My husband and I started dating the 2nd semester of our junior year of college. We were first friends and I’d been to his house before, but I’d never seen his bedroom. He lived in a house with one other guy and it was a typical college bachelor pad. The first time I went into his bedroom, though, my reaction was this–
I looked around his tiny room and it was clear that a homemaker he was not. His socks were stiff and were walking around. I’m fairly certain they could talk. There were bowls of something mysterious sitting on his desk that looked like he was conducting a science experiment on bacteria. I’m a neat freak so my fingers started to tingle with the desire to clean up. I had daydreams of myself cleaning it up spic-and-span and then shouting, “I have exorcised the demons! This room is clear!”
I knew going into our relationship that my husband was not a man that was going to pick out curtains, fluff pillows, spruce up the couch (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what it means to spruce), or concern himself with organizing much of anything within the home. But, I wasn’t looking to marry an interior decorator/maid. I’m sure my cleanliness can drive him crazy at times, because I operate under the rule of “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
When we were first together, we also had epic debates on…Mayo vs. Miracle Whip, butter vs. margarine, and other such things. We’d each grown up using different foods with our families and when we came together as husband and wife, one of us had to relinquish. This was serious stuff, mind you. We each defended our favorite condiment with a spirit of true passion. In the end, I gave into him, and to this day we eat Mayo and butter. For real, though, it was hard to give up the tangy goodness of Miracle Whip, but in the name of marital love, I did it for him.
Dustin has also had to learn to quell many dramatic episodes in our married life. I’m dramatic, I’ll admit it, and sometimes I get worked up and phone calls to his work have to be made. Often times, these phone calls are made in a state of tears and panic, but, dang it, stuff happens! Sometimes there is an evil spider positioning itself on the ceiling in just a way so as to drop on your head, thereby proceeding to suck all your blood and leave you for dead. Sometimes, your stupid eye doctor hints that you might have an aneurism and then casually says, “But, we’ll just wait and see how things go.” WHAT?! All that being said, I do realize that Dustin has to deal with my throws of excitement and he handles it so well. If he rolls his eyes at me, he does it behind my back. Except he does roll his eyes over the spider thing, but I’m not backing down from that. It’s real, true, and totally rational.
Then there is my husband’s phone screen, which nearly sends me into convulsions. Does he not see them? How does he function in a world where there are red numbers on his screen?! I have to look away.
To be fair, Dustin has to deal with my hyper-critical passenger seat driving comments. I get great anxiety when he drives over 70, so most of the time, I’m “encouraging” him to slow down.
“Amy, I can’t drive 20mph under the speed limit. It’s not safe.”
“Just drive a little under. That will make me feel better.”
“I am driving under. We’re practically at a stand still.”
“I see no problem with that.”
Poor Dustin probably feels like he’s driving Miss Daisy around.
If you are looking to marry someone who is perfect, you will die looking. Every human being has things about them that are weird, annoying, irksome, or downright frustrating. Men spend exorbitant amounts of time going to the bathroom. The reason why is a mystery to the female race. Men have to weather the storm a couple of days a month when women turn into this–
It’s popular in our culture today to say that marriage is just a contract between two adults. It’s not just a contract, though, it’s a vow, a covenant, a promise. A contract is a deal you make between two people who agree to do something for each other. Let’s say you hire a person to build a deck for you. You sign a contract. They agree to build you a deck, you agree to pay them if they do what they say. It works in the business world.
Marriage isn’t a business, though, and who really ever enters it wanting it to be handled that way? Talk about killing the romance from the get-go! No, marriage is a covenant that we enter into where we promise to love this person as unconditionally as possible. The sacramental grace of marriage helps us do this. A contract would say, “Well, we’ll stay together as long as you do this for me and don’t annoy me too much. To add to that, you need to just put up with everything I dish out.” A lot of marriages do operate this way and it’s a huge reason why we have broken families littering the landscape. A vow is binding. A contract is contingent. Love is not real love if it’s contingent. It says more about us than others if we dole out our love only if the other person pleases us all the time.
There are certain aspects of our spouse’s behavior that we should encourage them to change if it is sinful. We are, after all, caretakers of their soul and if we really want them to be with us in heaven, we need to guide them to betterment. It’s important to remember, though, that serious character flaws are not the same thing as quirks, irks, and differing preferences. Your spouse isn’t going to operate just like you and do everything just like you. We can’t elevate these issues to deal breaker level. They’re just part of being human.
So, if your spouse chews loudly, or snores, or can’t see the mess in the kitchen, learn to love them anyway. If your spouse leaves the toothpaste cap off, never cleans out their car, or hogs the bedcovers, learn to love them anyway. Remember, they have to learn to love you through a lot of annoying habits, too. Only in heaven will our spouse be made perfect, so until then, we can work out our sainthood by loving them well.