Death, Taxes, and Unwanted Conversations . . .

Comedian Bill Engvall tells the story of waiting in an empty house, planning to surprise his wife with an evening of romance and intimacy. Obviously he was anticipating that it would start with sex, because his surprise was that he would greet her in the living room when she arrived home – and he would be totally naked. Problem was, she arrived on que . . . with guests – who came with her to see . . . him! Engvall explains that he launched himself into the coat closet, and was stuck there for some while, until the guests finally left.

Awwwwkwaaaaard!

Doesn’t awkwardness in relationships typically lead to avoidance?

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I can’t speak for any of you, but I definitely prefer comfort. It doesn’t matter what the situation, whether it pertains to the current weather conditions, my mattress, the clothes I wear, or the relational interactions in which I find myself. I doubt you are much different. So with that in mind, what is it that we do when we know an interaction with our wives is going to be not-so-comfortable?

My default behavior is to deflect. And there have been times when I have behaved indifferently, hoping she would become frustrated and move on. Oh, and there’s always the “I can’t believe you are making such a big deal about something so trivial,” strategy.

If you are going to become your wife’s communicative hero, understand right now that your willingness to participate is far more important than your skills. Skills can be honed. The willingness to walk through something awkward with your wife is either there or it’s not.

Ever ask your son to ride shotgun with you on a short business trip? Or run errands to Home Depot (Can’t you smell those hot dogs now?)? What about telling him on Friday that you’re going to need his help with some yard work or a home improvement project on Saturday? When my sons and I were younger, I actually looked forward to those experiences, hoping they would be chances to further bond our relationships as male persons. And when they were really too small to help out much, and slowed me down with chores, they loved it too!

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But then one day the stars fell out of alignment, global warming started warming, and the desire to even hang out with dad got sucked up through the hole in the ozone layer. It wasn’t that they wouldn’t do it, but they no longer wanted to. And more often than not, I would end up frustrated and disappointed, and eventually tell them to just go on back in the house and do whatever they wanted to. “I’ll just do it myself,” said I. “I can get it done quicker without you out here anyway.” Good thing I don’t know the first thing about being passive aggressive, huh? But the truth is that it hurt. Hurt that the sons I raised and loved didn’t already share my work ethic. Hurt that they didn’t care if the job was done to the best of our abilities. And when it got down to it, hurt that although they sometimes participated out of duty, they were no longer willing. Why would a 14-year old boy not want to hang out with good old dad, share a shovel or a hoe, and talk baseball or golf? I think I’m pretty interesting and also fun to hang out with! I like hanging out with me. Why shouldn’t they?

So you have agreed to have a conversation with your wife, and you know what it is going to be about. You know that in one way or another you are guilty in what she wants to discuss. You agree to communicate with her about this problem, but – you do not engage willingly. Although we all have the need to be heard, especially when we are hurt or frustrated, the degree of this need for women is far greater than it is for men. When she realizes that your willingness didn’t make the trip with you, rest assured she isn’t going to feel heard. What she will recognize immediately however, is that you have reluctantly dragged yourself into the conversation, and you find her concern to be of little value or importance. In other words, in her mind, you were condescending. If you think that’s going to get it done, you would be sorely mistaken. In reality, you not only refused to willingly offer your whole self to her in order to fix this issue, you have successfully added additional layers to whatever the problem was to begin with.

Once the pattern of apathy in communication is established, we get one thing we wanted (avoidance), and a dump truck load of things we didn’t want. The thing we are trying to do when we are unwilling to engage, is avert these types of conversations. But discussions will become fewer and fewer, until there is no value in them for either member of the marital union, and communication will cease between the two of us. The aftershocks of the failed interactions with our wives pack tier after tier of humiliation, disrespect, and disappointment onto the women we claim to love.

Let’s be real. Humiliation, disappointment, ongoing anger, disrespect, and condescending behaviors are not going to do anything toward building a marriage that will last. Not only do our wives not deserve this type of treatment from us . . .

. . . They won’t tolerate it forever.

Unwillingness or avoidance when it comes to making things right with our wives is cowardly. It takes courage to be real, honest, and transparent. And neither you nor I are exempt from having to “take our medicine” from time to time. Unwillingness to communicate with effort, and toward mutual resolution tells our wives that they are unimportant, and stupid.

So be present. Show up. Buck up. Take whatever responsibility and accountability is necessary for your part in any conflictual interactions with your wife. Work side-by-side with her to develop positive solutions rather than trying to beat her up with superior intellect, reason, and manipulation.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Rocket scientists not needed.

Wouldn’t adding the fruit of the Spirit to your countenance, attitude, and efforts, encourage progress and results?

Commenters encouraged!

And, as always . . .

FINISH WELL!

