by Gigi Graham Tchividjian
He walked out, closing the door firmly behind him. I heard the car drive away, and with a heavy, aching heart, I leaned against the closed door. Hot, angry tears filled my eyes,
spilled over, and ran down my cheeks. How had it happened? How had things built to this point? Neither of us had intended our little discussion to develop into a heated disagreement. But it was late, and we had both experienced a hard day.
Stephan had risen early to drive for the car pool. Then he had seen several patients with difficult, heartbreaking problems. An emergency had taken up his lunch break, and he had been behind schedule for the rest of the afternoon. When he finally left the office, he hit a traffic jam on the freeway and arrived home tense and tired to a wife with seven children, all demanding his attention.
I, too, had endured a difficult day after a sleepless night with the baby. Besides the normal responsibilities involved with running a home, rain had kept us confined indoors all day. It was humid, and the children were more quarrelsome than usual, amusing themselves by picking on each other. Between settling arguments and soothing hurt feelings, I managed to get dinner on the table. But I hadn’t had time to comb my hair or freshen my makeup, and Stephan could sense my frustration when he came in.
Finally, when the kitchen was clean, the small children bathed and tucked into bed, and the teenagers talked out, Stephan and I found ourselves alone in our bedroom, trying to discuss a minor problem. It soon blew out of proportion. Angry feelings were vented, words spoken that we did not mean, and then—a slammed door and retreating car.
I slumped into a chair, dissolving into tears of discouragement and disappointment in myself. How long was it going to take to learn my lesson? Late at night, especially after a wearisome day, is not the time for arguing, but for comfort, encouragement, and loving.
As I sat there, I remembered that I had been so busy trying to handle the home front, keeping everything and everyone under control, that I had not spent time with the Lord that day. I had even failed to pray for Stephan. No wonder things had not gone well.
I glanced in the mirror and saw red, puffy eyes, no makeup, and hair in disarray. I saw lines of fatigue and tension where there should have been tenderness and love, and I understood Stephan’s desire to get away and cool off.
I fell on my knees beside the chair, asking the Lord to forgive me and to fill me with His Holy Spirit so I could be to Stephan all he had ever dreamed. I asked for the Lord’s strength, His sensitivity, His wisdom, so I could juggle my own schedule, the demands of my home and children, and still have time to meet my husband’s needs when he came home from the day’s work. Then I added a timid P. S. asking Him to give Stephan a change of heart, too.
I felt peace and a sudden refreshing. I got up, washed my face, added a little color to my cheeks and lips, combed my hair, lavished perfume on myself, and climbed into bed to wait.
Before long, I heard the front door open and familiar footsteps in the brick hallway. Our bedroom door opened quietly and Stephan stood there, his tired face and kind, loving eyes drawing me like a magnet. I flew into his arms. Later, our loving erased the last traces of frustration and anger. Clinging to each other as we fell into a much‐needed sleep, I couldn’t help wondering why we hadn’t thought of this in the first place.
Conflict in marriage is inevitable: You can’t live with someone every day of your life without occasional friction. In too many of today’s marriages, however, fights are the rule rather than the exception.
A sixth‐grade teacher shared with me the results of a writing project assigned to her class. She asked the kids to complete a series of sentences that began with the phrase “I wish….” She was shocked and saddened by the response. Instead of writing about toys, animals, and trips to theme parks, twenty of the thirty kids made reference to the breakup of their families or conflict at home.
Let’s talk this next week about what we can do to reduce conflict in marriage and to make sure that when we do disagree, it’s something worth arguing about.
- James C Dobson