Secrets of a Newlywed: Showing Respect When Asking for His Opinion
This is the next post in Secrets of a Newlywed, a series where I open up and share some of the lessons, insights and understandings—the little secrets—that have made my marriage the wedded bliss that it is. Like anything else, they are easier said than done. But I know from personal experience that when I do manage to live them out, I've seen what beautiful fruit they bear in my relationship with my husband. So, today, I share another with you: Showing Respect When Asking for His Opinion.
It was the in the middle of the cereal aisle at the grocery store that I learned one of my first lessons about the respect and humility that love requires, a lesson that has stuck with me ever since.
It's a lesson I learned even before my husband and I were married. We were still dating long-distance at the time, and he was in town visiting for the weekend when we made a pit-stop at the grocery store. While still in the get-to-know-you phase of our relationship, I asked him what kind of cereal he'd like. He pointed to the Cheerios.
"Cheerios?! Nah. What instead?" I responded, suggesting a frosted-wheat cereal instead. I don't remember what we ended up picking in the end, except that it wasn't Cheerios. And that for the rest of the trip, I pushed the cart and my husband lagged a few steps behind, not talking.
When we left the store, I asked what was wrong with him, completely unaware of the gravity of the situation that had taken place in the cereal aisle, where cheesy cartoon characters and cheery cardboard boxes leered in the background.
"You asked what I wanted," he said, reminding me of the Cheerios.
"Yeah, but I don't like Cheerios," I told him, hoping he'd appeal to compromise.
"Well, you shouldn't ask me for my opinion if you're not going to take it." There! That sentence, right there! That hit me smack in the forehead.
Of course, I didn't mean any disrespect by the cereal veto. I merely wanted us to get something we both liked, and Cheerios certainly was not that.
But that situation was an epiphany to me, beyond just breakfast foods and boxed grains. I realized that
if I'm going to ask him for an opinion, I must be willing to accept it. I realized what it means if I ask for his opinion and then disregard it, like it doesn't matter.
Though the scenario was innocent on the surface, I now saw it in a new light, that my actions spelled out disrespect and insult.
I realized—yet again—the power of words, and even more so, the power of respecting those words.
That lesson has lasted with me ever since, and the moral leaps to life again whenever I think about asking my husband for his opinion. If I'm going to ask it, I prepare myself to accept whatever he says.
What does this look like practically? Well, if there's an option I don't really want (for instance, which restaurant to eat at or movie to watch on Netflix), I have to be upfront about that rather than expect him to read my mind. Sometimes, I have to be willing to make a choice (say, to wear this blouse and not that one) with confidence, rather than indulge the desire to fish for a compliment by way of asking him for an "opinion."
I've learned to think a bit more before I speak, and when I do, to let my words be filled with respect.
(Note: This post was adapted from one I wrote last year, "A Lesson About Love from the Cereal Aisle." To read through all the posts in this series, click here.)
The Power of Words: Learning to commend rather than complain
Becoming Vulnerable: The Power of Confession