Last weekend, my sister asked Brian to help her husband paint a room in her house and she asked me to help my mom watch all the kids (8, including hers and mine, from 9 months to 8 years). She had to work and the room NEEDED to be painted. Brian and I were excited to help! But when the morning came, I was mentally preparing myself for taking care of that many children. And Brian was dreading painting, which is his least favorite of all home improvement tasks.
When we paint in our own house, I do the painting and Brian does the child care. So I started wondering… why are we switching things up just because we’re painting in someone else’s home?
“Do you want to switch?” I asked him. “I could paint and you could watch the kids?”
He stared at me with a hopeful-desperate look on his face. Finally he said, “I feel like that’s a trick question. I feel like you’re asking if I want to get out of suffering.”
I laughed. And we switched (after checking to make sure the men painting together wasn’t meant to be a bonding activity). And Brian had a great time playing with kids. Towards the end of the day he put his hands on my shoulders and said, “Thank you. I’m so so happy I can be out here with the kids instead of in there painting.” And I had had a great time painting with my laconic brother in law, enjoying the quiet pleasure of not being expected to talk. I said to Brian, “No, thank YOU! I’ve been grinning every time a child shrieked, peed his pants, or got stuck in a tree. Because I didn’t have to deal with it. Mwaaaahahahaha!!” Also we transformed that room – and that was satisfying to me.
Situations like this one happen in all kinds of marriages, regardless of where the couple lands on the “comp/egal” paradigm. But I believe this is how marriage should be in all areas of life, not just a couple.
God makes us each with unique personalities, gifts, pleasures, preferences, callings, etc. They are the tools He’s given us to experience His love and share it with others – to do the work of living this life. And He put us in marriages so that we can each use our tools to the best possible advantage. Even if those tools, or the use of them, breaks with tradition or the expectations of the people around us.