I will always be thankful to the Lord that He allowed me to understand some important principles early on in my marriage. I think it has saved us large amounts of grief and frustration. And while this post is going to be written in the context of my marriage, I think the same principles apply to friendships, coworkers, and fellow church members.
I know I brag on David a lot here and it is easy to do so because I just think he is the most wonderful man and I am his biggest fan. But the reality is that he is a man. I’m a woman. And men and women are different.
For example, when we were in our very first week of marriage, just back from our honeymoon, there were still piles of gifts in the living room. We had gone right back to work and had not had time to put them all away. Being the neat and orderly person that I am, I decided I could not look at them one more minute.
So I picked up a pile and took them to the back bedroom which was actually being used as our office. The room was about 10 x 20 and David was on his computer at the far end of the room. I put the pile of gifts on the floor and walked back to the living room, not saying anything but fully expecting that he would follow me and help me. I picked up another pile and brought them back there. David was still completely focused on his computer screen. I went back to the living room and got another pile. When I arrived in the back room I put them down with a little more force that I assumed said, “Hello? Don’t you see what I am doing? Don’t you think you should help me?”
I continued to carry the piles back there, putting each one down with a little more, shall we say, emphasis.
Nothing. He never moved from what he was doing.
Eventually I was done and went away thoroughly irritated that he had not taken the time to walk away from the computer and help me.
A little while later, David came out of the office and noticed the gifts were all out of the living room. He said, “When did you move all the gifts?”
Now, you would have to know my husband. He is as honest and kind as the day is long. I knew there was no way he was egging me on. He truly never saw me or heard me putting those gifts in the very room where he was sitting not twelve feet away.
It was a revealing moment. I mean, I had heard all the jokes about how men get so absorbed in the newspaper or sports that they are totally oblivious to anything around them. But now I was LIVING with one of “those men”. What had I gotten myself into?
Well, I didn’t learn the lesson right there, but over the course of the next several weeks David continued to do things that irritated me. They weren’t even things that were wrong. They just weren’t the way ***I*** wanted them to be done. Truth be told, I can’t even remember now what they were. (Which is a good sign!)
But one day when I was tempted to be upset again, it was as though the Holy Spirit turned on the lightbulb in my head and said to me, “Sallie, you can either let this kind of stuff bother you your whole life or you can let it go. You can laugh or cry.”
The lesson took and I’ve never forgotten it.
In fact, I didn’t realize how often I said, “Laugh or cry” until one day about a year later my school principal wrote in a staff newsletter about some topic and said, “Just like Sallie always says, you can laugh or cry.”
Wow. I must say it an awful lot.
And to this day, I still think and say it an awful lot about all kinds of situations. Clients that give us headaches, rude shoppers… In our society today there is no end of opportunities to apply this.
The other important principle that the Lord impressed upon my heart is the piece of advice I gave to a good friend who got married last December. At her shower each of us gave one piece of advice. Mine was this – always give your husband the benefit of the doubt.
I am sure that following this piece of advice has made our marriage much more peaceful. I know that David is completely for me and so when he does some of those “male” things or behaves in a way that confuses me, I always try to err on the side of giving him the benefit of the doubt. I trust that there is a reason behind why he has said or done something. I just need to understand what that is. I cannot imagine how many arguments and disagreements we have been spared because we operate under this principle.
And so while we will probably always be a boy and a girl trying to figure each other out while living together in the covenant of marriage, we know that the journey will be so much sweeter each day if we choose to laugh and always trust the other has our best interest in mind. After almost nine years we see this to be true and trust it to be true in the years ahead.