One of the very important things in my life right now is that I remember to take my Parkinson’s medicine. I have forgotten, both that I hadn’t taken it and that I already had, and took it again, resulting in an ambulance ride to the hospital. The fact that I forgot doesn’t make taking my medicine at the right time unimportant in reality or in my mind, it is very important and I know that it is very important! So why do I forget? Because there are so many things going on in my life, with so much information coming into my head that I am supposed to remember that I just forget some things, and often what I forget is the most important things. I forgot Patty’s birthday once. That didn’t mean that it wasn’t important to me, it didn’t mean that she wasn’t important to me, and it certainly didn’t mean that I didn’t love her, it just meant that there was so much urgent stuff going on that I forgot, I do that. It wasn’t a big deal to Patty, she didn’t take it as me not caring for her, she just reminded me, I apologized, made it up to her, and back to life we went.
I regularly hear of couples having a conflict because one of them forgot a birthday, anniversary, an appointment, or some other significant thing resulting in hurt feelings, resulting in irritation, or anger, or sulking, or the silent treatment. It seems so much more mature and wise and peaceful just to graciously remind the forgetful one of whatever they forgot and to get on with life.
The problems come when the personal standards that we have set for our spouse that we use to determine our own worth and value in their eyes is not their standards. It helps immensely if couples communicate to each other what makes them feel loved and valued, rather than expecting that their mate know what it is intuitively.
On one of our dates Patty said to me, “Do you know what makes me feel very loved more than anything else you do?” I took a couple of guesses that were wrong, and she said, “when you listen to me attentively when I talk even when it isn’t about something you are particularly interested in.” Because I am always in a hurry to get something else checked off of my “to do” list I am not a very attentive listener, especially if the conversation goes very long or is about something I could care less about. As Patty shared this with me I recognized how important this was to her, and I also recognized what a bad job I had been doing at making my wife feel loved. Because I forget things, even important things, I wrote out a commitment statement that is part of my every morning prayer of commitment to the Lord. “Today Lord, I will love Patty the way You loved the church and gave Your life up for her, I will do this by listening attentively to her when she talks with me, and I will not become impatient when she talks for a long time or about something I am not interested in. Please help me to keep this commitment.”
The cool thing was that when I shared my personal commitment with her she asked what was the most important thing she could do to communicate her love to me, and I shared it with her.😘