Going after peace not war…

Holly & Garrett's sendoff

Holly & Garrett’s sendoff

Fifteen years ago I was the mother of three children, and married to a fairly passive pessimist. I lived a hit-or-miss lifestyle. (Meaning I lived without much intentionality. I acted on how I felt, when I felt it, without much regard to consequences.) Because of the constant conflict of an optimist living with a pessimist, I walked around from episode to episode of frustration. When frustration or disappointment would arise, here’s the steps I took to process the emotions:

  • Immediately express my feelings.
  • Continue to express my feelings until I felt relieved of frustration.
  • Chronically recall my frustration and remind those involved of my disappointment and feelings.
  • Forgive only when I couldn’t remember what frustrated me, or forgive only when some new frustration replaces the old.

So how’d that work out for me? I became divorced after 15 years of marriage. Was how I dealt with my frustrations the cause of my divorce? Well, no. But I can assure you it didn’t help either.

Living an Intentional Lifestyle instead of a Hit-or-Miss Lifestyle

 

frustrated momSwim season is over but there was a day in June when I had to have our daughter at her swim meet before 7 am. Yes…7 am on a Saturday morning in the middle of June! Not exactly easy, but somehow grace was abounding, because we were on time. Leaving this early left my husband (who is time challenged) to get to the meet on his own. Time challenged means he is notoriously late. He’s been that way as long as I’ve known him. I know it. I’ve lived with it for over 10 years. And yes, it’s a source of aggravation for me.

The meet started at 8:30 am. Maddie’s first event would be a little before 9:00 am. Since parking is awful at our pool, Randy need to ride his bike. I told him to leave by 8:30 so he wouldn’t miss her first event.

Well, as you can imagine, he missed her first event. And yes, I was extremely disappointed.

Here’s my natural reaction.

  • Be upset and ruin my morning.
  • As my husband arrives, show my frustration
  • Scold my husband in an attempt to relieve my frustration.

Yes, I was looking to not feel bad. Who wants to be angry? (Well some people thrive on it…I’m not one.) Some people choose to be angry, and that anger draws out past frustrations that didn’t get resolved–like my repeated frustration that my husband is chronically late.

Sometimes it’s hard not to get angry…especially when it involves my children. When it comes to my children, I am literally a Momma Bear, protecting her cubs.

So here’s how my hit-or-miss lifestyle would cope: My husband arrives, I greet him with a frown. Since it’s crowded, my scolding is public. His reaction is public. I don’t feel better. He’s obviously already aware that he’s late and feeling disappointed, but his reaction will be an immediate defensive response. Result: we both have a miserable time at the swim meet, the rest of the day will be strained. Our connection as a married couple has taken a huge hit.

So is it worth it? No!

Here’s how a loving and kind wife, who chases after peace could handle it.

  • Recognize my anger. Sometimes just acknowledging your frustration diffuses the emotion.
  • Determine the root of the anger. Is it really that awful, or is it a reaction to an underlying issue? If it is an underlying issue, a public swim meet is not the venue to discuss the problem. And discussing it in anger will not produce any positive results.
  • Determine if my anger is justified. If it is, then wait for a better time to discuss. “Walk away” and wait till you can discuss without emotions being intense.
  • Determine your outcome. What is it you want? An apology? Knowing he’s aware of his problem and promises to do better? An acknowledgement that he messed up? Once you know what outcome you want, rationally figure out the best way to get that outcome. A public and emotional confrontation is not an effective tool.
  • Ask yourself if your attitude will make your day better or worse?
  • Ask yourself if you are seeking peace?
  • Is it really worth losing my joy over this issue?
  • Anger and frustration is a choice. Sometime it sneaks up on you, but it’s still a choice to continue in a state of anger.

If you struggle with anger and feel unable to diffuse it, there are deeper issues going on. Are you trying to punish your mate with your anger? Let God take control of teaching your spouse. Pray for God to help him with his issues.

So what did I do? By delaying my reaction, I realized it wasn’t that big of a deal and I didn’t have to do anything. He was more than on time for her next meet. And my connection to my wonderful husband stayed intact.

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