Music was streaming softly over the airwaves as I cooked dinner. My entire MP3 library was playing on shuffle mode, keeping me guessing which song was on deck. A couple beats into a new song, my thoughts flew down memory lane. That particular CD, released about the same time I began dating Jason, was filled with songs of lost love. I was immediately transported back in time when I was driving with Jason in my car and listening to this very album. I shared with him the details about how my ex-boyfriend, Tommy, had recently given me the CD along with a note. I clarified that while I did not have feelings for Tommy anymore, I did enjoy the music. As the songs continued with the same need-you-back-in-my-life theme, Jason’s face and posture communicated his discomfort. When I asked him what was wrong, he sarcastically replied, “Nothing. I think it is just great that Tommy got you this CD filled with songs about wanting you back.” I sat wide-eyed, looking innocent, but inwardly I resembled someone rubbing her hands together, smiling wickedly. My plan had worked.
I wanted to awaken Jason to the idea that there was someone else pursuing me. I deeply desired Jason to be jealous for me. So I spun a story (aka lied) about a guy who did not exist.
Because, you see, I am a retaliator.
When I first started dating Jason, I felt as if I lived in the shadow of his ex-girlfriend. I was jealous of not only his past with her but also the fact that during the first several months of our relationship, she still captivated his heart. As the old expression goes, I set out to give Jason a taste of his own medicine. I wanted him to feel uncomfortable about the fact I was still friendly with a man who wanted to marry me.
The beeping timer from the oven snapped me back into reality. On one hand, that teenage girl who lied about a nonexistent ex-boyfriend seems so unlike the woman I am now. Praise God for the years he has been maturing me and my relationship with Jason. However, I still struggle with retaliation.
I’ve written before about how my family loses when I choose to be a reactive wife. I wish I could pass off this story as nothing more than me reacting poorly to a situation, but the truth is it was a premeditated lie. I mentally planned my story and rehearsed it out loud several times prior to our car ride. I spent time, energy, and money plotting how to achieve my destructive goal. No, I wasn’t merely reacting to a situation. I was retaliating.
Almost eleven years into my marriage, I can name a few times I have decided Jason needs to know how I feel. I think of a story to spin or a situation to create, and then I lie in wait. When the opportunity presents itself, I skillfully execute my plan in hopes of hurting my husband. There isn’t anything noble or beneficial about this process, and yet I still spend hours of my life planning, scheming, and acting out these betrayals.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. ~Proverbs 31:12
No good will ever come from my eye-for-an-eye attitude. Laughing it off, minimizing it, or casting blame won’t negate the evil that I honestly relish. I can’t claim to be a wife of noble character and continue in this destructive behavior. I must put to death the part of me that thrives on retaliation if I want to be a wife who pleases the Lord and brings my husband good, not harm, all the days of my life.
Do you struggle with a need to retaliate?