“I Am Not You” Are Not Fighting Words

My husband and me, last month. Photo taken by our daughter.

It was a spring morning, relatively early in the pandemic, and he stood outside our bathroom door, trim and handsome in his jeans and button-down, waiting to talk to me.

I turned off the hair dryer, tossed my wet mop out of my eyes, and faced him.

We needed to discuss plans for the day.

“I usually take a kid with me to the store. For company,” he began.

“I am not you,” I replied.

We stood there in silent understanding, the full smile of his green eyes perfectly mirroring my blue ones.

What he knew – even before speaking – was that his introverted wife really needed time away from the entire household.

What I knew – based on years of experience – was that I could count on him to help.

We both knew that playfully highlighting our differences still creates good sparks.

I am not you.

The truth of that statement has grown louder over the 22 years we’ve been married.

When you say your vows and pledge to become one, you unite in a multitude of ways, but the soul’s essence remains intact. We are, each of us, a masterpiece, uniquely made by God and endowed with special gifts. Marriage is a discovery of shared and individual purpose – a voyage of great design for our life together and the as-yet-untold ways we can each serve and find joy. Joined, but distinct in many, many ways.

He is a great cook. I am merely satisfactory. (Our daughter once asked if he buys chicken at a different store.)

He is rational. I am a feeler.

He is not stubborn. I most certainly am.

I’m not saying he’s perfect, but I do appreciate and love him. Especially for the ways his traits complement mine.

One surprising bonus of being home together for 5 months, is witnessing his gifts each and every day, and this is key.

Some say that after the pandemic the divorce rate will skyrocket, and I fear that it might be so because the question many might not ask is this:

‘What gifts does my partner offer?’

Recognizing the good in others does not preclude the good in us.

But failing to appreciate those qualities on a regular basis practically guarantees that we will mire ourselves in selfishness.

The more we neglect to value the gifts and abilities of others, the more egocentric we become.

Yet, that’s all too easy to do when we’re feeling put-upon and exhausted with worry and stress.

We need to make selfless love our top priority.

Because no one wants to live with a self-centered person.

The world doesn’t need any more of those.

So, heads up! Hopeful, giving hearts. And a willingness to ask for clear eyes and grace to see God’s goodness everywhere (especially in our partners), as we move onward, together.

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