“Because I am pissed. I am so pissed at you”
I answered Mark in the ugliest tone I could just so he knows that I am really upset.
Finding time for our marriage was not easy this week. I start working on business at 5:30 am and end working a part time job at 5:30 pm. It’s not that I lack sleep, but the business I am working on requires a lot of brain work, which could get really draining. When I get home at 6, Mark would be outside, skating. It’s fine with me, I know it’s his way of fun and exercise. So while Mark is outside, I squeeze in my personal time with the Lord. I do my devo. By 8 pm, Mark walks through our door, greets me with a kiss while my eyes are half opened. I intend for intimacy and bonding with my husband but I somehow just always doze off.
I wanted to make time for our marriage because after all, marriage is my priority. I wanted to make it up to Mark. I was determined to carve time for him. I have prepared my time and have summoned all the energy I could to make sure I won’t fall asleep on the coming Wednesday night.
We spent Wednesday doing a little photoshoot. Then, we headed to Yellow cab for a pizza buffet and went to the milk tea shop after for our devo. Evening came and we had a good time just laughing and talking in bed. It’s crazy how much fun we have living together and going through life together. As the night grew darker, Mark started sending signals of a desire for intimacy. I was ready for that! But somehow, the signal I sent Mark was “Treszka needs to sleep. She is tired”. So, Mark said good night and turned to the other side of the bed and grabbed his phone. I waited for a few minutes for Mark to approach me again, but I just ended up just going to sleep instead.
I couldn’t believe the sudden turn of events. The bright green light for bonding and intimacy has turned into a vivid red light of neglect. I felt like he gave more importance to screen time than our time together. I fell asleep for a few hours until I was disturbed by Mark’s twisting and turning. It was already midnight and he was still on his phone! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! In only a matter of seconds, Mark finally put his phone down and found a comfortable position to sleep.
I lost it. I got out of bed and stomped my way to the light switches. I turned on the lights, opened the laptop, and did my work. I am a light sleeper. The room must be cold, dark, and quiet for me to sleep. The slightest distraction is good enough to wake me up for another 2-3 hours. In one night, my husband managed to tickle two irritation triggers of mine: the feeling of neglect and the interruption of my sleep. I was willing to cut Mark’s sleep time as well. Ughhh. How could I have been such a selfish wife? I cannot believe I did this!
Mark sat down and asked, “Honey, what are you doing?”. “I am doing work”, I replied. He asked if I could do it with lights off but I said I couldn’t. Then he asked, “Honey, what’s wrong?”. I grabbed the opportunity and said, “I am pissed. I am so pissed at you. I am pissed because screen time was more important than time with me”. My goodness, I sounded like a child whining because I couldn’t have candy. My husband said, “Ohhh. Sorry, I thought you were sleepy and I wanted to give you time to rest”. It felt like an excuse to me.
Deep in this ashamed wife’s heart, I was wrestling with the Lord. The Lord said, “you know he’s sincere. You know your actions really showed like you would rather sleep. Why are you treating him this way? Go and apologize”. I wanted to fix things with my husband but pride got in the way. By 1 am, I decided to try going back to sleep again. I got up to turn the lights off.
As I went back to bed, I heard a whisper saying, “Honey….”. I looked at my husband. His eyes were half shut and looked so sleepy. “Hmmm?”, was my only reply. He said, “Hon…. Come here honey.” He pulled me to his arms, wrestled his exhaustion to blurt out these words, “Hon, I’m so sorry. Please go to sleep. Please don’t get pissed anymore. I’m sorry. I thought wrong. I should have spent time with you. Please don’t get pissed anymore”.
That moment, I felt more ashamed of myself and wished the ground cracked open so I could hide my face from my husband and from the Lord. How could I have been so rude to them?! What happened to me?! But then, I had to take responsibility of my actions. I accepted Mark’s apology and I gave mine. Praise God for my husband’s heart and His power to reconcile us.
Mark isn’t always like this
I’d like to be real here. Mark and I are both humans and have bad days. There are a few times that Mark acted differently from how he did recently. It is that rare but it does happen.
We have been to a similar situation as we did on Wednesday night last January. But instead, Mark decided to sleep and waited for two days before approaching me. Oops! It was as if he cut a big hole on my love tank and emptied it. During these moments, Mark doesn’t seem like Mark. He seems like a different person. Just like how I wasn’t myself that night I talked about earlier.
In that situation in January, you could guess that it didn’t go smoothly for us. A small miscommunication led to feeling of neglect, a handful of pride, and withdrawal from the relationship.
Two similar scenarios that ended very differently.
How we deal with a problem is more important than the actual problem
Being married to my best friend for 3 years now, we have already seen three things.
- A small problem dealt with so nastily that it felt like a huge problem
- A big problem dealt with so smoothly that if felt like a small problem
- And a problem dealt with accordingly (different problems, different approaches)
An important lesson we have learned over the years is that the size of the problem doesn’t matter as much as the approach to the problem.
How do we approach the problem? How do we see our spouse during trials? How much are we willing to endure for the betterment of marriage?
