Our church has just begun a marriage series and at the latest service, my husband and I were called on - without any warning - to be "game show" contestants. The goal was to determine how well we really know each other.
We each were asked,
What is the husband's idea of an ideal date night?
The answer choices were,
A) a tv movie and pizza rolls
B) roughing it in the wilderness, gazing up at the stars
C) dinner and a movie in Destin
D) car repairs in the garage while listening to the Beatles
I answered (B); he answered (C).
We giggled, rolled our eyes at each other, and sat down.
It might appear that we don't actually know each other all that well but the opposite is actually true. See, I know that my husband loves to be in the woods and that he'd be perfectly happy for us to spend entire weekends tromping through the wilderness. And my husband knows that while I'm willing to be anywhere that he is, dirt and weeds and bugs are not really my thing. So his logic is that an ideal date for him is one that makes me happy.
[However, to carry on from here without claiming the win (for myself), even if on technicality, would be against everything that is within me. Some of you know that I just can't do it.]
I can give a better example of just how well we know each other.
Honey comes home from a loooooong day of work
only to find the egg pan soaking in the sink
even though the dishwasher is full of dirty dishes.
I know this will probably spoil his afternoon, make him a little fruity, even,
because his number one love language is acts of service.1
And so he will respond to the egg pan in what seems most reasonable a fashion -
that is to huff and frown until he eventually has an opportunity to say,
"You know this spoils my afternoon, makes me a little fruity, even."
This is his return to me: to notice this instead of that I did do the litter box...
because my number two love language is words of affirmation.1
For whatever reason (or comic relief for who knows Whom), our love languages are fairly opposite. I could care less if the sink is full of dishes so long as honey and I are together. (Quality time is my number one.) Conversely, he can't really do the quality time thing if the house is a mess. Ha. Ha, ha ha.
I certainly do not claim any kind of authority on "perfect marriage." I wake up most days and wonder how in the world it is that I am married - how he puts up with my pan-blind, dust-tolerant ways.
Seriously, though. We have some woes - some of them serious - like most folks do, I think. We work. We have kids (and grand-kids.) We breathe. It's hard to get through this life unscathed, especially when it comes to relationships and our marriage should be the most important and most beneficial relationship that we have (second only to the relationship we have with Jesus.)
Here, let me say...my mentor told me once that I probably shouldn't be too specific about certain past experiences because it can create an everlasting image...so let me just say that I have a lot of experience with bad relationships. I have that kind of (ancient) history. And I'm pointing to it only because I want you to know that I know that not all situations are the same. Not all people are perfect or lovely. There's some awful, rotten stuff out there.
I just happen to know some good things too. Things that can make a marriage better than it is, can move it toward what God has in mind for it to be.
Philippians 2:1-4 says,
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."
Look back at our game show answers.
He would choose for my benefit.
And I would do the same for him.
And then, if you re-consider the sink/sad thing, we obviously have further to go.
You wanna know what helps me, personally, to keep going? Some people might like to torque themselves around a man who doesn't notice every single good thing but has a word about the fault.
I know better.
While I have a thousand excuses for leaving it in the sink, I know better.
I try not to miss that "loooooong day of work" bit either.
That's him speaking his number one love language.
It's such a small thing, really, to put a pan in the dishwasher, and when I do, he's so much more likely to tell me how lovely a job I did with the litter box.
Next time, maybe we'll even do it together!
1 There's a book, a website, and a test on this subject. We haven't taken the test but we will (though I'm pretty confident that we already know.) For your consideration, 5LoveLanguages.com
Also, just on the off-chance that anybody should read anything into the title of this post, I am most assuredly not a universalist.