My house was a disaster after Darcy left on Sunday with 2-year-old Raphael. I much prefer paying attention to that little guy than cleaning up after us. Doing dishes so we have silverware for eating is the only necessary thing. And playing Scrabble with Darcy while Raffi is napping. Hey, that’s the life!

So after they left, I knew it was time on Monday to work. But my sciatic nerve was acting up and I really wanted to just lay down in a funk of sadness that it was lonely around her. But Larry had mentioned, “Boy, this house is a mess!” He seemed uncomfortable and the message to me was, “Get hopping and clean this up!”

Well, the Lord was gracious. I had time to have a devotional time with the Lord, lay on the heating pad, and space out cleaning. At the end of the day, I was shocked to see how much had been done. I really attributed it to putting the Lord first with my time with Him. The rest of the day seemed like it went by slowly and things cleaned up easily.

Larry commented that everything had cleaned up fast. And I said, “Well, you sounded uncomfortable when you commented about the mess.” He looked shocked. “I did?” Then he said, “Honey, I was reporting not editorializing.”

We looked at each other and we both laughed. What a great distinction! I thought Larry was editorializing: giving his opinion about something he didn’t like. But he was only reporting–he was just commenting. He was just making an observation and reporting the situation. And he was indeed correct.

Our conversation reminded me of an interaction very early in our marriage. We were at Gemco (remember Gemco?) which is like Target. I saw a little case that would hold earrings. Just what I could use and had been in the back of my mind. Yeah! I pointed it out to Larry and he immediately said, “You don’t need that!”

I crumbled. Since this was within the first year of our marriage, we were both very new in learning each other’s “bents.” We also had not learned “Different isn’t necessarily wrong.” So when Larry said that I hesitated. Shouldn’t I submit to my husband as the Bible says? But I knew I could really use this item and it was only a few dollars.

In a bit of what seemed like rebellion, I grabbed it and bought it. I felt disobedient but I used that case until the felt crumbled inside it.

For a long time, I felt guilty about that and years later mentioned it to Larry with a laugh. Larry said something like, “Kathy, I wasn’t telling you not to get it, I was just giving my opinion. It was fine that you bought it.” OH??? I was surprised. Is that what was happening? (By the way, since then I’ve learned that Larry’s personality is to have an opinion about everything even if he knows nothing about it–like an earring case).

Then I realized he hadn’t given me a command, he was just offering his opinion. Since then I’ve asked him, “Are you giving me a command or just giving me your opinion (or preference)?”

In marriage, these two principles have helped us and guess what? Last Saturday we celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary.

So, maybe sometimes you’ll need to ask:
“Are you editorializing or are you reporting?”
“Are you giving me a command or your opinion?”
I bet it’ll give you some grace in your marriage.