When I got married in 2003, there was a significant statement missing in my vows. When I made my promises to Julia, I told her how I would take care of her in sickness and in health and in good times and bad. And I let her know I would love her and cherish her as long as we were alive. But, what I failed to promise was that I would not be selfish. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t either, because I don’t think I would have kept it for long. And what good is a promise you can’t keep…right?
It’s a tough subject for me to talk about because…I’m a selfish person! I want to spend money the way I think it should be spent. I want to spend my free time doing what I want to do. I want someone else to cook meals for me, clean the house, and give Eli a bath at night. I want to eat at the restaurant I like. I want to watch the TV shows and movies that I enjoy. I want to prop my feet up and read a book when I’m done with a full day at the office. I want to go to bed when I want and sleep as late as I want. Oh, it would be so glorious! I’d be living like a king…doing whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to do it. HOWEVER… that in itself would not be a complete picture of my life. In order to truly understand what was going on, you’d have to see my wife and son, who were picking up the slack to provide my kingly lifestyle.
Something I have realized, is that anytime I “do what I want,” I am putting MY desires ahead of the other people in my life. For example, I love eating at Henry’s Louisiana Grill in Acworth. It’s probably my favorite restaurant. But spicy food as well seafood are two of Julia’s LEAST favorite types of food. So, if I decide that we should go to Henry’s for dinner, I am saying that we’re going to do what I want to do and I don’t care how it makes her feel. Or another example is the dishwasher. If I see that the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, it would be very easy for me to walk away knowing that Julia will get to it eventually. But, if I do that, I am telling Julia that I value my time more than I value hers. Or, if I have a night planned out with the guys, but Julia is feeling really sick and needs help. If I decide to still go out, I am putting my desire ahead of fulfilling a need she may have to be taken care of.
I don’t always get to it, but I try (whenever I have the time) to unload the dishwasher first. Not because I love to do it…but so that Julia doesn’t have to, and it’s a way I can show her love. If she is sick, I want her to know that her welfare comes first and I will cancel anything I have going on in a heartbeat if it will help her. And…as much as I like Henry’s, my wife deserves to know that I love her WAY more than I love crawfish!
Now realistically…if I decide that we should go out to eat at a spicy restaurant…and take the remote control so we have to watch a TV show that I like…and relax on the sofa while Julia cooks and cleans…that is not necessarily going to cause problems in our marriage. Sometimes you just need a break…or to watch some explosions…or to eat some cajun food. HOWEVER, if these types of decisions are the norm, it tells Julia that I feel MY interests are more important than HERS. And that she exists to serve me and meet my needs, and that if she has a problem with it, she needs to suck it up. To put it mildly, that is the LAST thing I want to communicate to her.
Stay tuned next week for the gripping conclusion to this topic…