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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Married To An Expert

They say that if you lay out a game of solitaire on a deserted island in the middle of an otherwise empty ocean, someone will soon come along to advise you how to play the next card.

In a lot of marriages, one doesn't even have to go that far, because one spouse is the expert.

On everything.

Need to remove a rusted bolt? Your answer's waiting.

Want to cook a souffle that doesn;t fall? Help is just a word-over-your-shoulder away.

And the really irritating thing is that The Expert is very often right. The advice turns out to be good.

But it's hard to deal with - to put it mildly. Every kid has the I-want-to-do-it-myself streak ingrained in the personality, and it really doesn't go away.

We want to have our own successes, and having someone waltz in and make our challenge 'easier' somehow diminishes us.

I want to do it myself!

So...how can we deal with our in-house expert, gracefully?

  • Remember that the intention is good (and forget about the 'road to you-know-where being paved with good intentions). Your husband or wife really wants to help, and wants to be involved in what you're doing.
  • There may be a deep-seated issue in your mate's behaviour of which you (and possibly your mate) are unaware. Parents and teachers can do a lot of damage by directly or indirectly implying a child's lack of competence, and the reaction is to want to be competent in everything - and to show off that knowledge.
  • Ask yourself this - if it were a friend, or a stranger giving you the advice, would you resent it? Sometimes we are biased against our spouse. Familiarity breeds contempt, to begin with, and there's an unspoken competition for position in every marriage. When our husband or wife shines, somehow we are placed in shadow.
Finally, sometimes you just have to grin and bear it. Telling someone - especially a spouse - that you don;t really want to hear their advice can be taken as a kind of stunning rejection, and can do far more damage than you intended Do you really want to do that?

Or isn;t it easier to swallow the pride, and listen?

Am I saying "give in"?

Yes. Sometimes it's better to give in, and it doesn't always lead to bigger and worse surrenders. You're dealing with the person you married, after all, not the Nazis in 1938.

Trust the love, because that is where all that advice is coming from.

If you have a chance, please stop by at my other blog, "Starting the Day with Grace", for a 'grace quote' and brief commentary.


  1. Isn't it funny how pride can completely take over and ruin your spouse's honest and sincere intentions to help you? Just me? You're so right: I am completely biased against my own spouse. Such great insight here!

    1. No wonder pride's the worst of the sins - and, according to C.S. Lewis, the hardest to uproot!

      He calls it the devil's favorite, and I think he's right.

  2. Yep. I get it! Both of us are kind of 'independent-do-it-myself' kind of people who like to help others. We've learned to (most of the time) ask, "Do you want help?" before jumping in with our 'advice.'

    1. Great point - asking "do you want help?" is SO important.

      One caveat - the question probably shouldn't be delivered when the "do-er" is having trouble, because it can look a bit like "you're not doing it right, here, I shall set you straight"...one can look a bit like Christ coming to cleanse the temple!

  3. I just love your advice here, Andrew. It can be hard when we have someone so close to us who wants to give advice all the time...and let's face it, sometimes we are that someone because we all do it... but you put love, respect and commitment over annoyances that can (and will, if you let it) get in the way of what really matters. Very well done.

    1. Thanks, Kim! It can be such a hard balance to reach, because the annoyances can seem like a wall...one that shuts out our mate, and shuts out God's grace, to boot.

  4. I loved this post, Andrew. I have found that my honey is an expert--in the very best of ways. Sometimes I have a hard time being in the position of the one who doesn't know as much. He's not the prideful one, I am. I'm learning to accept his suggestions. He's learning to wait until I ask to give them. :) And you're right. Often times, being right is less important than loving well.

    1. It's a hard process. In most things that are operative in our house, Barbara knows much more than I do. And she's usually right.

      But if we ever take a working vacation doing convoy escort in Helmand, she promises to take my advice.

      if it's good.

  5. My husband swears when I ask a question I'm doubting his intelligence and I often don't feel in need of his advice either! LOL I guess we have to figure these things out and your advice is great!

    1. Thanks, Carol!

      I think that what you describe may be part of the way God created men, which only proves that He works in mysterious ways.

  6. This is also a great reminder to keep your "expert" advice to yourself sometimes. :)