The more you spend time with someone the more you learn about them. Getting to know what they like, don’t like and what triggers a response from them is important when building a relationship. As husbands we tend to figure a lot of this out during our first year of marriage and if you are anything like me, you use it to annoy your wife. Yes of course we love them, take care of them, and have their best interests at heart. However, you also need to keep things light around the house and have some fun. When you know that dog slobber grosses your wife out and you proceed to wipe it on her arm after you are done playing with your hound dog and she gives you a look of utter disgust; that’s funny. If you don’t think it is, you are probably a better man than me, which I am totally ok with.
I have been in locker rooms most of my adult life and when guys find out something that bothers you, they do it on purpose to see how you will react. The hope is that it annoys the person and then everyone gets a big laugh out of it. When they figure out a nickname that bothers you, it sticks for months. If they know you are afraid of large bugs, expect some in your shoes. You get my point. They keep going to the same thing as long as they know they will get a reaction out of you. Satan does the same thing to us. When he figures out our triggers, he keeps going back to the same thing to trip us up. He’s not some dude in red tights with horns on his head, but he is real, and his goal is to destroy you, your family, and your reputation. The more influence you have, the more he wants to bring you down.
Here are a couple of ways to help you recognize your triggers and stay under control so you can be the leader that God has called you to be for your family and those that he has called you to lead.
Learn from your past
One of my triggers is when our boys fight. It drives me nuts especially when in my opinion its over nonsense. I realize its normal to a certain point to have 2 testosterone filled young men disagree, but when it happens daily (at least it feels like it does), you get worn out. The problem is that once they start chirping at one another you remember the last fight (probably yesterday) and all you want is to stop it from happening, so you intervene early instead of letting them work it out. What I have noticed is that when we are in a rush to go somewhere almost inevitably something like this happens which ends up making us late. Taleen (my beautiful dog slobber loathing wife) despises being late which causes another family member to be grumpy. All I want is peace, so I get in the middle of it and then the dad speech comes out which eveeerrryyyybody loves. Why does this keep happening?
Well in our case look at the situation and start asking questions. Are the boys putting their devices away or turning off the tv a few minutes prior to us leaving or are they waiting until the last minute? When mom says to come in from playing outside and put the sports equipment back in the garage are they doing it? Usually the answer is no. However, when we give them a 10-minute heads up and then another one 5 minutes later, things tend to go much smoother. Should we have to do this as parents? Probably not because we are getting ready as well, but we have to know how to communicate with our boys and this is what works. It sets an expectation of when we will be leaving and that helps us out. When we recognize patters of success and failure, we need to follow the ones that result in positive outcomes.
Take a breath
When things start heating up and you recognize that you’re about to react to a situation it is best to take a deep breath and think about what you’re about to say. Remember that our words carry great power, and you can use them to build someone up or tear them down. As men we can cause more detriment to our wife and kids through demeaning words than anything else. We are called to be peacemakers in our home and it is our job to respond in grace versus react in frustration. By pausing and taking a second to consider the ramifications of what we are going to do, we can lead better as men and put a firehose on the situation versus throwing gas on it. Some kind words and quick perspective will allow us to keep those sparks from turning into a bonfire.
Another thing to consider is saying nothing. Instead of going into lecture mode or letting others know why you think you’re right, maybe you should shut your mouth and listen. One of my biggest pet peeves is getting interrupted, so when I do it to others, I can see the frustration in their face. Sometimes it’s better for us to let the situation play out for a little while and let people talk it out. We should be slow to speak and quick to listen in most circumstances anyway. I’ve told players and students many times that they have 2 ears, 2 eyes and 1 mouth, so they should watch and listen twice as much as they speak. Allowing others to say their peace in a calm forum may allow the situation to work itself out anyway and allow you to keep from pulling the trigger on what is beginning to annoy you.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”James 1:19-20, NIV
Here are some things to apply to your life this week to help you from giving in to your frustration and anger:
- Spend the first part of your morning reading God’s word to set up your day for success.
- Before you open your mouth think about how you want others to treat you.
- Teach yourself the ability to put things into perspective quickly so you don’t turn a small situation into something bigger than it needs to be.
- Be a great listener. You may be surprised at how much you’ll learn.
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