“John, what is wrong? Your countenance is fallen and you look like you’ve lost your best friend.”
“Oh, hello Mr. Henry, I didn’t mean to be so transparent. I just came out here in the back yard to try to figure out some things. I . . . .”
“I didn’t intend to intrude.”
“No, it’s all right. I . . . I feel like I’ve lost my best friend today. Shelly is in the house and she won’t speak to me. She is sitting in a chair, stone faced. She just sits there staring straight ahead. That beautiful face that I love so much has no life in it. I remember all the good times we’ve had and how she lights up the whole room when she laughs. But now . . . .
“Mr. Henry, you’re a good neighbor and have been married for a long time. How did you do it? What’s wrong with Shelly? What have I done?”
“John, I am sorry that you and Shelly are having this problem. I remember going through the same thing early in my marriage to Harriett. Body language speaks volumes.”
“You did? But the two of you seem to be so much in love; I didn’t think you ever had ever had a cross word. Aren’t you supposed to love each other even in bad times?
“Yes, John, you’re right and I am sure that Shelly loves you very much.”
“Then why? What did I do?”
“John, it may not have been something you did, but something you did not do. Tell me what happened that led up to this.”
John rubs his temple and kicks at a rock. “She has been nagging me to fix a drawer in the kitchen. Today, when I came home, I saw the drawer, out and twisted, and food on the floor. When I found Shelly, she was sitting on the couch staring straight ahead. She didn’t even acknowledge me.”
“If you don’t mind an old man’s advice, there is something I learned in much the same way many years ago and it has done well for me all this time.”
“I sure need to know any secrets for marriage you might have.”
“It is really pretty simple and easy. You said she had been nagging you to do something. Do you know how to keep a woman from nagging, John?”
“No . . . how?” he listens intently as if he will learn a great secret about the heart of a woman.
“She will never nag you again if you will do what she asks the first time she asks you.”
John recoils as if he has been slapped in the face. “Is this the secret that holds my happiness with Shelly? It can’t be that simple.”
“And, when she is hurting, don’t ask too many questions, just hug her and say, ‘I understand.’ Women are much too complex for we problem solvers to figure them out; just give her comfort – it is all she really wants.”
“Wow, Mr. Henry, do you mean it? Is that all?”
“Yes, John, most problems have a simple solution if we will look for it. It usually has to do with dying to our own selfishness and building our spirit just like the Bible says. You cannot be self-focused if you want a successful relationship with someone else. You are to love your wife as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her. Sometimes that means sacrificing something you want to do for her needs, emotionally or physically. Jesus did that for us and we are to follow His example.
“Look, here come Shelly. Her body language tells me she is quite different now than what you described. Hmm . . . I would say, not great, but better. Remember the secret I told you. Now would be a good time to use it – and go fix that drawer.”
John runs to Shelly. “Honey, I am so sorry I didn’t fix the drawer.” He pulls her to him cradling her in his strong arms. He gives her a long hug while he whispers into her ear, “I understand.” He looks back over his shoulder and winks at Mr. Henry.
Mr. Henry smiles his biggest smile. “They will be fine now; it only took a little advice.”
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