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When Arguing with Your Spouse, Pray for a Deer

The other day, my wife and I got into an argument over whether we needed to buy a bike.  And although we recognize that this is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, somehow it escalated to the point that we were both starting to raise our voices.  But then my wife suddenly looked out the window behind me and said, “Oh my gosh.”

I couldn’t help but look. To my surprise, a baby deer was across the street from my home in urban Washington, D.C.  I grabbed my phone, threw open the door, and got about 25 yards away from the deer.

I watched the deer walk up the street and then cross one of the busiest avenues in Washington as drivers slowed down to avoid the deer and gawk.  It was so lovely, unnatural, unassuming, and unexpected.  You couldn’t help but watch it in silence.

Then the deer walked out of sight, and I walked back to the house so I could continue the conversation with my wife.  But somehow, in chasing down a beautiful little deer, I lost the energy.

I walked through the door, looked at my wife, and said, “I’m sorry for being a jerk.”

“Me too,” she said.

We hugged – it was over.  Seriously.

God, Send us a Deer

I don’t know if my friends Nick and Kate still do this, but they used to have a policy where they would make a cup of tea whenever they started to argue.  By the time the tea heated up, their tempers had usually cooled down, and they could have a more respectful discussion.  I always liked that idea – though in our first year of marriage, my wife and I would have been dangerously over-caffeinated if we had tried it.

The thing is, whether it’s a cup of tea or a random deer that breaks up our spousal arguments, we could all use some deliberate, respectful silence whenever we’re in a verbal arm-wrestling match.  It’s hard to be silent in those moments though.

We feel like the only way we’re going to win, to get control, and be respected is to talk the other person into submission.  But that attitude is rooted in pride, and as Sarah Groves says in her song, “Loving a Person,”

Love and pride can’t occupy the same spaces baby
And only one makes us free
So hold onto me and I’ll hold onto you
Let’s find out the beauty of seeing things through

Giving ourselves the space to breathe, to recognize that our love is more important than winning the argument takes humility.  It’s as distracting as a deer traipsing through inner-city Washington, D.C. – and just as beautiful.

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