A few nights ago I noticed that the leftover boxes from the lunch we had eaten out that afternoon were not in the refrigerator. My husband had taken our four children home from the restaurant in our minivan and I had taken his car to the grocery store after lunch. It was his role that afternoon to get the kids home safely and get the leftover boxes out of our minivan to prevent them from baking in the hot garage on a humid, eighty-five degree almost-summer day.
My husband and I have been married for nine years. Nine years of good fights and sweet moments of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.
For nine years we have been fighting to learn to ask one another questions instead of making accusations when the topics around here get heated. Usually we fight about things like leftover boxes (and also) hypothetical situations.
If I had noticed the boxes missing from the fridge and right away said something like:
You left the food in the car didn’t you?
That would have been a bad question. A very bad question. There are two yous in that question. Even though it is what I wanted to say… it hints at the fact that I know the answer. This kind of question would be an accusation. Which in marriage, I am learning, is a bad way to communicate with my husband.
Two yous in a question are very bad.
This is the kind of question I asked when we were in the earlier years of our marriage as I unraveled; trying to grow and walk in the gospel of grace but there were parts of me still tangled up in the roots of my past: hot fires of accusations and fists up ready and looking for a good fight.
In the middle years of our marriage I would have asked something like:
Is the food from this afternoon still in the car?
You see as a wife here I am getting better at asking a question but there is still a subtle hint in the direction of an accusation. No yous but there is still a hint of pointing the finger, especially with that sighed still thrown in the middle of the question.
Now, get ready for me to give myself a round of applause. Truly, if you knew my struggles in the area of asking people questions without already assuming the answer you would give me a round of applause too and if you really knew me you would stand up and encourage me to stand up too.
And if you were my husband you would want me to high five, rock fist and chest bump with you in celebration.
After nine years I asked a good question and it happen the other night over leftover boxes.
First step, I waited for the right time. After noticing the missing boxes I waited until the kids were asleep, the house was quiet and my husband and I were snuggled up on the couch watching our new guilty pleasure on Netflix.
I then waited some more and then sweetly asked…
Is the food from lunch maybe still in the car? Maybe it didn’t make it inside while you were bringing the kids in this afternoon.
Truly. The word maybe made my question non-threatening. My husband automatically said, “Yes, I forgot, I am so sorry.” And it was finished.
This whole thing got me thinking about asking questions and growing over time.
I am learning to ask better questions and I know I am not finished in this whole process. God is unraveling me and I am applauding.
Just think how good my question will be when we have been married for sixty years. I will probably just skip the question and retrieve the forgotten boxes once I find that they are missing. That would be completely accusation free. That would be complete sanctification.
And… will probably take fifty-one more years of sanctification. Or maybe longer.
Learning to ask questions has been part of the journey in learning to communicate in our marriage. We are both thankful for the process and thankful to have one another to walk with in the not-so-perfect jouney of learning communication in marriage.
God is able to do more than we could ever ask or think.