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About Kyle Hargrove

There's really not much that's all that special about me . . . It was probably about a decade ago when I realized that "in all its glory." At about that time some of life's recent experiences taught me that regardless of who or what anyone ELSE is, and regardless of how much I may have built MYSELF up, I'm just one life circumstance from being just like anyone else. Although my pride took a ding in the process, it was ultimately a positive and humbling experience that gave my life a different direction altogether. I'm a pretty ordinary husband and father . . . Of course, ordinary comes in lots of shapes and colors. My wife Debbi and I have been married since 2000, and both of us had been previously married. She is a school administrator and has a work ethic that has been passed down generationally - usually leaves home in the dark, and for at least half the year, comes home in the dark too. We're praying that as our kids get through college, she can retire and fulfill some of her most intimate dreams. Debbi and I have five children (Adam, Cameron, Callye, Caleb, and Brandon), one grandson (William), one son-in-law (J.R.), somewhere around five "adopted kids," (not officially but in our hearts), and four dogs (Symon, Sombra, Sophie, and Duke). I often say that I love my kids and love my dogs, but there have been days that I liked my dogs more than my kids. That is of course, suggested in jest . . . mostly :) One of our sons has completed college, and the other four kids are still finding their way through that maze. We love Auburn University (Debbi's alma mater), and Texas A&M University (doesn't everyone?) It took a long time for me to understand my job . . . Professionally, I've had the opportunity to experience some fairly diverse "job titles." I came up as a burgeoning sports journalist, switched to church staff ministry, returned to school to earn two masters degrees, entered the world of private practice, experienced the world of corporate training, founded a Christ-centered residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, and enjoyed some more private practice. Oh, on top of that, I have enjoyed the thrill of becoming a teaching chef in my spare time. All of that took a lot of learning, understanding, and energy. But in 2003 through the benefit of Fellowship of the Sword, a ministry out of Fort Worth, Texas, God showed me what my real job was, and for the first time ever, I really, really "got it." He showed me that my real purpose in this life was to first serve Him, and in the outflow of that, to serve my wife, serve my children, and serve anyone else, anywhere else, who exhibited any need, whatsoever. For a very egocentric person, learning to serve is initially kind of hard. But as the blessings start to roll in, it becomes a joyous lifestyle. It's not always easy. I'm not always successful (I'm still kind of selfish). But it is one of the highest privileges I enjoy - the calling from God - to serve people - just like He did. If we're going to develop the character of Jesus, we had better get serving - the sooner the better. Cooking, singing, golfing, reading, speaking, teaching, and writing . . . Those are a few of my favorite pastimes outside of "work." I try to not let those things define who I am, but sometimes the golf thing gets in the way a little bit. And I'm really not that good. But I value my recreation and free time. I love being around people, and meet very few "strangers," but need "me time" too. I prefer outdoors to indoors, cool weather to hot weather, mountains to the beach, and being active to sitting still. I have traveled the world, and want to find new places, and visit the previous ones again. You could say I was born with a sense of wanderlust. I want to encourage you . . . This blog may have themes but the desire to write it, and the commitment to maintain it is about one thing more than any other. If through the blog, you can be encouraged, recharged, reminded, uplifted, motivated, or if you can just relate to something you read, I will sleep well and know that God has used something - as benign as it may seem on the surface, to help you move forward in understanding who you are, and what your purpose ultimately is. Life was intended to be dynamic - not static. One of my good friends Ricky Bobby once said, "If you ain't first, you're last." Although there may be some detractors to the actual truth (or benefit) of that statement, don't you want to live your life progressing? I don't want to sit around and wish I was getting better at what I do, or who I am. I was born to pursue - to improve - to invent - to move forward. When it's all said and done, I'd like to know that I ran after God, rather than for Him to have had to run after me. We'll all be challenged . . . Writing is sometimes as much about me as it is about you. My "bag of tricks" comes as much from my own experiences as it does anything I've learned from a textbook. I don't know about you (actually I do but certainly can't speak for you), but the things I have learned in this life have typically come from challenging circumstances, mistakes I've chosen to make, mistakes I've unintentionally made, places I shouldn't have been, and a myriad of other mostly-painful experiences. I think we're a lot alike. And I think we're about to find out. As always my friends . . . FINISH WELL!

Posted on May 2, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think we are all guilty of avoiding a subject or two. We are uncomfortable and we avoid that feeling at all costs. David has complained to me that I spent too much time on my tablet playing games. I stopped playing the games; but I never knew why it bothered him so much. I mean, I can multitask. A little over a month ago, I heard something that made sense to me and understood his feeling. I think about how uncomfortable Jesus must have been in the Garden when the devil was promising him the world. I also think how uncomfortable he must have felt walking to Calvary. Yet, we have the nerve to feel uncomfortable or unnatural with a subject or two with our spouse. It’s not only a subject we avoid, it can be doing something that we try to avoid. It’s not natural. Nothing we do to become better or more like Christ is natural.

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