The last few weeks have been too much back-to-back fun in our lives to really have had time for groundbreaking thoughts or serious discussions for our “This Week In Marriage” section. We obviously talk every day–but after our jam-packed trip to Dallas (which we’ll write about soon), spending a day building a table (also another post), and throwing a big birthday party, we’ve just gone to work and slept.
Instead of writing about some big truth I’ve realized this week, I want to share something I realized during the first week of marriage..and still revisit on a daily basis.
If you don’t think you’re selfish, you’ve probably never been married.
I’m a very selfish person. I never really thought I was until maybe the second day of our honeymoon when it hit me like a brick. We’re all very selfish, even the people we don’t think of as selfish. Every day there are things that other people want to do that I don’t because I would rather do something else. And once I realized how selfish I was it was difficult not to feel guilty every time I said no to something. There has to be a balance but leaning toward saying yes is probably better in my mind.
I’ll offer an aside that will eventually lead to an illustration:
Right before getting married I saw a dad (I don’t remember who or where) tell his very excited son that he wasn’t in the mood or too tired to play with him at that moment. The child was so upset. There was his dad whom he hadn’t seen all day and there was an opportunity to connect (whether it was throwing a baseball, building legos or playing video games I don’t recall).
I absolutely understand that the guy was tired and wanted to just stare at a wall or grab a beer or play a one-player video game for a little while, but that example really struck a chord with me. His job as a father is a difficult one. But this part – the part where he plays legos with his son – is the best part of the whole thing and it’s the part that younger him probably said he would never forget about.
That’s the moment I decided that I’m going to say yes to playing with my kids every chance I get when I’m a dad. Why wouldn’t I? I can’t think of any reason I would be too busy to play video games or throw a baseball, to create memories with these kids that grow up way too fast.
Though it seems strange to make a parallel with this example, I made a mental comparison to this event early in our marriage. My wife would want to cuddle or talk or something like that and I was tired and wanted to read comic books. After reading a few panels I thought, “What am I doing? I longed for a woman to talk to or snuggle for the past 20 years and now I’m just shrugging her off.”
Who does that? Me. Selfish JB.
So that’s when I decided I was going to try to be selfless when it comes to my wife, just like with my future kids. There are times when I’m tired and it’s bedtime when I have to resort to saying, “Hey, I tried to talk to you earlier and you weren’t engaging me back–I’m tired and really just want to read for a bit,” but I also make a much more intentional effort to engage my wife and cater to her needs. I try to give her more attention (and she needs a lot) or hold her or just let her tickle me even though I hate it SO MUCH.
It definitely swings both ways; you can’t accuse someone of being selfish just for meeting their needs–sometimes you need to spend some time doing what you want for the sake of sanity (or anxiety, in my case). But try to commit to do something for someone everyday. Say yes to a few more things that you normally would. There are times I find myself telling friends I don’t want to hang out because I had a long day at work– but why should my community and fun suffer because I was busy? Everyone is busy – that’s a terrible excuse. I think you’ll find the things you say no to a lot are actually pretty awesome things.