Years ago, we realized that when big topics come up, the wisest and kindest thing to do is to let my introverted husband mull them over for a few days. He comes back with insightful responses, calmed and more cautious than perhaps other parties might concoct.
Recently, we decided that Mr. M is not the only one who needs a waiting period. Mine's a little different: I have to wait a few days before I'm allowed to argue with an idea.
(pause for snickering)
It's damn uncomfortable. The suggestions I most want to fight are the gentlest ones: "Have you thought about talking to X? I think they're really in your corner?" "The Biscuit really loves you." "How about you go out with friends this week?" I can fight absolutely anything, but absorbing kindness and grace, genuinely allowing them to sink in, is far harder.
I'm taking the idea out of the house a little more these days. When I start to inwardly roll my eyes, I choose to wait a week.* This habit is changing the way I listen. Sometimes. When I'm willing.
At its best, marriage (intimate relationships, period-- friendships, siblings) can be a safe incubator for all the terrifying growth that helps us become who we were created to be. Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday, and some of my very favorite preachers talked about how the wonder of the Trinity is that God's very self is intimate relationship, and that our call to holiness is a call to be loving, vulnerable, and connected. I've waited a week, and I think that's right on.
*Sometimes I still think I'm dealing with an idiot a week later. It's growth, not delusion.