Thursday, July 24, 2014

On Conflict and Hopscotch


It’s been a while since I’ve told you a story, hasn’t it?
Not long enough?
Well here’s one for ya anyway...
Once upon a time, there was a girl and a boy and they were married. They were also in conflict. Not necessarily with each other, but kind of with the world at large. So they sat on the couch and made angry faces at each other for a while, and then the boy got called away to help a friend, and the girl went on a walk. When they both got home again, all was well with the world and the girl made sweet tea for the boy and the boy hung curtains for the girl without even being asked.
The End.
I love happy endings, don’t you?
This post is inadvertently about introversion and extraversion. It’s also inadvertently about conflict resolution and selflessness and hopscotch. 
But mostly, it's about marriage. 
Marriage is a really wonderful, fun, snuggly, hard, expensive thing. Sometimes those last two attributes fight to get the better of us, because they demand so much more than the fun snuggly parts. So when that happens, we usually talk it out as best as we can, pray together, and then either do something fun together, or take a break. 
{This is a pretty good system for us, and if you are a newlywed, or just have difficulty handling conflict in a healthy way, I suggest trying this approach.}
But back to the story- last night, just as I was winding up for a breakdown, one of Robin's friends called and needed help right at that minute. Since I'm really quite reasonable and selfless, I sprawled out on the couch, draped my arm over my forehead, and told him that I would just proceed to die of a panic attack while he was gone, but really, go on without me.
Honestly, as much as I disliked it at that moment, Robin being called away was probably the best thing that could have happened. God's funny with that whole "perfect timing" thing.
Robin is an extravert (understatement) and needed to be with people, to get his mind off of the situation and laugh a little. I am more on the introverted side, and just needed a little time to be alone, to take a walk and be silent.
While on my walk, I stumbled across the hopscotch my neighbor’s kids had drawn on the sidewalk. It was one of those things that made me long for childhood and heaven all at the same time.  It smelled like charcoal and orange peels and twilight outside, and the sun wasn’t too hot and there were lots of cats to stop and talk to. (You don’t talk to cats?) (You should.)

That was exactly what I needed. With all these crazy, "grown up" challenges, I just needed to do a little hopscotch, and to remember what being a child smelled like, felt like. I prayed some thankful prayers, and then I went home to make dinner. 
When Robin got home, we realized that we had both settled into a peace. The situation hadn’t necessarily changed, we were just both in more of a place to handle it gracefully.
He was only gone for about 45 minutes, but if we had stayed together we probably would have kept sulking and worrying the whole time. With just that little bit of distance, we had both gotten the escape we needed and now could enjoy each other for the rest of the night.
That’s not the solution every time, but it just worked last night, so naturally I had to share the victory.
Maybe the next time you're in conflict, you can try declaring a truce, and take a 30 minute to 1 hour break to unwind and process. Cook, go sit in the backyard, take a walk, journal, then come back in and talk. It might give you the level-headedness you'll need to resolve the conflict.
How do you handle conflict, with your family, spouse, roommates? 



2 comments:

  1. We call a time out if its a 'marital conflict'. Although, from now on I will definitely be having some one-on-one time with my neighbor's cat during those time outs. How can that not be helpful?

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  2. you.are.something.else.young.lady! Great post!

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