My husband shared this quote with me, and I winced.
How true it is! I have such good intentions- all of these lovely ideas and goals, ways to show love and kindness and the gospel to others... and while I don't complete even a sliver of them, they are in my mind and make me feel fairly good about myself. Or at least give me the slightest smidgen of reassurance when I fail- I know what I meant to do, and it's my heart that counts... right?
Then I look at others, and all I can see is what they do or don't do. Instead of extending to them the benefit of the doubt, I am irritated by their shortcomings. I sum up their character and pass swift judgment, never realizing that they have the same good intentions, and the same difficulty carrying them out as I do.
Especially in my marriage. Ouch.
How easy it is to pass judgment on my husband, get annoyed by his foibles, focus on everything he doesn't do instead of all of his good qualities and actions.
And how easy it is to get upset when he does the same to me.
Obviously I can only know my own intentions- I can't see inside the mind of my husband or anyone else and know fully what they hope or plan. My own intentions will also always fog how I perceive myself. It seems fair to assume these realities as part and parcel of human nature.
Pondering this quote will hopefully inspire a bit of change, however. I'd like to stop putting on the rose colored glasses when I examine myself. I'd also like to be more generous when I'm hurt or offended by the action (or inaction) of another. Especially my husband.
In light of this, here are a few ways I can be generous and more understanding towards my husband:
- Choose to assume the best. He probably just forgot to take out the garbage because he is genuinely busy, and how many times have I done the same thing? Assume he didn't know how much Valentine's Day meant to you. Assume he can't read your mind (duh!), and won't know what you think, want, or expect unless you tell him. Try to perceive all of his behaviors through a screen of kindness, sympathy, understanding, and grace.
- Communicate more clearly. You have a better shot at knowing your husband's intentions, goals, and desires if you ask him, participate in lots of conversation, and listen to him well. And he has a better shot of pleasing and understanding you if you communicate these things to him as clearly as possible. Never assume. As much as possible, talk things out.
- Pray for him a lot. Chances are your husband would really like to improve and change as a person, believer, husband, father, and worker... he probably has good intentions, but is struggling to meet them in reality. You cannot change him, but the Lord sure can. Instead of trying to change your husband, fix your eyes on Jesus (the only perfect Husband who will not fail or disappoint), do the best you can to be a faithful wife and helper, and pray for your husband constantly. Whenever you are tempted to get frustrated or blow up, pray for him instead. When you see he is discouraged or failing to meet his own standards for himself, pray for him. When you fear he will never change or that you will both be perpetually stuck in your marriage or job or difficult circumstance, pray instead of despairing.
Now if only I can follow my own advice. The intention is sure there... the time has come to translate that into behavior.