Here’s an interaction I had with my wife this morning that I would like to share (with her permission). I think people here will appreciate it, especially those who have been married a long time. The background is that my wife and I celebrated our 20th anniversary last month and have been spending time reflecting on our marriage since then.
My wife came into the bedroom and sat next to me on the bed with a grim look on her face. After a lengthy silence, she says, “Joel, I have some bad news to share with you. I haven’t been truthful with you or myself over the years, and I need to tell you something you need to know that has been weighing down on me for a long time.” It takes a moment for this to sink in, and then my mind begins to race with all the possible terrible secrets a wife might have kept from her husband, but I can’t imagine that any of them would be true. After a long pause, my wife says, “First, tell me what you feared most about getting married.”
Surprised by this turn, I don’t immediately respond, but the answer comes to me, and I say, “I was afraid that I might marry a woman like my mother, who would do to me what my mother did to my father.”
My wife nods, since this is the answer she expected. I see in her face that she is steeling herself to say something very hard. My hands grip the side of the bed as I wait and silently pray that God will grant me strength to bear whatever is coming. My wife says, “For twenty years I have hidden from you how truly bad I am. I am selfish, narcissistic, and self-destructive, just like your mother. You married a woman just like your mother.” And my wife goes on with several illustrations of the similarities.
A moment of incomprehension passes over me, and then I begin to laugh. My wife looks on with a bewildered face, wondering if my laughter is some strange reaction to despair. I ask her, “So this is your big reveal?” She nods, and I begin laughing again. Seeing that she is still confused, I say, “First of all, you aren’t a hundredth as bad as my mother was. Second, I already knew you were selfish, narcissistic, and self-destructive… but I love you anyway.” I see in my wife’s face that this is not at all the response she expected, so I explain further, “I am glad you see this in yourself now. Actually, you are not especially bad compared to any other woman, and the truth is that any woman I might have married would have been like my mother, because they’re all sinners.” I then laugh again, but this time my wife laughs with me. This last part pleases me most, because my wife has a hard time laughing at herself, and I think it is spiritually healthy to do so from time to time.