Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Best Thing

What is the best thing that ever happened to you? Maybe you won a free trip to Europe. Or discovered that your long-lost Great Aunt Harriet left you a load of money in her will. Or maybe you finally found a dress that actually fits on the top and the bottom. (If that ever happened to me it would be nothing short of a miracle. I honestly think my top and bottom halves were mismatched in the spirit world).

But seriously, I bet most people would say the best thing that ever happened to them is their husband or wife - that is until the honeymoon is over and the babies come along to displace "spouse" from the top of the list.

I was reminded of this when I read that Ashlee Simpson-Wentz (of Bronx Mowgli infamy) said her little baby is the best thing that ever happened to her. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with this statement - it's just a way of saying how much she loves her little boy (though apparently not enough to give him a decent name...). But it just got me thinking about priorities and how quickly and easily they are misplaced.

Your choice of spouse is the most important decision you will ever make. After all, the eternal family unit is you and your spouse. There isn't a more important person in your life. Or at least there shouldn't be.

The problem is that children come along and their needs are so much more pressing and immediate that it's easy to forget about that "best thing that ever happened to you" and shove him to the back burner for awhile. Of course this is necessary sometimes - needs of adults can often wait, while needs of screaming children have to be handled right now - but if you are constantly putting your husband on the back burner, eventually things are going to quit simmering. And if you're not careful, the pilot light will go out.

Before Michael was born and I was working full-time, I spent the last weeks of my job training my replacement. One day we got into a conversation about children. Her opinion was that a child should always come first, no matter the situation, and that her relationship with her child was infinitely more important than her relationship with her husband. She was shocked and appalled when I had sweetly told her I thought she was dead wrong. "What are you going to do after your child leaves home?" I asked. "Don't you care about your husband at all?"

As she generally spent every minute of every day trash-talking her husband, and I had heard her entire alphabetical list of the poor man's failings at least seven times, I asked her to tell me something good about him. She thought for a minute, sighed several times, and finally said, "I really can't think of anything." Um, wow.

"Why did you marry him then?" I asked.

"Well, I guess I knew he would never cheat on me. And I thought he would probably be a good dad to our kids."

Great plan. Find someone whom you think will never cheat on you. Spend every day complaining about what a horrible husband he is, withholding sex, bossing him around, griping about his insensitive manly ways, and acting all offended at the slightest insinuation there is something wrong with your behavior, and then expect him to stand faithfully by your side as you hurl this abuse at him. Smart. Can you spell D-I-V-O-R-C-E? Too hard? How about A-F-F-A-I-R?

And let's not forget the fact that she CHOSE her husband. Last time I checked she didn't have any choice about which children ended up in her home, but she had a whole bunch of say as to which man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

So even though Michael may be the best thing that has happened to David and me as a couple, I try not to forget that Michael should never take the place of the true best thing - my wonderful husband. And the more I show my husband that he is the best thing that ever happened to me, the more he becomes that best thing.

It's amazing how that works.


mean aunt said...

Bonnums you're the best!

Cameron and Nonie Gay said...

Perfectly put. I wish more people knew about your blog, they could sure use it. Love you!

Evil HR Lady said...

That was beautiful and I intend to read it at my marriage lecture.

Stephanie Black said...

Very well said, Bonnie.

When parents treat each other with love and respect, that's one of the greatest gifts they can give their children.

Team Scovel said...

We totally agree! As precious as our daughter is, I cherish every moment that I get to spend with my wonderful husband. You and David are truly blessed to have each other, especially with that rare attitude about your relationship. What an inspiration you'll be to your son.

Rob and Erin said...

So true!