On Monday we looked at how relationships are not static but constantly changing due to the decisions we make. Today let’s examine some real life examples and how different decisions can affect the outcome of not only the situation but the relationship.
- Husband took the garbage out but didn’t put a new bag in the can. Sometimes wife thinks Why can’t he ever remember to finish the whole job? and makes a big production of storming to the closet to get a new bag and slamming around noisely while putting it in the can. Wife might say something to husband about it at that moment or tuck it away until a later date and bring it up in some not-so-nice comment. Either way it will colour the act negatively and put wife in a negative mood. Other times wife thinks I’m glad my husband remembered to do it so I didn’t have to ask him and will take two seconds to simply put a bag in the can and move on. Sound familiar?
- Wife has been having a hard week with her little ones at home and didn’t get around to taking husband’s suit to the cleaner and it wasn’t ready for church on Sunday. Sometimes husband thinks Man, what does she do all day that she couldn’t just drop it off on the way to the grocery store? Husband will probably say something to wife about it right away like You had time to go shopping for more toys we don’t need but not get my suit cleaned? It will colour the act negatively and put husband in a negative mood. Other times husband thinks Wow, she managed to get a hot dinner on the table at 5:30 with the crazy ankle-biters underfoot all day and decides to wear something else to church instead. Sound familiar?
- Husband made plans with buddy to watch the hockey game and called wife at 5:00 pm to say he wasn’t going to be home for dinner. Sometimes wife thinks Why can’t he ever remember to call in advance? I could have just cooked for the kids and now I have to spend the whole evening alone. What a jerk! She gets mad on the phone with husband and spends the evening sulking which leads to a fight in the bedroom before bed and, you guessed it, no nooky. Other times she thinks That guy works hard, he deserves some buddy-time. Now I have leftovers for his lunches. She has an evening to herself and ends up having a relaxing bath, doing her nails, watching a movie, reading a book, or whatever she likes to do, and when husband gets home, she’s in the mood for, you guessed it, some nooky.
- Wife spends a bunch of time working on some projects that are really important to her which means some other things get put off. Sometimes husband thinks Why can’t she just prioritize and do the important stuff instead of these other unimportant things? He gets mad that the floor didn’t get vacuumed and makes a big production of doing it himself while muttering that he worked all day and shouldn’t have to do these things. She fumes inside about his insensitivity and they go to bed angry without any nooky. Other times he thinks Wow, I married such a creative woman, just look at these <fill in the blank>. He praises her which makes her feel good and they go to bed and have some nooky.
Should I go on? These are just a few simple scenarios but the consequences and patterns are very real. In each situation, the husband and wife have decisions to make about how they will think, act, speak and listen. Each decision is either bringing them closer together or sending them further apart. Keep in mind that the path connecting the two has no end in either direction. The two can never be exactly together because they can continue to grow closer and closer. At the other end, they can never be too far apart because they can keep on walking away.
The decisions are not necessarily big steps to or from either. Many decisions are made each day, week, month, year; over the lifetime of a relationship the two can be moving to and from each other at different times and the steps are incremental. But a lot of little steps away from the other and eventually you look back and can’t see the other person.
If a person chooses for the better of the other person first, and not for the better of him/herself, they are in fact saying to the other person You matter to me. You are important. I choose us over me.
It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? It’s something that affects every relationship I have in my life. And I’m not perfect. None of us are. So I’m not always going to the make the best decision for my husband and sometimes we do walk away from each other. But the point is to make more decisions for your spouse than not so that in the long run you are growing together.
Next time we’ll look at how this concept goes from being two-dimensional to three-dimensional by placing the relationship under God.