Can a phone war be good for your marriage? The day I hung up on my husband taught me an important lesson about grace.
Have you ever engaged in phone wars with your spouse? As in, hung up on your significant other with frustration, mid-call?
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.
What 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?
What Phone Wars Taught Me About Grace
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.
This Weeks’ Embrace Your Marriage Challenge
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.
Don’t miss my team members’ posts on embracing grace in marriage. You can find them here:
- Darlene Schacht at Time-Warp Wife
- Lisa Jacobson at Club31 Women
- Courtney Joseph at Women Living Well
- Jennifer Smith at Unveiled Wife
- Shelia Gregoire at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum
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