The Lord frequently reminds me that transparency in a relationship requires mutual trust and respect. We have to trust that the person will respond to what we share with respect, even if they don’t agree with us. We aren’t likely to open up to someone if we fear that they’ll laugh at, or ignore, what were saying.
You would think that, having been married since 1972 and walking with the Lord since 1983, Tom and I would have this down. But we don’t. Were still working on it.
I’ll focus on my mistakes and what I learned from them. Here are a few examples.
- Mistake #1: Tom, our daughter Heather, and I were talking. Tom mentioned he had a dream of going down the Amazon River (this was the first I’d heard of that desire). I said, “Yuck.” That’s probably why he has never mentioned it to me! I need to prayerfully hold my tongue when people say things I don’t like until God shows me how to respond!
- Mistake #2: Tom and I were in Lake Arrowhead. The association had recently added gates to keep the general public off the docks in town, which are intended for members only of the Arrowhead Lake Association, which we belong to. We had just been discussing how people wait for someone to exit and then they slip in. As we walked out, Tom didn’t close the gate behind him and two girls walked in. My automatic comment to Tom was: “You should have shut the gate.” The Lord immediately convicted me of insensitivity and I realized it would have been better to either keep quiet or say something like: “The girls got in. I guess we need to shut the gate behind us in the future.” Tom never said anything, but I suspect my comment didn’t feel respectful to him.
- Mistake #3: Last year, Tom spotted a piece of antique furniture that he liked in a yard sale near our house. It was nice, but at this stage of life, I really don’t want any more possessions unless were replacing something that we need. So, I dragged my feet and when I finally said we could get it, it was gone. I assumed it had been sold. But it was in the man’s yard sale again the following year and I saw Tom eying it. I felt a tug at my heart to look into it with him, but I kept quiet. Later, on his own, he inquired into the price and how to transport it to our house, then presented the information to me and I agreed. But I missed out on the blessing of offering to look into it. I should, of course, pray for guidance whenever I feel a tug at my selfish heart.
- Mistake #4: When we were looking at the antique, I said to the owner, “I’m at a stage of life where I’d rather get rid of stuff.” Of course, I shouldn’t have said that because it revealed that I wasn’t really on the same page as my husband. If I’m going to bless him, I need to be a cheerful giver! And strangers needn’t know when we disagree.
I did one thing right relative to the antique. When Heather and her husband commented on the new piece, I kept quiet and let Tom do the talking! He was excited about it, and we rejoiced with him. (And it has turned out to be a useful piece of furniture.)
So, my applications are:
- Pray continually for help in keeping quiet until I know the correct way to respond to someone.
- When my husband expresses an interest in something, don’t ignore it. Instead, discuss it and pray about it together, and work out a solution, preferably one that’s agreeable to both of us.
- When I’m aware of selfishness in myself, pray for help overcoming it and seek guidance.
- Generally speaking, I should not reveal to others when Tom and I are not in agreement. Keep quiet until we are!
In any relationship, sacrifice and compromise will be required when two people have different desires and opinions. Compromise requires respectful discussion (and ideally, prayer).