Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In the Boxing Ring

Now, I bet a bunch of you might think I'm referring to American Idol's rather cheesy promo attempts at the David face-off.... I'm not, but just for the sake of asking, who's your pick and who do you think will win?

Nope, John and I had our own boxing match last night. I write this for anyone out there that thinks we never have sharp words with each other, etc..... I'm proud of our marriage and our relationship, but John and I both admit that we are both very selfish beings and that inevitably leads to the occasional blow-up.

From the beginning of our marriage, we've enforced some psuedo-rules to our arguments. I wouldn't say they are so much rules as they are "markers" for who's to win. If we flat-out say lies, curse, use hyperbole exaggerations - it's then clear that that person is in the wrong, so essentially, the other person has "scored" despite the validity of the original argument. Sounds silly, I know, but I suppose John and I have both heard enough sermons and lessons that we "know better" than to let the heat of the moment and pain of emotions to destroy each other too much.

However, a lot can be said within those parameters that still very much hurts. I am not a confrontational person (many of these blog readers are nodding their heads saying, "amen"), but with John, it's not a struggle. Actually, it is a struggle for me to get "this thing off my chest" in such a way as to gently encourage him and not wound him. But, then that selfishness enters in - and I disregard the second half of that above sentence.

I didn't realize until the end of our "fight" last night - that part of the reason I was frustrated with John was my inability to teach Brayden the concept I was struggling with in my spouse. I was tired of saying the same thing over and over to Brayden - not seeing improvements, so I displaced that to my husband and took a few "oversights" and blew them out of proportion. The fight ended last night when I actually called Brayden into the room with tears in my eyes and a shaky voice and told him that I desperately need him to "step up". I think that's what he needed - to see that his actions (or lack of) do have ramifications on this family over the long run, and a simple grin accompanied by a sheepish "I'm sorry" needs to turn into an honest attempt at trying harder. (And, lest you think I broke his "Otter-spirit" he was just playfully bonking me with his Duck mini pillow - and actually managed to whack me on the back of the neck right at the source of this week's many headaches - which I was finally getting control of. Headache is now already back - but I'll take it if it means I have a boy that is smiling and also very positive this morning....)

Throughout the argument, Mikayla sat near me on the couch while I faced John on the other couch. She got to hear all of it. Now, I can imagine this being an alarming thing to some of my readers, but I can't say I regret that. First of all, it keeps John and I appropriate in our words. If we upset Mikayla with our words or tone, we've gone beyond "discussing to find a solution" and hit mean and nasty. Secondly, Mikayla recognizes that disagreements are part of relationships. It may not be fun to witness (and she could have left anytime), but it's life. We explained to her in the midst of it that things were okay. We told her what this sort of fight could look like for other families and how we are very careful to not use words that would damage each other. Finally, it made her realize how very upsetting listening to arguing can be - and I turned it right around to how much it hurts me to listen to her and Brayden argue.

At one point, when John was bringing up the last time I "dumped on him" and I challenged how long ago that really was, she came in with a piece of paper for each of us that said, I RMBR A TIME (I remember a time). Apparently, it was Mikayla's way of exposing truth to us. When we stopped and asked her, she said she remembered when we argued at Sunriver back at Christmas time. I was pleased that was nearly 6 months ago and she could understand that that is a long time between arguments and shouldn't worry about us. It was a very "Mother Mikayla" thing to do though, quite precious.

So, there you go. Certainly no winner to last night's bout. John and I both went to bed with heavy hearts and hurt feelings, but also woke up to a renewed understanding and desire to to work on the areas that we are struggling in, with the Lord's help.

As we will be heading to Sunriver on Friday with three other families, hopefully, this allowed us to get our "junk" out of our system and therefore enjoy the vacation without tension with each other. If not, we'll do our best to "fight fair" and be better for it in the long run.....


Anonymous said...


Speaking from my own experience, as long as the arguments are controlled and civil, etc. etc. as you did, I agree it is not a bad thing for a child to witness. My pastor used to say, Just make sure they see the "making up" part as well! Well, not all of it...

My parents never, ever fought (I know now it's because my non-confrontational dad will just roll over and let Mom steamroll him). The one time they did I was silently anxious for days, convinced they were going to divorce.

Since I had a gang of non-confrontational friends :) I didn't have to face that issue until marriage, and I had no skills for arguing. Since I chose a "safe" non-confrontational mate it was hell to try to work through issues. I wish I had had some sort of skills taught to me by someone. I am now realizing that an absence of emotions is just as dysfunctional as the overabundance of emotions in the other kinds of homes, the chaotic and explosive ones. I have all the classic symptoms of the firstborn overachieving perfectionist who dabbles with anorexia in her teen years and is sexually active at a young age, from an emotionally repressed family!

My good friend Courtney faces everything head on and she has been so good for me! So many things I silently suffer over, that she tells me later are pure nonsense. She always says, "Oh, Heather, you silly girl. Why didn't you just say something to me?"

That's my two cents' worth. Please continue to pray God will send me a sexy hunk so I can practice modeling Godly arguments to my children. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

My name is John Riley, and I approve this message :)

(Sponsored by the John RIley HPE campaign -- that is the "Humble Pie Eating Campaign")

Stephietoo said...

I love you guys so much! John, you are a riot!!! Have fun in Sunriver; we will miss you guys!

Colie said...

Thanks for sharing! It's nice to see that an argument in front of children can be effective and good! I think it is of value because they need to see real life! It's great! Of course it doesn't feel great but it's teaching.

Ugh - you must be tired! I'm exhausted after an argument and add on your headache - oh man. I'll be praying for you as you head to sunriver. So much fun but can be draining as well.

Tell Traig and Michael (early and late) Happy Birthday for me!