I was talking sweetly to a neighbor child the other day and my husband said “Why are you talking like that?” I said, “This is how I talk” and he said, “Uh…no its not.” It’s not that I don’t talk nice and sweet to my family but obviously my tone was so different with this child then it have previously been with my husband that he noticed the difference.
The truth is, I really don’t talk like that all the time at home. I definitely have a “mom” voice and “teacher” voice. They can be very different. And my lovely hubby called me out. But he was right.
We’ve noticed this with our daughter too who has sensory integration difficulties. We’ve been told by multiple therapists that its perfectly normal for a child to act more reserved in a social setting like school and then when at home sort of let loose and every thing that bothers them will be met with typical trigger reactions – screaming, twitching, grunting, etc. They would never do this at school for any number of reasons – embarrassment, social structure, etc. But what it comes down to is that home is where we can let all our warts show. Because we are comfortable there. Sometimes too comfortable.
Why is that? Why do we feel comfortable to talk to our family (or not talk to them) in ways that we would never talk to our co-workers, neighbors and community workers? Why do we allow ourselves to treat our families any less than we would treat anyone else?
I think the reason behind that is two fold.
One, we have the tendency to take our family for granted. We don’t extend as much grace to them as others. We don’t offer as much patience. We aren’t nearly as tolerant of our family’s weaknesses and failures as we are of other people’s.
Two, we live day in and day out with our spouse and family. We’re bound to get on each other’s nerves. When we have an annoying customer come in every once in a while to our workplace we handle them with care and treat them with the “the customer is always right” mentality, right? I’m willing to bet that if we had that customer come in on a daily basis and berate us or hound us or annoy us we would eventually not treat them as nice as the customers who only stop in occasionally.
The old saying is true: familiarity breeds contempt. We can easily allow ourselves to drift from positive and optimistic to complacent to completely negative and spiteful.
We need to give our families our best. Not our leftovers.
We need to be conscious of the way we speak with them and how we treat them.
Do we cut them off? Do we dismiss their ideas? Are we short with them? Do we ignore them? Do we put other things and people before them?
Do we make room for mistakes? Do we give multiple chances and offer up forgiveness willingly? Do we give kisses and smiles instead of glares and frowns? Do we support them in all their endeavors?
I have to say, I appreciate family and marriage for its ability to allow a relationship to grow to the point where you can just be YOU. You can be real. You can feel free to show all your warts. There is definitely something to be said for that. That place where you are comfortable enough to be crabby when you’re crabby and sad when you’re down and distant when you need space.
BUT…those are the little valleys that come along in the ebb and flow that comes with relationships. When we stay in those places, when ALL we show is our warts, it can really make our relationships ugly.
So make room for grace. Give more flexibility. Show more patience then you think is possible. Wake up each morning willing to give your best to your spouse and your family.
Your marriage needs it. Your family deserves it.
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