Let me see … there was the time I backed into the fire hydrant. It’s not that I’m a careless driver; I just had a lot on my mind. And I really only bumped the hydrant, but pulling forward ripped off the bumper.
I’ve also put away a dishwasher full of dirty dishes, too absorbed in thought to notice they’d never been washed. And recently I cut down a perfectly good tree, sure that I was sawing away at the dead one next to it.
I guess I was thinking about something else. I like old movies, and sometimes I can get so absorbed in them that I am oblivious to everything around me. Oh, and given a closet full of clothes, first time around I am certain to absent-mindedly pull out the ones that don’t even come close to going together (but I have learned to match my socks).
I guess if you’re going to be married to me you have to accept that I have a tendency to get lost in the clouds, so to speak. I am working on being more attentive, alert and focused, but sometimes my mind just wanders.
Fortunately, I have a wife who understands. Not that she doesn’t get frustrated sometimes, but more often than not she winds up just shaking her head or laughing at my lapses of consciousness. We usually wind up laughing together.
It goes both ways. I guess all of us have our idiosyncrasies, failings, shortcomings and lapses that we bring into a marriage. Just as my wife tolerates mine, I try to do the same for her.
Now, it isn’t always easy. We’d all like our spouses to be everything we want and need in a marriage partner, to be the perfect husband or wife for us. It takes time to accept just how human they can really be and how we sometimes suffer for it.
Let’s face it: Even in the best of marriages with the best of people, there are a lot of imperfections we’re going to have to put up with.
Some of us do try to pretend this isn’t so. We try to teach, pressure, push, prod or nag our spouse into being “better.” That never works. In fact, it often backfires; we wind up with a partner who is resentful, irritable and stubborn.
Others of us just hold onto our frustration at our spouse’s shortcomings. Such frustration often accumulates to the point that it eventually poisons our entire marriage.
The alternative? Acceptance. We acknowledge our spouses’ shortcomings; we forgive them for the times they let us down; we let go of our frustration; we agree to help them change — but only if and when they ask for our help. And we ask for the same from them in return. A footnote: there are definitely some things we ought never to accept. Abuse (emotional or physical), consistent and intentional neglect of our needs and wants, addiction to self-destructive substances, etc., simply are not acceptable.
I guess it can sometimes be hard to decide exactly what we want — and don’t want — to accept in our spouse, but with some work (and perhaps some help) we can figure it out.
I’m awfully thankful for the acceptance I receive from my wife. Sometimes it makes all the difference in the world.
In the meantime, for both our sakes, I’m also watching out for fire hydrants
Ÿ The Rev. Ken Potts’ book “Mix, Don’t Blend: A Guide to Dating, Engagement, and Remarriage with Children” is available through book retailers.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.