If you are like me, you admire your spouse’s take-charge attitude.
My coach’s strength of character is one of the first attributes that drew me to him. Likewise, I value the fact that he finds my independence attractive, and he isn’t threatened by it.
But ho-ly-cow does it ever get real at our house when both our Type A personalities vie for the lead.
When we were first married, thirty years ago, my favorite overgrown-eighth-grader would grow tired of the same old circular argument and simply get in bed and go to sleep.
Put his head down—while I am still talking.
Close his eyes.
And go to sleep.
Needless to say, I spent the next six hours arguing silently with him—by myself—in my head.
So, the next time the same old argument rolled around, and he tried to go to sleep, in a super mature move, I turned on every light in the house, turned up the television to unforgivable decibels, turned the vacuum cleaner on and began vacuuming the rug next to his side of the bed.
Truth be told, I might have been quoting scripture as I shouted, “Oh hell no! I am still angry. The sun might have gone down but ain’t nobody going to sleep!”
Like many of you, we moved more than seven times in our first ten years of marriage.
The first year in a new community, we would rent and then we would buy a house, or sometimes we just rented. Young and usually broke, moving, and changing communities acted as a catalyst for some of our most immature outbursts.
But nothing and I mean nothing, would get my goat like that handsome, brown-eyed man pointing his finger at me, raising his voice to that disappointed, irritated coach tone and speak condescendingly to me like I just ran the wrong route even after we drilled and drilled it in practice.
The disrespectful bite of that tone punches my buttons just like the word “a**h***” does to Will Smith’s character in Hancock.
It was in that tenth year on our ninth move that we were standing in the front yard of our second rent house trying to pack up all our belongings while running rough shot over two kids under the age of 7 that he chided me.
He whipped off one of his old-coach-one-liners like, “Hey! If you are going to just stand there, missing your blocks, just watching the game, then get off the field and go buy a ticket.”
I remember standing in the middle of the front yard, in my two-inch heels and dress, fresh out of the car from work, as he whipped off his alpha-male-do-better reprimand.
I took a deep breath and looked directly into his angry brown eyes, watched the same “come at me” body language I had seen on the field a hundred times as red flashed before my eyes.
Like my mother did when I was a child, I lowered my voice to its deepest octave and with very intentional, controlled speech, I let him know in no uncertain terms that I was not a 17-year-old boy wearing a helmet and shoulder pads and that if he wanted to speak to me, he could check himself and his tone and try again.
I really don’t think it was what I said but how I said it because I watched this man who truly isn’t afraid of anything physically disengage from his “so let it be written, so let it be done” attitude to more of a silent “uh-oh”.
We both just let the silence sit between us that evening, loading boxes into the rented u-haul and staying out of each other’s way.
Honest with myself, I will be the first to tell you that submitting to my husband did not come naturally to me. More than once, I have escalated a conversation that might have begun a little more dogmatic than it needed to by setting my jaw firmly against the love of my life with a “let me know how that little edict works out for you – babe.”
As well, I have instigated dozens of disagreements thinking I could just get away with telling him matter-of-factly, “just what we were gonna do.” (This never works out for me.)
Thankfully over the years, I have learned to breathe first and then respond with a curious tone in the form of a question when he accidentally trips over that “oh no you didn’t” line.
Because… bless his heart (and I mean that in every form of the phrase we good southern ladies use) girls, sometimes he is just instinctually overly domineering.
It’s that strand of DNA that John Eldridge describes in his book, Wild at Heart, offering, “God designed men to be dangerous.” He comments on a man’s role as hunter and protector, as the provider for his family, on his childhood dreams of becoming a hero, a warrior.
It is an insightful read that allows you to see why my husband can’t always turn off the competitor’s edge just because he is now entering into a conversation with the girl of his dreams. Remember, we were once a hunted conquest of our husbands, too.
As we amble into the final quarter of the most bizarre school year many of us seasoned wives have ever seen, our spring sports will begin preparing for postseason play, the dominoes of resignations and retirements will begin to fall, and our coaches’ hearts will hear that wild call.
Their adrenaline will run hot, and we will enter the ring either as a teammate, or competitor, or both.
Like many of you, we are moving, starting over and the future is unknown.
My prayer is that I remember this: while God created man out of clay and spit, he created woman by taking a rib from the side of man—not to be under him and not to be over him—but to be by his side, a helper.
Then maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to get the vacuum cleaner out, again. (palm to face)
“Lord, make me humble. And when I fail to be made humble, make my husband see just how dangerous my crazy can be.”
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ “ Genesis 2:18