It was a cold day. The last day of the trip. Four men sat around the fire, reflecting on the week-long time they had away from it all. The conversation turned to going home, back to their wives.
Caleb asked, “Why is it so difficult to stay present when I’m talking with my wife?” It was a serious question.
Frank tried to lighten the conversation, “I know! As soon as my wife starts talking, my mind wants to be somewhere else.” They all chuckled.
Caleb continued, “When she starts talking, I immediately jump to work problems, unpaid bills, heck, even my health.”
Usually the quiet one, Matthew chimed in, “I’m so stressed, why would I want to take on her stuff?”
Erik, the oldest, said, “I don’t know man, I can’t understand what’s going on in my wife’s mind. She’s always upset about something. I stopped listening long ago.”
Caleb seemed to get more serious, “Man, you guys know how my folks are, they always just kept things shallow. She doesn’t like things shallow.” talking about his wife.
Frank interrupted, “The goal is to get out of a conversation as soon as you can.” They all laughed.
Matthew opened up a little more, “You guys don’t know this about my dad, but growing up, he was always edgy, irritated and really didn’t say much. Mom was sad and hurting and said WAY too much.” There was a bit of silence. “It’s sad to say this but when my wife starts talking. I think. Shut this conversation down fast.”
Caleb seemed a bit upset now, “I hate our conversations! They’re usually about her sad life or how I’ve failed.”
Mathew, looked at Caleb, not sure how to answer his original question, “Growing up nothing got resolved. In fact talking made things worse. We talked at each other and over each other. I’ve never been comfortable ‘staying present’ and just listening.”
Frank responded, “If you want to sound smart and be helpful. Do like me, I stop listening and start preparing my answer.”
Finally, Eric said, “Caleb, it’s hard… Staying present. I’ve got to work on this. My marriage is too important. I got to make this work. I’ve got to grow.”
He who loves his wife loves himself.Ephesians 5:28b (NIV)
Father something in my heart is broken. I cannot stay present in a deep dialogue with my wife. Can you please help me see my fear and understanding the belief that hinders me. Amen
Author’s Note- These thoughts are not about any individual, family, or group. One concept is captured and enlarged for discussion purposes. Each thought is presented as an opportunity for self reflection. They can also be used to enhance couple communication. May growth occur and God be glorified.