I mean, I really couldn’t cook.
I was bound and determined to learn, though, so once in a while I’d set out to create elaborate meals in an attempt to master the art of cooking. I’d pull out all the stops–creative appetizers, scrumptious main courses, perfectly complimentary side dishes, decadent desserts, softly glowing candles, fine china, cute outfits (of course)…you get the idea. One day while Dan was at work I decided to prepare a romantic feast as a surprise for him. I slaved away all day and then eagerly settled in to await his arrival home.
Only, he didn’t come straight home from work. Not by a long shot.
The food got cold and I quickly became hot — and not in that desirable (pun intended) newlywed way, either, if you catch my drift.
Eventually my husband made it home but by that time I was furious. He was apologetic but kind of vague regarding the details of where he’d been which irritated me to no end. In short, there was no romantic feast that night. Which is sad! Romantic feasts are lovely! It wouldn’t have been so hard to re-light the candles, re-heat the food, and savor the romance but I chose to remain irritated and stomped off in an attempt to make some silly point.
Later that week I noticed that his jacket was missing. Where was it? Well, girls, he wouldn’t say. I pressed him–oh yes, I did–but he still wouldn’t say. At this point he was left facing a grave decision: does he keep the whereabouts of the mysterious disappearing jacket a secret and endure the wrath of his (not-so) mild-mannered young wife? Or does he confess and reveal his deep and (not-so) dark secret?
(Oh, the suspense!)
He wisely chose the latter. He’s going to kill me for sharing this, but here’s what had happened: he’d stopped on his way home to help a homeless man. He gave him food and the jacket off his back. That’s why he’d been delayed. And that’s where the jacket had gone. The reason he hadn’t wanted to share all this with me is because he likes to humbly carry out these little acts of mercy quietly.
I love that man.
I’d assumed it was something selfish my husband had done that had caused him to be late for dinner. In other words, I assumed the worst. And as a result, I ruined the evening. (Keep in mind this was before he had a cellphone so he really couldn’t have called. Nor had he specifically said that he’d be coming directly home from work. I’d just figured he would.) I could have chosen to assume the best. I could have recognized that I have an amazing husband who would never have purposefully ruined my dinner. But I didn’t.
That was not the first time I’d assigned uncharitable motives to my husband’s actions, nor would it be the last. I’m a bit of a slow learner but eventually it dawned on me that my failure to assume positive intent was hugely unfair and was damaging our relationship. So I decided to change my foolish ways. (Or try to, anyway.)
These days I can more clearly see my husband for the remarkable man he is. That doesn’t mean that he’s perfect (or that I pretend that he’s perfect); it just means that I am committed to seeing the best in him. I am committed to viewing him and his actions through a lens of trust rather than suspicion. And it does take commitment. It’s not always an easy thing to do when I am disappointed by the way something has turned out but it’s a habit I’ve worked hard to form and continue to work hard to reinforce. Also? It’s only fair. No one deserves to have their motives questioned without provocation. Certainly not my husband–an faithful husband and father who has only ever wanted the best for his family.
Imagine how much stronger our marriages could be if we all decided to assume positive intent. Imagine how much happier we would all be if we chose to see the best in our spouses. Have you ever encountered a couple whose love for one another is practically palpable? I don’t think the large majority of them have less struggles or are more virtuous than the rest of us. I believe that they’ve simply disciplined themselves to believe in the goodness in one another, forgive the weakness, and be grateful for the gift of their love.
(Someone recently emailed me looking for this post so — since I’m still getting settled into our new home and haven’t had much time for blogging — I thought I’d re-run it. Hope you all are well, sweet girls!)