As Richard Paul Evans puts, family life isn’t as blissful and serene as it’s depicted. Solving its negatives, difficulties and crises isn’t something all of us can do with ease. This article explains just that.
Jenna, my eldest daughter recently confessed to me something that shocked me.
“Growing up, my greatest fear was seeing both of you get divorced. When I was 12, I was sick and tired of your frequent disagreements and fights, and I thought maybe it would be better if you part.”
Then, with a smile, she added.
“I’m happy you finally figured everything out.”
For many years, my relationship with wife Keri was a struggle. I’m not quite sure what initially brought us together, but our personalities were poles apart. Differences surfaced and increased and when fame and fortune knocked, our differences crossed the extreme.
The tension between us was too much, and fighting was part of our regimen. We had established and walled emotional fortresses around our hearts, grew to be perpetually defensive and allowed ego to control our relationship. We were staring divorce, and we discussed it, not once, not twice!
It was on a book tour that things somewhat changed for the better. We had ensured yet another vicious fight over the phone and Keri had hung up on me. Alone, lonely, enraged and frustrated, I knew my end was close.
That’s when I turned to God, or maybe turned on God. I’m not sure if I prayed or shouted at Him. Whatever it was, I think I did the right thing. I’ll never forget it.
There, I was, in the Buckhead, Atlanta Ritz-Carlton, standing alone in the shower and yelling.
“Oh God! Marriage is one wrong, misplaced entity and am tired of it!” I said.
I was in a dilemma of choosing between a marriage gone wrong and what I dreaded the most -Divorce. Keri was a real person, much like myself, but I couldn’t find a perfect explanation of our differences.
Hoarse, tired and broken, I finally gave up standing. I sat down in the shower and cried my soul out. I was visibly desperate, but in the midst of the despair came an inspiration.
“Rick, you can’t change her. You can only change who you are.”
I was suddenly locked in prayer.
“God, if I can’t change my wife, then please change me.”
In the next day, I prayed on my flight back home, prayed as I arrived at the cold hugs of someone who barely acknowledged me and hoped for the better. That same night in our bed, as it had become a norm, we were inches apart, but miles away from each other’s soul.
In the morning, I rolled over and asked her how I could make her day better.
“Why? You can’t!” She responded with anger.
“And, why are you asking that?”
“Because I mean it,” I responded.
Looking at me cynically, she said, “You want to do something for me? Go clean the kitchen.”
Of course, she wanted me to get mad. I got up, nodding, and went.
The next morning, I asked her the same question.
Narrowing her eyes, Keri said, “Go clean the garage.”
I took a deep breath, knowing that she has expected a harsh response.
“Okay,” I said.
Two more hours and the garage was sparkling clean. She couldn’t believe it.
The third morning arrived, and there I was again, with the same question.
“Nothing,” her response was harsh.
“You can’t do a thing. Please, stop it.” She said.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t. I made a promise to myself that I’ll be doing something to better your day, every day.”
“Why?” She asked.
“I care about you and our marriage,” I told her.
During the second week of repeating the same, a miracle occurred. As I asked her the question, Keri started crying.
She said that I wasn’t the problem and I should stop asking her the very question every day.
“I am the problem, not you!” She said.
“I’m hard to live with. I even wonder why you stay with me,” she added.
I slowly lifted her chin, smiled and said, “It’s because I love you.”
“What should I do to make your day better?”
“I should be the one asking you that,” she interjected.
“Yeah, but not now. I need to be the change. You mean a lot to me.” I added.
Putting her head against my chest, she said, “I’m sorry for being mean.”
“I love you,” I said.
“I love you.” she responded.
She then asked if we could spend some time together. I smiled at her!
My morning tradition continued for a month, and indeed things changed. Fighting stopped, and Keri started her version of my question.
“What do you require from me? How can I be a good wife to you?”
Walls fell, fights stopped and meaningful discussions took over. The energy to argue ended and there were no abuses anymore.
We have been married for more than three decades, and it’s amazing that I not only love Keri, but also like her. Our differences are our strengths, and we help each other, with energy and desire.
Marriage is hard, like parenthood, keeping fit, writing books and everything else. But, having a partner to heal the hurt and love the unlovable parts is remarkable.
My every morning question should be part of your marriage as well. Real love in your marriage isn’t to desire your spouse, but to aim for their happiness, even when it requires sacrificing your happiness. Don’t make him or her a carbon copy of yourself.
Appreciate their flaws, tolerate them and care. Don’t be like us, rectify ahead of time and keep your home intact, because no home is perfect.