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3 Flashing Lights To Heed So You Can Build A Healthy Marriage

By August 11, 2023No Comments
flashing lights

I lost track of time. My next appointment started in 30 minutes. On a good day, the trip took 28 minutes. Quickly, I grabbed my keys, wallet, water bottle, and other necessities and dashed for the car.

About 5 minutes from home, I noticed traffic thickening. Too late to exit the freeway, I saw the flashing lights. Traffic slowed, then crawled, and morphed into a parking lot.

If only I’d heeded those flashing lights!

Stan and Anita sat in the counselor’s office on opposite ends of the small space. Stan stared at the floor while Anita studied the pictures. The counselor observed their body language and surreptitious glances toward each other—so much distance and pain.

Clearing his throat, the counselor broached, “How did your relationship get to this place?”

Those flashing lights blinked.

The first to speak, Anita blurted, “He’s never home anymore. I never see him between working late and spending time with his friends. He doesn’t care what happens at home. I’m left to take care of everything. Maybe he’ll show up for one of the kid’s activities if we’re lucky. I feel like all he wants is a cook, housecleaner, and babysitter. Is it too much to ask for some support?”

Stan glared at Anita, “That’s not true! You dump everything on me as soon as I walk in the door. It seems like I can’t do anything right, no matter how hard I try. After you dump your daily complaints, you find some reason to leave the house and expect me to handle the kids and everything else. Who wants to come home to that? It’s easier to stay at work or hang out with my friends. They don’t criticize everything I do.”

Let’s look at three flashing lights Stan and Anita voiced and how to heed them to bring health to their relationship.

1. Busyness.

Anita deals with kid stuff all day long. If she also works a job from home or outside their home, she feels the pressure to balance it all well. She loves the kids but wonders when she’ll get to pursue her other dreams. This wasn’t what she thought her life with Stan would be like. They used to enjoy quiet evenings together, discussing whatever came to their minds. She missed that time and him but couldn’t find the words to tell Stan. He seemed on edge most of the time. Without a way to process that pressure with Stan, she feels overwhelmed and abandoned.

Stan works hard to provide financially for his family. Growing up, Stan’s dad often worked twelve-hour days. The pressure to meet deadlines and keep his bosses happy bears down on him every day. He often lies awake in the wee hours of the morning wondering how to pay their recent credit card bills, and car repairs, and keep his employer happy. The recent round of layoffs has Stan jittery. He wants to share these concerns with Anita but doesn’t know how. He’s afraid she’ll think he’s blaming her for the recent rash of abnormal bills. Stan feels the weight of the world resting on his shoulders.

Suggestion to heed the flashing light:

Every relationship faces seasons with various paces. Throw in kids, caring for aging parents, or supporting a special needs family member, and life seems to pour on more in one day than you can handle.

2. Feeling unappreciated.

To get Stan’s attention, Anita verbally vomits on him when he walks in the door each night. Stan responds to this verbal assault by withdrawing or staying away as long as possible.

Stan responds to feeling unappreciated by further distancing himself from Anita. He spends more time away from home with friends or volunteer activities. Perhaps he provides minimal interaction with his family and then spaces out in front of the TV. Anita responds to his distancing by nagging and complaining more.

Suggestion to heed the flashing light:

Both Stan and Anita struggle to communicate their needs to the other. Galatians 6:2 tells us to share one another’s burdens. One intentional way Stan and Anita can overcome this unappreciated or unsupported feeling is to schedule a time daily to pray with and pray for each other, review the day’s events, and talk about what they need to navigate through that day. When we can do this, we help each other navigate through the struggle. The person feels seen, supported, and respected.

3. Misplaced frustrations.

This struggle sneaks up on you like a rapidly approaching exit.

Rather than anticipate Stan’s arrival home, Anita waits to pounce on him, dump her frustrations and worries, and expect him to handle her overwhelm by the day’s events the moment he walks in the door. It’s like she’s put in her time with the family responsibilities, and now it’s his turn.

Instead of tapping into Anita’s wisdom, insight, and understanding about his financial concerns and work struggles, Stan pushes through in his strength and knowledge, assuming Anita wouldn’t handle it well.

Suggestion to heed the flashing light:

Identify the core frustrations.

What if Anita took some time before Stan typically arrives home to identify her feelings, pray and journal through them, and figure out what she needs to communicate to Stan at some point before bedtime? Could Anita change her late afternoon routine in a way that helps the kids prepare for dinner with their dad? While Anita can’t have the perfect routine every day, taking time to process any high emotions before he comes home will smooth the transition.

On Stan’s commute home, could he process through the workday’s events? Maybe he needs to disconnect from any noise, i.e., put his phone on silent and turn off the radio. Could he identify a spot on his route to “dump” the work problems until the next day? They’ll be there when he comes back. 😀 Instead of working longer hours than usual, could Stan decide he would be done at a specific time every night? As he shuts down the workday, he calls Anita to let her know he’s on his way home and asks her if she needs him to pick up anything on his way home.

Flashing lights grab our attention. At least, that’s their design. Sometimes, we’re so caught up in other things we miss them. When that happens, it doesn’t mean disaster. It’s an opportunity to slow down, pause, and perhaps even stand still. Then listen, breathe, and observe what’s happening.

Building a healthy relationship depends on both people heeding the flashing lights and investing in the resolution.

If you are staring at these flashing lights without any idea how to resolve them, please reach out. It’d be an honor and privilege to help you find ways to heed what your gut tells you.

  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.