After one of my presentations, Caryl emailed me this story and I thought it would be a great reminder to appreciate what you have so close to Valentine’s Day.
“We met and fell in love while still in our teens; I was his first love, and he mine. Four years later we were married and set up our first home in a modest, sparsely furnished two-bedroom apartment. My husband was in sales and frequently traveled out of town for weeks at a time. We had no children at the time and I was not working so I focused on keeping our little love nest neat and tidy- which wasn’t hard to do with no one there to mess it up. Yes, neat as a pin, it was!
It was wonderful when he finally came home after one of his many extended business trips. After a warm greeting and chat about his trip, I began my routine of picking up his shoes, coat, briefcase, suitcases and multiple boxes of sales materials-all dumped unceremoniously throughout our small abode. I enjoyed having him around, even the messes that followed him!
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before my penchant for neatness put me on a collision course with his obvious preference for a more ‘relaxed’ ambiance for our home. It was the little things that started to bother me; like the three boxes of cereal left open on the counter every morning, the layer of hair lining the bathtub after he showered, the uncapped toothpaste and the underwear dropped on the floor-six inches away from the laundry basket!
One evening, when I saw his necktie adorning the fridge door, I lectured him about his sloppiness. He and looked at me nonchalantly and said, “Well, you’re not so perfect yourself!” I was floored-of course I was perfect! And to prove it, I challenged him to a test; we would both write a list of our partner’s faults. We would then exchange the lists and discuss each concern; getting them out in the open so we could agree to make changes, and thereby, improve our relationship. By this, I meant that we would list his shortcomings, and discuss ways that he would clean up his act.
Armed with pads of paper and pens, we sat across from each other in the living room and began detailing what we perceived to be our better half’s deficiencies. I quickly listed what I considered major flaws in my man but after about five minutes I ran out of steam. While I strained to think of anything else list-worthy, I glanced over at my beloved who was still furiously writing. He would pause only briefly, look thoughtfully up at the ceiling, and then quickly resume his writing with a renewed fervor for another few minutes.
I was infuriated! Okay, I may not be perfect , but I am not that defective! Not to be outdone, I turned my attention back to my unexpectedly short list, while he grinned ear to ear with smug delight as he added item after item to his growing catalogue of my apparent flaws.
Another five minutes passed and I had had enough; he was still on a roll while I was straining to think of anything other than the pettiest of criticisms. “Time’s up!” I announced. He was still writing when I snatched his multi-paged list from him and handed him mine. I retreated back to my seat and declared that we would now read the other’s list, and after careful consideration of each and every point we would discuss the findings.
I sat back in my chair and quickly scanned the first few pages of his seemingly endless list and became very red. Every single line of his list contained only three words-‘I love you’-repeated again and again, page after page. A thousand ‘I love you’s!’
We have been happily together for thirty-eight years. We never did discuss my list for him.