p.s. He’s so going to kill me for this.
When Greg told me he decided to do The Love Dare as a focus for us this year, I was surprised. I think we have a great marriage...there haven’t been any recent valleys or bad times (that I was aware of, at least). But he decided he wanted to do it to fireproof our marriage (pun intended). To take it to the mountaintop. You want to focus on us? You got it, babe.
He came up to me the other morning with his book and said, “This is going to make you uncomfortable. Are you ready?”
“I don’t know. What is it?”
“You have to tell me three things that irritate you about me, that get on your nerves.” He opens his book and is poised with his pen, waiting.
“Really, three things?”
I push away the computer and sit there feeling an intense amount of pressure.
“Okay. Sometimes...and I know you don’t mean anything by it...I know it’s not directed at me...” And I tell him the first thing.
He writes it down without comment. “What else?”
“I don’t know. Can I think about it and get back to you?”
This is the point in the story, when relayed to a dear friend, she said, “Really? You couldn’t just come up with three? I could come up with three and he’s not even my husband!” (All in good fun, of course.)
A full 24 hours later, I tell him the other two things. “Okay. Sometimes...and I know you don’t mean anything by it...and I know I do it too...but it’s just that...” And I tell him the other two things that I had to work really hard at thinking about.
Yes, this was an extremely uncomfortable exercise for me.
I absolutely loathe confrontation. I hate bringing up things that bother me. I know it’s unhealthy, I. KNOW. But I hate it. I hate the uncomfortable feeling it gives me. I think a lot of it stems from being raised in a home where my mom was a really dominant personality...and according to her she was the one who was right all the time and if I disagreed I had an “attitude problem.” (This is nothing I haven’t told her, and she is a completely different person today.) Being the firstborn, I decided it was easier to adopt a peacemaker mentality and just stuffed it all in order to maintain the peace. So expressing things that bother me is just plain hard because I was never encouraged to before. Never invited to before.
I’ve been given the greatest husband in the world. He is not perfect, but he’s absolutely the most perfect fit for me. When I was single I wrote out my list of things I wanted in a husband (yes, I really did this), and Greg is not only everything I wanted, but he’s all the things I didn’t know I needed. But God did.
So yes, his strengths so far outweigh any weaknesses or imperfections, that it really was hard to think of three things that irritate me. When you’re sitting on the beach watching the sunset, do you instantly think about how uncomfortable the sand in your shorts is? When going for a hike in the mountains do you miss the beauty of your surroundings because of the wild weeds? Every rose has its thorn. Cliche but true. But you don’t look at the rose and immediately focus on the thorns, do you?
There’s so much that’s amazing about Greg that having football on the TV all the time truly isn’t irritating. Just like with my friends. I don’t focus on Friend #1’s perpetual Pig Pen-like cloud of negativity. I don’t zero in on Friend #2’s inability to ask me how I am until after 30 minutes of drama updates. I tend to forget how Friend #3 is constantly late and will probably even be late meeting Jesus at the pearly gates. Everyone has their flaws. But when you love someone, the flaws sort of fall by the wayside and you don’t see the irritants first when you look at them. You see their heart.
The exercise was great because it reinforced to me that I have permission at any given time to voice a frustration with Greg. I’ve always known it, but it’s nice have an invitation from someone who wants to not just know, but to make it better.
It was also a good exercise because it made me all the more grateful for the man I have. He is a completely hands-on, phenomenal father. He always puts me first, not just in word but in deed. He would do absolutely anything for me. He’s told me before all I have to do is say the word and he walks away from ministry in a heartbeat. I would never in a million years ask him to, but know beyond a shadow of a doubt he’d do it without so much as a question or look back. He supports anything I want to do, and will be as flexible as possible to help in any way. If I decided tomorrow I wanted to run for Governor of North Dakota, he’d quit his job and we’d move within the month. No question.
I am incredibly blessed. So much so that I tend to overlook baseball hats thrown at the TV in disgust over a bad play in a Georgia game. Or the late hours playing Wii. Or the dirty dishes left in the sink without being rinsed off.
Those things are just thorns. And the thorns won’t prick you if you know how to hold the rose.