I am constantly amazed at the impact seemingly small choices can have in shifting relational direction.
Two nights ago, Jrex and I chatted over yet another amazing dinner he’d crafted. As I shared some of what I’d done during the day, I was surprised to find myself feeling emotional. I often try to figure out those feelings out loud, but unfortunately, say it too strongly or from a sideways angle. “Unfortunate” because so much of my life is filled by and surrounded by Jrex’s impact and presence. Not unfortunate to have him, but unfortunate since while I’m feeling sad and trying to figure out why, it can easily seem like he’s the problem, when really, I’m just trying to dig down into the surprise emotional rush and figure out what’s really going on. At times, he feels attacked and gets defensive. Soon we’re trying to figure out where the landmine was and figure out how to piece us back together, my initial emotion tucked away.
I’ve tried to tell him that I need him to ask questions in those moments. No problem, right? In the midst of a fight or flight moment, choose research! Not surprisingly, it’s been difficult for us to figure out how to navigate our way through such moments.
As I got weepy, I hesitated, unsure if it would be safe to continue. He gently asked, “Is there anything I could be doing differently to help in those situations?” It turned out the issue wasn’t at all about him, or at least only tangentially. He kept asking questions. Kept listening.
When we married, for my part, it was because we were truly best friends. In life’s busy-ness and pain it’s been easy to turn to other relationships to try to process my emotions. As I told him after his gentle listening, I’ve missed him as a friend and was really grateful that he asked questions instead of getting upset.
He smiled quietly, “It was a choice.” Which made it an even more profound gift.