It's our wedding day! Dennis takes my hand. I notice it's trembling a little. He looks into my eyes and in a deep, resonant voice he promises to take me for his lawful wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health until death do us part. The sun shines brightly upon the two of us as we leave the church. We are now partners for life.
As the years pass, the vows take on new meaning in everyday life. We realize what the vows really meant when it comes to living together and putting up with each of our quirky traits. Here is what Dennis' vows might sound like today:
"I, Dennis, take you Mary Lou for my lawful wife, even though you will forget to close the cupboard doors in the kitchen, and I'll bang my head on them; even though you leave soda cans and coffee cups behind you every day as a roadmap of where you have been in the house, and I pick them up for you; even though you will cook great meals for me but will dirty every bowl and pan we own in the process and leave me to wash them since you cook and I clean up."
Quite a different picture from The Big Day! Yet these daily situations are the "stuff of love" where we can offer our best in caring for one another. We can understand that our partners have other things they are thinking about and help them by understanding rather than constantly criticizing. Nietzsche said, "The most instructive experiences are those of everyday life."
Do we have the right to ask our partners to do better about the small things? Sure, we do! The trick is to do it with respect and love rather than anger and resentment. When Dennis and I have talked about what is bugging each of us, we both try to satisfy each othr's needs--as if we were customers of each other-- not say, "That's your problem, and you'll just have to accept me the way I am."
It means a lot when he notices that the cupboard doors are closed when he walks into the kitchen or the pans and bowls are cleaned and put away when I serve dinner. He is very good about complimenting me when he sees I care about his needs, not just my own. That makes me want to try even harder! I know I can't be perfect, yet I can choose to be better.
If you think of your spouse as your best customer, your attitude toward all these irritations changes. You see them as opportunities for proving your love.
Staying in love means improving on what you have to offer. It's convincing your partner that he made the best deal ever when he picked you.