One of comedian Red Skelton’s funniest routines is often shared as “Red Skelton’s Recipe for the Perfect Marriage.” I (Dawn) have often wondered whether his jibes at his “wife” were part of the reason the humorist struggled through his own marriages. Skelton joked:
“I haven’t spoken to my wife in 18 months. I don’t like to interrupt her.”
“I asked my wife where she wanted to go for our anniversary. ‘Somewhere I haven’t been in a long time!’ she said. So I suggested the kitchen.”
“The last fight was my fault… My wife asked, ‘What’s on the TV?’ I said, ‘Dust!'”
And a favorite, “I married Miss Right. I just didn’t know her first name was ‘Always.'” (1)
I (Dawn) have to admit that for many years in my marriage, I was Mrs. Always Right.
It seems that, after the honeymoon ended, I couldn’t help correcting my husband, Bob. The truth was, I could help it, but I didn’t … I just enjoyed always being “right”!
I corrected my husband’s manners, though he was a well-mannered man. I corrected his eating choices, though overall they were actually better than mine. I corrected his spelling, when I should have focused on his good ideas. I even corrected his “loud laugh” in public.
It was this loud laugh that eventually led to my seeing how critical I’d become. Once, as Bob got tickled about a friend’s joke, he let loose with a loud guffaw. I cringed, and was about ready to “shush” him when a woman leaned over to me and said, “Don’t you just love Bob’s laugh? He can sure light up a room.”
I stared at my husband, and then looked around the room. Yes indeed. People were smiling, and they were drawn to him. They moved toward him and quickly joined in the fun while I stood on the sidelines. I suddenly realized that I’d been viewing my hubby through the wrong lens. Mine. Not God’s.
This was verified in another instance. I was critical of Bob’s easy-going personality.
I wished he’d be more bold. I kept nagging him to step up, stand up, and speak up! (Advice I should have taken more to heart myself, by the way.)
Then one day, a friend told me Bob’s personality played into how God worked in a ministry overseas. His gentle manner smoothed confrontations, and his peace-loving persona even diffused potential run-ins with the KGB! His easy-going responses enabled team members to function together without stress. Then, I thought about his infinite patience with me.
I discovered that my desire to be “always right” in Bob’s life sprung more from pride than concern for him. I was always worried about how he would reflect on me. The truth was, Bob’s critical wife was a poor reflection on him. As I began to see my critical spirit from God’s perspective, I wondered how Bob had ever put up with me.
I am thankful to God that He helped me to put off a critical spirit and put on a spirit of encouragement (Ephesians 4:22-24). Note: See below for a list of other attitudes to put off – put on. (2)
And I cannot tell you how thankful I am for a husband ~ so perfect for me, my counterpart ~ who is authentic and used of God.
How about you, Friend? Are you so concerned about being “right” that you use your words, attitudes, and actions to tear down others, perhaps even the one God has given you to love and bless?
Let me encourage you to “put off” that critical spirit and “put on” the characteristics of love (I Corinthians 13:4-8a). Better always loving than “always right” when “right” is a false front for pride.
(2) This is a great list of other attitudes to put off and put on!