My dad was a kind, powerful, productive man. He thought it would be fun to learn to say, “Hurry up!” in as many languages as possible. It put pressure on me to “hurry up.” I was the youngest—and wanted to stay in Daddy’s good graces. He left an impression on me. Always be on time. Never make anyone wait. As a result, people don’t usually wait for me and I don’t usually wait for other people either.
My mother didn’t know how much time affected me. She was just being a mom. The first couple of years of college, I came home on weekends. I was there all weekend and was available for conversation. But on Sunday nights when I was ready to go back to campus, she seemed to wait to the last minute to ask all her questions. It was like she had an entire cache of last-minute questions that she saved for this moment. And I felt stuck—and wound up leaving for campus later than I wanted.
In Love Talk, Les and Leslie Parrott discuss four personal safety factors that shut a person down. One of those factors is time. I value time. I fear wasting it. When others are not conscious or respectful of my time, I get restless and want to leave the conversation.
Stepping on Toes
Concern about time can affect your relationships—especially your marriage. Roxann, who is quite the storyteller, loves giving me all the details. Early in our marriage, she would tell me about her day, and I would give her a hand signal indicating I wanted her to hurry up. I’d interrupt with, “What’s the bottom line?” Roxann, who craves approval, would shut down. (See Roxann’s blog post about approval.) In effect, we were “stepping on each other’s toes.” She was stepping on my need to protect my time and I was stepping on her need to feel approved.
When I have a deadline to be out the door, I wind up accelerating my pace—taking long strides as I rush from one end of the house to the other. Roxann always seems to have a batch of last-minute questions she wants me to answer (just like Mom did many years ago). I don’t always use my gracious tone in answering them. I remember Roxann pressing her back against the hall wall to stay out of my way. She tells me she feels like I am mad at her in these situations.
We needed to understand each other’s areas of fear and sensitivity and come up with a better way of handling the situation. I learned to stop for a moment and, in the most gracious tone I can muster, tell Roxann I am not mad at her. I am only in “production mode.” This seems to help immensely. She reciprocates by understanding my frustration and trying to ask her questions before I needed to rush out the door.
What are the areas in which you and your spouse “step on each other’s toes”? We cover this topic in the section on Wounds in our book The Marriage Dance: Moving Together as One available on Amazon.
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