Being a Christian couple doesn’t mean we’re perfect. “Relationship goals”, some friends would say with starry eyes and a dream of a perfect romance. But it really isn’t like that. Being a Christian couple means going through the same problems as everyone, being vulnerable to making mistakes, and learning by means of experience. We make a lot of mistakes but it’s God’s grace that keeps our relationship healthy, filled with love, and makes reconciliation possible.
So, how do we deal with problems now?
- We brave our battles
There came a time when the thought of dealing with issues felt like a huge hassle for us. I mean, talking about what upset us is not the nicest feeling especially when the conversation doesn’t go 100% smoothly. So, your girl Treszka here decided it would be much better if I hid it under my little rug. Days passed and I already felt nauseous while my husband felt very confused on what has happened to his cheerful wife. Another day has passed and our colorful home has already become gray. We both felt unloved and confused.
Then, I came across a book that talked about dealing with the problems NOW. A lot of failed marriages are a result of unsolved problems during the first few years of their marriage. When couples decide they’d ignore the problem until it goes away, the problem almost surely comes back years later- except they’d be much bigger, stronger, and more determined to pull the marriage apart. I couldn’t find this truer because I have met a lot of couples who have been married for more than 10 years already but are still going through similar problems we have dealt with during our first 2 years of marriage. But then again, since their problem has been fed and nurtured over the years, theirs is bigger and harder to destroy. Buuuut- it’s not impossible. It’s just harder and more painful.
I put the book down and declared, “I will not let this happen to my marriage!”. No matter how uncomfortable it is to bring the problem to surface and talk about it, it’s always worth it because I know I’d be going through it with my husband. What we want to nurture in our home is love, respect, and trust- not bitterness, guilt, and unforgiveness. We decided to love each other enough to go through the painful process of fixing problems together. It isn’t always easy but we still do it together.
- We choose our battles
That’s how Mark and I like our problems: chosen. Hahaha! A good example is that we don’t scan through each other’s phone or stalk each other’s every move on social media. This creates unnecessary discomfort and a bad habit of doubting. We don’t like nitpicking on who we’re talking to, who we’re with, or what we’re doing.
Choosing battles means choosing what is worth our time and energy. Not everything is worth arguing over. Admittedly, we do disagree on small stuff like “why didn’t you cook enough rice when you know how tired and hungry I am from work”. Hehe. We’re not very small-argument-proof and that’s okay. To our defense and to also bring you encouragement, small problems are not unworthy problems. Small problems are allowed in marriage to help us grow and improve. Let’s just say, Mark learned to be more sensitive in taking care of me on days that I have to work and he has to stay home. Because in my case, when Mark is at work, I make sure he’d be coming home to food and a relaxing ambiance. That’s something he learned that day.
Some small battles are as worthy as the big ones. You just have to keep your eyes and heart more open to God’s presence in it and what He wants you to learn together as you go through it.
- We choose our weapons
When a small cockroach enters your home, what do you do? You’d probably get a slipper and beat it. What if a lot of cockroaches enter your home? You’d probably get your hands on the insecticide and cover your entire home with it. What happens if you switch the scenario?
What if you spray insecticide in the whole house for just one cockroach? What if you tried to beat 20 cockroaches with one slipper? On the first case, you’d waste your energy and resources trying to beat one cockroach as if it was 20. On the second case, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be sure if you eliminated all the pests in your home.
The same is true when dealing with marriage problems. The wrong weapon will cause wasting of energy, time, and resources, or it will cause incomplete elimination of the problem. Deal with the small problems like what it really is: a small problem. And deal with big problems with a calmed heart, an open mind, and a desire to fix it no matter how hard it can get.
A common small problem we deal with is the use of right tone of voice. On a good day, when one of us would unintentionally say something in an aggressive way, the other would reply with “Babe? High blood? Don’t be like that. You’ll look older. You can tell me nicely”. On a bad day, one would reply with a more aggressive tone and withdraw.
We rarely deal with big problems repetitively but on a good day, we put down our pride, endure the discomfort, and talk about it and solve it together. No matter how painful the conversation could get, we have a common goal to win the battle and reconcile. On a bad day, we pretend the problem doesn’t exist and would go away in time. It really doesn’t. It just grows.
- We let God fight for us
Remember, God planned for both of you to be together forever and He is the one to ultimately fight the battles for you. If you both choose that you want to win against the giants of your marriage, you will never lose. Not because of who you are or your good works but because of the God that protects and leads your marriage.
When we go through trials, we always ask God, “Lord, what are you trying to teach us here? What do you want us to learn?”. We know that God never permits trials in marriage for nothing. No matter how big or small, God plans to use it for growth. It’s up to us to be more sensitive and open to that.
Trials are a normal part of marriage. It is inevitable. But to win them, to go through them together, and to grow together is a choice we make as husbands and wives.
Soooo, how are you? Do any of you relate to Mark who has been so spirit filled and level headed this week? Or do you relate to me who has been struggling lately but is determined to do better?
Well, whoever you relate to, it’s okay! No marriage is perfect and marriage is really meant to challenge our growth. What’s important is the desire in your heart to do better. If you find anything hard, you know I’m always here to talk to you. I’m just a message away.