A few years ago, my husband and I spent the evening in the family room together. I was checking email, reading blogs and doing my own thing. Tom was watching TV and doing his own thing.
Companionable silence, it was nice. I just love how we could just be with one another and enjoy the togetherness.
Suddenly, out of the blue, he says, "Hey, I don't really like the way you have your hair right now."
His words hang like a giant matzo ball in the air.
I lift my attention from the screen and fix my gaze upon him. Eyes narrow.
I bring my fingertips together and feel ice run through my veins.
I purse my lips.
I'll log THAT away.
The silence stretches, until I hear myself say, "Oh really."
"It just makes your head look kind of boxy on top."
Diggin' a hole, buddy.
"I liked it better the other way."
Diggin' a deeper hole, pal.
Now he's talking faster, as if he's realized he's in dangerous territory. Except for my raised eyebrows and piercing stare, I feel I am maintaining incredible cool.
"I just saw this newscaster on TV and thought she had good hair and that reminded me that I was meaning to tell you that I liked it better when it flipped out more on the sides or something...." he trails off and mumbles incoherently.
Too late, he realizes he's just stepped into some serious doo-doo.
"Well, thanks for the advice," I say. I am annoyed.
Why would you bring THAT up out of nowhere?
I was still annoyed an hour later as we were getting ready to crawl in for the night. I ripped the covers over me and made a point of getting my pillows organized.
Hmph. BOXY? The nerve.
It was then that I realized that there is probably never a good time for a man to voice a negative opinion about his wife's hair.
Out of the blue is probably just as good a time as any, because it's never going to go over very well.
Now, a guy might want to have a good exit strategy, like a getaway car waiting with engine running, if he values his life at all. At the very least, he ought to have a big distraction to pull off, like a fire alarm or a well-timed phone call.
It's a conversation that has no good ending, just a narrow escape.
Upon reflection, (and upon seeing pictures of my hair during those years) I can see that Tom had a point. My head actually DID resemble a UPS package, and it DID look better when it kind of flipped out at the sides. He knew how important my hair is to me, and he was just looking out for me.
Lord knows I can't see the top of my own head and need a loving set of eyes to help me avoid boxy hair.
His timing was just a little off.
I'm reminded that the words we speak are just as important as the moment we choose to say them.
These days, I'm trying to make a habit of pausing for a minute before blurting out my opinions.
Is now a good time?
Would it be better to wait until a favorite television show is over?
Does the recipient of my information feel loved in the process?
Should I just sit on it for a day and think about what I want to communicate?
Should I give a heads up that there's something we need to talk about later?
Is what I have to say–and how I say it–kind and gracious?
I'm still working on this, how about you?
Prov. 16:24 Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
Today, think about the words you say before you say them. Ask for wisdom, take a deep breath, and be kind.
And tread carefully when it comes to talking about hair.