In Differences, Featured, Time to Make Your Marriage Dance, Wounds

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Reason #3: They Irritate, Inconvenience, Or Interrupt Us

“Can you help me with this project?” my husband calls from across the house. (Yes, I can. But I’m right in the middle of my own project.)

“The tea kettle is whistling. Will you turn it off for me?” (I could. But you are closer.)

The first few requests aren’t a problem. But with requests, three, four, and five, the irritation level starts to rise. I am tempted to protect my time and priorities by pretending I don’t hear him.

Lord, why am I irritated? What—specifically—am I feeling? Unimportant. I guess that’s it. Why does my husband assume his project is important and time-sensitive and mine isn’t?

Or, is it that he doesn’t notice that I’m elbow deep in meatloaf ingredients? I find that a little irritating, too. But why?

It’s the constant interruptions when I’m trying to get something done. My husband isn’t the first person who’s made me feel this way. My dad gave me a constant stream of requests when I was trying to finish my homework. It made me feel irritated and unimportant.

Is that why my spouse’s interruptions irritate me, Lord?—because I’m still holding a grudge against my dad? Do I still have some more forgiving to do there?

Now that I think about it, maybe I’m exhibiting a little arrogant pride. Yes. I’m in the middle of something, but why is my project more important than my husband’s need? And even if he is closer to the kettle, it’s not a bad thing for me to show a little love by getting it for him—and maybe making his tea for him while I’m at it.

If I am consumed with angry thoughts of how I’ve been slighted, I’m probably not thinking of constructive ways of solving the problem—like expressing that I’m in the middle of a project and asking whether the request is urgent or if it can wait.

As with Reason #1 (getting angry at my spouse because I feel he or she is being selfish) and Reason #2 (getting angry because I fear losing him or her), Reason #3 is self-focused. I’m looking at me, my needs, and my priorities.

Instead of sitting and stewing:

  1. Let your spouse know there is a problem. They may be completely unaware of it.
  2. Offer a solution. In this case, you can ask if the request can wait a little while.
  3. Ask God if this irritation goes back farther than the current situation and make sure you forgive the underlying offense.
  4. Consider the times you have interrupted your spouse. Did you realize you were doing it or did you do it without thinking? How does your spouse respond when the situation is reversed? The fact that you probably do it too may give you a little humility.
  5. If this is a common problem, set aside a time to talk about it.
  6. If you haven’t taken the time yet in your marriage to open lines of communication on serious or controversial subjects, do it now. The ability to put difficult subjects on the table and discuss them will greatly benefit your marriage. Remember that marriage partners are teammates pulling for a common goal—not adversaries fighting for their own goals.

This article was first published on The Marriage Dance blog on November 24, 2016.

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