What happened was silly. I was downstairs and opened a bill. Since my wife handles our bills, I ran upstairs to discuss it with her. I bounded into the room where she was engrossed on the computer. She was re-watching a 600+ slide show of wedding photos to find a particular photo. I interrupted her and when she waved me off, I did not take the clue and told her we could handle this quickly.
Unfortunately, I ignored and flustered her, causing her to lose her place and end the slide show. She was upset and told me so.
I justified myself.
She reiterated her disappointment.
I weakly said, “Sorry.”
She explained how she felt, and the inconvenience I’d caused.
I said, “Don’t freak out.”
Things got worse. Duh!
The conflict was growing and I stood there defending myself in my heart, looking blandly at her, while thinking about how often we have this stupid disagreement. Finally I zipped my lip and went downstairs.
When I sat in my chair I thought, That is about the 1,948th time we’ve had that exchange.
I began a conversation with God that went something like this.
God, why does that happen so much? I meant well, but then I offended her, then I hurt her, then I made it worse.
The thought God gave me in return was this: Jeff, you’re more upset that you had the conflict than you are that you inconvenienced her. And you’re more upset that you had the conflict than that you hurt her feelings by defending yourself and showing no real empathy. You always want her to adjust and accept you. You ask for less of these instances of offense and conflict, but you should be asking Me to help you change. You need to want to not hurt her more than you want to not feel bad that you messed up.
Wow … That led to a very introspective and intense prayer time, and a decision. I aimed to change so that I could be a better apologizer, be less defensive, and truly be more interested in Stacy’s feelings than my own.
I went upstairs, got down on a knee next to her, and told her I was wrong to not apologize fully at first. I was wrong not to want to hear from her how I had inconvenienced her. I was wrong to defend myself. I did not care for her feelings well, and I want to.
I concluded with four things: “I was wrong. I am sorry. Will you please forgive me? I want to change.”
Stacy teared up in a good way and swiftly loved me back with her forgiveness, her own apology, and a hug.
Excerpted from Facing the Blitz, copyright © 2015 by Jeff Kemp. Used with permission of Bethany House Publishers.
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1. Read "Men Should be Investors, Not Consumers," by Jeff Kemp.
2. Listen to Jeff Kemp on FamilyLife Today® as he talks about “Marriage Under the Shadow of the NFL" and purchase his book, Facing the Blitz.
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