In one of those crazy everyday happenings, I dropped a glass bowl while drying it with a hand towel. It shattered but thankfully, it stayed pretty much in my small, galley-like kitchen which meant clean-up wouldn’t be a big chore.
Because Greg does all the weekly vacuuming here, it’s natural for him to be on clean-up duty. I let him know I broke the bowl and needed his help. I was in the middle of baking two different items, in my socks, no shoes, as is usual, and needed to continue on. There was no time out while the clean-up happened. That being said, at 65, I know a thing or two about broken glass. You need to be careful so you don’t cut yourself. Therefore, it is imperative to be cautious while wearing socks near the broken glass. It’s really a no-brainer.
…was that I was in the middle of thickening the broth on some homemade creamy chicken soup when this happened. I felt I couldn’t just walk away during the vacuuming. I decided to stick around, turn down the heat, and be nearby should anything else require my immediate attention.
While taking care of that, Greg happened to be using the handheld vacuum to get under the cabinets and it seemed there were still a few obvious pieces of glass on the floor that were in my way. So, I stooped down, picked them up, and tossed them in the trash.
And that opened the gates to things from Greg such as “I’m not done yet. I’ll get it.” While that’s what he said with his mouth, what I heard in his tone was that I was being a complete idiot for picking up the glass by hand when he stood ready to take care of things his own way.
What followed was an eyeroll from him along with a tsk-tsk of being fed up with me and how stupid and foolish I was to not let him finish.
So, in my best kindergarten voice (or grown up angry woman voice) I retorted, “I’m going to write a blog about this.” And that’s just what I’m doing. Boy, do I feel better already.
In hindsight, I see many things that went wrong. (1) I broke a glass bowl. (2) It just happened to be in the middle of a cooking session. (3) I called for Greg’s help rather than do it myself because we’ve fallen into that pattern of him cleaning up my messes. (4) He has his way of doing things which often is different from mine. Not better, not worse. Just different. (5) I needed to attend to my cooking and didn’t clearly convey that. (6) Greg was being protective and didn’t want me to get hurt. (7) Greg didn’t realize how important it was to me to finish my soup. (8) I was offended that Greg thought I would be careless and possibly cut myself while picking up those two pieces. (9) I also felt severely judged that in his eyes he thought my behavior in picking up glass was idiotic. (10). Greg probably thought he could do a better job cleaning up than I could. (11) And that definitely bothered me. (12) I wasn’t seeing his perspective. (12) He certainly wasn’t seeing mine.
Whew, makes me tired thinking about all this.
So, what’s the lesson?
Well…I don’t think it’s a particularly deep one. In hindsight, I’m not even sure we could have avoided the tiff. It all happened so quickly. After all, there was indeed lots of broken glass on the floor right in the middle of my work area. And my work couldn’t easily stop at that point, but neither could the clean-up be put on hold.
What did happen, which was good (for me) was that I calmed myself down by simply putting on paper what I was feeling inside. After my brief two-sentence outburst, I didn’t say anything else until after I cleared my thoughts by starting this post.
I was able to then approach Greg with both a thanks for coming quickly to my request for help and an apology for getting upset during the process. I really don’t think either of us did much wrong. I believe the biggest issue was in our perceptions of what each other was thinking. I perceived Greg thought I was being idiotic and he perceived I was (he admitted so later). But in reality, it was just one of those things that happens with couples who have been together a long time (45 years in our case!).
The horrible thing is that often we want to wallow in being the offended party rather than fixing what went wrong. Even after writing the first draft of this post yesterday, it was difficult to go tell Greg how much I appreciated him. I wanted him to come to me apologizing for his own judgment of me. But when we play that game, where we are more content to remain in our misery rather than have a brief discussion and move on, we really let our spiritual enemy win. And that truly is a lose/lose situation for the couple.
I really hate being in discord with Greg but the reality is life happens, we say things we don’t mean to say (or maybe we do), and then after offense has been taken and hurt experienced, we can make it worse by sometimes refusing to do what will truly make it better…apologize.
…that in the future I’ll be even quicker to try to fix things, to apologize, to make things right. Despite loving my man with all of my heart, we will continue to disagree on things. We will continue to get on each other’s nerves. But my hope is that I will be more and more willing to put down my flesh (let go of my offenses) as quickly as possible and restore the peace between us.
At this most wonderful time of year, we may find stress coming into play even more than usual. Let’s be on guard and be aware so that when those offenses arise, we can swiftly forgive without allowing them to fester.
Parting thoughts, from God’s Word.
Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1)
Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. (Ephesians 4:26-27, The Message)
Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31 The Message)