Phone Wars: The Day I Hung Up on My Husband

Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Articles & Posts, Embrace Your Marriage | 16 comments

Phone Wars: The Day I Hung Up on My Husband
[This is Part 1 in the “Embrace Your Marriage: A Virtual Marriage Retreat” series. It runs each Monday this September. So come back on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and the 29th for the other four parts.]

Have you ever hung up on your spouse? As in, with frustration, mid-call?

I have.

Turns out, it’s not quite as dramatic or satisfying as the old black-and-white flicks portray it to be. Perhaps because hitting one’s finger against the red iPhone “end call” icon lacks the flair of slamming the old-school receiver down with a wham!

It happened after our car died on a freeway off-ramp in the middle of nowhere. There we were, just me and our 8-year-old daughter and a car that had overheated itself to death, stranded in a small Georgia town. What made it worse was that I needed to be in South Carolina by morning to film a book-related television interview. So there was no calling Ted to drive two hours to come pick us up and take us back home.

By the time a band of strangers pushed the car to the nearest gas station, refilled the oil, and advised me to “take it to the shop,” it was 5 p.m. on a Wednesday. After making multiple phone calls, I discovered I had 60 minutes to make it to the car rental office our insurance company had recommended before they closed for the day. It was 30 minutes away. If I didn’t arrive by then, we were destined to stay in the town’s run-down motel and quite possibly miss my interview.

Here’s where it turns into an elementary math story problem. And if you think they’re maddening on paper, they’re even more so in real life.

I’d originally planned to ride with the tow truck driver. But … his ETA was around 5:35 p.m. Add in the time it would take for him to hook up my car and my chances of making it to my rental before closing were slim. My other option was a taxi which would take 30 minutes to get to me and cost $60. I’d be cutting it close, but with the taxi I had a slightly better chance of reaching my destination in time.

I had decisions to make and quick. Did I go with this taxi company? Or did I wait for the tow truck and hope he drove fast? What about the rental car office? Was there a location closer than my insurance company had recommended? Or should I cancel the interview altogether?

So I called Ted for the third time in the past 30 minutes. Surely, my knight-in-shining-armor would know what to do in the current predicament.

Phone Wars: The Day I Hung Up on My HusbandWhat I’d forgotten was that Ted’s not too great with quick decisions. Especially if he’s two hours away. He’s a research man, you see. He likes to have all the facts first. Me, I’m a let’s-make-a-decision-now-and-go-with-it kind of girl. When he hesitated to immediately tell me what to do at this point, I got frustrated and hung up. I didn’t have time for 10 minutes of googling and phone calls. I’d just have to make the decision on my own.

So I did.

Turns out, if I’d have waited that extra 10 minutes for his help, we may have avoided some later frustration with the rental car office.

Even though we had some really rough weeks after that (you can read about them here) not once did Ted ever bring up the fact that I’d hung up on him that day. I mentioned it, but even then, not once did he chide me for it or hold it against me. Instead, he gave me grace. He took into account the context of my poor action and extended underserved kindness to his stressed and frustrated wife.

And do you know what I was reminded of?

That grace doesn’t hold our bad moments against us. Those moments when we struggle. When we show our “ugly” side. When we slam (gently) our pointer finger against the red iPhone icon. Those moments we really are sorry for … later.

Now, I can already predict some of the comments and emails I’m going to receive. Perhaps your spouse’s worst moments are really bad. Much worse than hanging up mid-call. Perhaps there is some terrible stuff going on in your marriage. If so, I encourage you to talk to a trusted pastor or counselor. Seek godly counsel and help from someone who knows you and your spouse. You don’t have to fight for your marriage alone.

But for those of us who are facing the smaller issues – issues like dead cars and abruptly-ended phone calls – let’s choose, like Ted, to embrace grace. To be quick, as I talk about in Team Us, to forgive and let go in our marriages.

And, just in case you’re wondering, I haven’t hung up on Ted again. It’s not something I make a habit of. Grace, on the other hand, is something I try to.

Today, as you strive to embrace grace in your marriage, let me encourage you to wrestle with this week’s challenge:

Before you can extend grace to others, you should start with the preparation of a pure and tender heart. Pray asking God for wisdom and guidance in this area. Think of how God’s grace has impacted your life, and acknowledge the areas where you have been forgiven.

