There is a sandwich stain on our dining room wall…. I blame myself.
I don’t even remember what we were talking about. Selena and I were having lunch (sandwiches) one afternoon, taking a break from our work routines; somehow our conversation escalated. It was one of those conversations that starts out innocent and before you know it you’re both on the verge of yelling.
Again, I can’t remember what we got so heated about….must have been important.
Big Red Buttons
We went back and forth, and I (being hard-headed) said something insensitive and it really set her off. Husbands, you know what I mean – the “big red buttons”. There are a few topics, phrases, and tones that if interjected at the wrong time will derail any chance of civil conversation you had. Sometimes we press those big red buttons on purpose, other times we press them accidentally.
Our conversation continued to overheat. Neither one of us was communicating out of love, but out of frustration, pride, and the desire to be right. This resulted in a tit-for-tat exchange that went nowhere like a train on a circular track. And the tracks were getting white hot!
As it turns out, those big red buttons can turn a sweet, loving, understanding wife (or husband) into an unbridled rage-monster. Luckily, I hadn’t pressed the button quite yet.
The Big Press
Folks, I don’t know what causes it but sometimes in a heated situation, husbands laugh. What kind of cruel irony is this? I’m certain it’s one of the great mysteries of the universe. I can’t figure out why some of our brains work this way. My running theory is that it’s because our minds are trying to reconcile what’s being said with reality – our logic drives overload, calculations throw error warnings, and the only output is laughter… Insensitive, poorly-timed, anger-inducing laughter.
Back to the sandwich stain… in the heat of our argument, I laughed.
Enter the Matrix
This part of the story is clear as day: I was sitting across the table, and as I laughed, Selena’s eyes glowed red-hot. She grabbed her half-eaten sandwich and wound up like a pitcher at the World Series. Apparently I was the catcher and I gave her the proverbial “fast-ball” sign.
It was like that scene from the matrix where Neo dodges all the bullets. Except instead of bullets, I had one sandwich that began to scatter into it’s various components in mid air. As I dodged and ducked (arms flailing), I managed to avoid the meat and only caught the bread directly to the face.
Stunned, I looked behind me at what would be a fixture in our home for the years to come: a spinach/mozzarella/whatever sandwich stain on our dining room wall. And it still won’t scrub out…
Here’s why I’m sharing this…
I’m not saying that laughter is bad. In fact, Selena and I laughed together mid-argument just yesterday and it diffused the situation. What I am saying is that selfish communication is bad.
When we communicate, it’s vital that we consider each others needs and choose our words with love. It’s easy to use words selfishly to only vent what we’re feeling and totally disregard what our spouse is going through.
We need to be more selfless when we communicate. Communication works best when you both are mindful of each others’ feelings. Commit to speaking in love, being generous with grace, and showing patience to one another. Selfless communication has the ironic effect of giving you exactly what you want – a voice to be heard.
The mature, selfless, and Christ-like thing to do is listen in love and communicate in love coated with grace. Put yourself in their shoes. If you pass every word and tone through a love/grace filter, you put your spouse before yourself, and your communication reflects Christ.
Put your spouse before yourself – communicate selflessly – and you may be able to avoid sandwich stains on your walls… unlike us.