“My husband and I have been married for six years. He is a Christian, and is active in his church. I am an atheist. While he tries to convert me on occasion, we have no problems with our religious differences. In fact, the conversations we have are some of the highlights of our marriage.
My husband is not a tidy man. He rarely does any cleaning, but will help with the dishes or laundry sometimes, and that’s good enough for me. The one area that I have (slightly) nagged him about over the years is his car. I usually end up waiting for his car to get really bad, then go and clean it out myself, or pay to have it detailed while he is at work.
I regularly ask him to clean out his car, but in six long years, he has never done it. Until yesterday. Yesterday, he suddenly spent two hours cleaning out his car. I was thrilled! Then, he told me why he cleaned out his car.
Apparently, his pastor had needed a ride somewhere. After the ride in my husband’s car, the pastor gave my husband some great advice: Clean out your car. And he immediately did it.
I am happy that my husband finally cleaned his own car. But I’m a little upset that after six years of me asking him to perform this small task, he listened to his pastor and not to me.
Am I looking a gift horse in the mouth, or am I right to feel a bit slighted?
— Bent Out Of Shape”
Dear Bent Out of Shape,
Let me answer your question/story with a story of my own.
As a teenager, high school age to be exact, my room wasn’t exactly the cleanest. There would be dirty running clothes, textbooks, and stuff in general strewn all around the room. Up until this point in my life I would rely on my mom to take of these things for me. I mean, she had done so my entire life so why stop now?
Then one day she stopped (Probably to teach me a lesson in cleaning up). The dirty clothes began to pile up and I said “Damn! My room stinks!” and “This place is a mess!”, so I tidied up and started taking care of business from that point on.
The point I’m trying to make is that had you just left the mess for your husband to deal with then he would’ve figured out that he needed to clean out his car. Instead, he had you do it for him under the “cover of darkness”, if you will, and he had is “divine intervention” by an actual pastor who noticed his mess instead of experiencing his own epiphany.
Don’t feel slighted. He just never knew how bad his dirty, filthy car could get.