Last week one of my colleagues saw my ring and asked if I was married. With a proud beaming smile I said “YES I am married”. This was just loud enough for a few people to hear, because like most cases I when have been asked, a story of how we met would ensue and then the oohs and aaahs of a lovely friendship, all the while keep mentioning “my wife is…” and I describe her. That was the plan. But it wend totally different when she said “Well you must be stupid to have gotten married!”… this confused me. To try and redeem the situation, I told her ”we have been married for five years and going strong” and she says, “Only five? I’ve been married twenty five years and I just want to kick my husband out”, the lady next to her chimed in and said “My parents were married thirty eight years then my dad cheated on my mum”… you can guess the direction the conversation went when a bunch of single mothers who had been cheated on began to contribute. I went home feeling bad that I couldn’t get my colleagues to believe in love again by the end of the lunch time tete-a-tete. It got me wondering, “How can someone have so much bile against the person that they fell in love with?”
In my opinion, men and women alike are romantic. We experience things that we never knew when we meet the one of our dreams. Dating and early years of marriage come with a form of bliss where you are smothered in good things from your spouse, causing you to muse over things about them that impress you. These are all stored up in a special corner of your heart let’s call it the Appreciation Room. These things that cause pleasant musings could be “great cook”, “best friend”, “killer smile”, “great kisser, “well groomed”… these traits of your spouse are plastered in headlines all over the walls in the room. And when you lie on your bed or in the grass some place, it makes sense why you chose them. You are sold.
Not too far from this corner of your heart, is another place. Quite different from the Appreciation Room, this room is dark, the Depreciation Room. It has plastered in capital letters, hurtful words uttered by your spouse, poor decisions and their consequences that you have had to deal with and bad habits. These things are placed there by unmet expectations that you have had of your spouse. Many times we find ourselves going to this room when angry or upset. We end up seething over the next response we will give, we re-
live arguments, re-visit pain and hurt, this begins a path of resentment and hate. We forget the Appreciation Room, we forget that our spouse has the good traits too. And with time our image of them is distorted. You begin to hear lines like “you’ve changed” “youre not the (wo)man I met so many years/months ago”. And with time this resentment that we have of our spouse will settle and cause a separation.
“Love believes the best”
The good things about your spouse are the reason you fell in love in the first place. This aspect of love, acknowledges that our spouse has faults but chooses not to dwell on them. Here, rather than magnifying the faults of our spouse, love dwells in the appreciation room, and reminds us of the good things of our spouse. Love allows us to believe the best in them. whereas the faults of or spouse are true, we must not dwell on them. The Depreciation Room is a window for us to know how best to pray for our spouse.
“[Love] believes all things, hopes all things – 1 Corinthians 13:7”
THIS WEEKS DARE: Get two sheets of paper and a pen. On one sheet list the positive attributes of your spouse, things you like about them etc. Do the same with the negative things on the second sheet. Store these somewhere secret for a later dare. At random points during the week, pick an item from the positive list and thank your spouse for that aspect about them.
Reflective questions: When you look at the lists, which one is longer? Are they the same length? What does this say about your thoughts towards your spouse?