Last night as I sat and watched Nova, Selena was quietly nursing and reading a book about baby stuff. I looked over at her, reflecting about all she gives to our little family – sacrificing herself constantly for the welfare of our 8 month old daughter. I marveled at her unwavering support of me with deep appreciation.
“You’re an incredible wife and mother”, I expressed. “I see all you do, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.”
Still reading, she looked up at me with her beautiful brown eyes and olive complexion and said, “Don’t play with your beard, it’s annoying.”
“What?? Really??” I thought.
I’m pouring out my deeply felt appreciation for you, validating your hard work, and reinforcing your role as grand matriarch of our tiny family, and your first reaction is to tell me how annoying I am?!?
I was miffed. She continued reading. I scooted a few inches away from her on the couch and angled my body passively in the other direction.
“Whatever…“, I dismissed her mentally.
As I write this it’s comical, but at the time I felt defeated and angry.
“Are you mad?” she asked.
“I give you a compliment and your response is to tell me how annoying I am?!?”, I was indignant.
She promptly recognized her discourtesy and recanted, “I’m sorry! I didn’t think about what I was saying…!”
I heard her apology but I still felt pouty and upset. We were having a great evening together, and now it’s ALL ruined! At least that’s how I felt.
In my mind, however, I knew I had a choice: let it go, or hold on.
It took about 7 minutes, but I loosened my grip and did indeed “let it go”.
Let it Go
As I write this I keep singing that song from Frozen in my head… “Let it go!! Let it go!!! Blah blah blah bla bla bla blaaahhh“, and so on. I assume you’ve heard it.
There is one lyric in that song that applies nicely:
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past!
Some things are worth holding onto, others are best left behind… I mean truly ditched in the past.
I share our experience to help bring it down to earth – into real life. Many times when we hear axioms like “forgive and forget” or “there are bigger fish to fry“, they’re just sort of out there. They’re great advice for sure, but to be used for something else, some other time.
Actually, the time and place to apply such advice is nearly every day in your marriage.
Pebbles in Your Shoe
In marriage, the little offenses creep in and steal your joy if you don’t learn to overlook them (Prov 19:11). Like small rocks in your shoe, they begin bruising your heal and causing greater pain if they’re not removed.
Your marriage is your ministry and you have a purpose beyond your immediate happiness. There are mountains to climb, and you must climb them side by side! How can you climb mountains together if you’re both agonizing about tiny pebbles in your shoes?
Empty your shoe, get rid of the pebbles, and get on with life.
Now, what Selena said did hurt me and my hurt was legitimate. I had the right to be mad – after all, I was going out of my way to say something nice and she trampled all over me (so I felt).
Her actions had that effect but that certainly wasn’t her intention. She was reading a book and thinking about other things. What I said probably didn’t register completely. Her intentions weren’t to hurt me or disregard what I had said.
But I wanted to stay mad.
“This is a BIG deep problem with appreciation in our marriage”, I thought.
No, it wasn’t.
I kept quiet until the sting wore off, then I decided to just let it go. Did I feel like it? Nope! But I had to see past her words and try to understand her intentions.
Actions vs Intentions
In marriage we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, and our spouses by their actions. The opposite is much more productive.
We should seek to realize our spouse’s intentions – while being conscious of how our actions affect them. If both husband and wife take this approach, communication will be much healthier and small offenses won’t inhibit progress toward bigger, more important objectives.
When it comes to small frustrations and missteps, remember this: seek understanding first, you have bigger mountains to climb, and whenever necessary, let it go.
What are some small offenses you’ve had to let go?
Are there pebbles in your shoe the need to be emptied out?
Please answer in the comments below.