Being in a marriage relationship gets tricky sometimes. Recently, I saw myself in a new light. I am a nag. (Gasp.) This is something I have desperately tried NOT to be. Growing up, there was nagging in my home. I entered marriage thinking it an unnecessary form of communication. I likened it to yelling. If one resorts to yelling in order to get attention, then the opposing party will wait for yelling before he/she responds. Yada, yada, yada. This all made total sense in theory.
Chad and I started our relationship on strictly no nagging terms. I was careful to let him do what he pleased. This pertained to facial hair, clothing style, driving techniques, eating habits, and a myriad of other personal things. If we were talking in the car and his favorite song came on the radio, I'd carefully stop talking so he could listen to his song. Once it was over, we'd resume. He didn't require this behavior; but showed appreciation for it. I took pride in the fact that I was not one of "those" girlfriends. You know, the kind that are controlling and clingy. Looking back, I think much of this was a facade.
I was trying hard to be the right type of girlfriend. Maybe because I was insecure? Maybe because I hadn't dated anyone else? I think I just really really liked him, and I wanted him to like me, too.
Fastforward five years. We're married with a baby, building a house, and about to move. It's a Saturday morning. I'm running a garage sale in our driveway. Chad is bustling around, trying to get things together for a day of work at the new house. I remind Chad that he needs to put a For Rent sign in the front yard. He stops what he's doing and spends 15 or 20 minutes on the task. I am mildly aware of his actions. The next thing I know, there is a sign in the yard. Sticking out from underneath the small For Rent sign is a long narrow section of signage from a previous sign. It shows on either side of the Rent sign. It is visually distracting and ugly (to me).
"Baaabe... that's not going to work. It looks horrible. It's not readable. LOOK at it."
He squints at me from across garage, the morning sun in his eyes. Locals are rummaging through our junk in the driveway. He replies, "Well, that is the only way it'll stay stuck to the stake. Sorry." His tone indicates that he's finished working on it, despite my verdict of unacceptability. I push harder:
"Usually you come up with better solutions than that."
He remains silent and disappears into the house as I deal with a yard sale customer. The next thing I know, he briskly walks to his truck, which is parked at the curb. He gets in and speeds away. He's obviously angry. He never leaves without saying goodbye. I walk to the end of the driveway, watching in disbelief, wondering if he'll really leave the neighborhood. He's gone. I had no idea my words would have that kind of an effect. I began to replay them in my head. Oh no. I was horrible.
Less than five minutes later, Chad's black Tundra reappeard on our street. As he got our of the truck, I stood up from my camping chair station and took two little steps toward him. He walked the rest of the way to me, his eyes steady on mine. As he neared he said, "I don't want to be like that." I apologized for my harsh words. In the five minutes of his absense I had fixed the sign with a creative solution: I taped white index cards over the offending extra signage and drew large bold arrows pointing in toward the sign. It looked like a cute little custom sign.
After making up, we said goodbye and he left again. A few minutes later I came inside the house. My mom was here; I told her we had had a tiff. I said it was due to my nagging him. She paused and chose her words carefully. "Bekah, I've noticed that you nag Chad often. He takes it and says nothing." I gulped and asked for more details. She could not give me an example. She tried to be sweet and sensitive, but honest. My phone rang and I stumbled out of the half packed bedroom to get away, tears brimming in my eyes.
Once alone, I cried. I felt so blind. Why couldn't I see myself the way others did? I hated myself and the blindness. I closed the garage sale with tears spilling down my cheeks. Neighboors eyed me with curiousity. I shut the garage door, and went to my bathroom. As I stepped into the hot shower, I wondered, "Is Chad as happy as I am in our marriage?"
I spent the rest of the day thinking about us. I remembered the way I intentionally tried not to nag him in the early days of our relationship. What changed? Was it that I was secure and comfortable with us? Maybe. But I still want him to enjoy being around me. If we're going to spend the rest of our lives together, it should be pleasant for both of us.
By the end of the day, I was exhuasted from self-introspection. The following morning the three of us went out to breakfast. Melody was an angel and we were able to talk one-on-one. I told him about the day before. I apologized for being a Nag. We discussed how we felt. He told me that I'm unpleasant when in a bad mood. Other than that, he didn't have anything to complain about. Whew. I was relieved to hear he is still happy with us.
I want to be a good wife. I want to make him happy. I want to make him smile on a daily basis. In our wedding vows we spoke of making our home a place of refuge. A place of safety, warmth, and comfort. I want with all my heart for this to be the case. I am trying to remember to ask God for strength, sensitivity, grace, and self control. It is when I try to do these things myself that I fail. I need help.