Keep the Game In Bounds
One of the great truths of life is that no one in the world can harm you as badly as the person who loves you most. That sounds really strange because the assumption going into marriage is that no one in the world is more unlikely to harm you than the one who loves you the most! Something very special happens in marriage. We get to know the other person. That other person allows us access to the deepest thoughts and most closely guarded secrets. We see each other in ways that no one outside of the marriage will ever know them. We become open and vulnerable to that other person.
Then We Have Conflict
In an argument we start into a cycle of exchanges where things are said in anger and frustration. In almost an instant of time the emotions flare and we start thinking of things we could say that would lash out at our adversary. Almost without hesitation, we say the most hurtful thing we can think of. And away we go! What got things started so quickly? It can be anything that we know will hit at the most tender spots. Most wives know that words like “idiot”, “moron”, “klutz”, “dumb as a post” and (the list can get very colorful) “stupid”, will almost always hit with the power of a baseball bat to the head. Why do those words (or ideas that carry the same message) hurt so badly? Go back to the lesson on the Greatest Fear of Men and you will find that every man carries that basic fear of being considered a fool and unworthy of respect.
Wives know that words like “fat” (or “skinny”), “ugly”, “witch”, “the old lady”, and many more that I don’t need to detail in this message, cut deeper than any knife. When a husband threatens to leave and never come back, he has “dropped the nuclear bomb”. Those words carry the message, “I could never love someone like you,” to the person who is already afraid that she will be left alone and unloved. Go back to the lesson on the Greatest Fear of Women to see why those words do so much damage.
There Are So Many Hurtful Things We Can Say
When someone brings up a past failure and says, “You blew it again, just like last time,” (or they list the failures), things will not go well from that point on. When someone finally lashes out and says, “I will never understand what I saw in you that I ever loved”, we don’t need a map to see where things are headed. We feel guilty about things. We feel sad about lost opportunities and broken dreams. We feel regrets and remorse. We feel grief and loss. We feel hurt and wounded. These things are unguarded, unprotected areas of vulnerability and the only person who knows where those special feelings lie buried is the person who is now in conflict with us.
This is a Very Dangerous Situation
To keep from causing the worst damage we can inflict on each other, we must sit down during quiet times and make a list of words and ideas that we are going to put off limits… out of bounds… foul ball territory, and make penalties that require “loss of yardage”! Anytime these words are used, the other person has the right to call “Time Out” and recognize the inappropriate words or ideas. The other person may not realize that their words carried that message so powerfully. But, that is the whole reason for making the list. We are trying to learn what happens inside the other person even in times of conflict!
If that person is willing to call a halt and explain what just happened to them when we used that word or idea, we have learned something important.