Valentine’s Day Story – “A Cure for Criticism in Marriage”

I heard a touching story about a cure for criticism, especially in marriage.  This version was written by my friend Andrew Kay.

Marriage is not easy!  Coming to a marriage with the wrong expectations only makes it harder. 

There is a saying that has the sting of truth in it.  It says, “Men marry a wife and hopes she never changes, but she always does.  Women marry a husband hoping she can change him, but he never does.”

There is a story of a wife and husband newly married struggling with getting used to living with each other.  The bliss of the honeymoon had already been replaced by the daily grind of work and endless chores.  Expectations of the perfect spouse and the perfect marriage were tarnished.  Patience was often in short supply.

Nothing was grievously wrong.  He would leave the toilet seat up and his dirty clothes on the floor.  She would forget to put the cap on the toothpaste and forget to put the tools back where she found them.  Neither liked doing the dishes.

One day the wife, remembering the advice from her mom to not be a nag and realizing that she was quickly turning into a nag, sat her husband down for a short family council. 

She said, “I love you.  I don’t want to turn into a nag.  So, I want to propose that if there is anything that either of us does that makes the other mad or irritated that we write it down on piece of paper, fold it up, and stick into this mason jar.  Then once a week we can sit down to read through them and constructively talk about them without all the heated emotion at the time we wrote them down.  And if you see anything that you think I need to improve upon, you can add that too.”

The husband reluctantly agreed and the started off their week.  Before leaving for work he dropped a folded piece of paper into the jar and left.  All day the wife wondered what it said, and it nagged at her. 

When she saw his dirty clothes on the floor, she added her piece of paper.  When he slurped his soup too loudly or talked with food still in his mouth, she quietly added a note without saying anything.  When he finished the meal she cooked for him, the husband quickly jotted down his criticism and dropped it in the jar.

It was a quiet week, but it was a week without arguments and a week without incident. 

When Sunday finally rolled around, the couple sat down to review the grievances from the previous week. 

On the first piece of paper, the wife wrote, “You came home late on Wednesday and didn’t tell me, so the dinner was cold.”  On the next one pulled from the jar, the wife wrote, “When you drive, you drive too fast and don’t leave enough space between us and the next car.”

Finally, the wife read one from her husband.  “You are so beautiful.  There isn’t anything I’d ask you to change.”  The next said, “Thank you for making dinner for me.  It was delicious.” 

The wife then searched through the jar opening several more until she could find another one from her husband, hoping to find one that pointed out her own faults.  But instead the next one brought her to tears.  It read, “Thank you for putting up with all of my faults.  I love you very much.”

When the wife reached for the tissues, the husband left to retrieve the dozen roses he had hidden from the night before, saying, “You are the best wife, I could ever wish for.  You are beautiful.  You are smart.  You are so patient with me.  I love you.”

The empty mason jar still sits on their shelf after 40 years of marriage.  It represents the reminder that a marriage worth sealing for eternity is a marriage full of love and without criticism.

(By Andrew Kay, used with permission.

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