“Hon, I’m thinking about writing about Nina’s next dare: Me and My Big Mouth,” I said, pausing to get the courage to talk about how we fight.
Miscommunication, fights, verbal tirades, disagreements, whatever you want to call them, I hate them.
I take a deep breath to continue trying to get it all out before the need arises to take another breath, “It’s about how sometimes I may start a conflict through my words, my mouth; or rather, how I could have avoided a conflict by keeping my big yap shut.”
There. I said it.
“Yeah, you don’t do that. You don’t start fights like that.”
Exhaling, I continue to the harder reality. “I keep everything in, don’t I?”
In my family of origin, verbal hostility dominated our family culture. In fact, my freshman year in college, I used to have slur-slinging matches with some of the fellas in my co-ed dorm. I thought I was cool that I could–on occasion–out-sling a couple of them.
It’s how I survived, being tough.
As a result, I don’t always trust my emotions or the thoughts that initially volunteer themselves on the springboard of my tongue.
“Do I talk to you about problems or things that need to change or complaints that I have?”
Another question asked without intensive thought.
Nodding his head with a gentle expression, he said, “yeah…”
Knowing the accountant in him is thumbing the catalogs of conversations we’ve had that he’s stored in his mental database, I ask him, “How do I talk to you about those things?”
Another deep breath. As I try to think back through our conversations about trouble and hardship and unmet expectations, I begin to panic. I can’t remember.
Relational amnesia has set in.
“Well,” he started, and the anxiety started to settle through my eyes like black snowflakes. I’ve been holding my breath and not blinking.
“Well, you talk about things. You usually bring it up nicely. I get annoyed sometimes because it’s about stuff I have to do; it’s nothing about you or the way you said it.”
I slip in a breath and keep my eyes on his face, thinking and filtering through his memory of us and real talk. Whereas, I brace for the onslaught of hateful language I’ve internalized as a young girl, which is never coming out of my tenderhearted husband. It’s just not in him.
“It’s kind of like how you did Friday night. It just kinda comes out after you’ve been reading a book, doing Bible study, or doing something else. You just kinda…talk.”
Friday I was a mess, emotionally and physically.
Thursday’s mail brought my copy of Mary DeMuth’s “Not Marked,” and Friday I spent most of the day weeping and reading as I finished it.
By the time I got to talk to my husband, I crumbled under tears as I bore the raw, unprocessed thoughts of how the sexual abuse of my childhood twists and thrashes and bludgeons within my thought life.
My mind is not a safe place.
Its natural byproducts–my unchecked thoughts–reek of rancor, aggression, insecurities, and self-hatred.
You can’t expect healing to happen magically to you, slipped under your pillow by the Healing Fairy. It has be to pursued. You cannot and will not heal in passivity,” (DeMuth Not Marked, 16).
In my marriage, I may not struggle with outwardly spewing venom upon him. I may not assault him with a barrage of complaints or of plot-less stories that exhaust already fatigued ears. Or nitpick him with a honey-do-who-hasn’t-done-what-needs-to-be-done list.
But. I struggle.
Me and my big mouth struggle to be friends.
I struggle to voice, choking on internalized lies: I’m not worthy to be heard; My needs aren’t valuable or worth mentioning; You’ve already brought that issue up and things haven’t changed, so get over it!
Healing takes time and active pursuit.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12.2).
Renew in me and my mind an accurate awareness of who I am as a wife, a mother, a friend.
Teach me how to worship you, Father, by softening and separating my lips to speak my needs first to You, then to my gentle husband.
My gentle husband, who waits me back to health.
Today, I’m accepting the dare to worship the Lord and to honor my husband through voicing my heart, in real time, with my own lips.
What’s your next step?
All marriages are different and have different needs. As you think about your styles and patterns of communication, ask the Lord to show you one area in which you can improve. Our Father loves each of us back to fullness and health. It’s a promise He’s given us through His Son.
Not married? Think about the last conflict you had with a friend, family member, colleague. Consider how the Lord could be using those moments of friction to draw you to Him, to refine you, to love you to fullness and health. Love wastes not a thing.