My 6-week-old daughter was recently rushed to Children’s Hospital by an ambulance because she was having trouble breathing. Upon arrival, about twenty doctors and nurses surrounded her, looking for clues as to what might be wrong with her. She was on a heart monitor and all I could hear was the beeping of the heart monitor and my daughter screaming. Would she be all right? Will she be able to breathe? I saw the fear and worry in my wife’s eyes, and I was worried too.
But I also knew I needed to stay strong, and I could see that my wife was trying to stay strong with me. We were doing it for each other.
It turns out that our daughter was born with an enlarged heart. She’s okay now, but the whole thing reminded me about the power of letting your own strengths work for you in relationships and family life.
I think my biggest personal strength is mental strength. I have the ability to stay strong in hard situations and act like it doesn’t get to me—though things do sometimes actually get to me in those hard situations. I act the same no matter what. I have the ability to act like everything’s okay, to reassure my wife and children that we’re going to make it.
I think that my mental strength can be a great asset in my marriage and family. It can be a source of inspiration to my wife and kids that we can make it through a hardship, and help us to keep a good perspective. I think it can reduce worrying about things that we have no control over.
You see, I think the reason I have mental strength is that I’ve accepted my limitations as a human being. As much as I believe my choices affect outcomes—if I stop going into work, I’ll get fired; if I don’t care for my kids, they’ll feel neglected—I ultimately don’t have final control over my life. For instance, I could find out tomorrow that I have cancer and only have a few weeks to live. Whatever is in God’s will is in his will and there’s nothing I can do about it except to accept it and go with his plan. And I think that perspective can help my family to enjoy life in the moment and not get caught up worrying about things outside of our control.
My wife also has a kind of mental strength, and I think it plays well with mine: she has mental endurance, which does not come as easily for me. She has the ability to deal with long-standing problems that go on for a while. When difficulty drags out over time, she stays strong. Me, I like to have a quick fix to my problems and get rid of them as soon as possible. But she has the amazing ability to deal with them for a longer amount of time. So whereas I can deal well with the hard problems in the moment, she deals especially well with the problems that stick around for a while. And I can learn from her on that: about patience and sticking with something.
She is a great mother and wife and an overall powerful woman—and I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t have her I wouldn’t have half the strength that I do. Without her, I’d probably be more tempted to give up. But she (and my kids) inspires me to stay on top of things and make sure that life is good for her and our kids.
Whatever your own personal strengths are, find them and let them become an asset for you in your relationship and family. And don’t be afraid to learn from and draw on the strengths of your partner. You’ll both be better off for it.