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When It’s Easier to See the Other Person’s Flaws

May 13, 2020

Another Way for week of May 8, 2020

What I Learned from King David, and Mom and Dad

I was reading again the story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah in the Bible, but this time written as a novel. The poetic and powerful author Walt Wangerin, Jr. wrote The Book of God: The Bible as a Novel (Zondervan, 1999). I’m not going to write about the adultery part. (We know it was common for a king to have a whole harem of wives who took turns coming to his bed, so the problem here was David coveting what he didn’t have, and basically forcing Bathsheba into bed with him.) When Bathsheba ends up pregnant, David arranges for her husband Uriah to be conveniently killed in battle. Then the prophet Nathan confronts David with a story subtly reminiscent of what David has done. David quickly responds, “Anyone who can do such a thing deserves to die.” He then confesses his sin and cries out to the Lord for redemption.

It is always easier to see someone else’s mistakes and faults than your own. No where is that truer than in marriage and families, where we live in each other’s faces day in and day out, especially during this “lockdown.”

I was fussing at my husband for misplacing the strap of Velcro we’ve been using to secure ice pack holders when wrapping them around his knee after exercises (for knee replacement surgery March 10). The dandy holder they gave us is looking a little tattered after twice a day home therapy. (He also goes twice a week to a therapy office.) Stuart came up with the idea of using a short strip of Velcro to keep the ice pack from unrolling around his knee. I won’t go into here how many times he’s misplaced his best set of keys (currently missing for weeks), or how often I’ve helped him hunt for tools in the workshop.

Do I really NEED 3 jackets of the same type?

It was not long after I read this story of David (and others where David recognizes his own grave sins and failures as a father) when I remembered that I left my jacket that day at the therapy office. I hung it on a hook and by the time we left, it was warm enough that I never thought about wearing my jacket. So it was me, not my husband, who had again misplaced or forgotten something.

I had also left a different jacket in Indiana after our trip out there in February. So, two misplaced jackets should equal missing car keys and a Velcro strip. Guilty. I told Stuart that I had forgotten my jacket at therapy and was guilty of the same lack of attention to where I’d put my things that so frustrates me about him at times. After almost 44 years of marriage, these things are easier to take in stride and keep in perspective. Usually! Especially when we know the peccadilloes go both ways.

My parents had a love story that carried them through more than 60 years of marriage, even though the last years were especially difficult as Mom took care of Dad as increasing dementia affected their relationship. Here I want to do a Mother’s Day salute for the love and attention Mom gave Dad, and the affection they showed each other. She demonstrated how love gets you through the times when you dislike your spouse, and how being kind and generally peaceful and patient keeps you going. Us kids often talk about the example they gave us, cemented by a big hug and kiss as Dad left the supper table to go watch the news, or relax after a long and often hard day farming. We kids mostly took turns doing the dishes. Later in life, when Dad retired from farming, he took over washing the dishes.

Together they illustrated that it is more important to learn to love one another, and worry less about being loved. Philosopher/psychoanalyst Erich Fromm wrote in the classic The Art of Loving (1956) that love is a skill to be honed the way artists apprentice themselves to the work on their way to mastery. Growing in our love takes both knowledge, effort, and steady practice. I’ve edited slightly to modernize his words: “Love is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached … all his/her attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he/she tries actively to develop his/her total personality … it takes true humility, courage, faith and discipline.”

I’m still growing and learning on this journey.

***

What have you learned in the journey of marriage?

What have you learned about your own flaws in other relationships?

For my free booklet “Secrets of Long Marriage,” send $1 for shipping to me at Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834. Or if you have comments, email me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

One Comment
  1. This gave me a chuckle! Yes, it’s easier to see another person’s flaws, especially our husband’s. On my best days I ask myself, “What’s it like being married to me today?” I agree, the “sheltering in place” edict has magnified the challenge of living peaceably together. More fussing, more apologizing. My favorite line: “Especially when we know the peccadilloes go both ways.”

    Your parents were a marvelous example to you and to your children. Thanks for the anecdote.

    Thanks, as always, for an insightful post + the inclusion of The Book of God: The Bible as a Novel, a book I hadn’t heard of before. Interesting that the author (or publisher?) chose Michelangelo’s God/man finger touch for the cover.

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