I am pretty sure I have a perfect husband. He plays with our son, helps him with homework, and drives him to after-school activities. He vacuums the carpets, cleans out the cat pans, dusts the furniture and folds the laundry. He grows vegetables, waters the plants, mows the lawn and washes the car. In a pinch he will even cook dinner.
Ok, I admit I am exaggerating. In reality my husband leaves the house at the crack of dawn to go jogging, and he comes home after we have already eaten dinner. I get a quick hug between him answering emails and eating leftover dinner. At times I am not even sure if he came home at all. Then I search for traces around the house that suggest that I am indeed still married to a soldier and that this soldier visits our home during the dark hours.
In the mornings I hunt for dirty coffee mugs. They show up on top of the washing machine, at the computer, next to the phone or – my favorite – on the bathroom floor, where I fall over them in the middle of the night.
Of course, there are other signs that I had a visitor during the night. The bathroom mirror is splattered with shaving cream, wet towels are piled up on the floor, and the toilet seats are up. As I go downstairs, stinky socks greet me at the entrance. The kitchen sink displays a stack of dirty dishes, the milk has been left out on the counter, and a note is plastered on the refrigerator door: need more coffee.
Perhaps my husband is not perfect after all. Neither am I. It is astonishing to me that my husband has put up with my own quirks for nearly 20 years.
I know that God loves every one of us, with all our faults and imperfections. I doubt that any of us are easy to live with most of the time, let alone every day. Finding a partner in life who is willing to look past our own transgressions on a daily basis requires love and a healthy serving of humor.
A few years ago, deployment and subsequent re-assignment forced our family to live apart for over 18 months. I did not bump into coffee cups in the morning or have to hunt for soiled socks around the house. My toilet seats stayed down.
Likewise, my husband had a break from my imperfections. No listening to moans about the load of household chores, or the long wait at the commissary and bank. He did not find dry clothes hugging the side of the washing machine, come home to the fourth macaroni-and-cheese dinner in a week, or find a pile of make-up and hairbrushes around the bathroom sink.
After we lived together again, our marriage went through a second honeymoon phase. We took care to overlook each other’s idiosyncrasies and mistakes. Life was good because we focused on sharing our love and being together. What did it matter if we ate the same dish twice a week? At least we have enough food every day. Mud-caked footprints on the carpet, overdue books on the stairs, ink stains on his shirts? Who cares? He was back, living with us and that was enough.
This phase did not last. All too soon the routine of everyday life claimed our gracious attitude. I notice his quirks, and I know he notices mine.
Last week I woke up to a racket at 4:30 in the morning. I staggered out of bed and crept quietly downstairs, preparing myself for a confrontation. Instead of a burglar, I found my husband unloading the dishwasher. Good grief! I just stood there with wide eyes, shaking my head and biting my lip before I stomped back to bed.
Later that morning he sent me an email. He apologized for waking me and wrote that he was just trying to help out around the house. As I sat there, reading his email I recalled the times when we first met and after he came back from deployment. In a way those honeymoon times have never gone away. They are still here if I shift my focus and allow them to be part of my daily life. It will mean being more grateful for our love and for the time we can spend together, rather than fuming over dirty socks or mugs.
Shifting my focus will make life easier and happier. I just need to remember that none of us is perfect. Now, I’d better go and scrub those boot marks of the floor.
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