Appreciating Your Surroundings
You can get a lot out of the experiences of those you love.
Posted Jan 17, 2019
My wife comes from a foreign land, and she is still experiencing new and different things. Whenever she finds something she loves—today it was cornbread—she says, “God bless America!” And we all laugh.
Just the thought about what life would be like without cornbread makes me appreciate it more. Seeing it through her eyes makes me appreciate it more too. When we get to re-experience things for the first time, it shines a brighter light on what we have come to know.
She doesn’t like the strawberries here. The ones where she comes from are much better, she says. Now I know a good strawberry from a bad one, because we kind of live in strawberry country, and I’ve been a consumer since childhood. But I’ll have to try the ones they have in Europe. It’s another reason to go on an adventure and try something new.
Doing new things as a couple and appreciating what you have are two core elements to relational happiness. It’s so easy to take it all for granted, until the sky falls a little.
We are just finishing building an addition to our home, and I have been up to my ears in stuff I know very little about. I’m really not familiar or comfortable with power tools, building inspectors, and permits—but I’m finding out a lot about fees and assessments. Not exactly a picnic, but it’s a learning experience, and the only part I really hate is writing the checks.
We’ve built a nice space together. Spending hours picking out tile and paint was fun for her—and fun for me because doing it made her happy. For me, it was all about controlling the costs, the crew, and getting the proper deliveries. This part was not really fun—other than that day at Lowe’s when everything was marked down to practically nothing! So we balanced each other out because her joy did transfer over to me—even when I had to make returns.
While my wife has enjoyed the entire process, for me it was kind of like slaying a dragon, but definitely worth it (and I get the princess). My wife just sees it as an interesting new experience, and she supports me when I get overwhelmed. She is one of those people who is always willing to look for the positive, like the kid who digs through a pile of manure looking for the pony.
So here I am, a positive (but slightly jaded) psychotherapist who lives with a cock-eyed optimist who can find something good in just about anything. I’ve taken in a lot of other people’s pain over the years, and if not for this open-minded lady I married, that stuff could get to me. Now, as I learn to see more of life through her eyes, mine are opened wider.
I know that I am teaching her about life here, and I answer a lot of “why?” questions, which can be a little taxing until I remember that everything is new for her. That makes it new again for me, if I let it. We each have a choice whether to adopt another person’s experience and add it to our own. It works for me.