You might think this odd, but whenever it is raining and I’m driving around, I don’t use my car’s windshield wipers. This makes Rachel crazy. She’s like, “How can you even see!?” and I’m like, “I dunno, I just do!” I know she doesn’t understand why I won’t turn on the wipers to clear the windshield when it’s such a simple and sensible thing to do. But I just don’t.
Here’s the thing, though: when I don’t use my wipers, it gives her an actual headache because her eyes keep shifting their focus point from what is immediately in front of her – the hundreds of raindrops beading up on the windshield – to the road and cars and stoplights ahead of us. And then back and forth. And back and forth again.
I don’t know why my eyes don’t do that. And the fact that hers do doesn’t make any sense to me. I just look past the water droplets and honestly, they just completely disappear. It’s like they’re not even there. I can see everything beyond my front bumper without any problems. The very act of turning on my windshield wipers truly doesn’t even enter my mind.
Until Rachel reminds me.
And then I try not to let out an exasperated sigh. And turn them on.
Well, actually, I don’t even turn them “on” on, I just flick the wiper switch toward me so they will go off only once and then stop.
And hope that’s enough for Rachel.
But of course, it’s not enough because rain continues to fall and bead up on my windshield. So then, I finally relent and keep them on for Rachel’s sake. It’s fine. It’s no big deal. I don’t mind too much at all. I love my wife and I don’t want her to get a headache.
Really. I really love her. I can do this for her. I can keep my windshield wipers on.
Okay, so now let’s switch gears. Do you want to know what gives me a headache – and what makes me absolutely crazy?
When our little girl Maya screams. She screams a lot – when she wakes up from naps, when we are changing her diaper, when she just wants to be held, when she’s exhausted. Maybe this isn’t actually an inordinate amount of screaming for a 17-month old, but to me it seems like a lot.
And I seriously cannot handle it well at all. In fact, the ways in which I try to deal with it are…not ideal.
Sometimes I’m like, “AAAHHHHHH!!!!!!” and start screaming myself to drown out Maya’s screams (which upsets her even more – yes, I am a moron). And then I hand her to Rachel and run out of the room as fast as possible.
Sometimes I stick my fingers in my ears. I do this so often that Maya has started to do it as well when we are trying to get her to do something. (Rachel is not happy about this, but I am just trying to survive here.)
Most often, I go over to a little shelf in the kitchen and grab my industrial strength earplugs. You know, the bright-colored foam ones that construction workers and airport runway employees wear. I cannot get them in my ear holes fast enough, but I try. And that helps me the most, because I can return to where Maya is and help meet her needs in some way.
The point is, Rachel (somehow graciously) has arrived at the understanding that her husband has sensitive ears. She could absolutely make fun of the ways I respond to Maya screaming, but she never has. Maybe she has wanted to, because it is probably comical and juvenile and embarrassing to watch. But she never has made fun of me. She has just tried to understand.
I am very grateful for that. I can’t help that I have sensitive ears.
And I have (probably much more easily) arrived at the understanding that my wife has sensitive eyes. And that she always prefers to see through a raindrop-free windshield when we are driving around. I could probably be like, “Gah!!! I can see fine, can’t you just let me do what I want, because I’m the one driving!”.
But that wouldn’t be very loving. And I always want to be loving.
And so does Rachel.
As I’ve written about in the past, there are very few things in marriage that really matter and are worth getting bent out of shape about. In fact, we make it way more complicated than it needs to be. I mean, God’s pretty clear that we should simply “make allowance for each other’s faults.” To me, this includes not just our mistakes and offenses, but also our idiosyncrasies. The instructions right before that verse remind us to clothe ourselves in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And the reality is I need every single one of those qualities when someone does something I find annoying or frustrating or confusing or bizarre.
It’s likely that more of Rachel’s idiosyncrasies are going to make themselves known over the next few years as our relationship deepens. And so are mine. That makes me a little nervous, because sometimes I wonder how anyone else can live with me given my numerous peculiarities. Heck, I would have a hard time living with someone like myself.
Maybe she feels the same way sometimes. Maybe everyone does.
But in order to not make this more complicated than it needs to be, I just want to make allowances. Easily. Freely. Abundantly. Constantly.
Especially to my wife, more than anyone else in the world. She deserves that.
(And she’s been doing the same for me.)