I’m not going to waste your time telling you how unfair it is that my husband wakes up in the morning looking just like he did when he went to bed the night before, while on the other hand, my first-morning appearance could land a role on a sci-fi horror flick. Nor am I going to complain about how irritating it is when we go camping and he gets to stand up while I have to squat down with the chiggers and mosquitoes. That would all be far too trivial. There are much more important grievances that I have against this man, with whom I’ve been living now for seven years!
For starters, I’ve noticed that he’s much more forgiving than I am. Why is that a problem, you ask? Let me tell you. We get in a typical marriage spat — usually over some dilemma where I didn’t get my way — and not two minutes later, he’s over it, all smiles, and ready to be friends. Me? I’m not even to “cool down” mode for another hour or two. Wearing a scowl I try to find my own corner to lick my wounds while he runs around wearing that infuriating boyish grin, eager as a panting puppy begging for a pat on the head (in his case, a hug or kiss). Argh!
Have you begun to feel my pain yet? Wait, there’s more. I’ve also noticed he’s more teachable than me. This wouldn’t ordinarily be a problem with say, my pastor, but it’s awfully convicting living with someone who is willing to take criticism more readily and then actually do something about it. When that happens, I feel like I have to be willing to change too, a very painful daily challenge indeed.
Just when I thought I was being stretched beyond my limit, the bar went higher. I discovered that he’s more humble than me. Yes, he will say those two little magic words almost immediately when he’s wrong or hurts me. Most women would give up a shopping spree to hear their husbands say that. For me, it’s like trying to enjoy a toothache because I’m not ready to admit I’m wrong yet, even though I usually am. He seems to find great enjoyment in saying he’s sorry first and then waiting for me to do the same — like a game. This is indeed a cruel life I’m living.
And about being wrong, over the last seven years I’ve noticed that my husband hardly ever is. At first, I thought he just had a bad case of MAS (male answer syndrome). I mean, everything we talk about he seems to know why and how. When it comes to weather, geography, politics, history, entertainment, nature?who needs “Ask Jeeves?” I have my own personal information super-highway (A.K.A. human computer) living under the same roof. He seems to soak up all the details I could ever need to know, but none of the ones I ask him to remember (oops, I guess he does have a flaw).
There was that once he was wrong, though. We were on a day hike in the rugged mountains of Wyoming when a mosquito landed on my arm.
“Hmm?this mosquito isn’t biting me,” I observed. Like who sits and waits to see if a mosquito is going to bite or not?
“It must be a male,” my hubby pipes in.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“C’mon?everyone knows that only female mosquitoes bite.”
“Everyone!?” I was clearly annoyed at his condescending blanket statement.
“I’ve never heard that before and I think you’re wrong. I don’t think everyone knows everything like you do.”
It was then that the mission became personal. The quest began. Even if he was right about the stupid female-only blood-sucker, I was going to prove him wrong for once about “everyone” knowing this little piece of trivia. For the next four hours, every single person we met on the hiking trail — mountain-type people (we call them “granola bars” in Wyoming) who should know these kinds of things — got the big interview.
“Excuse me, do you know if only male or female mosquitoes bite?” People stopped, knitted their eyebrows, and looked moderately intrigued. I could tell they were glad to help out any way they could. Maybe it was the desperation they perceived in my voice.
“Uh, no, I have no idea.”
“YES! Thank you!” I cockily celebrated my victory with a little animated trail dance, my squeals echoing off the canyon walls. “Oh yeah, oh yeah, baby!” Meanwhile, the curious hiker would then give my husband an apologetic look before traveling on, head shaking in sympathy. By the end of the day, and thirty-some hikers later, my point was made. Only one hiker out of all the ones we encountered knew the correct answer, and he just so happened to be an entomologist (a fancy term for bug guy). If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I really “bugged” my husband back that day!
The last thing that really gets to me is how my husband expects a lot out of me. He insists that I take responsibility for my actions, and own up to my mistakes. That isn’t what I agreed to when I said, “I do.” But still, he is persistent that I become a woman of character.
Like the time I told a little white lie to the lady at the hardware store. I didn’t mean to?she put me on the spot and I just blurted the first thing that helped me look and feel better about myself. But it was still a lie.
My conscience was bothered all the way home. I hadn’t done something like that in a long time. As I sat down in the kitchen, I called my husband at work to admit what I had done. Perhaps my conscience would be relieved if I told someone the truth. I regretted the decision it as soon as I got the words out.
“Well, you know what you have to do now,” he prodded.
“What?” The color began to drain from my face. This wasn’t what I meant to happen. No, please, not that?
“You have to call her and tell her that you lied to her.”
“Absolutely. You’ll never get it off your conscience until you do. Isn’t it easier to just face it and be free before God? It’s never worth it to hide your sin because it doesn’t go away — it just gets bigger.”
Ouch. I knew he was right. Why did he have to be so wise, too? I quickly picked up the phone while I had the courage and dialed the number for the hardware store. When I explained to the woman how I had lied to her, and that it wasn’t the kind of person I wanted to be and I was really sorry, her comment surprised me.
“Oh, I knew you were lying to me, and I appreciate the fact that you called.”
Just think, if I hadn’t gone to her, my small-town reputation would have received a black check mark and it could have had far-reaching effects on my personal life and ministry. But because my husband made me call, a potentially bad situation was turned around.
So now you know what things really bug me about my husband. I guess it’s because, like Brussels sprouts, he’s good for me, and things that are good for me don’t always taste so good at the time. But he truly cares about me and my character, and he is always setting the example for me to become more like Christ. I guess I won’t complain anymore for now?until it’s time to go camping again.
Copyright © 2006 Julie Ferwerda, Used with permission.
Read more from Julie at julieferwerda.com