Don’t Play With Matches!

As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. Proverbs 26:21 NIV

“I can’t find the thing,” I spat into the phone.

“Which thing?” my husband questioned me.

“The thing. The thing! The thing that tightens the car seat!” My patience thin, I shouted into the phone while my husband tried to explain how to install my daughter’s car seat.

I hunched in the back of the van, stepping on toys and castaway cereal, heat dripping down my face, trying for the life of me to find the magical tightening strap for baby Grace’s seat. The temperature outside was ninety-eight. I was sure it was ten degrees hotter in my vehicle.

Later that afternoon when my husband came home, an apology was necessary for my short temper and blistering tongue. “It’s okay,” he told me as he kissed my forehead, “I knew you were just hot.”

Heat is one of my trigger factors.

When tempers quickly flare in any relationship, trigger factors are often the reason. They are outside influences that can affect our temperament and lead to conflict. Trigger factors vary for each person. Mine are heat and clutter. One of my husband’s is hunger. If he is hungry, he will often snap at me for no good reason. He isn’t actually mad at me; he just has a hard time controlling his emotions on an empty stomach.

Think of a match. At first strike, it flares and fizzes, then settles down for a quiet but quick burn. You can do two things before you get scorched.

1. Drop the match and leave it alone; it will sputter out in a hurry. Or
2. Throw the match on something and start an even bigger fire.

When your spouse hits a trigger factor, it’s like those matches. You can drop the issue and choose to overlook some harsh words knowing you aren’t the true cause. Or you can start a rip-roaring fire by focusing on the quick flare.

Identify trigger factors for both you and your spouse. Next time you sense a fight coming on, look for those tricky little nuisances and make a choice. Drop it or start a fire.

Choose wisely.

9 Responses to Don’t Play With Matches!
  1. Barbie
    January 7, 2011 | 1:02 am

    Oh you sound like me, calling everything “the thing”. I do it more often than not these days. And you are so right in how we respond to our triggers. I am far too edgy most days. I need to learn to drop it.

    • Carol Hatcher
      January 12, 2011 | 10:42 am

      Thanks Barbie. I find myself edgy lately, and I have to stop and ask myself what the real issue is. Usually it’s not the “things” that have caused me to explode.

  2. Kendra
    January 7, 2011 | 6:07 am

    This article was so intuitive. Reading your words made me really step back and examine what my triggers were-tiredness and clutter. I even forwarded the article to my husband so he could read it and I asked him what he thought his triggers were. Your words have ignited an important conversation in my home.

    Thank you,

    • Carol Hatcher
      January 12, 2011 | 10:44 am

      Thank you so much for your sweet words. I am so happy that something I said (really God through me) has caused you to have a conversation with your hubby about trigger factors. The key to a great marriage is communication. Hope this year brings great blessings to your marriage.

  3. Kimberly
    January 10, 2011 | 3:49 pm

    This is so good, Carol! I always appreciate your posts on marriage. What an excellent comparison to a match when it is first struck…it does sputter and make a big fuss. Thanks for this image. I have had to learn to let little things go, and having the image of dropping the match instead of letting a great big ol’ fire start is great!

    I will have to share this imagery with my husband and with my girls. We all could learn to drop a few more matches. 🙂

    Love you, friend!
    K 🙂

    • Carol Hatcher
      January 12, 2011 | 10:46 am

      Thanks sweet friend. I’m oh so guilty of throwing the matches. Sometimes the giant flash of light frightens me, and my gut reaction is to throw and run. I need to stand and recognize what is really happening. I think Satan uses that flare to cause many fire that could have just as easily been stomped out.

  4. Cheri
    January 12, 2011 | 11:03 am

    Thanks so much for this. It really has me to thinking about my triggers. Amazingly enough they are the same as yours! But I already knew we were alike. 🙂 Thinking about my mans now and know of one for sure…maybe I shouldn’t put that on here though. Yes, that’s right, gotta keep those home fires burning in the right way, huh Carol? Thanks again for sharing in such a way that we all can ‘get it.’ :0)

  5. Della Palmer
    January 13, 2011 | 10:13 am

    Carol, your advice is excellent. I certainly
    enjoy your devotions. Your children are precious.

  6. Alisa Hope Wagner
    January 29, 2011 | 8:07 pm

    These are very wise words! One of my triggers is a lot of loud noise. I have gotten better since having kiddos!