It was our second year of marriage and my wife wanted me to cook — or else — and she wanted me to do it with a good attitude. That’s asking a lot. I don’t like cooking as it is, and I sure don’t like cooking when I feel like I’m being forced to do it.
Raquel was pretty sick though, so I felt obligated to do it, rather than check out like I normally did when she was ill. That’s how I ended up standing over a pot of boiling water lowering raw chicken into it with a bad attitude.
“What next?” I asked.
“Read the recipe.”
“It says, ‘Add salt.’”
“Then add salt,” she said.
“It doesn’t say how much.”
“Just put some salt in your hand add it,” she said, walking away.
I picked up the salt canister, filled my hand and dumped it in the pot. Then I bitterly chopped the vegetables and threw them in too. That was the last step and I was just glad it was over. It wasn’t over at all.
A couple of hours later, Raquel took a spoon and tasted the soup. She spat it into the sink.
“My goodness, Joshua! It tastes like saltwater!”
“I’m sorry,” I said, starting to get even more irritated, “but you said to put some salt in my hand and add it so I did.”
“How much did you put in your hand?”
“I cupped my hand and filled it up to the top.”
“What? That’s probably a quarter cup, Joshua! What were you thinking?”
Raquel was furious with me and she was convinced I had ruined the soup on purpose. I defended myself and blamed her for being unclear. Deep in my heart though, I knew I had passively aggressively over-salted the soup. She had called me out and she had exposed my immaturity for what it was.
Before I was married, I could usually keep people from seeing my worst and in doing so, I could avoid rejection. It’s a survival skill, and it’s one that keeps others at a safe and comfortable distance. But then we get married, somebody moves into our space and they begin to see us for who we are.
The ugly side of us creeps out and our spouses are usually the first to let us know. We can’t handle it. They thought so much of us back in the days of infatuation. Now they’re pointing out our ugly side and it stings.
In the past ten years, my wife has seen plenty of my ugly side and I’ve seen plenty of her ugly side too. That’s OK though. We can handle it because as we’ve grown in our relationship with each other and the Lord, we’ve spent more energy on the lookout for the good in each other. And you know, we’re finding plenty of it.
In Sarah Groves’ song, “Loving a Person,” she says,
Love and pride can’t occupy the same spaces, baby
Andonly one makes you free
So hold on to me, and I’ll hold on to you
Let’s find out the beauty of seeing things through
My wife and I are getting better at finding that beauty, and as a result, the ugly things don’t mean as much as they used to. We’ve got the freedom to love and be loved without condition, to hold onto each other and see things through — bad cooking and all.