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I talk about my family, my divorce, and a lot about MAKEUP.
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This is not the post I was going to write tonight.

Tonight I witnessed an exchange between a young couple (husband and wife) which was probably extremely ordinary.

I was going to come home and talk about the ass hole customer I dealt with tonight, but this put me on a different track.

Near the end of the night a girl I haven't seen in years approached the fitting room. I said hi, asked her how many items she had, just like anyone else. I wasn't sure if she'd remember me or want to say hi, and I'm the type to avoid an awkward exchange of "how've you been"s if I can help it. She read my name tag and said, "I thought I recognized you! Aubrey, how have you been?" She's always been an incredibly sweet person and her having remembered me felt better than I'd expected. We grew up together in the same church just down the road from where I work now.

Anyway, after she'd tried on her items (4 skirts), she walked over to where her husband was waiting for her and said, "I really like these two. Which of these would you be able to match better with the things you already have? Probably this one, huh? It's twenty-two dollars, is that OK?" Husband nods and says something non-descript, but he's holding some sort of electronic he wants to buy.

She gets a sympathetic look on her face and says, "This is going to sound really selfish, but if I'm going to spend twenty dollars on this, we probably shouldn't also get that." I can only see the back of his head, but he looks defeated. She says, in her super-sweet way she's always had, "If you really want it, I can put this skirt back." She really loves the skirt. She was excited about the skirt. Moments later she put the skirt back and her husband bought the thing he wanted. I could hear them talking and laughing on their way out of the store.

Totally average exchange, probably. I wouldn't know. Husband and I fight over everything, but especially money (I'm a spender, he's a saver). Going to the store together generally goes more like this:

Husband: Now, we don't have a lot of money, so let's not buy anything, OK?
Me: Oh, whatever. I'll buy something if I want to, you can't stop me.
Husband (rolling eyes and sighing heavily): Oh, honey.
Me: Oooh! Honey, look at this! I love this!! I simply must have this.
Husband: How much is it?
Me (rounding down to a more agreeable number): Only seven dollars!
Husband: We don't have any money...

He's squirming in his own skin. I can see it, and his anxiety bugs me. I've begun calling him Money Nazi, although I'm very aware he's actually just trying to keep us above drowning.

Me: I'm going to try it on! *skipping away to try it on, fall in love with it, then buy it*

Husband won't tell me "NO YOU WILL NOT BUY THAT" but I know when that's what he wishes he could say. I can see it, I can feel it, and my inner teenager kicks in with a great big "I WILL IF I WANT TO AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME". It's not pretty.

The point is, this exchange I witnessed tonight between that other husband and wife reminded me of a time when Husband and I used to take each other's feelings into consideration. Before we started piling on resentment each time the other one didn't let us have what we wanted. Underneath all the layers of whatever grudges we've acquired is a couple who used to be capable of selflessly saying, "If you really want that, I'll put this back," and meaning it. No pouting involved.

Is that what love is? The ability to put someone else before yourself, consistently and without animosity?

That's not a rhetorical question. I really want to know what you think.



12 comments:

  1. Obviously there is more to love than that but I dol think that it's part of being in a relationship...loving enough to put their needs over your own.
    When I buy things or make decisions I'm always consciously aware of my husband...not that I need his permission....I'll think "oh but he needs a piece fr the car" or "he still needs shorts" or "he's been stressed out lately. I'll stay home so he can go out"....things like that.

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    1. You and your husband seem like a really fabulous couple. :) I appreciate your input!

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  2. Ideally, yes it is. No marriage is perfect, and even a good marriage doesn't get it right all the time. But love is putting the other person before yourself. 1 Corinthians 13 is a beautiful picture of real love, especially verses 4-7: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

    The beautiful thing is that in a loving marriage, both partners put the other first -- so everybody wins. It is worth working toward!

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    1. It's too bad that scripture is so over-used. It really is beautiful!

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  3. Aubrey! How I have missed you! Since I got my new job, I haven't had any time to browse the internet but I only scheduled two appointments today so I'm on a pretty hardcore rampage of catching up on missed blogs. I SOOO relate to you on this. My husband and I struggle on putting each other first. That sounds bad probably to most married people but I know we've become this way for so many different reasons, one of them being ME. I fought for independence for myself and for him from the beginning. I didn't think we needed to be a team. I thought it was more important that we worry about ourselves first and foremost. I didn't want to be that significant other (when we were dating) that told her partner what to do and when to do it. He did whatever he wanted and in return, I did whatever I wanted. Then we got married and I figured out that it's super hard to reverse this pattern we worked on stabilizing for 5 years. We are good partners in so many ways, but there are soooo many more ways we "rub each other the wrong way" or what other people see as a mismatched pair. We are consistently wrong for each other, but maybe that's what has worked out for this many years. We are consistent, no surprises, we know how to work through things because they are the same things... although this is in no way a justification for why we've worked out or for why I'm even writing this in the first place. I digress. My point is that every couple has their issues and some can work through them, some can't, some deal in strange ways (like actually being nice to each other and/or listening to one another.. what IS that??!), and some, like my husband and I, yell to communicate, don't always know how to put each other first, rarely understand each other, but somehow make it work passionately and once again consistently :) Thanks for your view on things, I absolutely adore it and you.

