I was fairly certain that Ted, my husband of a mere 56 days, had just called me fat.
Okay, maybe not in so many words. But rather than soothe the insecurity I’d expressed to him about the 10 pounds I’d gained since our wedding, he did the unthinkable. He dared to travel the road most seasoned husbands know better than to even set foot on.
His exact words?
“Well, maybe you need to change your diet.”
And to make matters worse, he uttered this suggestion on Valentine’s Day. A day I’d hoped would be a sweet one, ended up being a very sour one indeed.
Yep, our first V-Day as husband and wife is recorded in our marital history book as our worst. By far.
Looking back, though, I see that Ted’s proverbial foot in the mouth didn’t have to spoil that particular February 14th. A fight didn’t need to follow. If I had chosen to react differently to Ted’s words, we could have rescued that day gone wrong.
How Reactions Help Rescue a Day Gone Wrong
My reactions aren’t just important on Valentine’s Day, though. How I respond to Ted’s words and actions on any day — whether it’s an anniversary, a birthday, or a normal, average weekday morning — makes a difference in the day-to-day of our relationship.
I’d guess it’s the same for you in your marriage. And not just for wives like me, but for husbands like Ted, too. Because let’s face it, men aren’t the only ones who choose their words poorly at times. We women are equally guilty.
So how could I have rescued that day from going wrong? Here are two things I now do differently to rescue—and even prevent—a day gone wrong.
2 Ways to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong
1. Believe the Best
Often the things I’m offended by aren’t things Ted intends as offensive.
Take his comment about my diet. His subtext wasn’t, “Yeah, you sure are fat,” even though that’s what I heard. The truth was that, as an eager new husband, Ted wanted to see me happy. My extra poundage was making me unhappy. In his mind, my complaint translated to, “Please fix the problem.”
If I’d stopped to consider that my Mr. Fix-It Man was trying to be helpful, not hurtful, I could have interpreted his words through the proper filter and determined not to be offended.
2. Extend Grace
An offense doesn’t leave room for grace. When I’m operating in hurt and indignation — like I was that day — I don’t give Ted the benefit of the doubt. But imagine if I had.
Our Valentine’s Day could have gone well if I’d reminded myself that he was still new to this husband thing. That, as it is for all of us, learning to be a good spouse is a process of trial and error. Patience and grace, rather anger, would have been a gentler way to help him understand that most of the time I don’t want a quick fix.
Rescue One Day at a Time
Seventeen years later, Ted is now a member in good standing in the Seasoned Husbands Club. Well, for the most part. He at least knows better than to suggest a change in my diet, that is, not without offering to change his too.
And in those moments when he does still choose his words poorly, I’m a whole lot quicker to dismiss offense and embrace grace. Thankfully, he does the same for me in my not-so-great-moments.
As a result, many a day-off-to-a-rough-start has been salvaged over the years. I hope you can say the same. If not, maybe today can be your first of many.
Welcome to Ungrind!
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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-- Arlene Pellicane, co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
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