Family Life - Stories

A Time Not To Talk

by Dr. Kay Kuzma, - Lecturer, Author, Radio Broadcaster; Child and Family Education, Published by "Deaf-Light"

The best way to solve a problem is to talk about the problem. Right? Well, not always. Sometimes the best thing to do is act first and talk later.

Carrie and her husband, Al, and their three little girls were living for a year in a tiny one-and-a-half bedroom home. Al was in college. They had lots of love in that home.

The family did not have much room in their house. A small bedroom closet and a small kitchen closet were the family's storage spaces. The small bedroom closet was stuffed or filled with clothing. The cans of beans, the jars of applesauce, paper bags, children's toys, and other things were in the kitchen closet. The kitchen closet was getting more things all the time. Carrie tried to keep the kitchen closet clean.

Al was a perfectionistic husband (a person who always keeps things clean and in order). Al was happy when everything in the house was neat and orderly. But if the house was a mess, Al was not happy.

Al did not have time to see the kitchen closet. But more things were added to the kitchen closet until the floor was almost completely covered.

Carrie knew she should clean the closet. She had been telling herself for a week that she must clean the closet. But Carrie had many other important things to do.

One day Carrie saw a rat running across the floor and into the closet. Carrie knew she was in trouble. She grabbed a broom and screamed, "A rat! A rat is in the closet. Help!" Then Carrie remembered about the messy closet. What should Carrie do? She did not want Al to see the mess. But Carrie really needed Al's help to kill the rat. Carrie decided that killing the rat was more important than trying to hide the closet from Al. So Carrie called for help again.

Al put down his chemistry book and went to the closet. He looked inside and said, "What a mess! Why is there is so much stuff in here? You were home all day. Why can't you keep this closet clean?" Al was very upset to see the messy closet, and he scolded his wife, Carrie.

"I did not ask for a lecture," Carrie said angrily, "I asked you to kill the rat!"

Al said, "it sounds like you are angry."

"I am!" Carrie said.

"Well," said Al, "maybe we better talk about this problem." Al was ready to try what he had learned in his relational psychology class. Then Al sat down in the chair.

Carrie could not believe what was happening. "Talk!" Carrie said. She put the broom in the air to hit the rat. "A rat is in the closet and you want to talk?" Carrie, at this time, wanted to hit her husband's head with the broom.

Al knew that he had made a mistake. Al decided to kill the rat first and talk later. Al and Carrie sat down and discussed the problem after Al killed the rat.

This story tells us that when a rat is in the closet is not the time to talk. Act first, then talk. When the emergency is over, both husband and wife will have the time and emotional energy to talk about the problem.

But DO NOT talk when....

  • ... the soup is boiling over,
  • ... the dog is digging in the new lawn,
  • ... the telephone is ringing,
  • ... you are very tired, or
  • ... you are late for work.

What is the best way to solve a problem? When there is a problem, act first, talk later! And everyone will feel better.

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