Marriage is a life-long commitment. And most of it is fantastic. But even the perfect person for you will have their little idiosyncrasies – the quirks that make them them. Here’s the thing: these can also be the quirks that drive you crazy! However, a big part of that whole commitment-for-life deal is agreeing to love your partner, plus all their quirky habits and bumpy edges. In this funny piece, husband and wife team Bill and Pam Farrel give his’n’hers insights on how to embrace your partner’s imperfections.
How To Embrace Your Partner’s Imperfections: One Couple’s Story
Pam’s Side of the Story:
He leaves his clothes on the floor instead of in the hamper. She makes plans for you without telling you. He has three cars in various stages of repair in the driveway. She has more shoes than any one closet can hold. And he just won’t throw away that “lucky” shirt!
These kinds of idiosyncrasies are enough to drive you crazy. So how do you keep those little habits and annoyances from driving a wedge between you and your spouse?
Step 1: We All Have Our Own Quirks
We all have our own little quirks. I love books and magazines, so I could easily open my own bookstore! Bill has overlooked and adapted to a constant stream of new bookcases entering our home over our 36 years together. He knows I love him – and books. We are a package deal, me and my paper products.
Meanwhile, my husband, Bill, loves his coffee. But along with Bill’s love of coffee, he also seems to have an aversion to getting the coffee mugs into the dishwasher. I find coffee cups every place imaginable: in the garage, in the car, in the truck, in the closet, on the sidewalk, on the deck, in the shop, in the office, on the stairwell, in the bathroom … you name it, and I have likely found a coffee cup there.
Step 2: See Them As Reminders Of Love
Now, coffee is not on my personal priority list. I might drink a non-fat latte here and there, but for the most part, coffee makes my heart race, and I prefer that only Bill makes my heart skip a beat! Bill says that I am naturally caffeinated by God and it takes Bill drinking three cups of coffee just to keep up with my energy.
So how did God lead me to handle the mugs issue? I learned to use his quirk as a reminder of love. Coffee is a part of what makes Bill who he is.
One day, as we were preparing to move homes, I was doing that “last load of dishes” and I realized it was composed of all coffee mugs – 47 of them to be exact! It made me smile because, years ago, I decided to pray for Bill every time I saw one of his empty displaced mugs. I was seeking to apply the principle “love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8). I have embraced the ever-reappearing dirty coffee mug with fond affection because it reminds me of my hard-working man who requires caffeine to do all the wonderful acts of service that benefit so many – including me.
Step 3: Celebrate Your Differences
For Bill’s 50th birthday, we celebrated by having Bill roast his own brand of coffee. It took one afternoon to visit a coffee farm, select the beans, roast it to perfection and design the label. I knew I had a winning date as he lingered a moment to savor the aroma of his “Farrel Family” roast. He took a sip, then I watched a big grin appear on my husband’s well-caffeinated soul.
I take note of when Bill’s supply of “Farrel Family” runs low as I know a mug of his favorite blend will endear his heart to mine, just like that empty dirty cup does when I discover it in the next unusual place. Praying for Bill when I see a coffee mug, even when I travel and might be away from Bill, has become my life rhythm.
So what is driving you nuts about your spouse? Today, take that thing that is driving you crazy about your mate and make it a prayer prompt or something to celebrate. Embrace your partner’s imperfections by making them reminders that you married someone spectacular.
Bill’s Side of the Story:
How can she leave every light in the house on? I can always tell where she has been because she leaves a trail of bright bulbs in her wake.”
“How can he leave coffee cups everywhere? It’s a short walk to the kitchen and it wouldn’t hurt him to actually put them in the dishwasher.”
These are thoughts Pam and I wrestle with regularly because we are married to wonderfully imperfect people. We both have irritating tendencies and know life would be easier if we changed these habits. We also know they have been very slow to change regardless of the effort and prayer we have put into them. But there’s a trick to embracing your partner’s imperfections and loving your spouse despite their faults: grace.
Step 1: Apply Grace
The only way to prevent these habits from defining the emotional atmosphere of our relationships is to apply grace. Making grace practical in your love life begins with understanding that grace has two strategic facets. The first is forgiveness. Jesus recognized that we are all imperfect, so He died on the cross to forgive us. As a result, there is no condemnation for those who in are Christ. (Romans 8:1) If we are people of grace, we will seek to keep our relationships free from criticism and bitterness. Instead, we will be motivated to be tender toward the other person’s shortcomings.
Step 2: Accept Shortcomings
Grace doesn’t stop at pardoning others, however. It also “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:12) In other words, grace motivates us to be our best selves while allowing others to be a work in progress.
Step 3: Find Patience With Their Imperfections
I find I am very patient with myself and the collection of dirty coffee cups. I easily explain away the habit with statements such as:
- “I was busy doing important things.”
- “It’s just a small flaw.”
- “I would have eventually gotten to it.”
If I am loving by grace, I will extend this same patience to Pam. I will look at the lights that have been left on and say:
- “She was busy doing important things.”
- “It’s just a small flaw.”
- “She would have eventually gotten to it.”
An unexpected thing happened when we started to give each other the same grace we give ourselves. Pam started thanking me for my work ethic. Somehow, the stray coffee cups turned into a reminder that I am willing to work hard for the sake of our lives. At the same time, I developed a new appreciation for her creativity. I have lived a bigger life than I would have on my own because of Pam’s inspiration. Each unnecessary light became a beacon of the fact that I am living with a thriving, innovative woman.
We didn’t set out to reach these new conclusions. But when you embrace your partner’s imperfections, you see them in a new light. It is simply how love grows when you give grace.
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