“Thanks again for coming. No, no I didn’t have a clue. Well, you have a good night. Drive safe now.”
Marlee shut the door, closed her eyes, and sighed deeply. Her muscles begged to plunge into a hot bath, and she didn’t want to deny them the privilege. But instead she reluctantly walked to the kitchen where her husband Erik was throwing paper plates and plastic silverware into an already overstuffed Hefty bag.
As she walked through the doorway, he flashed her his widest, self-congratulatory grin. “So, honey, were you surprised?”
Marlee sighed again.“Yeah, I definitely didn’t see it coming.”
Erik’s smile broadened. “I knew you didn’t when you called on the way home and talked about watching TV all night.”
Marlee didn’t reply. She half-heartedly picked up the dishrag and began wiping up spilled sloppy joe and nacho cheese.
“Here honey, I’ll get that.”
“No, just let me do it.”
Marlee continued to clean the countertop in silence.
“Marlee, what’s wrong?” Then Erik said it. He knew better, but the words just slipped out. “Are you mad at me?”
“No, I’m not mad at you. I guess… I just… well..”
“You’re mad about the party, aren’t you?”
“Honestly, Erik, I am a little upset. I really hadn’t planned on coming home to a houseful of people.
“I know. That’s what made it so great.”
“No that’s what made it not so great. All I wanted to do tonight was put on my bathrobe and eat ice cream in front of the TV. Instead, I walked in on thirty five people. And now I have to spend the rest of the weekend - my weekend – cleaning up after a party that I didn’t even ask for.”
“Honey, you don’t have to clean up – just go take a bath and crawl in bed. I’ll take care of everything.”
“Oh, just like you took care of everything before the party - please don’t do me any favors.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Why couldn’t you have at least cleaned before everyone came? The bathrooms smell horrible.”
“I did clean. Besides nobody cares about our bathrooms.”
“Sure, none of the guys care. But I guarantee you, every one of my girlfriends is going think twice before asking to use the toilet here again.”
“C’mon Marlee, don’t ruin a great night. I spent weeks planning this thing. I thought you’d be thrilled -- especially after the way you talked about how much Eva loved her party.”
“Well, I’m not Eva, am I? You should know by now that I don’t like surprises. For once, I wish you would stop doing what you think would make me happy and actually do what I think would make me happy.”
Marlee threw her dishrag into the sink, stormed upstairs, and left a bewildered Erik to finish cleaning up.
Upstairs she dropped her exhausted body deep into a tub of warm, scented water. The heat and aromas soothed her muscles, but they couldn’t quiet her mind.
Now, why did you do that?
“Do what? I just told him how I felt. Open, honest communication, that’s all it was.”
Was that what it was?
"Well, maybe not. But he wasn’t really loving me, just loving his grand idea. He was so wrapped up in his plans that he didn’t stop once to think about me."
And you were so wrapped up in your plans for tonight that you didn’t stop once to appreciate what he had done for you.
“Why can’t he just love me the way I want to be loved?”
Why can’t you just let him love you the way he wants to? Real love doesn’t seek its own happiness.
Marlee gave up; she just couldn’t win; love beat her every time.
When Marlee came out of the bathroom, Erik was already in bed, buried under the covers and breathing deeply. She slipped on her nightshirt and joined him.
“Honey, you awake?”
“Hey, I just want to say thanks. I do appreciate that you loved me enough to do all that work.”
“Maybe, it wasn’t what I would’ve picked, but it’s what you picked for me and that’s just as important.”
Erik rolled over, truly awake now. “Marlee, I honestly do my best, you know. I really try to make you happy.”
“I know, honey, I know you do. I guess I just have to love you enough to let you.”
And surprisingly, loving Erik did make Marlee happy.
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