Early in our marriage, things weren’t going well. My wife irritated me. I wanted to follow Martin Luther’s example and nail a list of irritations to the bathroom door. I couldn’t quite come up with 95 theses, but five came to mind:
1. Your sense of humor is warped, my dear. The funniest thing I did this week was hit my head on a cupboard door. You laughed like I was Peter Sellers. This wasn’t funny. Please do not laugh when you read this.
2. A vow of silence is fine for a monk. Our late-night “fights” are as one-sided as a Chicago Cubs game. You grow quiet during arguments. Silence can be a virtue, but it can also be maddening.
3. Generosity isn’t always a virtue. Last week you made four pies and gave three away. You gave ten dollars to the Girl Scouts and the cookies weren’t that great.
4. What’s next, pickled ice cream? On Wednesday you made banana meatloaf. What other recipes do you have? Can we go through them together?
5. If I don’t glue things down, they walk away. Last week my wool sweater went missing. The one I’ve had since junior high.
6. I am from Switzerland; you are from Zimbabwe. I love to be on time. You do not.
Thankfully, I didn’t nail that list to the door. More than 30 years in the University of Diversity have taught me that if we were the same we’d be in trouble. If we were both spenders, we’d be bankrupt. If we kept all my wool sweaters, we’d have to rent 13 U-Hauls each time we move. The Bible describes marriage as two becoming one. Ideally it is a partnership of two distinctly different individuals who are stronger together than apart. It thrives when we swallow our pride and praise our spouse’s uniqueness. It thrives when we go looking for strengths and encourage them.
Through the years her generosity helped us respond as Jesus would, giving away what we don’t need. Her quiet, steady demeanor was what first drew me to her. Her warped sense of humor saved us from despair during the tough times of life. Proverbs 18:22 doesn’t promise that a man will find the shirt he wore in Junior High, but it does say, “A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Amen to that.
Of course, she still needs to work on her punctuality. So I’ve asked her to meet me in the living room at 8 p.m. sharp and we’ll talk about it.