Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Held to a Higher Standard (Complete)

Just when you think you have relationships figured out… you get married. And what once made sense completely changes. No longer are you trying to impress someone, now you’re trying to live with them. And anyone who’s ever lived with anyone knows that ain’t easy. You see, people, they’re weird and each one is wired differently. What you say to one person may bring a smile while those same words might bring a tear to someone else. And unlike the movies, a dressing room montage and a radio over the head won’t change that.

Trust me on this… I’ve tried.

So what can we possible do? How do we avoid the tears, the missteps and the nights on the couch? Well, we don’t. Even if you and your spouse are wired similar one day you’ll slip. You’ll say something that’ll hurt their feelings or maybe even start a fight. If it’s not happened yet, it will. How you handle it though will make all the difference in the world.

When Tommy and I were still newly married in our very early 20’s I remember going to a party with several other couples. As the evening progressed there was sort of a battle of the sexes, a kind of; “My spouse does this to frustrate me, how about yours?” Most of it was comical and relatable and we all laughed, included the spouses who were the center of discussion.

But then the conversation became more personal and stories more intimate but the laughing continued and just like the other wives I joined in. I didn’t pick out a flaw in my husband; I was still in that dreamy; “Everything he does is perfect stage.” But I did bring up something he was uncomfortable with and even though it was along the same lines of discussion as the other people present… everyone stopped and looked at me like I had crossed the line.

I took my queue and stepped out of the conversation, but I was annoyed. Why did they get to talk about anything they wanted but I was made to sit out? What had I said that was so bad? I did my best not to pout but I couldn’t hold it in when we finally walked through our front door. “What was the big deal, why did y’all look at me like I had lost my mind when everyone else was talking about the same thing?!” I’m pretty sure at that point I huffed and flopped myself on the couch thinking everyone was a jerk.

And he said the words I’ll never forget; “We hold you to a higher standard.”
This probably should have soothed me, but it just annoyed me more. Why? How come I couldn’t just have fun right along with the rest of them? Why couldn’t I vent about things, even just the silly stuff? And he explained that we set standards during our dating that showed our family and friends that we were united. We didn’t fight in public, we didn’t name call even in jest, we showed respect and reflected love in our speech and we were expected to continue that.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

I remember still being upset, and trying to process it. We set a standard we have to keep up with. How do you do that? How do you distance yourself from gossip when sometimes you just want to fit in? To be accepted as just one of the girls and included in the conversations instead of left out. How do you maintain close friendships that way?

Over the years this has been tough. Even just this past month I was sitting with a group of friends talking and one of them stopped the conversation and said, “We need to stop gossiping. Christine is here and she doesn’t like it.” I laughed and for a second felt that embarrassing heat rise up around my neck and face and tried to wish it away. But just as quickly I thought yes, that’s me. Not perfect but trying my best to maintain a standard, one that brings no harm to my friends or family.

I want relationships with my husband and friends where they can feel secure in telling me how they feel, where their struggles lay and on those rare occasions ask for advice. If I’m busy gossiping about friends or speaking ill of my husband my advice becomes invalid. If I say things about my friends or even people I don’t count among my friends but still have in my life, those words should be kind. And in doing that perhaps those same people will do the same for me.