Four little words

Living with my wife is really helping me get to heaven. (That noise you didn’t hear was her smacking me in the back of the head. The life of a writer is filled with pain.) Seriously, God knew what He was doing when He made matrimony the first sacrament. Men and women complement one another, even if we don’t always remember to compliment one another.

Today’s lesson was about the true path to happiness. Perhaps without meaning to, my wife taught me the four little words of joy in a marriage, and for that matter, for joy in a Christian life: “It’s not about you.”

My wife woke up yesterday with a summer cold. She was feeling miserable, and snuffled her way through Mass, breakfast, and baking brownies for a community meal. I did my best to be caring, but after a while it became obvious that my efforts were more annoying than appreciated. Naturally, at that point, I did what every husband would do; I got mad and pouted.

Now not only did my wife have to deal with her own suffering, she had to resolve a dispute with her husband. With as much patience as she could muster through her viral fog, she explained that my “helping” was really nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from her needs (which included: peace, quiet, and a box of tissues) to mine (which included: long discussions about my opinions on the nature of summertime illnesses, and her being responsive to my endless inquiries into how she is feeling). “Sometimes,” my long-suffering spouse reminded me, “it’s not about you.”

Humility can be a painful virtue. It took me about two minutes to realize what a knothead I had been. I apologized, made breakfast, and then left her alone to nap in a chair while I quietly did my penance, taking care of a small list of chores she wanted done. As I was dusting, it occurred to me that “it’s not about you,” would be a good motto to live by. God created us for each other, not for ourselves.

“Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” –Blessed Mother Theresa.


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