I was raised in a Christian home and taught to honor and respect my father (and later my husband) as the head of our family. Now that I’ve been married for a few years, I’ve found that this is much easier to do when my husband is being loving and kind – and a lot more difficult when he’s tired and cranky. I want to be gracious and forgiving, but also not a doormat. How can I respectfully stand up for myself when he speaks rudely?
I see this as a three step process, with one pre-step: get prayed up!
First, catch him doing good. When he treats you lovingly with kindness, call him out: “I love it when you speak to me that way. It makes me feel loved and appreciated.” Nothing builds on success like success. And I would suggest at this point that you also pay attention to the way you speak to him. This would be the right time to model how you want to be treated. If you want him to speak to you lovingly but you speak to him with dripping sarcasm, now would be the time to rethink your own responses.
Second, the next time he speaks rudely (and assuming you’re in the position to be able to speak freely), say, “I know you are tired, and I don’t know if you fully realize what you just said, but it felt very hurtful to me.” I realize that it’s a risky move to confront a cranky man in the act of being cranky, but if you wait, he may forget what he said, or it may come across like you’re storing up offenses. Prayerfully, he will understand what he’s done, and realize it could have been said in a better way.
And finally, if he continues to be rude, develop a code phrase with him instead of calling him out every time it happens. We had a friend who had a “you’ve stepped over the line” code when their children acted out in public. Dad would say, “let’s go smell the daisies”, but what it really meant was: “Come with me now quietly and nobody gets hurt.” It usually quickly defused most situations, but the time their youngest was being dragged out kicking and screaming “but I don’t WANT to smell the daisies!”, not so much. Pick a code phrase that makes you laugh and defuses the moment…something random that you wouldn’t normally say.
Ok, Gigi, I gave it a good try and he is still being just as rude as ever. In fact, our code phrase only makes him crankier.
Now it’s time for a more serious conversation. Is there something he is holding against you that he is unable to control when he is overtired? What is behind the cranky responses? Just because he is tired is no excuse for bad behavior, but if there is something beyond the obvious, it’s worth exploring. I’m praying for you.
May the Lord reward you well for the kindness you have shown today.
— I Samuel 24:19b (NLT)