As a wife, I am very aware of how different my husband is from me. I wake up and make lists. He stumbles into the shower. I make quick decisions. He likes to take his time. He folds his dirty clothes…..I don’t!
As humans, we are ego-centric. In the macro, Americans view other cultures with, at best, curiosity and, at worst, contempt. Why? Fear maybe? Ignorance? But, under the surface, it is a sense of superiority. We always think our way is right.
The micro is most evident in marriage. Two people from different upbringing suddenly live together and the observations begin.
Why do you brush your teeth so long?
Why do you always speak before you think?
Are you EVER spontaneous?
I have tried to be understanding and patient, because I AM a people-pleaser, but it’s not enough. I have come to appreciate something negative about myself that helps me to not just tolerate my husband’s differences, but to appreciate them.
Here it is: I THINK TOO HIGHLY OF MYSELF!
Consider our children. Some are born patient and slow. Others are constantly moving. Some are reserved and creative. Others are extroverted and dramatic. They don’t choose to be difficult. They just are who they are temperamentally.
I may identify with some of my children more than others, but I love and value them just the same. As their mother, I empathize and cheer for them. I don’t feel superior to them.
So, why don’t we treat our husbands, coworkers, and others with the same generosity?
Here is my plan for understanding and encouraging my “weird” husband.
- Remember that I am no better than him, just different.
- Remind myself of the many weaknesses I have and how he has the task of tolerating me ( weird as I am).
- Take notice of the ways he compliments me and regularly affirm him.
- If I am more competent than him in some area, refuse to feel superior, and generously use that gift to help him… No strings attached.
- Find ways to celebrate the differences instead of criticizing or comparing. (Ex: bring the towel to my sleepy husband exiting the shower instead of ignoring him as I feel SO productive and energized.)
- If I find some of his temperament traits negatively affecting our marriage, (choose only one) find a time to talk honestly with him and begin with asking him to share how you could help and love him better.
(Sometimes this exercise causes me to forget about my own grievance and to work on myself.) If not, we dialogue affirming each other and, then, discussing the issue as I see it.
So, at the end of the day, we appreciate the differences. It takes humility, patience, and work, but it’s worth it!