T he floor at Art and Naomi Hunt’s house was scattered with wrenches, screwdrivers, and a host of oddly shaped pieces of wood and metal. The task at hand? To construct a new gas barbecue. Art knew that Naomi was the more mechanically gifted partner in their marriage, but he was determined to put together this latest addition to their arsenal of modern cooking appliances. As Art struggled, his wife watched. Finally, progress stopped altogether, and Art reluctantly asked for Naomi’s advice. But instead of just giving her opinion, Naomi took the wrench from Art’s hand and began finishing the job herself.
Not surprisingly, Art felt rather emasculated, incompetent, and foolish. Now he faced a choice. He could believe either the best or the worst about Naomi’s actions. If he believed the worst, he would think, Man, she’s taking control. She doesn’t have any confidence in my abilities. Or, believing the best, he could tell himself, She’s going further than I asked her to, but she’s just trying to help me. That’s okay. Art chose the latter.
In a lifelong relationship, we regularly arrive at these emotional crossroads. We could go either way: give our partner the benefit of the doubt, or give ourselves the right to take offense. When we choose to see our spouse’s good intentions and base our reactions on them, we’re taking the road toward intimacy and away from unnecessary conflict. As Art Hunt understood, the real task at hand was building his relationship with Naomi, not putting together a new gadget.
Just between us…
How do we usually react when one of us steps in to help the other?
Do we see the best in each other’s motives? If not, why?
Do either of us give the other reason to question our motives?
Dear God, my spouse is Your gift to me, and I’m grateful. Help me to always believe, see, and act on the best. Grant me grace to mature in this area. Amen.