The plaque on my office door was presented to me after my first year of practice from my colleagues as a joke. When couples stumble through my door, I watch as they read the words and either smile at each other or duck their heads. With the former response, I know we’ll have a better chance for a good outcome – when I see the later response, I know my work is cut out for me.
“She… my wife,” he points to the woman, a mere girl, “suggested we talk with you about some problems she thinks we’re having at home.” His back cradles the spindles of his chair. She perches on the one next to him. Mascara rims her swollen eyes.
“We’ve been married for two years.” His bride glances down at her shiny wedding band and twists it to the tip of her chipped nail.
“I sometimes drink and stay out all night. - just having some fun with the guys at work. She gets all mad at me and nags that I should be home with her.” He flicks a nod as she slides her ring over to the next finger.
I don’t have to do much talking in the beginning. They usually do enough on their own and the picture slowly develops before me. When I’ve collected enough snapshots of their life together, I ask them if they are ready for my help. That’s when I pull out my tools.
“This is what we’re going to use starting today. “ I set a blue two- minute egg timer on the desk between them.
“What’s it for?” She has hope written all over her face. Her husband crosses his arms and sinks into his chair.
“I use it to help couples, like you, communicate better. You’ll learn to share your feelings with a method whereby both of you can be heard.” After that speech, I pull out my next tool opening my Bible to James 1:19.
“…be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”*
She starts to explain why he never listens to her. I let her tell her side of the story for two minutes then I hold up my hand. Flipping the timer over, I turn to her husband.
“It’s your turn now.” I turn back to her. “Now you need to listen to him.”
At the end of our first session, I hand the egg timer to the couple in a white cloth bag I keep around just for this moment. They are given instructions to use the tool all week until we meet again for the next session. In my ten years of practice, I’ve never had an egg timer returned to me.
God’s plan for a healthy marriage isn’t one that always has a fire to be put out or hot spots that are ready to flare up at any moment. But quite often, one word will strike a match and the flames will shoot up destroying the relationship that has been built stick by stick. I try to teach couples that the key to a happy home is good communication. That’s why I keep boxes of egg timers on hand.
This couple only met with me for a month before they saw a vast improvement in their style of sharing their thoughts. On their last visit, the husband stopped in the doorway and pointed to my sign.
“You need to add another word here. Your sign should read God’s Fire-Fighter because that’s who you really work for.”
*James 1:19 NIV
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.