Cindy’s complaining again. This time, it’s about her husband’s habit of leaving his underwear by the end of the bed.
“It’s so gross. And he doesn’t put the seat back down when he’s finished in the bathroom, and he refuses to flush at night and then I’m the one kneeling by the bowl with a pumice stone trying to get rid of the ring he’s made…”
I wonder how long she’ll complain for this time.
We had agreed to come together for some mutual support, to pray, to learn from each other. I don’t think that Cindy has figured out yet that she’s not much of a support to me, and the only thing she’s teaching me is that it makes one look very ugly when all they do is complain about the man they promised to love and cherish for ever.
I know her husband. We used to hang out together a lot in college because he took many of the classes I took and he’d help me with the more difficult assignments. He’s a good man. He’s honest, funny, a great father.
I get up and walk to the window.
The thing is, I know all about people like Cindy. I used to be like her. I have no idea if she berates her husband at home too, or if she sequesters her thoughts until we meet up. I’m willing to bet there’s no lock on her mouth, just like there was no dead bolt on mine. My mind wanders back to February of 2005.
“Jenna’s husband does all the cooking and he even irons the kids’ clothes!”
“Well, bully for him.” Bob’s head stayed behind his book.
“Jenna said that he took her out to dinner at the most romantic restaurant on Valentine’s Day—he had booked the table six months in advance. She says that it made her feel so special and loved.”
That was when everything changed for me.
Bob threw his book across the room and yelled at me. I had never heard him shout before. “Susan, if you want to marry someone like Jenna’s husband, you go right ahead. I am so tired of hearing you carp on about everyone else’s spouse and how wonderful they are, yet you can find nothing good to say to me. I feel like a broken record when I say for the last time, stop comparing me to everyone else. I am not them; I am who God made me to be, and it is obvious this person is not good enough for you.”
I watched him as he lifted his jacket off the back of the kitchen chair. He headed for the door. I saw the tears in his eyes. I saw his hand slam into the wall. He stopped there for a moment to turn his head and stare at me. The coldness in his eyes made me shudder. “I’m leaving you Susan. I’ve been waiting and praying and hoping, but you have never changed, and I can’t live like this anymore.” And then he was gone.
It’s ironic, but as soon as he was not in the house anymore, I missed so many good things about him: his grin, his hugs, his interminable patience with the kids, his wisdom. Everything that had seemed so large and unbearable became small and petty. Everything wonderful about him loomed loud and large.
I turn back from the window and sit with these women.
“Cindy,” I say. “Be glad that you have underwear to pick up. There may come a day when your floor is clean but your house is empty and you are alone.” Cindy looked offended. “But…”
“Cindy, let me tell you a story…” And I tell her about Bob and me. I tell her about my discontentment with him; I tell her about the things I said; I tell her about my pain.”
“But Bob is an incredible husband and…and you two are so happy together.” Cindy looks confused.
“Yes, we are now, because I decided to look at him through God’s eyes. I am blessed to have a man that can forgive me for all those years I put him through.” I deliberately let my eyes pierce hers. “Cindy, please don’t keep doing what you are doing to your husband. It will end up destroying both of you.”
There is silence. I can see the self-condemnation on Cindy’s face. I take her hand, I bow my head, and I say,
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