Thursday, March 05, 2009
Something that you wouldn't think a 40 day journey on improving your marriage would start with, but it does.
Even though I'd read the novel and seen the film, and was therefore familiar with how the central character started his 40 day journey, I was surprised to find it starting this way.
At first I thought I would be great at this, after all (without wanting to sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet) I have the reputation of being patient! Patient with strangers in the shop, who usually have issues and hurts and problems and just want someone to talk to, being the type of person who can stand there and listen to people and talk with them for hours... All that is actually true about me, and yet...
Those I love (particularly my wife) often get the short end of the stick when it comes to my patience. It's not a case of waiting for things, it's actually a case of waiting for her. Something as small and as simple as waiting to let her finish the train of thought she was on, letting her fully express what she wants to say about how she feels about something, whether good or bad, not telling her off like a child when she makes a mistake or does something I don't like...
All these and more are ways in which I show a huge lack of patience with her, and all ways in which I fail her every day as a good husband. I'm so quick to jump in, to comment, to volunteer an opinion, to tell her how I think it should be done. I don't wait for her to finish anything. When I read the passage before the particular dare for today, it talked about the kind of person who's impatient, not just in their opinions but also in their actions, and how they can be a nightmare to live with.
That person has been me, and I felt such a sense of shame in how I'd treated my wife, almost as if she was a silly schoolgirl, as if my opinion mattered more. Ok, not in obvious nasty ways, but in ways that were much more devious and subtle, ways that actually long-term could undermine her and not build her up as a person, make her think that she has to respond to what I think all the time.
I really am so impatient as a person. I shout at the computer when it goes slow and doesn't do what I want, I can sometimes belittle what she thinks and feels by just not being present to hear what she has to say because I'm somewhere else working out an answer and a response in my head before she's finished speaking!!
It's opened my eyes today to just stop and look at how many times a day I give off impatient vibes:
When she spills a drink by accident, instead of tutting and moaning, to laugh it off;
When we're discussing something and I know she's going to disagree with me, give her time to finish and honestly listen to what she has to say BEFORE responding why I'm the one who's right;
By listening before giving advice;
By giving her time to repeat herself when I didn't hear what she said, instead of irritatingly saying "WHAT?"
Loads of things I've learnt today, just by trying to keep my mouth shut and not be the first response.
And the dare?
It was to NOT say anything negative about or to your spouse today, and if you can't say anything positive, to keep your mouth shut.
I didn't keep my mouth shut in either case unfortunately. I had to rush out in the rain because I knew I'd blown the dare already, and buy her a Chai Latte as a form of apology, because I know she likes those, and a promise that I'd try harder.
Lot's of things I've learnt today about patience, and being patient with my wife.
Roll on Day 2!
Scribbled by Jm at 11:56 pm