We were in the middle of another fight. Screaming. Crying. Slamming doors. I just wanted him to listen to me, to understand how hurt I was. To hold me and stroke my hair and tell me how sorry he was.
Instead he was yelling. “You’re not LISTENING!”
Eventually we were too exhausted to fight anymore. In a hollow voice, I told him what he wanted to hear just to end the fight and go to bed. He knew I was faking it and said so. I refused to give anymore. We fell asleep on opposite sides of the bed. Uncomfortable. Broken. Lonely.
Ignored by a friend
Not too long after this, I was sitting at a friend’s kitchen table. We spoke of kids, cooking, and home decor. Slowly though, the conversation veered into dangerous waters. My friend began to tell me about a mutual acquaintance. She began to tell me things I was sure were shared in confidence.
I can’t remember what I said. I respected this woman. I was even a little in awe of her. I was surprised and disappointed that she would gossip. She had given me permission to hold her accountable, though, so I timidly addressed the sin.
She never heard me. She brushed off my mild caution and continued discussing the juicy details of another woman’s marriage troubles. I sat there in discomfort, tracing the wood grain of the table with my fingertips, unsure how to proceed.
My relationship with that woman changed that day. I now knew she was not a trustworthy confidant. It was painful. But something much more important and much more painful was happening within me.
Looking in a mirror
I had recently been to FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember. A huge theme of the weekend was listening. I remember thinking at the conference, “Yep. That’s the problem. He doesn’t listen.”
But God had been working on me since then. He was using my relationships with other women to show me my own heart. This last conversation with my gossiping friend brought it all together. That woman had earplugs, it seemed. She couldn’t hear my caution. As I considered those words, a resounding gong went off within me.
My husband’s voice was inside my head. “You’re not LISTENING,” it repeated over and over and over.
Suddenly I knew it was true. He may not be listening, but I finally understood I wasn’t either. I finally realized I couldn’t do a thing about his heart, but I could change mine. I remember waiting for Brian to get home that afternoon. I remember the pained, guarded look on his face as I asked him to talk with me.
“I haven’t been listening to you,” I told him. Slowly, I walked through a couple of his main complaints in our marriage. “I know you feel like you come last in my life—that I’m willing to drop everything for everyone but you—I’m really sorry. That’s not how I feel. But I know that’s how I treat you and it’s wrong. I’m going to try harder to put the needs of our family before the needs of others. Will you please forgive me?”
Something special happened that day. Several years’ worth of pain and hardness had built up in my husband’s eyes. That day, that hardness softened.
He took me in his arms and stroked my hair.
“Baby, I want you to take care of other people. I want you to be able to drop everything and go visit someone in the hospital or take a family a meal. That’s one of the reasons I want you to stay home. You’re able to minister to people in ways I can’t. But I just feel like I don’t matter to you at all.”
Something special happened that day. I learned how to listen to my husband. I realized that the person I loved more than anyone else felt he was receiving none of my forethought and attention. That really hurt my pride. But it needed to hurt, because it needed to change.
The really amazing thing is, as I learned to listen to him and meet his needs, he learned to do the same for me. We remembered each other. And it was beautiful.
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