Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Not Missing the Obvious in Marriage

Recently we drove to Dallas with our daughter, her husband and our grandson Liam to see my sister who was there for a conference. She hadn't seen little Liam personally nor been with the kids lately so we thought it would be fun to drive up for an overnight to get everyone together.

We eventually made it to the hotel fairly late in the evening, all of us pretty tired. The baby of course needed to get settled right away so we all headed for our rooms and said goodnight. Jackie and I quickly unpacked and as a "normal" man would do I looked for the remote so that we could at least watch the news before we went to sleep.

But I couldn't find it. I searched near the TV, on the desk and even on the floor nearby. Not seeing it I asked Jackie about it and she too came and looked some more, going through drawers, opening up cabinet doors but all to no avail. I was just about to call the desk and ask for another one when Jackie said, "Look!" And sure enough there was the remote, standing on end, right next to the TV and a water bottle!

I wondered if it had just materialized. It was like looking at one of those pictures that has a hidden object or person in it but you just don't see it right away. I said to my wife, "How could we have missed it when it was there in front of us all the time?" Other than the fact that we were a little tired, the only explanation (well . . . other than I'm a moron) seems to be that our eyes weren't looking for it standing up on end. Our past orientation was such that we expected to find it in a certain position or location but not standing up!

Because our minds apparently weren't open to another alternative we'd missed it completely when it was there all the time. I wonder if we sometimes don't bring a similar blindness to our marriage and parenting. We've gotten so used to only seeing in certain ways, living in a comfortable framework, that we miss the obvious when it's right there staring at us.

So in this post and the next I want to remind us of a few things that we perhaps need to see more in our homes, things that are probably there but that we may miss if we're not looking. Let me start with marriage.

First, don't miss your spouse's uniquenesses. Yes, sometimes these special traits may have become irritants or qualities that we simply don't resonate with much of the time. But enjoy and appreciate them anyway. God often uses our differences to bring strength to an area of our weakness or to help us see things that we would not.

Jackie typically looks at things with a much more tender and emotional eye than I do. And over the years that has helped soften me and make me a better husband, pastor and counselor. But there were times when I didn't know what to do with her way of reacting. Now I'm glad she's uniquely made with that wiring.

Second, don't miss opportunities to give praise. We all need to know that what we do matters and that we are loved and yes we can only get those two things in adequate amounts from God. However, it always helps to hear affirmation from those we love and are closest to in life. Do you thank your spouse for what he or she does over and over that makes life better for you and those in your home. When's the last time you complimented your spouse on an outfit, the meal they made or the project they completed?

Don't assume they know already or don't need to hear the words. I've used this verse in other writings but let me go back to it for a minute. Proverbs 18:21 says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Words matter.

Third, don't miss an aching heart. So often one or both of us is struggling and we have no time or margin to connect with each other long enough to process the hurt, disappointment or discouragement. We just go on to the next event or responsibility longing for the one we love the most in this world to talk with us and understand. But instead we may miss each other because the more urgent things tear us away.

Look for changes in reactions, a sad countenance or a sense of downness in the other. It may be big or small but taking the time to listen, pray and talk about next steps can be huge in bringing you closer together.

Finally, don't miss an opportunity to show love. Stay creative, be cagey at times, look for ways to surprise each other with a touch of love that the other didn't expect. Yes, everything we do for one another should be rooted in love, but sometimes we all need those special reminders don't we? God does that all the time with us when He gives us something special over and above what He normally does. . . just because He loves us.

So, keep your eyes open. Break up the patterns and perspectives that can keep you from seeing the obvious right in front of you. You might be surprised at all the new things you discover. And now, I'm going to go watch a playoff game . . . that is if I can find the remote.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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