My family just returned from a trip to Disney. Let me set the final scene.
It was freezing cold. The temps were about 43*. While my Northern friends may scoff at 43* weather being labeled as “freezing”, you have to understand that when FL gets cold… it’s a different type of cold. This is due to our humidity level. We are not a “dry cold” but a “wet cold”. It was 43* with humidity in the 80% level.
It was dark, we were waiting for the tram to take us back to our car, among many others waiting in the cold. A man was there, with his wife, his mother in law, and their four children… I’m guessing ages 5 and below. He was sitting on the concrete wall, drinking hot chocolate. The 5 year old was pretending to sneeze on him, spraying his arm and face with spit. The 2 year old kept running and bumping into him, also trying to be funny. At one point, the two year old knocked into his arm, spilling the Dad’s hot chocolate all over his hand.
I don’t think I have ever witnessed a scenario like this go down and the person remain so calm. He didn’t say a word. He wiped down his hand on his pants, tossing the cup into a nearby trash can. The 5 year old walked behind him as he headed toward his wife. He handed her the 2 year old, and pointed the 5 year old to stand with her. He simply said:
“I need a break for a few minutes.”
That was it. He knew the kids were just being kids, after a long… cold… day. They were not being bad kids, just kids. So, there was no scolding. There wasn’t even a word spoken as hot cocoa covered his bare hand. He was calm, but recognized he needed a moment to himself.
In this moment, is there any one of us who couldn’t understand what this guy was feeling?
As he walked away from his family, the wife trailed after him asking what was wrong and where he was going.
He calmly repeated his intentions:
“I just need a break for a minutes.”
She couldn’t let it go. Kept after him, pressing for an answer.
She couldn’t just let him be. She couldn’t just let him walk.
If there is anything that I have learned in 20 years of marriage, is that sometimes we just need to let the other person be. We need to let them walk or blow off steam. We can get our answers afterwards.
I remember one night, I was really upset. My husband asked what was wrong, I asked to be left alone… and he pressed. I responded: “I am upset right now, but I really don’t know if I am overreacting or have the right to be upset. So just let me be.”
And, he did.
And, in the end, I was overreacting.
There was a speaker I listened to who suggested that when we encounter confrontation with our spouse, that we go at with the mindset of “this is a good willed person”. If I approach any confrontation with my spouse believing he is a good willed person, not out to harm me… or hurt me… then I know he is for me and not against me. Knowing this, if he passes the kids over to me & asks for a break… I know that he is doing this from his goodness. He recognized he was being pushed to his limits, and needs a moment to take a break and regroup.
The same is offered to me. If he comes home from work, and I let him know that I need to run to the store because I just need a break… he doesn’t question it. He may ask a few questions about the status of things (like dinner, homework, etc), but otherwise he sends me on my way.
Marriage. Parenting. These are not always easy, pinterest worthy, book authoring, seasons. They are often hard work, emotionally grueling at times, and some times just exhausting. Extend some grace to your spouse, and when s/he needs a moment to just be, to walk, to find peace…
Let them be.
Let them walk.