Never Too Old to Learn

By: Sandy Churchill

Just when we think we have marriage—or parenting—figured out, nature throws us a curve ball that can start with the smallest thing. Truly, I am never ceased to be amazed by this. When we have practiced our communication skills, worked on predictable stress phases, and done our part to help keep balance in marriage, home, and family, arguments and blow-ups can happen in the whisker of a moment, with one person’s bad mood.

Mark and me at mountain top fun

Tone is a big thing at our house, meaning it’s not always what is said, but HOW it is said. A dismissive, you’re-annoying-for-asking-eyeroll can be cause for World War III. And why? Because we are human. Our interactions can become,  both on fragile days and on self-assured days, strongly-disciplined ones.

An endless challenge for me is the tendency to blow up like Mount Vesuvius after hours of being tested and putting up with this or that until my reaction looks ridiculous if one is observing only the last straw. My husband treats apologizing like blood-letting or surrendering an organ. He says I’m too emotional. I say he’s not empathetic enough. He hates my blow-ups. I resent his pride. We are at an impasse, again.

So back to others who are smarter than us: counselors, podcasts, online articles, books, advice from trusted confidantes. The point? After 31 years, we have some things figured out, but we are far from “mastering” marriage or parenting. There’s always a new twist: cultural pressure, contrary personalities, stresses of health issues, work demands, and lack of sleep. Do we give up? Sometimes. But it’s usually only for few hours or a few days and then we rally and dig in to find solutions—emerging hopefully stronger and more capable for the next round.

From the experience of seeking wiser advice and new techniques from relationship experts, communication enthusiasts, and conflict resolution aficionados, I can say that we’re always learning, and learning is truly a good thing.

Some people say anger or hatred is the opposite of love, but research has continually found that apathy is the true antithesis. For once you no longer care about a situation, that is the red flag to surrendering altogether. So cheers to us for caring! Loudly! Vehemently!

Maybe we get extra credit for perseverance if there is a report card for conflict management. Bonus points for passion! At least we’re not indifferent. 🙂


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