We've been under quite a bit of stress lately.
(That's always a legitimate excuse, right?)
There are so many things on our plate right now, it feels like I can't even see the plate. Wait, is there a plate? I can't remember. It's been so long. Maybe we've never even had a plate. I do know that we received a set of four matching plates for our wedding over 20 years ago. Oh yeah, my grandma passed some really old "China" plates to us. So...yeah, we must have a plate somewhere.
What am I trying to say?
I'm searching for some kind of excuse, or justification for an 'incident' that happened the other morning.
Everything has been going along just fine now that we're around two years away from the affair and divorce paperwork.
The alarm went off at 6AM. The kids were roused from sleep. The morning routine commenced: I helped our late-teen special-needs son get ready for the school bus. I checked on our two pre-teens to make sure they were out of bed & getting dressed. The oldest is required to get himself up & the youngest is allowed to sleep if he isn't woken up by the morning ruckus. My wife was up, dressed, and downstairs prepping breakfast for everyone.
Then I heard the call, "Breakfast is ready!"
I was already downstairs and heading for the bathroom. I only needed to take care of my sniffles, but alas there wasn't any toilet paper. I immediately headed back upstairs to retrieve a new roll of T.P. As I was midway up the stairs, she called again, "Honey, breakfast is on the table!" The boys were already seated (we're one of those strange families who sits down together for breakfast and dinner). I turned back and responded with my hoarse voice due to an illness I'd recently come down with, "I'll be right there."
Around 30 seconds later, I had grabbed a new roll from our closet & I heard her call a third time, "Everybody's here! We're just waiting for you!" I tried to yell back downstairs, but when your voice is hoarse it comes out like a haggard whisper, "I'm coming!!" Kind of like when you're dreaming about running, but your legs don't work...that was my voice.
As I was scurrying back downstairs, I heard my wife ask our boys, "Where is your father?" To me, her tone came across as indignant and a little rude.
Once I'd delivered the new roll downstairs, relieved my sniffles, washed my hands, and stepped out of the bathroom I heard her ask, "Where have you been? I made breakfast, put the food on the table, made lunches, and we're all sitting here waiting for you- we have to go in a few minutes."
I snapped. In my most frustrated-hoarse-haggared-yelling-pitiful-whisper-voice, I responded, "DO YOU THINK I WANTED EVERYONE TO WAIT FOR ME?! DO YOU THINK I AVOIDED COMING DOWN HERE JUST TO IRRITATE YOU?? JUST SO YOU'RE AWARE - I WENT TO BLOW MY NOSE DOWN HERE AND SAW THAT NOBODY REPLACED THE TOILET PAPER, SO I THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE NICE TO GO AND GET A NEW ROLL. NOT TO MENTION, I HAD SNOT COMING OUT OF MY NOSE. WASN'T THAT THOUGHTFUL OF ME NOT TO COME TO THE TABLE LIKE THAT AND RUIN EVERYONE'S APPETITES? (I think I took a breath at this point and simmered down a bit.) By the way, I also responded every time you called me. I apologize that my voice doesn't carry very well right now."
All five of our boys were silent.
My wife was silent.
So, I did what any good Christian father would have done. Feeling terribly guilty and embarrassed by my outburst, I passed the prayer buck, "Who wants to pray for breakfast?"
Our 5-year-old took the reigns, "Dear Dod, pease bess da food for our bodies. An tank you for da beew-ta-ful day an pease hep my dad to feel not sit (sick) wis his sore froat anymore. Aye-men.
We all sat silently, trying to simply eat our food, while the looming chill of my outburst took its affect on everyone in similar ways.
You see, outbursts like this were fairly common back when I was having an affair and contemplating divorce. But these days, outbursts like this are virtually extinct. So when it happens, it brings flashbacks and reminders to my dear family of a person named "Dad," who had the power to destroy our family at any given moment.
I noticed my wife silently wiping an occasional tear away from her cheek as she did her absolute best to keep her composure.
When my wife finished eating, she went back upstairs. I followed her.
I won't transcribe the entire conversation, but the gist of it consisted of me apologizing, and my wife asking poignant questions like, "Are you just staying because it's the 'right' thing to do? Do you actually love me? Is there some new kind of 'surprise' I'm going to find out about?" She asked several other questions within the same realm.
I did my best to express my apologies, remorse, and affirmations of my true, committed, and undying love for her.
Here's the main problem - history of affairs or not -
I felt indignant that she would have been frustrated by me not showing up to the table when I was sick & trying to take care of a personal hygiene issue. BUT, the Bible tells me to love my wife in the same way that Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).
When did Jesus ever respond rudely, out of frustration with people who were indignant with Him?
Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
Honestly, all it would have taken from me for the situation to become a non-situation, would have been a quick trip to the kitchen to let my wife know what was happening. Or, once I arrived at the table I didn't need to respond with frustration. I could have answered her with kindness, even if I thought her tone wasn't nice.
Good marriages take effort. Even if our stomachs feel full, we need to swallow our pride and indignation. A small sacrifice on my part, even if it means that I won't win an argument or prove some kind of point, will honor my wife in the long run.