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    1. I miss you too Crystalyn! Unfortunately I never read blogs either... too busy ranting and raving about my own thoughts! LOL On a serious note, though, figure out how to work together (for each other, not against) sooner rather than later. Some habits die hard.

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  4. Yes. Real love always thinks about what the other person wants/needs and does its best to place their loved one's needs/wants first, before their own. That works, for both people, IF they both have that attitude. If only one of them has that attitude, then their love will not last. If only one of them puts the other's needs/wants first, and the other thinks and acts mostly in their own self interest, then the sacrificer will eventually feel like a slave, not a person who is loved and cherished. Lasting, loving relationships are built on MUTUAL sacrifice, not one sided sacrifice.

    I suspect that your friend's willingness to sacrifice her skirt and buy his gadget was based upon having received the same treatment by him at some earlier point in time . . . and feeling assured that she would receive that same kind of treatment herself at some later point in time.

    This mutual willingness to sacrifice THINGS we want is a requirement for long lasting love. Being willing to accept who the other person is, without insisting that they change to suit ourselves is another aspect of that same attitude. When we tell the other person, verbally or otherwise, that they are broken or substandard, according to our own set of standards that are biased to honor who we are, then we do exactly the same thing, emotionally, to our loved one as if we were constantly saying to them, "No, you can't have that THING because I want this THING and my needs are more important than your needs."

    Yes, there is more to love than buying what the other person wants . . . buying what they want . . . and buying them as a person of worth to us, are so intertwined that they are emotionally inseperable.

    Sorry, I got on my soapbox there for a minute. But the one thought is a natural extension of the other. These concepts, and the feelings they produce in us, are cyclical and reciprocal. They feed each other, or they cannibalize each other.

    There is only one choice in a relationship: Either you feed each other, or you cannibalize each other . . . all other choices follow that one choice. In the end, there is no real middle ground.

    The results may take many years to finally show themselves, but they are inevitable if BOTH partners cannot, or will not, put the other person's needs/wants first.

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    1. The correlation between buying things for each other and accepting/caring for each other is exactly what I was trying to say here. Thanks for spelling that out a little more clearly. Some times I'm not so good at tying it all together!

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  5. I do think that a big part of marriage is having the perspective to put each other first - which is very hard. Especially in my marriage. I am an extremely selfish person. I want what I want, and I don't want people telling me what to do. I take. And Brad is a giver. He helps and he listens and always puts himself last. It works, and it doesn't work. And it's something that we're working on. It's not a good balance when one person gets everything, while the other feels drained from always giving - even if it's out of love - and never recieving anything back. But I also think that for the stubborn people like us, we have to swallow our pride more often than we like. We want to be right. We want to win. Every single time, whether it's an argument or deciding whether or not you get to buy something. But marriage isn't about who wins or who loses - because if you look at it that way, eventually you both lose. It's tough, I know. It really is a balancing act. Give too much and you feel taken for granted. Give too little and there's no room for compromise. And that's essentially what marriage is - at least to me. Taking two complete, seperate people with their own views and personalities, and finding a way to harmoniously meet in the middle. The middle is where I can see and work past the flaws and the differences and see the wonderful person I fell in love with in the first place. We might not always STAY happily in the middle, but it's where we're always aiming to be, and that's what counts.

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  6. That only works as long as you are BOTH putting each other first. Sacrifices need to be made on both sides. My hubby and I would have an exchange like that couple. Sometimes I put down those hot sunglasses or bag, and sometimes he puts down the movie or hat. Just recently I had some Kohl's cash and I was all excited to get myself something I really didn't need for practically free, until he reminded me that he only had one pair of shorts. So... I got him his shorts. Right after that I had a store credit, and I asked him if he wanted me to get him anything with it, and he said no, go ahead, I know you need some shirts for work. So it's definitely a give and take.
    Also, we're in a good place with each other in our relationship, in spite of our place in life in general, and that helps a lot. There have been plenty of times in the past when I would have thrown a hissy fit because I thought I deserved something that we couldn't afford, even if it was just a $2 nail polish, so I know where you're coming from.

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  7. Yeah, I kind of think that it is, but it only works (as Nicole said) if you both do it. If only one person is doing it, then you're on a short road to burnout and anger. But if both people in the relationship are doing it, then it becomes and upward spiral of each one doing things for the other. Obviously, when you get two humans in a relationship, there will be hiccups along the way, but this is a great goal, IMO.

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  8. I think a lot of it is mutual respect. You do for your spouse because you want and trust that he will do for you. Sometimes my husband gets his way, sometimes I get mine. We are lucky enough that most of the time we want the same thing and most of the time we are on the same page. When we're not, we try to be practical - does it benefit the family over just one of us, can we put it off for later (when there's a sale, when we can better afford it), etc. I found that saving for the same common goal (getting out of debt, our house, whatever) it was easier for both of us to put back non-necessities that didn't benefit us both. Hope things get easier for you guys.

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