Two Ways to Salvage a Day Gone Wrong
I was fairly certain that Ted, my husband of 56 days, had just called me fat.
Okay, maybe not in so many words. But rather than soothe the insecurity I’d expressed to him about the 10 pounds I’d gained since our wedding, he did the unthinkable. He dared to travel the road most seasoned husbands know better than to even set foot on.
His exact words?
“Well, maybe you need to change your diet.”
And to make matters worse, he uttered this on Valentine’s Day. I kid you not. What I’d hoped would be a sweet day ended up being a very sour one.
Yep, our first V-Day as husband and wife is recorded in our marital history book as our worst. By far.
Looking back, though, I see that Ted’s proverbial foot in the mouth didn’t have to spoil that particular February 14th. A fight didn’t need to follow. If I had chosen to react differently to Ted’s words, we could have salvaged that day gone wrong.
My reactions aren’t just important on Valentine’s Day, though. How I respond to Ted’s words and actions on any day — whether it’s an anniversary, a birthday, or a normal, average weekday morning — makes a difference in the day-to-day of our relationship. I’d guess it’s the same for you in your marriage. And not just for wives like me, but for husbands like Ted, too. Because, let’s face it, men aren’t the only ones who choose their words poorly at times. We women are equally guilty.
So how could I have rescued that day from going wrong? Here are two things I now do differently to salvage a day gone wrong.
1. Consider Motives
Often the things I’m offended by aren’t things Ted intends as offensive. Take his comment about my diet. His subtext wasn’t, “Yeah, you sure are fat,” even though that’s what I heard. The truth was that, as an eager new husband, Ted wanted to see me happy. My extra poundage was making me unhappy. In his mind my complaint translated to “please fix problem.” If I’d stopped to consider that my Mr. Fix-It Man was trying to be helpful, not hurtful, I could have interpreted his words through the proper filter and determined not to be offended.
2. Practice Grace
Offense doesn’t leave room for grace. When I’m operating in hurt and indignation — like I was that day — I don’t give Ted the benefit of the doubt. But imagine if I had. Our Valentine’s Day could have gone well if I’d reminded myself that he was still new to this husband thing. That, as it is for all of us, learning to be a good spouse is a process of trial and error. Patience and grace, rather anger, would have been a gentler way to help him understand that most of the time I don’t want a quick fix.
Eleven years later, Ted is now a member in good standing in the Seasoned Husbands Club. Well, for the most part. He at least knows better than to suggest a change in my diet, that is, not without offering to change his too. And in those moments when he does still choose his words poorly, I’m a whole lot quicker to dismiss offense and embrace grace. Thankfully, he does the same for me in my not-so-great-moments.
As a result, many a day-off-to-a-rough-start has been salvaged over the years. I hope you can say the same. If not, maybe today can be your first of many.
Great word – so true . . . and so easy to lose sight of in the fog of feelings. Thank you Ashleigh.
This is a nice real take on love for Valentine’s Day! And yes, I think in the seasoned husband/wife club we can give re-do moments much quicker and move on with less fuss. Grace is a beautiful thing!
Rachel, thanks for your comment. Yeah, I agree — grace is a beautiful thing!
2.5 years into marriage, my wife and I are finally starting to head down this path of grace-filled communication…and the spiritual dividends are precious. And being an emotional man, I’m often the one causing the problem in the first place. Thankfully grace exceeds our sin 🙂
Hi Justin, thanks for sharing about your own marriage. I think it takes all of us time to learn how to better communicate with grace. Ted and I are doing much better than our early years, but we still have room for growth and improvement. Like you, I too am grateful that grace exceeds our sin. 🙂
My husband told me on mothers day after church that the sermon about the proverbs 31 woman didn’t make him think of me at all..it made him think more of his own mother. He also told me on our 5 year anniversary that he never liked my kissing because it was too uptight. While over the road trucking, he sent me a text saying “happy bday.” When our daughter was born, he slept until it was time to push, he said “good job” and went back to sleep. After nearly 6 years, I now “extend” a modified version of “grace” out of contempt more than love and obedience to the Lord.
I Tried to explain something similar..but my post “magically” disappeared. Guess we’re being censored.
I WISH I could identify with these women. I hate the jealous monster I become when I hear about growth in their relationships or the ups to counter the downs.
Ladyjames and Steph, I’m sorry to hear of the pain you’ve experienced. I’ll be praying for you and your marriages today.
Did you change your diet?
Guy, yes, eventually. And Ted actually changed his with mine. Although this was eleven years and five pregnancies ago. So it’s been awhile since then. 🙂
How about not getting mad at your husband for telling the truth. Women always say that they want an honest man until he’s honest about them. If you say you think you gained weight and you have, then you should expect him to tell you the truth, or don’t get mad when he lies about other stuff too since you just set the precedent that you want him to lie.
John, thanks for sharing your thoughts. While it’s obviously been a learning process for Ted and me, I have come to a place where I sincerely appreciate his honesty. Eleven years later, I like that I can count on him to tell me the truth in a situation — even if it’s not what I may want to hear at the moment. That said, I also know that when Ted does offer me hard, but honest words, they come from a place of love and wanting my best. And I think the motivation behind the words — which is something I touch on in this article — is important.
Grace is a beautiful thing! One of the many gifts that God has given us! Just as God has wired us Women and Men differently. We sometime, more than you think , don’t understand the way our spouse responds to us. My husband and I have been married for 33 years, and for many years things like this would happen, misunderstanding, but I would try to respone in grace. Then I came across these books that really helpped explain how a Man thinks, it was like a light went on, I had alot of a-ha moments! It gave me such great insight to many of my husbands reactions over the years! I have a greater understanding , and am so much happier! Thank you God for showing me your beautiful plan for the way you created us! And fot leading me to these books! “For Women only” and ” For Men only” by Shaunti Feldhahn I now give these books as wedding gifts to couples starting out! They are truly greatful !
Debbie, thanks for sharing what God has shown you about grace in your marriage. Congrats on 33 years!
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