. We make the worst possible decisions and we spew the most hateful, awful words at each other.
Frank and I do NOT fight fair. But, we do it in different ways. I fight about everything. Everything that is nothing and everything that is something. Make sense? And I expect him to know what I am mad about, without me having to tell him. And when he doesn't... I get madder. So, we start to fight. And I pull out all the punches. Saying all the hurtful things that I have felt, but knew I shouldn't say. Then, because that is never enough, I begin to bring up all the other things that I feel like hasn't been resolved from the last 14 arguments we have had. (I know I am painting such a great picture of myself. Don't you ALL want to be my friend now?)
Frank on the other hand usually doesn't say a whole lot. Instead, he walks around with a scowl on his face and finds other "little" minute things to complain about that have NOTHING to do with what he is actually upset about. Then, at some point, it all spills out. Not in a nice way, and I usually end up crying. (Sounds like the kind of place you want to spend time right?)
Love should step in and change things. Love should remind me that my marriage and my spouse is more important than whatever I feel like I need to fight about at that moment. Love reminds me that conflict CAN be turned around for good.
HOW? By establishing rules. If you have no guidelines for when an argument occurs, you won't stay in bounds when the action really heats up!
Two types of boundaries for dealing with conflict.
1st: "We" boundaries: these you both agree on beforehand and apply during ANY fight. Such as (and these are ours by the way)
*We will NEVER mention divorce
*We will not bring up unrelated items from the past (Ashley, did you get that?)
*We will not fight in public
*We will not fight in front of kids (not the same as disagreements)
*We will call time-out if fight gets to be damaging and we WILL resolve it when both have calmed down
*We will never hit one another
*We WILL work it out before the sun comes up
2nd: "Me" boundaries": rules you personally practice on your own
*I will listen to what he has to say before speaking and without formulating my response in my head before he has finished.
*I will speak calmly and in a nice tone, even if I am hurt.
*I will remember that if he has said something hurtful to me, it is probably because he is feeling hurt or disrespected himself.
*I will remember that no matter what, I will choose to love him and he is a good man, even if he isn't acting like it at the moment.
Fighting fair means changing your weapons. Disagreeing with dignity! It should build a bridge instead of burn one.
DARE: TALK WITH YOUR SPOUSE ABOUT ESTABLISHING HEALTHY RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. RESOLVE TO ABIDE BY THEM WHEN THE NEXT DISAGREEMENT OCCURS.
So, obviously, Frank and I have not always had these "rules". In fact, we didn't have them until this dare. Tonight, while during dinner I mentioned that I thought we should have some fair fighting rules. To this Frank replied "Wha?? Where did that come from?" I played it off by saying it was because of some conversation that Steph and I had in her office today. (I use her for a lot of my excuses :) ) This lead to a basic agreement of some of the rules. Then it happened. I knew it would. I just didn't think it would be sooo quick.
I asked him for the keys (here we go with the car argument AGAIN). He made some comment and I made some comment. I then made several more comments with a less than loving tone. I totally blew off the previous days dare and did not apply ANY of the rules that we had just talked about OR the ones I had made for myself. What is going on??! I mean, really Lord, at least give me a little time to get used to them before you test me! But no, He didn't. And I failed. Did I mention I needed the keys to go shopping? Umm Hmm. That's right. Frank was sending me shopping because I was in desperate need of some clothes now that I am 54 lbs lighter. His only requirement was that I NOT come home with one single item for any of the kids. ONLY for myself.
So, I left to go shopping. Huffy and puffy. Picked up my mom and we shopped till we dropped. Or at least till the mall closed. Then on the way home, Stephers called me. I gave her a quick rundown of what happened before I left. And what I didn't do. What I didn't do was this: I obviously didn't pay attention to my own advice and dare from the day before. I know that what I should have done was just "give in" or "let him win", however you want to word it. I should have preferred his desires to my own. But I didn't. I preferred my selfishness in the moment.
I also didn't even play by my own rules. I didn't listen completely to what he had to say. And I immediately started to think of my response about 5 words into what he was saying. I also did NOT keep a calm tone. No way.
After I got off the phone with Steph and came inside and then proceeded to clean up the mess I left in the kitchen, Frank and I discussed the matter further. A bit heated at first, but then I calmed down and he was very sweet and even admitted where he had gone wrong. I also had to admit that I was WAY wrong and I was very sorry.
He then asked for a fashion show... *wink wink* If I want to ever get this, I have to be READY for these things to happen. I have to be prepared and not act like it came out of left field. Remember, marriages... families, don't fall apart in a day. So, we have to be ready. Watching.
Remember, love is worth fighting for... not about.