Do you ever have days where it feels as though there is a splinter, or a thorn, or some sort of irritating thistle rubbing and scratching you, just below the surface?
I don’t usually start my blogs by calling people names, of course, but I am a pretty good study of human nature and I know without a doubt that there are days when something or someone is just getting to you.
And you probably wish there were a way to just wiggle that little splinter on out.
Everything else may be going absolutely wonderfully, but the feeling of that little scratch, scratch, scratch is making you just a little crazy. You might not be able to appreciate the wonderfulness around you, because of the irritant.
One year, we went to Disneyland, which is one of my very favorite places. The very first morning, I smacked my ankle HARD on a bike rack. The resulting (swelling) bruise made it very difficult to enjoy anything because the pain was a distraction. Disneyland hadn’t changed. It was still magical. I just couldn’t appreciate it.
Sometimes relationships can be affected by “splinters” or “bruises,” too. The person has not changed. Our relationship with them is still amazing, strong, and otherwise satisfying. But the circumstances of our lives get in the way and we feel like there is a splinter irritating us.
We think, “Gee, if I could just get rid of this splinter, things would be great.”
The thing is, when we remove a splinter, sometimes we can be pretty harsh. We try using our fingertips at first, and maybe we get part of it out. Then we try the tweezers, trying to grab the end of the thing. If we can’t reach the tip, then we might widen the opening. Sometimes we open it WAY up. and the splinter is still there but now we have a wound.
Sometimes we ignore it, and hope it will go away on its own.
Sometimes it gets infected.
Sometimes, we need help. We need someone to shine a bright light on the splinter, and help us see more clearly to fix the problem.
All of these things apply to relationships, too. We can be pretty harsh when we are irritated by something outside of the relationship that is causing problems inside the relationship. We snap at each other, we get irrationally irritated by the same things that have been there since the beginning of the relationship but now we feel like we can’t bear it any more.
Sometimes we need help. Sometimes we need someone to look at the “splinter” under a strong light and use a fine touch to help us see where the problem is.
Sometimes, in our marriage or other connections, we need to go and do something nice for or with each other to ease the wound or the irritation.
We are in a season of our lives, My G and I, where things are really, really good. We have an older daughter who is independent and happy. We have a younger one who is finding her strength and spirit. We are coming to the end of a mostly-satisfying career (his) and have reached the end of an educational goal (me), and we are dreaming big dreams together. And we like each other.
The splinter is caused by the restless “what next” feeling that we are both facing, talking about where we want to live and trying to get our professional feet underneath us so we won’t be living in the car once he retires. There is both an abundance and a dearth of time before he will be finished with this part of our lives – and the push-pull urgency/inertia is getting to both of us.
Nothing has changed in our marriage, but we sometimes get distracted by the scratchy irritant. And so we are making time for each other, and for fun. We make plans for more frequent dates that have nothing to do with the Army. And we know without a doubt that the splinter will work its way out, with or without help, because we have faced other “splinters”. I know that he is not the cause of my frustration or irritation. I know that I am not the cause of his distraction or impatience.
We are not each other’s splinter. But we can be the bright light for each other, and shine a focus on the solution.