One night during dinner when I was 8 years old, my little brother started teasing me. I picked up a handful of spaghetti and flung it across the table at him. My face burned. My eyes stung with tears. I was close to popping him in the nose.
Sure it was an irrational move, and it only made the situation worse. But I didn’t care. He’d hurt my feelings, and I wanted to hurt him back.
Sometimes when my husband hurts me, I feel like that 8 year-old at the dinner table. I want to fling spaghetti. I want revenge. It’s a natural reaction to strike back when someone hurts you, whether it’s intentional or not.
When I’m hurt, if I’m not careful, I can create a huge mess.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s ever felt this way. Hurt stings. It damages your ego, makes you feel bad about yourself. And can make you feel like he doesn’t care. Even though “flinging spaghetti” is a natural reaction, hurting back never solves the problem. It usually makes it worse.
Here are strategies I find effective when I’m hit with a hurt:
1. Remind yourself he’s not your enemy.
2. Resist the urge to retaliate. Even if he did intend to hurt your feelings, resist retaliation.
3. Seek to understand.
4. Mirror back what he said to make sure you understand him. Did he mean to hurt you?
5. Calm down, and collect your thoughts.
6. Tell him how his words made you feel. Use “I feel” instead of “you should.”
7. Give him a chance to apologize.
8. Be willing to forgive.
9. Tell God what you’d really like to say to him. Then ask Him to change your heart.
My little brother picked up a handful of spaghetti and flung it right back, leaving us with two angry parents and a big mess to clean up.
I wish I could say I’m always successful in resisting the temptation to “fling spaghetti” at my husband when I’m hurt, but I can’t. Instead of allowing my reflexes to take over, I try to calm down before attempting to address the situation.
I can tell you from experience, flinging spaghetti” usually only creates a bigger mess.
What strategies do you use when dealing with hurt in your marriage?