by Nancy C. Anderson
I asked a girlfriend who wasrecently divorced, “When did you first notice that your marriage was in trouble?” She replied, “Looking back, I see that it had been slowly crumbling away for years.
It happened so gradually that I can’t even tell you when we stopped having fun or when we stopped holding hands. He started spending more time at work, and I was relieved when hecalled to sayhewouldn’t behomefor dinner. We didn’t have huge fights, but we were both critical and impatient. He says that he ‘fell out of love’ because I didn’t care about his needs.”
“Do you think he ever loved you?” I asked.
“Oh, I know he did! When we first got married, we finished each other’s sentences and almost read each other’s minds. We used to share all our dreams and make wonderful plansfor our future. . . . But the last few years, I got too busy with the kids and outside interests, and he poured himself into his career. Our marriage was just on auto pilot.”
“Then how did it crash?” I asked.
“There was a woman at his officewho,hesays,waseverything I wasn’t [exciting, interesting, flirtatious, and encouraging], and he left me and our two children so he could be with her. There wasn’t any one big thing that killed our love, just a million little things.”
Her story is all too common. A verse in the Bible warns us about the small stuff: “The little foxes are ruining the vineyards” (Song 2:15 TLB). Sometimes horrific tornadoes, likethedeath of a child or mentalillness,intrudeinto our vineyards and ruin them. Perhaps they are flooded by physical or verbal abuse, but more likely, the little foxes of indifference, neglect, criticism, or score keeping creep through the hedges and rob our marriages of their fruit.
Here is a little fox that sneaks into many marriages: It’s easier to criticize than to praise, and it’s hard to keep our mouths shut when our mate makes a mistake. Ladies, if you want your husband to enjoy your company, remember this important truth: You are not his mother. It’s not your job to correct him, especially about insignificant things.
We recently got a first-hand demonstration when we went to visit our neighbors. Ron asked them, “How was your vacation?”
Joe said, “It was a wonderful trip! We left early to avoid the heavytraffic.”
Sally interrupted, “Well, it wasn’t that early. It was 7:00. I remember because I looked at the clock. Did you look at the clock Joe?”
“No dear, I did not look at the clock. Anyway, it felt early to me. So we drove to this rustic little mom-and-pop restaurant in the mountains and had some of the best pancakes in the world.”
“I can’t believeyou thought those were good pancakes! I thought they were lumpy and cold and too expensive.”
“Okay, maybe they weren’t so great, but I was hungry, so I liked them. By dinnertime, we made it all the way to the cabin. It’s four hundred miles-”
“Actually, dear, it’s three hundred-eighty-seven miles. I looked at the odometer. Did you look at the odometer?”
“No, dear, I didn’t.”Hesighed and continued,”Icooked up some juicy T-bone steaks for dinner and-”
“We had the steaks on Friday, not Thursday. I know because I had a headache on Friday and steaks always giveme a headache.”
“You’re giving me a headache right now. And if you don’t stop interrupting me and correcting me, I’m going to quit talking.”
“I’m just trying to help you. I want you to get your facts right. Boy, you sure are grumpy.”
Joe stood up, mumbled a good-bye, and clomped out of the room.
Sally said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with him. We haven’t been getting along lately. He hardly ever talks to me anymore.”
That’s because she kept shutting him down. He was excited about telling us his story, but with each of her corrections, he lost enthusiasm, until hefinally gave up.
If you tend to be a corrector, ask yourself, “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be loved?” The divorce courts are full of lonely people who were always “right.”
I’m not telling you that you should never correct each other. If someone has made a serious error, pull him or her aside and whisper, “You must have forgotten that Aunt Betty’s new husband doesn’t like to be called by her old husband’s name.” In general, however, unless the slip is a biggie,let itgo.
I was leading a round-table discussion at a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. One of the women said, “I’m so upset with my husband! Just before I left the house this morning, he was taking the laundry out of the dryer and was folding the towels all wrong! I’ve shown him how to do it a hundred times, but he never gets it right!”
I formed a “time-out T” with my hands and said, “Whoa Nellie, you’re forgetting the big picture . . . . He’s doing laundry! My husband hasn’t washed a load of towels since Nixon was president.” I took a survey of the other women, and only one of them had a hubby who was laundry literate.
“You have a jewel of a husband!” I said. “Next time he’s folding towels, no matter how crooked they are, I think you should give him a big kiss and a ‘Thank you!'”
Do you remember the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf? If we whine about every little thing, our spouses will tune us out. Then when something serious is troubling us, they won’t hear us.
If we guard against the little verbal foxes and keep our vineyards safe and healthy, the fruits of our marriage will be sweet and tender.
My thoughts ……
Whether we can call them Weeds or little foxes, one thing is certain, they have the ability to ruin our marriages if care is not taken. It’s in our action, our reaction, what we do or that we fail to do……weeds are constantly seeking for an opportunity to grow .
One way women or wives sleep or permit these Weeds is found in every CRITICISM, FINGER POINTING, BLAME SHIFTING & THE NEED TO BE RIGHT.
To prevent these little foxes from destroying everything good about your marriage, you must learn to prevent them. Ask your self this question before you say a word to your husband or react to a situation next time “will my words be nuturing or destroying my marriage “?
You will be suprised at how much less you have to say.
Lack of communication is a weed dont give it a chance.
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