Grumpish adjective. Surly or ill-tempered; discontentedly or sullenly irritable; grouchy. (Dictionary.com)
Yesterday was not an easy day. Shortly after my husband woke up, he learned that both our sons had done something that we have asked them not to do. My husband’s response was to get grouchy. For the rest of the day, he growled, snapped, made mean and hurtful comments, and raised his voice about everything.
All three kids worked all day, so that left me to deal with a very surly man. Naturally, I completely forgot my own advice to remember that when my husband is most unlovable, he most needs love.
Instead, I proceeded to get caught in the vortex of irritation, snapping, and growling, giving back as good as I got. I found myself remembering how he was like this several years ago, before his high blood pressure was diagnosed and treated. That is all mixed in with the time my sexual refusal hit full force; I started thinking about how I’d taken all the blame for our relationship problems and wondering why I hadn’t pushed him to acknowledge his failures as well. At one point, I sat and cried to God, asking Him to keep me from getting sucked into the blame game and thinking that my refusal had been justified.
The entire day was contentious, with my husband and me at odds with each other. At the end of the day, one of the boys came home and ended up in a huge verbal altercation with my husband. I grabbed my car keys and drove to the nature center a few miles from my house, crying all the way.
During the sexual desert years of our marriage, this scenario played itself out many times. He would be difficult to be around, and I would take a walk or take a drive to pull myself together. I’d call home. We’d argue on the phone and then come to a tenuous truce. I would feel so emotionally disconnected from him that a day like this would lead to at least a week without sex, with me feeling fully justified in refusing and him thinking maybe he deserved it. I cried to God many times over the years. Somehow, though, I always forgot to listen and let Him guide me.
Early yesterday evening, I pulled into the parking lot at the nature center and rolled down the windows, soaking in the sounds and smells of God’s creation. I thought about how much I loved my husband and wanted to do what was right for our marriage. All those other times, years before, I never once thought about that. Something had changed in my heart. I was seeking what was right and thinking about our marriage and not just my own frustrations of the day.
I took a deep breath and opened my heart and ears to God. Peace and wisdom washed through me. I called my husband and knew just what to say. “How are you? . . . What are you going to do to deal with this? . . . You’re hurt because you want him to respect you more than he loves his girlfriend, and you’re frustrated because you know that isn’t fair of you. . . . Would you like me to pray for you? . . . What would you like me to do to help?” Something in all of that cracked through his surliness. I could hear the grouchiness fade away from his voice. “You’re right about why I’m feeling this way. I don’t know what I’ll do. Yes, please pray. And could you please get me a turtle sundae on your way home?”
I walked into the living room when I got home. My husband showed me an article about archaic words we should bring back into usage. The word on the screen was “grumpish.” He said, “I’ve been grumpish today. I’m sorry. I love you.” I handed him his turtle sundae and said, “There was no `ish’ about it. I love you, too.”
This morning, he woke me up, needing to hold me and love me. I opened my arms and welcomed him into my embrace. And a day that once would have taken over a week to get past was healed the next morning. We still have work to do in our marriage, but we’ve come a long way from where we were.