Clutter dresser

Dude Skill #3: FIGHT – Part 6


Continued from Part 5

Early in our marriage we had a fight that started out about clutter but was really about deeper and bigger things. We spend most of a day letting tension build between us while we were busy with other things., and then we both exploded in anger. Because Darrin is so good with his words, it’s rare for me to find any holes in his very persuasive arguments right away. But this time, I quickly realized that the clutter on the dresser that he was complaining about consisted entirely of items that belonged to him. Finally, I could win! I dramatically picked up each item, threw it on the floor, and loudly stated the obvious: “And who does this one belong to? Not me!” I didn’t even try to hide my pleasure in proving him wrong.

At that point, Darrin calmly suggested that perhaps clutter was the real issue. It was that neither of us felt valued or appreciated by the other. I was more that a little irritated that he didn’t recognize my vicroty, and I”m pretty sure that Darrin’s motives behind turning the tables in that moment weren’t completely pure. Nevertheless, I had to admit that he was right. He was right about the deeper truth, and he was right to bring us back to it.

We’ve had to let go of some bad habits and divisive strategies related to conflict. Darrin tends to use his quickness to back me into a corner, and I’ve used my thoughtful slowness to build a huge case against him and then attack him out of the blue. Both strategies are selfish and unhelpful. Darrin is learning to give me space in the form of silence and compassionate listening. When I know that he’s really trying to listen, giving me space to process, and exercising self-control., I’m much more willing to be vulnerable. And my genuine broken-heartedness has spoken louder to Darrin than the most careful and organized argument that I could ever prepare. A simple and humble “You really hurt my feelings” or “I miss you” isn’t flashy or dramatic but speaks volumes Additionally, his willingness to examine his issues with anger and impatience and let go of his tendency to use his persuasive verbal skill for his benefit has spoken more powerfully to me than anything he could ever say to win an argument.

In my next posting I will look at how Darrin teaches us to avoid arguing when we’re are depleted. Also, I encourage you to go back and read any posts in this series you might not have read prior to this one.


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