“The best relationships in our lives are not the best because they have been the happiest ones, they are that way because they have stayed strong through the most tormentful of storms.” ~ Pandora Poikilos
I received a phone call from my cousin’s oldest daughter, “Paige.” What a pleasant surprise. Paige is 31. She and her husband “Art” have been happily married for four years. She affectionately calls me Auntie G.
“Auntie G, since you and Bill have been together so long, and are such experienced mentors, I thought I’d ask a question about a painful, sticky situation in my marriage. I’m struggling to figure out what to do.
“Have you ever wanted to share a hurtful moment with Bill, long after the moment occurred? Art said something that was hurtful and I doubt he realized how much it hurt my feelings. It’s been more than a year since he said it and I have never addressed it. Is it too late to bring it up? I don’t want to make him feel bad, but I can’t seem to let it go.”
I silently flipped through my memory database. Ah…yes, there’s a recall of a painful interaction between Mr. & Mrs. Roddy. How did I work that one out? Oh yeah, that’s right. I remember.
“I know that you and Art are BOTH committed to the health and well-being of your marriage. If you tell me otherwise, or if you tell me there is serious dysfunction, I will have to advise you to see a licensed counselor. Everything I share with you is solely based on my marriage experience. You understand that, right?”
“I understand, Auntie G. That’s what I want…your experience and what you did. Then I can decide what to do from there.”
“Good. OK. In the early years of our marriage, when something like your dilemma occurred (and it occurred frequently), I would execute one of the following plans:
Plan A. I sat Bill down — You said something hurtful last year (last week, yesterday, this morning), this is what you said, it still bothers me, I’m having trouble getting over it, I’m tired of the energy it’s consuming, will you assist me
Plan B. There is no mal intent, I let it go, I forgive, and I strive to forget. There will be many such incidents to practice forgive him for he knew not what in the world he did. He will have just as many occasions to practice the same in dealing with you.
“Paige, you have my permission to try my Plans A&B. They may work quite well for you. I hope they do. Just know that in the early years, Plans A&B were dismal failures…for me.
“Today, Plans A&B do work OK in certain situations. But…ya know what works for me all the time, every time—what makes my wifely heart thump, thump, thump with anticipation of…issue resolved? It’s:
Plan C. Engage your brilliant, supple mind, and through trial and error, discover a solution that feels good to YOU.
“Here’s my Plan C. It makes me smile just thinking about it:
Bill, honey, I watched Dr. Phil today (or read an article, or watched a movie, or talked with a girlfriend). The husband on the show made a truly bone-headed mistake. He said/did—xyz. His wife is hurt/furious/sad. I wasn’t real pleased with the advice Dr. Phil gave the husband. As I watched the show, all I could think of is ‘What wise and positive chastisement would Bill Roddy give that wayward husband?’
“Always. Always. Bill Roddy drops what he’s doing and gives me a power point presentation on:
- What that hubby did wrong and how truly bone headed it was
- What that hubby was thinking when he did the wrong
- What that hubby should do post haste to correct the wrong and make that wife joyful again
“That’s it. Makes my hurt disappear. You see Paige, for me, having Bill directly apologize rarely makes me feel better. I understand that a direct, sincere apology works for many women. But I need to know WHY he said what he said. If I ask him directly, he will answer from his head. It’s so painful for him to know he hurt me, so he might even tell me what he thinks I want to hear just to get it over with and stop the pain. I want an answer from his heart. Men like to fix things—especially other people’s things! So I encourage him to fix this “other man’s” mistake.
“Now some people might frown on my Plan C. They might say it’s silly, manipulative, and Bill can see right through it. They might be correct. Fine. But I’ve been blissfully married to Bill Roddy for 22 years. He says he feels the same way about being married to me. Can one argue with success?
“That’s the crux of it. You just have to spend time, maybe even years, as I did, figuring out what works best for you. You’re gonna be married to this man for the rest of your life! What else have you got to do? What’s more important than that? Whichever plan(s) you choose to use, whatever new plan(s) your brilliant mind creates, how will you know it’s the right plan? You’ll know it’s the right plan if upon implementation:
“Okay Paige, honey. I’ve gone on long enough. Let’s get a second opinion.
“Hey, Billy. Come on in here and talk to Paige. She needs your advice!