One of the drawbacks of being a perfectionist is how much I take for granted and little I actually appreciate some truly great things. It seems as if 99% quality isn’t good enough – I want perfection in everything. As a paramedic, this is a good thing; as a husband, this can go terribly awry.
Before I discuss today’s chapter, I want to talk about yesterday’s attempt to not be irritable. In some ways, I feel like it was a great success. However in other ways, I realize I still have a lot of room for improvement. Let me try to explain.
I still have a lot of room for improvement.”
We had great plans for yesterday. After experiencing a new (to us) worship experience in Milwaukie, our plan was to head down to Oregon City and be tourists. I wanted my family to see and experience Willamette Falls, the old arch bridge that crosses into West Linn, and the municipal elevator in downtown Oregon City. Not only did we have great plans, but the sun had come out and it promised to be a fun day.
It was a great worship experience and we were blessed with free lunch afterwards. Unfortunately, we got caught up in socializing and meeting new people, so in typical fashion, we were one of the last families to leave the building. 45 minutes after our kids’ normal naptime, we were just getting into the car and headed out for our touristy activities. At this point the kids were beginning to come unraveled – as was I.
Today’s challenge is to spend more time appreciating and less time depreciating.”
At my suggestion, we decided to just go home. The kids needed their nap and by the time that was finished, the day would be drawing to an end, getting colder, and darkness would be descending. For the sake of the kids, I thought it best to postpone our Oregon City Adventure.
Though I was disappointed, here’s where the victories began:
- First, I stopped to analyze my disappointment and I realized that it was based on perfectionistic grief. The day wasn’t turning out to be the “perfect” family day I had planned – but for the sake of my family, I was giving up that vision.
- Second, I took ownership of my feelings and wasn’t blaming anyone else (e.g.; My Wonderful Wife) for the changes in our plans.
- Third, I kept my feelings to myself – sort of… mostly… I think…
However, here’s where I noticed I have room for improvement:
- Although I didn’t blame, didn’t get irritable (yesterday’s challenge), and didn’t sulk – apparently from the perspective of those around me, my silence was perceived to be a negative reaction.
- I was silent because I was processing (see above). I most likely need to process faster, let go sooner, and vocalize my lack of irritability – which is a huge step past where I used to be. It’s one thing to vocalize irritability, it’s another thing altogether to not vocalize irritability, or to not be irritable; but it’s another thing completely to vocalize support.
- Making the right decision about something shouldn’t require significant “processing” and grief. I definitely need to “get over it” sooner.
So, with this said, we come upon today’s challenge, to spend more time appreciating and less time depreciating. Too many of us spend a lot of time making lists of the negative things we don’t like about our spouses. This pulls us down and will destroy our marriage.
Love chooses to believe the best about people” (page 33)
We have to stop finding things we don’t like, and spend more time dwelling on the things we appreciate about our spouses – men, I’m talking to myself!
Here are things I appreciate about my Wonderful Wife:
- She loves people, and people love her!
- She is an incredible Mom!
- She is a great cook and loves to take care of us through good food!
- She is cute, fun, and easy to be around!
- She is smart, well educated, and is constantly reading and growing intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally!
- She loves God and honors Him through her actions, not just her words!
- She is a very talented vocalist and lights up rooms with her voice!
- She is always looking for ways to pay it forward!
- She has an incredibly soft, tender heart – filled with joy, sorrow, laughter, and compassion!
- She knows I’m a jerk, but puts up with me anyway!
- She loves flowers!
- She loves dogs!
- She loves all animals!
- She loves to read James Herriot!
- She cries when animals die.
- She cried when the police chief in Rainier was killed.
- She is a beautiful person!
What do you appreciate about your spouse?”
What do you appreciate about your spouse? Do you tell them? Do you tell others? Do they know you appreciate them? If you’re anything like most of us, you tend to dwell on the 1% where they fail, not the 99% where they excel. Let’s join together and change that, shall we?
Marriage experts will tell you that you should balance out criticism with compliments. Some will say three compliments for every one complaint. But this probably isn’t enough. I’ve also heard that 10:1 is the right balance. I probably operate more in a ration of 1:10 (or 15). I definitely focus too much on the imperfections and not on the successes.
I want to change this. I have to change this!