According to my husband, I rarely apologize to him anymore. This news was presented to me one Friday night after our boys were finally in bed. The marathon nature of a bedtime routine can leave me feeling stripped and defeated. Add in the end of a long week and my fuse is rather short. After the third biting response, my husband decided to let me know how I was affecting him.
Initially, I was surprised that he said anything. Our lives feel like a battlefield daily, juggling the needs of our highly sensitive children. At times, he has felt like a place where I can dispense my energy in a safe, less hostile environment. This time, however, I had pushed too much and he was not going to let my responses slide. He wanted me to know exactly how he felt and as he did, it all began to feel like too much for me to hear.
As he shared, tears began to stream down my cheeks. The more he spoke, the more I began to shut down. He looked at me and then continued to share. “This is what you do every time. When I bring something up, you begin to cry and I stop.” All connection was lost at that point. I had no words that I desired to share about anything my heart or head were feeling in that moment.
What was I feeling? What is happening right now? I thought we were in this together. Do you even know what I’m carrying? If you had any idea how much I carry, you would never say all of this.
I have had rather extensive training in owning my part when it comes to conflict in relationships. Some has been by choice, but the majority has been something that I have learned from being held accountable for what I feel and believe and choosing to engage honestly when called to speak.
I believe that there is your truth, my truth, and THE truth, and our perception absolutely affects our reality.
The stories of our lives become the grid through which we view the world around us. We cannot help it, our story is woven into our hearts and our minds.
As I learn more about who I am and how I’ve responded to the good, the bad, and the ugly that life has held, I begin to see the “why”s and the “how”s a little more clearly. When looking back, there is something satisfying in learning more about myself and applying that knowledge to understand my actions and reactions. The introspection has been a valuable tool, especially when I am able to see the impact that my actions have on others and I honestly engage their hurt and disappointment with me.
Truth is, I still sin, a lot. I mess up. I say things that I shouldn’t. I blow it with my kids frequently and they are quick to point it out. It is both refreshing and humbling when my boys are able to tell me how my grown up temper tantrum has made them feel. Refreshing, humbling, and exhausting, because it happens a lot.
Somewhere along the way, I started to realize what a strong and good man I have in my husband. In our ten years of marriage, we have traversed many different terrains. The challenges have brought us closer together just as much as they have torn us apart at times. My husband has disappointed me. There are times when he is doesn’t understand the impact that his choices have on me. He does as much as he can, and sometimes it is not enough and I have been left to pick up the pieces. I know all of this to be true. At times, when my grace has run out, I let him know just exactly how I feel. By the way that I engage, I believe that he should just take it. And, he does. Until he doesn’t.
Sometimes, he gets exhausted by my request to have grace on me because of all that I am holding. At times, I am unaware of the impact of my choices on him. I push too hard and too far, hoping to make him what I need him to be. My justified responses still hurt regardless of if there is a reason why I do what I do.
I didn’t sleep well that Friday night. Lying in the bed early that next morning, my mind raced with the thoughts that I wanted to share regarding all the places where my responses felt justified. I wanted to unpack the weight of life as I prepared my apology. By the time my husband awoke I was prepared with what I wanted to say, although it was vastly different than what I thought I would share.
“I don’t understand all of what you were saying last night. What I do know, is that I was unkind in how I spoke to you and I hurt you greatly. I am sorry. Will you please forgive me?” His face softened and as he said yes, tears filled his eyes. “You are kind,” he responded, “which is why it feels important to let you know when you are not being kind.”
Forgiveness. A gift for him and for me.
Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.