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Don’t miss my team members’ posts on embracing grace in marriage. You can find them here:

Also, be sure to come back here the next four Mondays for my other posts in the “Embrace Your Marriage: A Virtual Marriage Retreat” series. I’ll be talking about:

  • September 8: Embracing Change
  • September 15: Embracing Your Differences
  • September 22: Embracing Oneness
  • September 29: Embracing Your Friendship

16 Comments

  1. Great post. Your husband sounds like a great leader for your family. Congrats to you. I am quite a bit like you in the needing to get to an answer quickly. While I do think that it serves me well often, it can certainly cause me frustration in stressful situations like the one you experienced. I often think about the parts of my personality that I sometimes see as flaws and remember that God gave me that personality for a reason. That part of my personality has served me very well in emergency situations with my kids, being able to make a decision quickly. But there are definitely times where I’ve needed to sit back and temper that part of me to allow my husband to step into his role as the head of our household. I have found that it is so much more important for me to learn to sit back sometimes and let others make those decisions. My way isn’t the only way( hard for me to admit). Often it is good for my family for others to take ownership of decisions. Letting them make the decisions and take ownership has freed me from undue stress I often assign to myself needlessly.
    Thank you for your transparency.

    • Beke, I think you bring up a great point. The fact that Ted and I make decisions differently — he’s slow and I’m more quick — isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Both can be a strength depending on the situation and context. But, as you also talked about, it can be a good thing for quick-decision-making women like you and me to sit back and trust others to make decisions. It helps us “die to ourselves.” Personally, I’ve seen how being forced to wait to make a decision often causes me to use more wisdom and ultimately make a less emotionally-driven decision in the end.

      • Absolutely on the die to ourselves! Our society is so focused on “fixing ourselves” that I think sometimes we lose perspective as Christians that we are EXACTLY who God created us to be. There is never a part of our personality that isn’t supposed to be there, but it is certainly important for us to recognize when it is an appropriate time or place for that particular aspect of our personality to be used . God does not make mistakes. He has created each one of exactly as He wished us to be. I find so many Christian women think there is something “wrong” with them. Something they think they need to change. I think it is more important to look at Why did God create me with this bent- what am I not understanding about this personality trait that is causing me to see it as a flaw. It is important as Daughters of the King to look at ourselves as whole and beautiful creations. To understand that we are “perfect” in His sight. Sit back and look at whether that “flaw” is really just us using a gift He has given us in the wrong way.

  2. I like your reminder that we need to extend grace in the small stuff as well as the big. It’s easy to think of grace being extended through the worst moments of our marriage. Thank you for your honesty. Such a lovely post!

  3. Great post. Please pray for me in this area. I have an ugly habit of hanging up when I get frustrated with my husband. Because I know this, I’m learning to lay the phone down, put it on speaker, take deep breaths, and count to 10 to try and avert doing it. Sometimes it actually works!

    • Shellye, thanks for being vulnerable in this area. I’m praying for you this morning.

  4. I can’t help but think you are very lucky to have a husband that cares to help if he can. Twice I’ve called my husband to help me when I’ve broken down on the side of the road alone (one after midnight) and twice he’s left me stranded. Both times I got off the phone quickly with him and he never called back to see if I made it out ok. And once I had a miscarriage I had to go to the doctor alone. He’s never gone out of his way for me. Even if it meant 10 minus on the phone. I guess I could use some prayers over that.

    • Jennifer, I’m so sorry your husband hasn’t been more helpful in those situations. Your comment is a reminder to me not to take that for granted in my own marriage. Please know that I’m praying for you and your husband tonight. God can do anything — including working in this particular area.

    • Jennifer, It is great that you have a good heart to forgive and open mind to help him in his weaknesses. My husband was also similar with yours in such situations. But sometimes I found myself trying to take care of everything by my own. Small by small when I open a door for him to help he will do more. He still doesn’t want to take orders, I am careful on my way of communication otherwise he has a lot more progress. Leave a little more open door in every area of life, he will learn to help small by small.

  5. I thank you for this post and all the comments. I have hung up on my husband before and he has done the same to me. Funny thing my Pastor has really been discussing the importance of Mercy and Forgiveness. This truly something i’ve been struggling with and he made a good point “where would I be without GODS Mercy?” I need to share the same Mercy that GOD shared to me. I will be in prayer with all my sister’s and brothets regarding marriages because I truly believe the devil has an attack out to destroy families and marriages.

    • Thanks for commenting, Lavina, and sharing what your pastor has been discussing.

  6. So thankful for your post and appreciate your honestly. When you read something like this from other couples it’s sorta funny, but when you actually listen and it happens to your own life… it’s not funny at all. It forces you to look at yourself (marriage). I also really appreciate the fact your husband just let it go by not being resentful but rather showed kindness. I think it showed true accountability. As hard as it maybe, for us as Christians, we all need someone to lovingly hold us accountable for our actions. Again thanks for making me think twice when I get that sudden urge to “hang-up” the phone in frustration.

    • Thanks for commenting and for your kind words, Tania.

  7. Wow glad I found this article thank you for sharing had this moment with my husband today. And at times I feel more frustrated with myself and don’t always get the right words out this will be a reminder for me.

    • Hi Priscilla, I’m glad it was helpful to you at just the right time. 🙂

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