Sharing openly can minimize misunderstandings. Without on-going clarification, it’s possible to head the wrong direction out of a desire to please the other person. I’ll share two examples that illustrate this.
When Tom and my 45th wedding anniversary was coming up, neither of us had brought up the topic of how we wanted to celebrate it because were very content with our frequent trips to Lake Arrowhead. But one night, I heard a friend ask Tom if we were going to do anything special (he said we hadn’t discussed it) and then I began to think that perhaps we should do something different, so I mentioned that idea to Tom. On two separate occasions, we looked into things on line, but I just got frustrated with that process and we quit. (What ever happened to the days when you could call a place direct and ask questions?) That experience served a good purpose, however, in that it gave me time to think. I later shared with Tom that I was truly content with our time in Arrowhead, that we already had a trip planned for September, and that one trip a year was plenty for me. He said OK. When I asked his opinion, he said he could go either way, but was very content with Lake Arrowhead. I realized that just spending time together is special enough, any day of the year.
I’ll share another example of this that I found in my 1992 journal. One day, at a women’s Bible study, our church announced that there were children in Russia who needed homes. I had no interest in adopting one, since I was barely keeping my head above water with the three children that we had, but I felt I should at least mention it to Tom. What I should have done is either not mention it at all unless I was interested, or I should have told him but also shared the reasons why I felt it wasn’t the right timing for us to take on another child. But I simply told him about the announcement. He probably assumed I was interested and got excited about the idea. I went through a number of weeks agonizing over the possibility. Finally, during a week-end away without our children, I explained my reasons for not feeling ready for another child and asked if he could be content with the three we had. He said, “Sure.” I said perhaps it would be the Lord’s will to bring temporary guests to us. Little did I know that our home would, indeed, be filled with many temporary guests over the years!
I have learned that, before presenting an idea, I first need to prayerfully decide if it’s something I’m interested in. If it is, then I can present the idea to Tom for his in-put, sharing my thoughts openly with him and respectfully listening to his.