A few days ago, I got irked with Edric when he didn’t respond to a question I asked him at the breakfast table.
“Would you like some crackers with your Brie cheese?”
Meanwhile, I was sitting right beside him, holding Catalina in my arms waiting for an answer. He finally responded to my question but in an annoyed sort of way. It turned out that he didn’t want any crackers.
“Then just say no. Just answer the question” was my reply and my tone was disrespectful. I was irritated.
I don’t know if it is a guy thing, but there are moments when Edric is zoned in and engaged and he cannot accommodate my questions. Instead of saying, “Can I answer you later?” He won’t respond at all, like he doesn’t hear me. Of course this bothers me. I’m sure he doesn’t mean to dismiss or ignore me, but it makes me feel unimportant.
My mom was so much better at using humor when my dad wouldn’t answer her questions. I remember that she would tease and say, “Earth to Peter…calling…earth to Peter.” Or, “Okay, I’m going to go jump off a building now…” (That one worked pretty well.)
My problem is I take it too personally and I tend to react when Edric doesn’t pay attention to me. Unfortunately, the whole incident with the Brie cheese happened while the kids were watching.
Edric didn’t appreciate my tone so he turned to me and said, “Don’t ever talk to me like that.” The correction came as a surprise because it was the first time he ever said that in front of the kids. I was doubly hurt. It didn’t make my own irritation okay, but I backed down and remained quiet. With the kids looking on, I thought it best not to say anything else.
Our very vocal Elijah jumped in and asked, “Why are you talking to each other like that?”
I didn’t answer. But Edric did. “Because your mom doesn’t like it when I don’t answer her.” (See! He knows that it bothers me!)
Edric’s heart softened when he sensed that Elijah was troubled. So he apologized for not answering me. I managed a “will you forgive me for my tone?” but the tension still lingered. I exited the dining table using Catalina as an excuse to head towards the bedroom.
Fifteen minutes later Edric came in and said we needed to talk about what happened. He told the kids to give us some privacy until we finished talking. They gave us our space.
We were able to discuss what went wrong. I repented and made a sincere apology for being disrespectful and Edric apologized once again for not answering my question.
When we saw our children, Edric assured them, “Mommy and daddy said sorry to one another.” He wanted them to know that everything was back to normal.
Elijah responded with a big smile. He said, “I am so glad. I feel sad when you guys fight because you are my parents. It makes me feel like crying when you are not okay.”
I thought it was a little bit dramatic for Elijah to add the “feel like crying” bit but God often uses his perspective to convict Edric and I of our example. He is a wonderful accountability partner to us. When we act and behave in ways that don’t please God, he will freely express his concern.
He even said, “You ask Edan and I to treat each other well. And when we don’t, you say, ‘Do you see mommy and daddy behaving that way toward each other?’ Well, you can’t ask that question if you don’t.” He was right. I had to say sorry to him, too.
Humble pie. It’s not always easy to listen to your 10-year old give you a lecture. But I appreciate Elijah’s heart.
Our children know that Edric and I have conflict from time to time. We may not always let them in on all our issues, but we don’t pretend that our marriage is perfect. When disagreements arise, we demonstrate conflict resolution to them. We show our children what it means to forgive, better ourselves, and come to a greater understanding of each other’s personalities and preferences. And, we assure them that we love one another and that we are committed to changing and improving to please God.
Edric and I may still have Brie Cheese moments in the future with our kids looking on. (Lord willing, less and less.) But, if we remember to resolve our issues properly, then our children can move on without a nagging, troubling feeling that steals their peace. They won’t have to worry that mom and dad are not in good terms. They can relax and enjoy their childhood, their relationships with one another and with us knowing all is well at home.