When we had been married just over a year I learned a valuable lesson. I was working at a church as a Youth Pastor and our home was about fifty yards away from the church. Both of us were working (we didn’t have any children) and, unless it was raining, I walked to the office each day.
On Sundays, however, we went to church at the same time. That was when the conflict began.
As a pastor you have to be early to set things up before others arrive. I would be sitting in our living room waiting for Paula to get ready while I nervously checked my watch every few minutes. After a couple of requests to leave I would finally give up and tell her I was going to walk to the church.
I was frustrated – torn between wanting to be courteous, but also being aware that as leader I’m not supposed to be late. My reputation was on the line.
After several Sundays of the same result, I finally went to see my pastor for advice. (To be fair to Paula, she was only about ten or fifteen minutes behind me).
I walked in to his office, plopped myself down in his chair and told him about the situation. When I finished he said, “I know just how you feel. That happened with me and my wife”.
My heart began to soar! My pastor was about to give me some advice on how to get this situation reversed! This was great!
But when he spoke I was momentarily disappointed. “Rick, I tried to talk to her, dropped hints along the way, and nothing I did worked. I decided to stop talking to her at all about it. She began to change and now is always ready to leave on time”.
I sat there and remember thinking, “This makes no sense at all. It isn’t going to work. However, I’ve tried everything else and I may as well see what will happen. I’ll do it”.
And I did. The next Sunday morning came and I cheerfully volunteered that I was going to walk to the church. I didn’t complain; I didn’t even casually mention if she could be ready at a certain time; I didn’t put any pressure on her.
After a couple of Sundays she was ready on time and we were able to leave together. It was unbelievable. My pastor was right. It worked.
After being married now for over thirty-seven years it is not uncommon for my wife to be ready to go somewhere before I am.
I realize that the roles may be reversed for some couples and it may not be an issue for others. However, it may be another issue that causes you to put pressure on your spouse in order to make your life more comfortable.
It was a good day in our marriage when I ceased putting pressure on Paula. As believers in Christ we both had the Spirit of God indwelling us and He would prompt us to do what was right. I had to come to the place where I trusted God to speak to my wife about the issue.
There are areas in my life that I know that I test Paula’s patience. Most of the time she is quiet about it and God speaks to me even more powerfully than she ever could.
The Bible gives a list of descriptive acts that show what genuine love looks like. Do you know what the first quality is?
“Charity suffereth long…” (I Corinthians 13:4) Authentic love is patient and suffers long. The opposite of patience is anger. Anger is destructive to relationships; patience enhances and deepens relationships.
I learned a great lesson that summer day in 1980. The greatest change was not in how Paula managed her time, it was in my attitude toward my comfort level and showing my love by being patient toward her. My love made it easier to accommodate my request.
Thanks, pastor, for your wisdom. It made a difference in our marriage.
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8)