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Grateful Matrimony

In the spirit of Thanksgiving week, it seems only fitting to talk about gratitude in marriage. It’s thankfulness and contentment that make peace in a home. Showing appreciation is the very fabric that warms our love for one another.
And yet, being around our spouses seems to bring out our worst at times. The familiarity breeds this spirit of criticism and  harshness within our four walls. Words can shoot out like grenades and wound one another. Grace is often replaced with brutality as we spit out looks and words that leave lasting scars.

Living with a thankful heart in marriage can be so hard at times, especially when the spouse is anything but gracious and kind back, but it’s crucial to see the good in one another in order to continue forward.
Let’s just talk about laundry for a moment.
How can laundry help me to be thankful? Well, I am so glad you asked.
Perhaps my husband is the only male on earth that has a hard time locating the dirty laundry basket, so forgive me if you can not sympathize. His laundry goes into three categories. One is clean and put away. (This is the one I take care of when it comes out of the drier.) Two is absolutely filthy and scummy clothing that goes directly into the washing machine. Then there is this third, obscure class of clothing that for the life of me, I just don’t understand. It’s that undecided category where he’s not committed to calling the item dirty, but it’s not clean enough to be put back in the drawer. It then just lingers at the end of the bed, or even on the floor, nowhere near the basket.

I’ve learned that there are two choices to deal with this sorting system. Embrace or explode. I’d like to say that I have always embraced his choices for housekeeping, parenting, spousing, and even teaching with a smile and thumbs up, but alas, I am human and I frequently have chosen the other alternative and exploded on sight.

If only I would always take option two. Gratefulness.
It’s easy for me to see this side right now as I sit in my big, quiet house, kids asleep and husband gone. I would give anything to see his socks on the floor. I wish I just pulled out his uniform from the dryer and I was hanging it up. This would all mean that he was here.
I am so thankful for the man he is. When I see those nasty PT clothes waded up in the corner. You know, the ones that smell like corn chips because he was sweating so bad? I don’t want to see dirty laundry out of place, but I need to see a hard-working man who constantly supplies for his family. Or how about a career that God has supplied for him that has brought so many opportunities for us?
This is what we all need. Not just as married people but as human beings. Instead of focusing on the things that bring discontentment and dissatisfaction, we must find that sparkle of hope, that bit of beauty in the moment to get us to the next.
When we appreciate our spouses and embrace all their peculiarities and annoyances with thankfulness, then we are truly showing love. Not just to them. But to God, the One who made them.
Can we just call ungratefulness what it really is?
Pride.
You are telling your spouse that they are not good enough.
More so, you are telling God that HE is not good enough. You are saying He has not supplied what He should have in a spouse. Ouch. That truth hurts me a little too much.

Sometimes knowing you should be grateful and actually applying it are two very different things. But here are some things that I keep running through my heart and mind when the unthankfulness begins to take over.

 They are here
Don’t ever take for granted that your mate is actually with you. Our family knows too well that one doctor visit can change your entire life. One car accident. One heart attack. There are many people who so desperately wish they could grumble over the things their spouse does, but they can’t because he or she is gone. You are not promised tomorrow with anyone. Keeping that perspective really helps  to wipe away the non-essentials and focus on what is important.

Sometimes it’s just best to laugh
We all have our quirks. And it’s amazing how cute they are in the beginning of a relationship and how they slowly change into annoyances and frustrations. We find it so much easier to laugh about these things than to bicker about them in our house.
An example of this comes in the form of wool socks. (Why am I always talking about laundry?)
Peter has kept these worn out, old wool socks for years. They have sat in the same box through 4 moves and it really bugged me. I mean, I just didn’t get why he couldn’t just throw them away. We  had fights over some socks, people. It sounds so silly now, but at the time, when I allowed myself to get all heated and worked up, things ended in disaster. Feelings were hurt and tempers were hot.
But now, I just see socks. It’s a joke with us finally after all these years. And when Peter decided to get rid of them, (well, most of them) this past move, a part of me was a little sad. Our game was coming to an end. It had become a staple of our relationship in a way.
“See that box of socks there. Let me tell you about those socks. One day, Peter will find the most amazing use for them and then I will have to tell him he was right all along.”

The little things really add up
When our hearts are not set on the thankful dial, little expressions of love go unnoticed and fall by the wayside. An unloaded dishwasher, a sweet text in the middle of the day, or a shared sunset as you drive home from grocery shopping can be lost when we are not looking out for them. Constantly being alert to our surroundings and noticing the good our husband or wife is doing can make or break our connections.

I want to be intentionally thankful in my life. I desire to see all the little things so they add up to one big, “You are so special to me. Thank you for being you.” It certainly doesn’t come naturally, but it can be achieved. We just need to have the desire to put aside whatever it is that we are holding onto and just look at what we have. Once we can do that, then I think we may be surprised how many more showers of blessing follow.

Posted November 24, 2016

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