Marriage – Thought 2 – Celebrating Strengths

This series presents answers to the 7 questions asked at the end of my latest E-Book. Find out more here.

The Boy Can’t Cook

Mark is an outrageously terrible cook.

Seriously. The kind of person who can’t boil eggs.

However, you may have heard him boast about how well he cooks. I, too, have heard this. Many times! But do not be deceived my friends. Take note at what is being said in these conversations. It is always the same dish. One dish. Chicken curry.

Granted! I admit that he does know how to make chicken curry. And the one and ONLY reason he is able to cook this dish is because of my beautiful mother. One day out of sheer pity for her little daughter, she decided it was time to teach this young man how to cook. It took him at least two, possibly three months to perfect and the recipe has five ingredients. One of which is a store bought paste. Now, if Mr Greenwood is expected to cook, his go to recipe is the trusted chicken curry. While it tastes undeniably excellent, it is the entirety of his cooking repertoire.

I say this not to belittle him, but to prove a point. The boy cannot cook.

Additionally, he does not enjoy the process. I on the other hand, find cooking an extremely easy and natural thing to do. I come from a great line of cooks within my family, so it is something I do instinctively and have done so since the age of 12.

In the very beginning of our relationship, I didn’t fully understand this. Quite often I would get irritated when I would come home from a huge day and have to cook. I can remember one afternoon when I yelled. “Seriously? You didn’t think to take meat out of the freezer?!” After a few months I realised, that what came naturally and easily to me, was a stress and burden for him. So instead of focusing on the fact that he couldn’t cook and didn’t enjoy the process of cooking, I chose to see it as a joy to do this for him. I decided to not only cook for him, but to cook for him like he was the King of Arabia and I was his cute, little, adoring Oompa Loompa. Let’s just say that he is more than just an appreciative recipient. Most meals you will literally see him drooling over his food. Pressure is off, no more expectations and he is free to enjoy the pleasure of eating like a king.

Now I do all the cooking

I’ve joyfully taken on the responsibility of all the meal planning, writing the grocery list and all the food prepping. Now I find it a pleasure to source healthy ingredients that are as local and cost effective as possible that will sustain his health. I actually get joy out of meal prepping for his lunches during the week and a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I’m responsible for nourishing his body as well. I go to town! I make healthy versions of all his favourite things: Mushroom Alfredo, Sri Lankan Lentils with Turmeric Eggs, and Chorizo, Chicken and Cauliflower Paella! I love to do this for him. And seriously it takes me one tenth of the time and mental energy then if he were to do it.

The Girl Can’t Clean

Cleaning on the other hand is a different story. Despite my best attempts, I have come to the conclusion that I am not naturally a great cleaner. This is particularly strange as I do appreciate and love cleanliness. Obsessed with it in fact. However I seem to lack the attention to detail, to do the job and to do it well. And honestly, I have no desire to learn. I flaming Hate to Clean. In fact, I hate cleaning as much as I love cleanliness.

Mark knows this about me. There’s no sugar coating it. I’m hopeless. The only logical thing to do was hand the reigns over to Mark. He now does all the Cleaning. Every single bit. Sure, I can step in and help with the easy tasks like vacuuming and mopping, however Mark thinks that when I mop, the house looks worse than it did before I started. “It’s streaky babe,” he tells me. Well suits me if my mopping is streaky! Best I leave it to the expert. And an expert he is! Every single week Mark allocates at least two hours of his time to clean the house top to toe. He takes his clothes off (he leaves his undies on) puts his earphones in, turns up his favourite music (his “fire tunnel” playlist… don’t ask) and absolutely goes to town. He scrubs like there is salvation at the end of it. He even bought a high-pressured gerni so that he could do a good job cleaning the expansive veranda we had in Darwin. By the time he is done, the house shines from top to bottom.

The reason he does such a good job and that it is a complete joy for him, is because he knows how much it means to me. So very much. I feel so loved through acts of service like this.

I cook for my beloved and he cleans for his little Oompa Loompa.

‘Reigning in marriage’ is learning to play to one another’s strengths.

Other strengths

I am TERRIBLE at administration. Mark is excellent. So he administrates my life. Bills, budgets, forms and everything administrative in my business and writing. Mark is the man behind it all.

Technology is incredibly stressful and like a foreign language to me. I can barely navigate Microsoft word, let alone Excel. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter? Seriously? Jesus send me a Social Media Manager!

Mark? He gets so excited about technology that you’ll often find him researching the latest phones, headphones and laptops. He gets excited months before the latest android phone is released! I bribe him to the shops with the promise of spending 20 mins in Dick Smiths or Harvey Norman while he excitedly shows me the latest and greatest. At times I pretend to care. Usually I wonder off and look at the lamps (I love a good creative opulent lamp).

Play to each other’s strengths

There are things that you will be innately good at. There will of course be things that your husband or wife is better at than you. There are things that Mark has the ability to do, with very little effort, which would take me all day to complete.

One of the joys of marriage is discovering each other’s strengths and celebrating and learning from them while refraining from putting pressure or unrealistic expectations on your partner to excel at things that come naturally to you.

Mark and I have learned to play to each other’s strengths. On reflection, this has been a key factor in creating a cohesive, thriving partnership. It has eliminated comparison and unrealistic expectations of one another. It has promoted grace for each other in areas that we know are not each other’s forte.

Let their strength inspire and motivate you!

I am inspired to grow in the areas that Mark is exceptional in. Additionally, I know by celebrating the strengths, natural abilities and gifts in Mark, I am encouraging him to continue to grow and develop in the things that he is truly gifted in.

Be intentional about playing to each other’s strengths

The ability to recognise and celebrate the strengths in your spouse, as well as working out how to practically play to these strengths, will take your relationship to a whole new level.

Mark and I are testimony to this.

Moreover, this concept works for ever other relationship you have. It is astonishing what a difference this principle can make.

My beloved friend Melissa has been married for 15 years with four children. She gives a beautiful example from their lives:

“Adam is a super extroverted, somewhat eccentric person who loves being around people and making them laugh. His objective in life is to be the weirdest person he knows! Lately he has been obsessed with Sleight of Hand Tricks so I bought him a book so he can learn more. Was that a waste of money? Maybe. But Adam loves to bring joy to a room and bring people together and I absolutely love that about him. I personally don’t understand it as I am the exact opposite, but I understand that this is who he is. I take pride in who he is and I think God does too!”

Let us put this into practice!

My beloved ones. For those of you who are married or in a relationship:

Ask yourselves:

  • What is one thing that you celebrate about your spouse and why?
  • What is a practical way to encourage him/her in this area.
  • How can you use this gift as an inspiration to grow in this area yourself?

I exhort you to deeply reflect on these questions. Write them down. Meditate on them this week.

Perhaps you too can implement ways where you are able to play to the strength you identified.

It could be the start of a new degree of cohesion and sweetness.

It could be the beginning of ‘Reigning in your marriage’ in a whole new way.

I would love nothing more for us to share our thoughts and reflections! Please write in or leave a comment.

Until next week

you are deeply loved and richly cherished.

Christine Greenwood

Reign in Life

PS Enjoyed this? You might like to read my 7 thoughts on marriage available here.

Wink: I hate to go on about this, but I have to elaborate. Mark is definitely worse at cooking than I am at cleaning. Seriously. Sometimes it is stressful having him in the mere vicinity of the kitchen as he can’t help but offer suggestions. The most ludicrous unhelpful suggestions mind you!

No Greenie, the steaming rice DOES NOT need to be stirred.

The soup does not have too much liquid and the curry does not need ANY more chilli.

Please vacate my space and study the Word of the Lord instead.

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