When Tempers Flare (Part I)

QUINOA

Nothing spurs me on more than interacting with a wife and mother who “gets it”.  Notice I didn’t say, “always gets it right”.  It’s just that she recognizes that something needs to change in the communication with her husband.  And if this mom had teenagers, I’m guessing she would become painfully aware of how communication can get out of control when her kids frustrate the heck out of her.

My words of advice and encouragement to all of you who have children is learn this skill now!  And know that wherever you are in the journey, it isn’t too late.

This dear friend sent a Facebook message when she was hurting.  The fight was over, but the words continued to sting.

Still reeling from the conflict she shares her heart:

What do we do when communication fails? I’m not looking for a judge’s ruling. I see both sides clearly and I know now where we went off-road.

“You’re not the boss of me.” “I don’t report to you.” “Your head is thick.” “Stop acting like a martyr.” “I’m not doing anything wrong.” “You half-assed what I asked of you.”

This is real. Knives straight to the heart because of what…miscommunication. This is why a happy marriage falls to ruin. We are human. We make many, many mistakes. We say things we shouldn’t and hurt loved ones in the process. Our blood boils over and we lose rationality.

My heart aches for her.  When tempers flare and the adrenaline starts pumping, most of us gush out words with venom. Somewhere within us that saber-toothed tiger aggression unleashes and we have no idea where it came from until it’s too late.  It is amazing how when the tension dies down and time settles the dust, we are able to see “where we went off-road” as this woman so eloquently describes.

If you are like me, you’ve been in the situation that this woman describes, oh, so many times.  Personally, I didn’t know how to reign it in.  All I knew was that I needed to make it stop. When anger welled up inside me I seemed to have a faulty gauge that couldn’t tell when I was about to blow!

And then came that one definable moment.

It was a teenager moment.  A definitive point in time where I was bound and determined that this teen would obey me!  Sarcastic words from a child determined to get their way  drove my anger gauge to boiling.  As they reached for the in-home phone that was mounted on the wall, after I had explicitly said “you may not call someone to come get you”, I was determined in my heart to win the battle!  As this teen lunged for the phone, I reached it first.  Thinking it would easily slip off the wall bracket, I proceeded to rip it from the wall.

Horror gripped my heart.  My teen was not the only one out of control, so was I!

Now, mind you, I realize that these were not misused words here on my part.  The vocal venom was purely from the mouth of my child.  But I was participating!  I was reacting to the aggression.

As I crumpled to the floor in disbelief, holding the phone, tears streaming down my cheeks in shock at my reaction, my teen marched out the front door in the dark, pouring rain.  The realization that I could bring such ugly hatred to win at all cost with a child that I loved dearly sent me on a path to try to understand how I could even begin to think about behaving in such a despicable way.

And that was the problem!

I wasn’t thinking.

I had not predetermined the boundaries in my mind to set myself up for success during these trying times.  I didn’t know where the line was that should never be crossed.  I didn’t understand the need to recognize the signs my body went through before I reached that boiling point.  And the truth is that if I had learned those skills before I had tweens and teens, I would have been better equipped to handle that definable moment that would have negated the need for drywall repair and the purchase of a new phone.

So how is it that some women have the ability to dodge the landmines and pitfalls of conflict that are naturally part of marriage and parenting without being a doormat?  What tool is in their tool boxes that allows them to not feel the sting of  those hurtful daggers thrown from a husband or angry teen?  How do they manage to “suck it up” and not return evil for evil?  How can they turn the scorn that they most likely feel and calm the situation enough to have rational dialogue?

The bottom line is that how we manage conflict determines the level of trust and intimacy we create in our homes.

Stay tuned to my next post to learn the tools of successful communication so that knives will not pierce the hearts of those you love.

“Let go…and let God,”

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