Spring break 2007 was the best family vacation we have ever had. We loaded up the mini-van and took off for Destin, Florida. Every time we went somewhere in Destin I said to Trisha, “This looks so familiar.” She kinda laughed it off, which was weird, because I wasn’t joking. We would go eat somewhere, or go to Wal-Mart or go to an outlet mall, and I would say, “Man, I feel like I have been here before.” Finally, I guess I got so annoying, Trisha said to me “Justin, we were on vacation here Spring Break of 2003! Do you not remember?” What she said hit me like a ton of bricks. We were in Destin, Florida for Spring Break, 2003, but I wasn’t on vacation…we were 1 week out from our first Easter Service at the church, and all I did was worry and stress and complain and work. I was there, but I wasn’t there. Maybe you can relate to this mistake that nearly destroyed our marriage…
#2-We consistently gave each other the left-overs from our day and not the best.
How does it happen in a marriage that over time, we stop giving our spouse the best of who we are and we give them what ever is left at the end of the day? Your boss gets your best or your clients get your best, or your customers get your best, your laundry gets your time and attention, and your Facebook gets its time, your to-do list gets priority…but at the end of the day, we settle for giving our spouse less than our best. Here is what is toxic…this becomes a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
I come home from the office and Trisha has the laundry done and the kitchen cleaned and the kids bathed, and dinner ready…and I walk in exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated…whatever…and all I say is “We’re having pasta again? Really?” With that one statement, with that one act of withholding my best, I have destroyed the effort that she has given to offer her best. You know what she is thinking in that moment “My best isn’t good enough.”
On the other hand, I leave work early, go buy flowers, find a babysitter, make dinner reservations and plan a perfect evening without the kids, only to come home and hear “You must be trying really hard to make up for something. If you think that this means you’re getting lucky tonight, think again!” That statement totally defeats a husband who has done what he can to offer his best. You know what I am thinking in that moment “Why should I even try, my best obviously isn’t good enough.” And so the cycle goes…
When Trisha and I were separated, I worked at P.F. Chang’s as a server. I went from speaking to 500 people each weekend, to “Would you like white or brown rice?” One night as I was closing my section, I had a table of several high school students that had come in for dinner after their school dance. They were loud and rude and made a huge mess and hung out so long that I was one of the last servers to leave. After they left, I was on my hands and knees under their table sweeping up rice and crushed up fortune cookies with my hands into a dust pan…I stood up and looked on the table, and they had left me a $5 tip! I thought I am busting my butt cleaning up after these kids who could care less about me…when is the last time I have done this at home? When is the last time I have given to Trisha like I am giving at P.F. Chang’s for a flimsy $5 tip?
What about you in your marriage right now? Who is getting your best? Maybe you are so concerned about a clean house you forget about the husband who lives there? Maybe you are so tracked on “providing” for your family, you fail to prioritize the family you are providing for. This is so subtle and it happens little by little…and it takes a conscious effort to battle this fatal mistake. Greatness doesn’t just happen…it is achieved by consistently giving your best…and that is true in your marriage. I say a prayer every single night on my way home and it goes something like this “God, I have given my best effort today at work. I have given my best to my boss, I have given my best to my clients, I have given my best to people I will never meet, and only care about me to the extent that it benefits them…help me give 110% to 4 people who love me unconditionally and deserve so much more than what I have given to others today.”
What are some areas that you know your spouse isn’t getting your best? That could be a great Valentine’s Day conversation!