Hi Sweethearts, I’m going to do something a little different today and I hope that you’ll humor me and read on. Like many of you, I am a product of divorced parents. Much of my childhood memories are those of arguing, a father absent for days at a time, a frustrated mother and a complete and total lack of communication on both sides. What sticks with me the most was watching the futile efforts to communicate when neither seemed to be on the same page, nor cared to be. Hindsight is of course 20/20, so while I attribute much of their eventual split to their lack of a faith-based foundation, I also know that in order for any relationship to work there must be communication and in a marriage there must also be a deeper trust that your spouse has only the best intentions for you and vice versa.
Fast forward to circa 2004. Shortly after I began working at my current job, I met a young lady whom I’ll never forget. She is one of those people you never forget. She has an incredible zest for life and totally lives it to the fullest. She wasn’t at my job long before she moved on to her calling, but before her departure she gave me a book titled, Love and Respect, written by her father, Emerson Eggerichs. Little did I know, that book would forever change my life in a subtle but powerful way. For this reason, I want to share three nuggets of truth that have made a significant impact in my life and in my marriage in hopes that someone either entering a new relationship or struggling in an existing relationship might be encouraged to make a paradigm shift.
1. The mouth matters (what comes out of the mouth depends on what is in the heart). The words and tone we use to say them communicate so much more than we know.
2. Husbands and wives are not wrong, just very different (as different as pink and blue, is as different as her need for love and his need for respect).
3. The third vital truth focuses on another simple but crucial concept: both of you must see each other as goodwilled persons. When one or both of you see the other as goodwilled, good things are in store for your marriage.
But what is goodwill? And how do you know you are showing goodwill toward your spouse? How can you be sure your spouse has goodwill toward you? A simple definition of goodwill is “the intention to do good toward the other person.” But there is much more to it than that. A spouse may intend to do good, but fail to deliver. Good intentions do not necessarily guarantee good results. The apostle Paul captured the reality of good intentions but poor follow-through when he wrote about his own struggles with the flesh in Romans 7:19: “I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep it on doing the evil things I don’t want to do” (NIRV).
We all know what Paul is talking about. You or your spouse may want to do the right thing, but you don’t; or you or your spouse may want to stop doing the wrong things, but you don’t. When your spouse fails to follow through on good intentions, your definition of goodwill must also include the idea that goodwilled people do not mean any harm; they do not intend real evil toward one another. Your spouse may be neglectful, forgetful, or make a careless, even thoughtless remark. As a result, you may be hurt or angry and may lash out in some way to retaliate. But despite all these failings, deep down you both care for each other. Beneath the turmoil on the surface of what is going on, your goodwill remains intact. (Excerpts taken from The Language of Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.)
I’ll be forever grateful that I was introduced to this book before getting married because I honestly feel like it gave me a perspective that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered. By reminding myself of these three simple truths when the Hubs and I don’t see eye to eye, I remember that even when we have our differences he would never in his heart want any harm upon me or our family which helps me to be more receptive to what he’s trying to communicate. As commonsensical as it may sound, this was something that never occurred to me especially in the midst of a disagreement.
Thank you for indulging me. I was compelled to share this and I pray that this will help someone.