A Red Light, Green Light Marriage

Written by Dan Seaborn on . Posted in Local

dan seabornFor a long time, red lights had a distinct way of causing dissention in my marriage. If you would've taken my wife and me and put us in any intersection that had a traffic light, you would've had the potential for an explosion of an argument.

I guess you could say I'm one of those guys who's easily distracted. If I'm driving and I have to stop at a red light, my center of focus scatters all over the place. I glance at the people in the car next to me, I watch squirrels and birds intently, I check out nearby architecture, I try to read the fine print on litter at the side of the road. Basically, I give my attention to everything but the colored circles dangling above the intersection in front of me.

Yeah, I'm that guy. Sorry if I've kept you waiting.

Believe it or not, it wasn't the honking cars behind our vehicle that led to marital disagreements while I was driving. The squabbles came mostly because I, a non-red-light-watcher, went and got married to a red-light-watcher.

"It's green," Jane would say as I looked out the window. "It's green," she'd say as I talked to the kids in the backseat. "It's green," she'd tell me as I tuned the radio. "It's green," she'd say—the very millisecond a light changed, she let me know. "It's green."

It irritated me to no end. My response to Jane's little sideseat-driver helps almost always took a condescending tone. "Can't you just give me two seconds," I'd snap, "to look up and see for myself that it's green? Does it really make that much of a difference?"

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You can imagine where it went from there. Jane defended herself, pointing out the row of cars waiting behind us and the fact that I had been totally out to lunch. Then I'd come back with the same gripe I had used in the beginning.

Back and forth we'd go, she making her point and I making mine. Neither one of us was willing to back down on the issue. So for years we went on like that, verbally needling each other about red and green lights, giving our kids yet another thing to talk about in therapy someday.

Then one random day, I made a shocking realization. Jane was right. The lights—all of them—were green. When it came to colors changing in intersections, my wife was much better than I at keeping tabs. If only I would learn to use her helps rather than rejecting them, I'd benefit greatly. Not only would I be a better driver, I'd have a better marriage.

So the next time when I wasn't paying attention on the road and Jane said, "It's green," I was ready. I looked at her, gave a big smile, and said, "Thanks." I meant it.

We drove on from there, and I haven't looked back since. And you know what? Our relationship is immeasurably better for it. Why? Not because I took the high road—I didn't. Not because one spouse let the other spouse win—that's not what happened here.

In this one small area of life and marriage, I've sought to appreciate my wife and the improvement her input offers. I've stopped spewing comebacks and I've learned to accept her helps instead, even if they make only two seconds' difference. Because, really, all this is about more than just two seconds, right?

So the next time you're behind us at an intersection, don't worry if I'm not paying attention. Sure, I'm watching grass grow and talking to the kid in the seat behind me. Sure, I'm waving out the window, and I'm staring at anything but the red light in front of me.

Still, don't worry—I won't keep you waiting. When the light turns green, I've got somebody who'll let me know.
Author Information
Dan Seaborn
Dan Seaborn is the founder of Winning At Home, Inc., an organization designed to assist and encourage people of all ages and stages of family development. As a featured speaker at churches and large-scale events such as marriage conferences, corporate functions, and university assemblies, Dan Seaborn has earned recognition as a powerful and passionate communicator. Through practical illustrations and memorable real-life examples, he encourages individuals and families to lead Christ-centered homes.

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