My wife was patient with me today. She didn’t respond in a way that may have been justified to my correcting her on how she did something that didn’t match up to the way I would have done it. I said it kindly, but I still said it.
But instead of pointing out that it wasn’t that big of deal and that it could be done either way, she just changed it and kept on going. She didn’t say anything.
Now I don’t know what she thought in her mind at the time and don’t know if she realized this, but her response taught me a lesson better than she could have taught it to me if she would have said something.
I thought about that action of mine – stating how I thought it should be done – for several minutes after it happened. I came to realize, on my own, that I didn’t need to say that. That there are many ways of doing things, and in many cases there are no “right” ways and no “wrong” ways of doing a particular thing – there are just “ways”. This was one of those, and I came to realize that as I thought about it. I also realized that me stating things like that at times when it didn’t need to be said – times when there wasn’t a right or wrong way . . . me stating things at times like that, and in effect “correcting” people, is unnecessary. In fact, it is not only unnecessary, it can be harmful.
It can close people off. It can make them cautious in doing little things because they learn to worry about you correcting them all the time or telling them “your” way of doing things. You’re, in essence, training people to not like being around you or training people to expect micro-management from you.
That can lead to lower creativity, resentment, and people who would rather just let you do it all than to work around you.
Luckily, I have a wife who is patient. Luckily, I have a wife who is kind. Luckily, I have a wife who can smile and forgive and understand.
I learn a lot in my marriage. And sometimes, those lessons are best learned when I am my own teacher . . . or at least, when my teacher is my loving and patient wife.