My husband has a t-shirt that says,
Be professional, be polite, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”
He really is a good guy, he just doesn’t want you to know it.
With three deployments under his belt and 16 years active duty in the Army, Patrick is the quintessential soldier. He is not effusive or excitable. Evasive and extreme introvert are more appropriate definitions.
I, on the other hand, am outgoing, overly excitable and wide open … extremely talkative. For the first eight or nine years of our marriage, I took it upon myself to fill all the airspace that he left untouched. But I got tired. I longed for my husband to be more interactive, to occasionally talk before he thought and to get into discussions with me. I really wanted to know his opinion about more than what time I should program the coffee for on Monday morning.
Sometimes I’m a slow learner. Sometimes my pride slows the process even more as I argue with God that surely I’m not the one who needs to change. However, I have discovered the secret to loosening my husband’s tongue. Actually, there are two.
The first one is the hardest: Shut up.
Yep. That’s all there is to it. This lesson started to sink in on our first drive across the country, moving our military lives from one duty station to the next. We had disagreed earlier that morning and I was simply giving him the silent treatment. The trouble was, he thought we had resolved the argument, and in true male form, had moved on.
The blurry white lines on my side of the road began to hypnotize me. Under the influence of frustration and boredom, I kept my mouth shut. Suddenly, my husband launched a conversation starter right out of the blue. “I’m not really sure I agree with what the pastor said last Sunday.”
My reverie snapped. Had I just finally waited long enough that he felt compelled to speak? I decided to try a new tack. Like a skilled fisherman, I fed him one line at a time, urging him to fill in the blanks and take control of the conversation. It worked!
My second epiphany is similar. I learned to slant my conversation toward a topic that interests him. Even when I want to talk about deeper things, it helps to start the conversation by asking my husband a question about something he does or something he enjoys.
Throughout Proverbs, the Bible urges us to hold our tongues. In Philippians, Paul instructs us to consider the interests of others over our own.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me (Ps. 16:7),” who even teaches me how to speak to my husband!