We Mean Well, But . . .

“Our intentions are usually good. We mean well, but sometimes we get in our own way—and yours!”

That’s what one woman in a Mom to Mom group told me she’d like husbands to know about wives. Her words echoed in my mind as I looked out at the faces of the men Woody and I spoke to last Saturday. And when I had the opportunity to talk with a few of them afterward, I was even more convinced of how true these words are for husbands as well as for wives. Not all husbands and wives, to be sure—but so many of us!

The men seemed genuinely interested in learning how they could better love their wives and keep passion and romance in their marriages. Often they seemed confused as to what women really want. One man even asked afterward, “How can I say “I love you” to my wife so she really hears it and knows I mean it? Sometimes it just sounds sort of mechanical.”

Just the week before at Mom to Mom, women shared the ways they let their husbands know how they appreciate and admire them. My favorite story was from a woman who said she had recently been at her husband’s place of work—an auto body shop. It so happened that some of his work colleagues were there, and as he introduced her to them, the conversation allowed her to comment on what a great husband he was. She passed on a few compliments that just came naturally but were heard by his work buddies.

As much as she appreciates her husband, she had confessed to us at Mom to Mom that her pet peeve is that her car never seems to get the little dings and scrapes fixed in his busy shop. But! Funny thing…when the other men left, his first words to her were: “Honey, what was it you needed fixed on your car?”

The power of appreciation!

Which brings me back a little closer to home: on Saturday I shared with the men how much the little things mean to us women. I emphasized especially how much being appreciated means to us.

I also shared a “little thing” Woody had done last week that I really appreciated—and actually remembered to thank him for: on Wednesday mornings—garbage day at our house—he usually brings the trash barrels and recycle bin out to the driveway since they are heavy for me to move. When I got up last Wednesday (he had left much earlier), I saw to my surprise that he had also taken the trash bags out of the kitchen. Something I usually do but had forgotten. I thanked him when he came home that night, and he said, “They were really heavy this time, and I didn’t want you to hurt your back.”

That time I remembered to thank him. But then there was yesterday. A very unusual thing happened: Woody got home that night before I did. As I was scurrying around throwing things together for dinner, I was irritated that he didn’t get up to give me a kiss when I came in. After all, I do that when he comes home—but there he was, calmly sitting in his chair leafing through an oncology journal. And I was even more irritated that he didn’t—without being asked—bring the last groceries in from the car. As you can imagine, I managed to let him know how I felt—nicely, of course.

But what I failed to notice until this morning when I woke up—yes, this morning, after sleeping a full night between lovely clean sheets—was what he had done before I got home. Seeing unfinished tasks in our bedroom, he had emptied the laundry basket, put away the clean clothes, and had put the clean sheets on the bed—yes, without being asked! And what had I noticed last night?

So much for being right on top of appreciating my husband!

These might seem like pretty little things in the bigger scheme of life. But little things do matter, don’t they? Especially in a marriage. Your comments to my last entry expressed this eloquently. BTW, thank you to those who sent in comments. I was able to share parts of them last Saturday and they really hit the mark!

Little things... Expressing appreciation... The power of words...

Just some things to think about this Valentine’s week.

Which leads me to a word I wanted to leave you with. It came to me when I was thinking of a word I would use to describe Woody. (Try that for your husband some time!) It’s gracious. That’s the word. More on why that word came to mind some other time. But for now, it’s something I want more of.

Gracious speech.

A grace-filled life.

A grace-giving marriage.

It comes only from God, really. It’s my prayer for me and for you—and for our marriages.

Happy Valentine’s Day!