Sometimes I try to “fix” my husband. I know it’s not a good idea, but it’s so easy to fall into that trap. It goes something like this.
First, something unrelated to my husband starts to annoy me. Maybe the trash smells. Maybe a kid is crying. Maybe I’m just tired. Second, I search out a scapegoat for the problem. Guess who’s an easy target? The guy who pledged to love me until the day I die no matter what. Third, I decide that whatever is annoying me wouldn’t have ever been a problem if he didn’t [insert annoying behavior of wonderful, loving husband here]. And finally, now that I have identified the TRUE cause of my frustrations, I let him know how I feel about the behavior (and why it’s ruining my life). How’s that for a logical progress of thought?!
Okay, here is the backstory: I have been at war with his smartphone ever since he got it. The worst is the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad gaming. I don’t get it. It’s a dumb waste of time, and he doesn’t realize how much time he spends on it. (Allow me to explain here that any time at all on it is extremely annoying to me. I think his time might actually be reasonable, but I want it to be zero, so anything more than that is too much.)
Well, I recently accepted that he will probably never give up playing games on his phone. I’m not going to win this one. But instead of getting annoyed at him and jealously policing his phone, I decided to experiment with playing alongside him. You know what they say: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
One game particularly annoyed me: Clash of Clans. His friend started the clan to teach his kids about online interactions through gaming in a controlled environment. But it seemed like my husband was on it constantly, and I routinely teased him about it.
One night I suggested, in a playfully mocking voice, that I might have to join his clan. He thought I was kidding. The next night I asked if he would explain the game to me. I have rarely seen him so excited.
Our next few days were filled with playful conversation around the game. He got me set up, shared strategy, and thought up humorous ways to reveal my identity to his friend, the clan leader, who would never believe I would play this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad game.
The result? We found a new activity that we enjoy together. Our conversations are interesting, and not all about the kids, which is really important for a healthy marriage. And it’s cute to watch him be so excited about helping me build my village. In one day, Clash of Clans turned into something that united us instead of dividing us.
In marriage we are invited to make each other better, but not through coercion or manipulation or whining. Rather, we can encourage each other along, point out strengths, and find creative ways to alleviate the damage caused by our partner’s weaknesses. It’s so easy for me to see ways to make my husband better, but often it just reflects my biased ideas of what’s inherently good. He was made to be who he is. I was made who I am. We both have room for improvement. Instead of proudly thinking that my ideas about who he should be are correct, I want to love him for exactly who he is in this moment and pray that my love spurs him to become an even better man.
That’s easier said than done–it’s one of those things that I know, but I have to fight to live it out. But at least Clash of Clans is an interesting way to re-learn the lesson. And I do have to admit … it is a little bit fun.
Looking to grow closer to your spouse? Come join our clan!