So yesterday I did something I promised myself I would never do. More like I told myself I did not want to do. I went and re-vacuumed the entire house after my husband’s first pass. I fully realized at the time that doing so said, “you’re not good enough” and that is the last thing I want him to think. But I really wanted the house to be clean, and that was no excuse.
Why does this bother me so much? Because Matt was being SO helpful. With a full load of engineering courses at school and full time work, he has little to no time to help with house work. But he offered to help and I thought, “hey – you should do the vacuuming because you are so much faster than me.” I found out why he was so much faster than me. He finished vacuuming in less than 15 minutes. It usually takes me an hour. I noticed cat hair in a few spots. Then in a few more spots. In the scheme of things, a little extra cat hair laying around the house is not a big deal. I can clean the house once more in a week or two and it will no longer be an issue. But I gave in to my desire for a perfectly clean house and my actions were those of an ungrateful heart – that of, “Your help was not good enough – I can do better.”
He was incredibly gracious and mopped behind me as I vacuumed. That is love, folks. And those two characteristics – not being incredibly detailed about the vacuuming, yet loving me regardless of my ridiculously perfectionistic (okay, we will call it what it is: anal retentive) tendencies. He continued to be kind and gracious despite everything. I am so grateful for this.
I did not go into our marriage with ideas of Matt being something he was not. I was acutely aware that I am a perfectionist and he is much more laid back. Not only was I aware of this, but it was a characteristic in him that I treasured. Yes, I will admit it: I am a perfectionist in many aspects of my life. If I am going to do something, I will put all of my energy into making sure it is done correctly – nay, perfectly. Matt leans more towards the attitude that if it needs to be done, we might as well finish it – albeit not so perfectly – and move on. The wonderful thing is that there are benefits and drawbacks to both attitudes and we complement each other in this way.
Being a perfectionist is not better than not being a perfectionist. Matt’s get-it-done attitude has helped me get over many unimportant issues throughout our renovations and move on to more important projects. There is no reason to get so focused on the unimportant and unseen that you waste precious time. This attitude is part of the reason that the renovation lasted only one year and not two. On the other hand, my desire to get something done correctly has been a benefit for many aspects of our renovation as well. I have insisted that we redo some things that we messed up, and there is no doubt that those changes have made a huge difference in the renovation overall.
We should not just accept our spouse’s odd personality quirks, we should celebrate them. The little things that might bother us today may have an advantage that is difficult to appreciate right now. Our differences make us more well-rounded as a couple than as individuals.
So celebrate each other, enjoy your differences, thank God for bringing someone into your life who adds to your strengths and makes up for your weaknesses. Being grateful for our spouse is a huge step toward living life gracefully. And it is something I am working on every day.