I have the privilege of a number of close relationships where the intimate details of interactions are shared with me, often over coffee.
This is one of them.
Consent’s been given to share it with you. Discussion’s ensued. I’m sure there will be more. Just so you know, this woman has been actively respecting her husband for over 15 years. Her husband is also frequently angry and aggressive in communication with her and their kids, regardless of her calm approach. Some consider his behaviors verbally abusive.
The teen’s father walked in and caught the end of the conversation. She was finishing a chore from earlier in the day, that of folding the laundry. Their son sat on the couch.
“So you’re being contrary and disrespectful when you disagree that way. It’s one thing to ask a question to get more information, and another to be sarcastic and challenging when you do it. Does that make sense?” she gently said to the boy.
“Okay. I see that,” the boy replied.
“So he’s being contrary?” asked the dad.
“Yes,” she replied.
There was a pause. She kept folding clothes.
She sensed her husband chewing on the conversation he’d had with her earlier that morning. She had asked him a question and he’d responded aggressively, defensive. His response, like so many other times, was unnecessary, harsh, and unkind. It hurt. “I didn’t deserve that,” she had said softly.
“What are you talking about?!” he had quipped.
“Are you angry at me? I might be wrong, but you seem really angry at me,” she’d replied.
“I don’t know why you say that! I’m not angry!” he retorted.
The teen had interjected himself into the situation. “Then stop biting her head off,” he said.
“I’m not!” he replied, indignantly.
“You may not see it yourself, but everyone else around you does, and it hurts. I’d like it to stop,” she said, leaving the room and the clothes.
Back to the scene with the teen…
“Are you ever contrary?” her husband asked her, raising his chin, his tone challenging her.
Tell the truth…
“Yes, I am,” she said.
All of the truth…
“And it probably feels to you like I am increasingly more so lately,” she continued, gently.
“And why is that?” he inquired, scowling.
Stick to the facts… the truth…
“I’m tired of being disrespected. I’m speaking up sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes. This morning was one of them,” she said.
“I spent all of last night and this morning doing things for you. Things you asked me to do. Doesn’t that count for anything? There’s no making you happy,” he said.
“Those things weren’t for me. They were for our family, specifically for the kids, too. It’s part of your responsibilities as a parent here. And I appreciated them and I thanked you. But just because you do them, that doesn’t entitle you to treat people poorly,” she responded.
“Nothing I do counts for anything,” he retorted angrily.
“That is not true,” she stated calmly. “The two aren’t related. Like just because I do your laundry as part of my responsibilities, that doesn’t mean I get off the hook for treating others respectfully or kindly. Doing my job and being kind and respectful aren’t related. One doesn’t negate the need for the other,” she said.
She sensed herself starting to get emotional.
Another child came in the room, and the conversation was over for the time being.
She turned and started folding the laundry again.
I am thankful for this opportunity to dialogue with you. Even more thankful you are on the journey with us.
Love to you,
What did she do right? What could she have done better? Is anything Biblical happening or not? Is it over?