You are not me… *lightbulb*

Yesterday HL started work (driving a cab) at 7.30am and came back at 8am to take me to work. (We’ve recently become a 1 car family and it involves some tricky organisationing.) When he arrived he asked if I’d prefer to be dropped off at the car so I could have it after work and so he wouldn’t have to come and pick me up at the end of the day. That sounded like a good plan so – “Sure!”.

As we were driving we turned off the usual route to where the car usually is parked (quite close to work for me) and started heading out of town.

“Huh? Where are we going?”

“I’m parked at a different place today. You may have noticed I’m driving a different taxi than usual.”

“Oh, yeah…so you are. Well, how far is it? I don’t want to be late.”

“I don’t know, just up here a bit.”

“Oh…ok…it better not be too far out of town, or I’m gonna be late.”

I don’t know, ok?? Just up here a bit.”

*annoyed silence from me*, and then…

“Well, look, can you remember if it’s a long way out? It’s already quarter past 8 and I’m s’posed to be there in a few minutes and we haven’t even got to the car yet…You should have mentioned to me that the car was parked out of town before I decided. I would have said no, or we could have left earlier. I’m quite annoyed actually, ‘cos I’M the one that’s going to have to explain why I’m late, you’re already at work.”

“FINE…stop complaining, it’s too late now.”

“But I’m going to be late! Is it up here? What’s the road called?”

“Tait Road. I think it’s just around this corner, but we might have already passed it. ”

“Well, can you find a place to turn around please??”

“I WILL! I just want to be certain that it’s not still up ahead and then I’ll turn around. Just STOP TALKING PLEASE!”

And then clarity struck.

HL and I are not the same person.

My inner monologue tells me to keep pushing until I get a sign of contrition, a conciliatory gesture, and then forgiveness explodes and the bubbling anger trickles back down into the cracks of my personality. HL’s inner monologue tells him to protect himself, defend against anything that threatens to upset his balance, even when it’s a reasonable irritation at something frustrating. And that insight led to my burst of clarity.

HL finds my pushing scary.

It’s upsetting if I don’t let up and allow him to retain/regain his balance. Even if all I’m looking for is an apology or any signs of regret, my escalating irritation has the entirely opposite effect.

It’s not an easy thing to grasp, rather than just ‘know’, that you and your spouse are DIFFERENT. We’ve been married for almost 10 years and I’ve only, just now, ‘got’ that my anger/annoyance/irritation can be frightening and put HL on the back foot, urgently defending himself.

I guess I had never quite understood the power of that anger, and always saw HL’s increasingly defensive actions as giving me less and less power, rather than more. Which, in turn, meant that I often increased my level of irritation just to provoke him into an apology, which increased his defensiveness, which left me feeling more powerless, which led to…well…ultimately, hours of coldness with each other.

My marriage is my most important human relationship (Ephesians 5:31-32). I am so grateful for this small moment of insight. ‘Backing off’ will be much easier because of it.

(We found the car minutes later and I wasn’t really that late to work. 🙂 )

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