Too often we underestimate the power
Of a touch, a smile, a kind word,
Of a touch, a smile, a kind word,
A listening ear, an honest compliment,
Or the smallest act of caring, all of which
Have the potential to turn a life around.
— Leo Buscaglia
On Saturday mornings, we love to go out for breakfast as a family. We have been doing this for years. Most times we meet my in-laws for breakfast, but sometimes it’s just us. I love me a good breakfast!
I can recall a breakfast with Kathy and the kids that gave me more than I bargained for!
Emily, our daughter, was around 6, and Erik, our son, was around 1. When we got to the restaurant, we had a little waiting time, but then we were seated. So far, so good. Let me add this tidbit of info before I go any further – both kids had been battling colds leading up to this day.
Anyway, we hadn’t been seated very long when Emily stated that she had to use the restroom. She didn’t have to go while we were in the lobby waiting – right by the restrooms! The table must act as a diuretic – go figure!
I have realized, during our years of marriage, that if something is going to happen, it is going to be when Kathy is not there. Well, Kathy took her to the restroom, and I was sitting at the table with my little buddy. All of the sudden, Erik let out a sneeze that seemed to shake the table!
Now, I can change diapers with the best of them. If the kids vomited, I could clean it up. My only weakness is what comes out of the nostrils! When that happens, my gag reflex goes into overdrive! And that is exactly what happened!
I did not know that a head that small could contain the amount of stuff that came out of his nose! It was as if he had swallowed a tennis shoe and the shoestrings were coming out of his nose!! Naturally, the people sitting around us just had to look! I can still see their faces when they caught a glimpse!
People covered their mouths, dropped their forks, pushed their plates back, all while I was trying not to gag, grabbing every napkin I could find so I could wipe away the ton of snot coming out his little nose, as well as trying to keep his hands out of it! Actually, I am feeling a little queasy just telling this story! I was fervently praying that Kathy would hurry and get back! Out of nowhere, a hand offers me a bunch of napkins, and the voice of a sweet little lady said “It’s OK, honey, I’ve been there.”
About that time, Kathy and Emily got back. Everyone else ordered breakfast – I had lost my appetite!
So often, couples who are dealing with problems go into attack mode, especially under stress, attacking each other. Instead of attacking each other, we can choose to take some positive steps.
First, admit and seek help with the problem. It’s OK to let our spouse know that we need help. It does not mean you are weak.
Second, communicate and listen to each other. It’s easy to isolate when we’re having difficulty, but it’s actually one of the worst things we can do. We need to open up and talk to each other.
Third, support and affirm each other. There was such a relief when that sweet lady offered her help and encouragement. As a couple, we need to support our spouse, not belittle them, during difficult times.
Next, develop a sense of trust. Our spouse needs to know that we have their back, and that we won’t stab it.
Finally, have a sense of play and humor. Humor acts as a stress diffuser so we don‘t take ourselves so seriously. Sometimes all you can do is look back and laugh.
By the way, I did ask Erik if he minded me sharing this story with you, and he gave his OK.
You’re a great sport, buddy! I love you!
— Dr. Rick Roepke is a certified cognitive behavioral therapist and a certified Christian marriage and family therapist with Christian Family Institute.