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Signs

Anne LaBarbara finally snapped. Her husband, Frank, told her he wouldn't be leaving his workplace at 5 p.m. to start their vacation as he'd promised. Instead, he opted to take care of some machinery that was breaking down at the plant his family owned.

If only he'd opted to take care of his wife who was breaking down.

When Anne Stormed into his office and demanded he shut down the factory, her mother-in-law was there and tried to intervene. In the ensuing brawl, Anne punched her beloved MIL several times, yelling, "I've been waiting a long time to do this!"

Unfortunately, another woman tried to break up the fight (no word on what Frank was actually doing during this time!), so Anne grabbed a plaque and smacked her with it. As the former good Samaritan yanked clumps of hair from Anne's head, the women wrestled to the floor. Finally Frank broke it up—just in time for Anne to stomp out, yelling, "We're through!" They're now divorced. When I first read this account in our local paper, I was tempted to laugh. It sounded like a scene from a Hollywood comedy. But as I read the story to my husband, Scott, I began to pity this woman. What could possibly bring Anne to the point where she attacked her mother-in-law and another woman over her vacation starting a little late?

Had her husband's brush-off been just one in a laundry list of slights to their marriage? How many times had he pushed aside a commitment to his family so he could take care of business? How many times had she been made to feel like a runner-up? How often did Mom-in-law butt in?

I'm certainly not condoning what Anne did. Yes, she was probably imbalanced. No, she shouldn't have punched her mother-in-law. But when you get to the brink, sometimes you do things because you feel it's your only option. Finally, your actions mirror the voice screaming inside you: Hear me! Appreciate me! Love me! Spend time with me! Romance and respect me!

I wish Anne and Frank would have read the signs of trouble and acted on them before Frank's mother got socked in the jaw. I bet Frank's mom wishes that too.

But mostly, I wish they would have been willing to put the good of the marriage before everything else—including broken machinery and 5 p.m. vacation schedules.

Anne and Frank's story got our attention. Scott and I promised each other we'd watch for signs of a positive or negative effect on our marriage—and not let the negative ones build. But mostly we promised we'd leave for vacation at 4:30 p.m.—and we'd both keep away from plaque-weapons and in-laws.

Now that we've officially entered summer and vacation season, my hope for you is to have a wonderful time with your family and friends. Get away from the hustle and bustle and stress and noise. You'll be glad you did. And if you have one, your mother-in-law will thank you for it!

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Ginger E. Kolbaba

Ginger Kolbaba is the author of Desperate Pastors' Wives and The Old Fashioned Way. Connect with her on Twitter @gingerkolbaba.

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