Fast, rapid-fire words flow from my lips; often before I think them through.
I have been described as “having no filter” between my mind and my mouth.
I was nicknamed “Lippy” at a summer camp that I worked at.
I have been called “sassafras”, been accused of having “diarrhea of the mouth…it just runs…”,
and been told (my personal favorite in the echelons of ignorance) that
“a submissive wife is a quiet and unheard wife”.
That one garnered a quick-witted sarcastic retort which did not exactly produce a godly response.
I do some volunteer work which involves meeting in a Board Room to check in with executives.
In the last month, I have started to notice that within that setting, I have a “Professional Opinion” and a “Personal Opinion”.
I am truly grateful for the chance to serve in an environment where both opinions are valued highly.
At home lately, James and I have been caught up in a cycle of disagreements.
It was frustrating. I felt that my opinions and feelings were being ignored, and he felt attacked by my opinions and feelings.
I met with a friend recently so that she could give me “outside” eyes into our struggle.
***Note of caution. This was NOT a bash-my-spouse meeting. It was an intentional and heartfelt plea for someone who is not going to necessarily take my “side” in things. I wanted an honest opinion and honest advice from a woman who would tell me directly and kindly if I was out of line. I sincerely wanted to see what was causing the friction in my relationship with my husband.Because I sought an unbiased opinion, I avoided any family members, or anyone who I felt would be clouded by their loyalty to me.***
So, there we were. I began to re-tell her some of the conversations that we had had, and also how dumbfounded I was that James felt hammered sometimes by my attempts to explain my perspective so that he could understand where I was coming from.
She looked at me and said, “Gracie, do you tell him everything about how you feel or do you tell him the main point about how you feel?”
I answered, “He’s my best friend. I tell him everything so that I don’t hold anything back from him.”
She leaned forward a bit, and gently said, “Do you remember the story about the angel Gabriel visiting Mary the mother of Jesus? Do you remember how it describes what Mary did after the angel had spoken to her? ‘Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ “
“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”
“It’s okay to hold things in your heart and pray them over, just you and God. It’s not dishonest, it’s wise.”
Since that discussion, I apologized to James for not discerning what was important to tell him, for overwhelming him with an unintentional deluge of blinding emotions and opinions to sort through.
I began to pray through how I feel, to ask for wisdom in seeing why I feel that way, and also to ask for discernment about whether or not I truly need to feel heard about it…or if it’s simply a situation where I am grumpy and just want to wench about things.
When we were first dating, I was aware that a single man doesn’t want to spend time with a grumbling and negative woman.
Over time, I got comfortable with James. It’s great that I trust him enough to tell him my thoughts; but I forgot to respect the fact that as a man who loves me, he deeply desires to see me happy.
When I complain, it can easily convey the message that he failed to keep me happy.
The truth is that I am overwhelmingly happy, I just wanted verbal affirmation that he hasn’t stopped cherishing my feelings.
So now, I write him a note and try to phrase it positively.
For example, instead of a paragraph about how I feel that our schedule is too packed for us to be alone together, I try to simply say something like, “I really enjoy being alone, just the two of us. We haven’t done that yet this week, I have free time on Tuesday after dinner…would you please take me out of the house so I can catch up with my hot husband?”
It seems a bit awkward at times, but he genuinely wants to spend time with me too, and this is a kind way for me to ask him for what I would like while also being aware of his feelings.
Additionally, writing down my thoughts has served to give me a filter for my words, so that I don’t unintentionally offend him.
It gives me time for clarity. so that I can define what the real issue is.
I love my James.
He matters to me.
It seems only natural that his feelings should matter to me as well.