” You can catch a fly with honey a lot easier than with vinegar” is no truer than with a happy marriage. We’ve all heard and read countless derogatory comments about marriage lately. “It’s old-fashioned”, “women don’t need men”, “marriage ties you down”. Belittling each other in public sadly seems to be the norm. The other night I was with some friends at dinner and we were listening to (ok totally eavesdropping) on a conversation next to us. These five women were talking rather loudly about their spouses. Basically, they were “husband bashing”. They were literally trying to outdo each other with examples of the dumb things their husbands had done and what failures they were at being a spouse. I don’t know about you, but that kind of talk makes me cringe. I detest hearing someone belittle their spouse or children in public or to other people. Of course these women were laughing hysterically as they each tried to “one up” the last comment. Almost a “my husband’s worse than yours” contest. I even wondered how much of it was exaggerated to get a laugh. Even if it were all true, who wants to hear it? So destructive. I understand that not everyone has a perfect marriage and it sometimes helps to vent and get support, but seriously? No good comes from this kind of vile talk.
I used to have my own business doing Ad Specialty items for companies. I guess I was expected to wine and dine clients and take them to lunch, etc. I didn’t really enjoy that and rarely did it. My assistant and I used to go to lunch almost three times a week and laugh ourselves sick. That was way more fun. However, there was one client I thoroughly enjoyed taking to lunch. He was in his upper 60’s or getting very close to retirement age. We always went to Black Angus and always got the prime rib. As soon as we sat down he would start talking about his dear wife Virginia and how he totally idolized her. He would almost get teary as he reverently talked about their special marriage, about how she was the best cook, the best housekeeper, the funniest, best grandmother, etc. On and on. I absolutely loved it and loved hearing him. The first time I met her, I literally thought she’d be on a pedestal. He put her there in my mind. Though she wasn’t literally on a pedestal, I held the highest regard for Virginia because of what her husband had said over and over and over. Though that was over 15 years ago, I still have so much respect for this sweet man who adored his wife and wanted the world to know it.
What about the opposite? I know several people who can’t say anything good about their spouse. “He’s lazy, he doesn’t make enough money, she’s a slob, she’s gained so much weight, the house is always a mess, he’s never home, he doesn’t do this, he doesn’t do that.” Honestly! Such a downer! What spouse would possibly look forward to going home and being assaulted with that? It makes me think way less of the person blathering on and on than the poor spouse in question. Someone who speaks kindly and positively about their spouse skyrockets to the top of character in my book. I try to avoid people who are negative and talk down about their spouse. It’s like someone grabbed the front of my shirt and started pulling me down, down, down. Such a drag!
If you’re one of those people who “spouse bash” consider this for a minute. What if you made up with him/her between the time you bashed him/her with your friends and now, but your friends don’t know things are better? Because of you, they still think he’s/she’s a jerk. Is that fair? And more importantly, what about you? “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:7) Is that you? Because it certainly isn’t me. I am a flawed person just as is my spouse. Two imperfect beings trying to create a life together. Each makes mistakes on a daily basis, yet each just wants to be loved and accepted despite those flaws. Would it be so difficult to just let some things slide once in a while and “don’t sweat the small stuff?” My daughter has a friend who literally screams at her husband the second he walks in the door until bedtime. Guess what he does now? Gets up early to leave “for work” but actually just goes to his mom’s house and hangs out because he doesn’t want to hear his nagging wife. He stays as late as possible at work too. Who wouldn’t?
So how much different would your marriage be if you immediately stopped gnawing and picking at the not so perfect things your spouse does? That’s what you expect him/her to do for you, right? (No “yea, buts” inserted here). Do you want to be judged by how you judge others? I sure don’t! Kind of puts it in perspective, huh? Picture your spouse sitting around with a bunch of friends firing off the dumb things you’ve done lately. Not good, and totally unfair.
In this world of cynicism and hardness, people are starving for a kind word of encouragement; especially to and from those we love most. I just saw a quote on Facebook that said, “A kind word makes you the most beautiful person in the world, no matter what you look like.” Isn’t that the truth? We’re in the middle of building a house so my husband is completely hooked on an HGTV show called “Fixer Upper”. This couple Joanna and Chip Gaines from Waco, Texas are the hosts. They are a little cheesy at times but so sweet to each other and their four small children. It’s such a breath of fresh air to see such love and admiration between husband and wife. And boy, are they talented!!
So bottom line is this. Marriage is vitally important; especially with the persecution and downplay of importance that this sacred institution has been assaulted with lately. Sit down right now and make a list of all the great and positive things about your spouse. Better yet, praise him/her out loud for these great things! It may be a challenge at first but once you’re on a roll, I’ll bet you think of a ton of things to be grateful for. I’d do it here for my spouse but it would be way too long. (He might be looking over my shoulder so I threw that in!) Here’s the best one though, he loves me for who I am, flaws and all. What a great guy, huh? Honey or vinegar… Which do you prefer?