It was a toothbrush.
What I had done as a task of kindness was being used as a tool of division–that six inch toothbrush growing before our eyes to the size of a sword, a catapult, and then finally, a brick wall.
How can a toothbrush cause so much trouble?
This incident took place last Monday–the same day that my husband started doing The Love Dare along with some accountability partners, to learn to love more like Jesus. (I’m reading along as well, but my husband didn’t know this at this point.) Do you know what the challenge for Day 1 is?
“NO NEGATIVE WORDS. Say nothing negative to your spouse today.”
Enter: The Toothbrush.
We had both gone through our day just fine, great, no problems whatsoever. All of the usual resulting spiritual warfare and opportunities to say negative things to each other that we had been expecting- NADA. Minutes after my husband arrived home from his Monday night men’s Bible study, it happened.
My husband comes home, he’s in a good mood from hanging with the guys. I’m in a good mood, I’ve had a good evening at community choir practice. The kids are all getting ready for bed. And I’m feeling pretty good, thinking there’s probably going to be a little sheet music tonight. OH YEAH.
So I swagger on into our room where he’s plopped himself on the bed, remembering that extra bit of kindness I did for him today, and I decide to play that card to earn myself some bonus points. I decide to tell him that I replaced the head on his electric toothbrush today, gave him some new toothpaste, and bought a new bottle of mouthwash. I also bought shampoo and soap and stocked him all up on the necessities. This is his love language. I’m gold.
And then this goes down:
“That toothbrush in there? That’s a new one–”
“–NO IT ISN’T.” (He interrupts.)
In my head, in the space of about .0003 seconds: “What?? How do you know? You haven’t even looked at it. Don’t confuse me. I changed it today!!” So I repeat.
“Yes. It is. That one–“
“NO.. IT ISN’T.”
DUDE. Did he just interrupt me and call me wrong again??? Oh NO HE DIN’T.
“Yes it is–“
“–No it isn’t.”
(Yeah, we sound kind of like Kindergarteners.)
Now at this point, it occurs to me that he doesn’t realize I’ve changed the toothbrush; he thinks I’m talking about the old one.
But it’s also at this point that I’m no longer calm. The words are coming out of my mouth faster than my brain can process this and I’m more than a little peeved that I’ve been interrupted three times before I can explain that I’ve replaced the toothbrush. So I continue with this.
“I’m trying to tell you it is.”
“I’ve been using that toothbrush for months.”
“If you’d stop interrupting me, you’d let me tell you that I changed the head on that brush today, and you’d see that I’M TRYING TO TELL YOU IT’S NEW.” (I walk into the bath room and grab the toothbrush to show him.)
At this point, two things happen.
1.) The entire conversation went completely downhill.
2.) It’s clear there will be NO action tonight.
In a moment, a mere twinkling of the eye, I saw the realization flash across his face as he realized I was saying that I changed the brush head on the ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH. And instead of a happy lightbulb moment, (“Ohhh, I see what you are saying, thanks honey!”) what I got was the complete opposite reaction. Brows furrowed. Lips pursed. As if that electric toothbrush is The Worst Thing I could do to him.
So I’m holding the toothbrush in my hand, to explain this nice deed I have done, and as I’m watching his face change I hear these words:
“I’m not gonna use it.”
“I don’t want it. I won’t use it.”
Wait–WHAT?? Yes, again in the .0003 seconds it took for that to sink in, I ran through about six different emotions. What does he MEAN he won’t use this toothbrush after I spent time cleaning the brush and changing the battery and changing the brush head and all that (five minutes or so) of seriously thoughtful effort on my part? And he’s not going to use it?!
Now, I’m doing this dare, too, right? No negative words. And even if I weren’t, it’s my goal to remain calm and not overreact. I try very hard to be the best wife I can be. The right thing to do is remain calm, take a deep breath, and gently try to figure out what’s going on.
. . . So I took a deep breath.
. . . I opened my mouth to speak.
And then I yelled “FINE!”
And I threw the toothbrush across the bath room.
And I stomped out of the room.
Love Dare: Day 1. Check! (“FAILED!”)
I wish I could tell you that I was the bigger person there, that I came back and I apologized, but I didn’t. Not this time.
This time, I held on to my frustration, got ready for bed, climbed in on my side–alll the way away from his side–and sat with my arms crossed and watched the tv show we were watching. In silence. For 45 minutes. I didn’t like the silence between us, but I wasn’t ready to be the better person.
THAT’S HOW SATAN WORKS TO BRING DISCORD INTO OUR RELATIONSHIPS.
Satan does not like strong marriages.
Whenever you take any kind of step to make your marriage stronger in the Lord (attending a conference, seeking counseling, starting a prayer habit together,) you can expect spiritual pushback. It doesn’t come with a big neon sign that says “SPIRITUAL ATTACK HERE.” No. Satan is hoping you won’t see it for what it is. He will use something stupid and tiny like a toothbrush to sow discord between us. Now he has you fighting against each other, instead of fighting together against him.
Does this sound familiar?
Fortunately for us, my husband was able to take his deep breath and gently restore the relationship. As soon as the tv show was over he apologized for his part in the misunderstanding. He knocked down that brick wall in one simple act of sincere apology.
And this is exactly what he said to me. “I’m sorry for my part in that. I love you. And I don’t want a toothbrush to ruin our night, or our marriage. Can you forgive me?”
BOOM! Brick wall, be gone!
I finally recovered that “best wife” in me, let go of my irritation, and I apologized as well. We talked it out, communicating this time, and we worked that problem out smoothly.
When we see circumstances for what they really are (I mean, it was a TOOTHBRUSH for crying out loud, a toothbrush being used as a wedge between us,) we can cling to the truth instead of listening to the lie. It not coincidence that we fell victim to the toothbrush the same day we began taking some new initiative our walk with God together.
When you find yourself fighting with your spouse over something dumb (like a toothbrush,) whether it’s spiritual warfare or not, remember to keep that dumb thing in its place. IT’S JUST A TOOTHBRUSH.
It isn’t worth ruining an evening together, or building a wall over, or putting a dent in your marriage armor.
Pray for wisdom and discernment (as I later learned that my husband had done.) God will give you wisdom when you ask for it.
I’m so thankful my husband was able to keep his head and diffuse that situation. It’s easy to hang on to irritation and let it fester. But bringing peace back to the marriage relationship is a fight worth fighting. My husband and I can laugh about it now. And when I see a toothbrush, I’m reminded of how much my husband loves me. (Take that, Satan!)
And P.S. — the reason he didn’t want the electric toothbrush? It pulls mustache hairs. Valid issue! I bought him a new (non-electric) one the next day. Because I love him, too.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV)